If you are one of the tens of thousands of people who have nominated their dogs for inclusion in the Dog Aging Project, you may be wondering: “Now what?”
The short answer is that now is when the fun begins! The team at the DAP is incredibly excited to welcome you and your dog to the world’s most ambitious canine health study.
After you nominate your dog, you will receive an invitation to set up your personal portal at the Dog Aging Project. For those who nominated their dogs in 2019, you may not receive your invitation until early 2020. Please bear with us. The public response to this project has been so enthusiastic that we need to send out invitations in batches so we don’t overwhelm our servers. Once we catch up, the time delay between nomination and your invitation to the portal will be much shorter.
From your personal portal, you will be able to complete the Health and Life Experience Survey. This survey, carefully designed by our research team, consists of about 200 questions that collect information about your dog’s health, behavior, lifestyle, diet, personality, and much more. It’s very extensive, but don’t worry, you can take breaks and come back. We only ask that you complete it within six weeks.
Upon completion of the survey, your dog will become an official member of the Dog Aging Project Pack! You’ll be able to download a printable certificate commemorating this achievement, and best of all, you can know that you and your dog are contributing to important scientific research. By analyzing the information collected in the Health and Life Experience Survey, our team of scientists and veterinarians will be able to identify factors that contribute to health and longevity.
Conducting scientific research is an iterative process, which means that as soon as we answer one set of questions we start asking new ones. We realize that we might want to focus on certain patterns in our data, or we discover that we need more information to answer the questions fully. In this way, through constant refinement and refocusing, the advancement of scientific knowledge proceeds.
At the Dog Aging Project, we already know that to discover the relationship between factors like gut microbiome or blood chemistry on health and aging will require more in-depth study of a subset of dogs. During 2020, we will be inviting some dogs from the DAP Pack into these additional studies. These dogs will be selected based on very specific research criteria that balance important characteristics like body size, breed, sex, and geographic region. If you receive an invitation to join one of these studies, we’ll give you more detailed information about the research protocols, and you can choose whether or not to participate.
As the years pass, we will follow up with you and your dog, asking you to update the Health and Life Experience Survey and possibly inviting you to join studies that our research team hasn’t even designed yet. When your dog is a member of the DAP pack, we’re committed to maintaining a relationship with you and your dog for the entirety of your dog’s life. None of our research could proceed without you, and we are very grateful to each and every person who has nominated their dog and joined our citizen science project.
You may have seen media coverage of the project that emphasized our target goal of 10,000 dogs, but in fact, the number of dogs we can enroll in the Dog Aging Project Pack is actually unlimited. We are delighted to have exceeded our own expectations so quickly, and we welcome continued nominations!