While foxes are not popular animals to keep as companions, there are many cases of keeping foxes as pets. From these cases, we can understand the responsibilities involved with owning a fox as a pet and the consequences one must be prepared to handle. Unfortunately, several pet fox cases have tragic endings for the animal due to human fear, misunderstanding, negligence, or restriction. Only a few cases of pet-fox ownership are documented here.

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Since 1959, the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Science in Novisibirsk, Russia has been attempting to domesticate the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, on their experimental fox farm, a project now known as the “Farm-Fox Experiment” (Kukekova et al. 2011; Spady and Ostrander 2007; Trut 1999). Currently led by head of the research group, Dr. Lyudmila N. Trut, the experiment was initiated by the late evolutionary geneticist and Director of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Dr. Dimitry K. Belyaev. In 1948, a time when Soviet genetics was beginning to recover from the anti-Darwinian ideology of Trofim Lysenko, Belyaev lost his position as Head of the Department of Fur Animal Breeding at the Central Research Laboratory of Fur Breeding in Moscow. His commitment to genetics led him to conduct genetic research under the guise of studying animal physiology. Under his leadership, the Institute of Cytology and Genetics was founded and became a center of basic and applied research in both classical and modern molecular genetics (Trut 1999). Belyaev mainly worked in genetics and animal breeding and was heavily influenced by the work of Charles Darwin (Belyaev 1979). “Animal domestication was his lifelong project, and fur bearers were his favorite subjects” recalls Dr. Trut (1999, p.162).

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The dog, Canis familiaris, has become one of the most popular companion animals since it was domesticated from the gray wolf, Canis lupus, its sole progenitor (Wayne et al. 1997). Because of its incredible versatility and variety, the dog can adjust and accommodate to fit the lifestyle of his owner. Young and Bannasch (2006) report that the dog has the greatest diversity recognized within any single species. Dogs vary in body size and type, ear and tail length and carriage, coat patterns and colors, craniofacial features, and even limb formation. Virtually any and all combinations of traits can be manipulated in dogs through selective breeding, creating a variation in morphology, anatomy, physiology, and behavior.
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Thesis Supervisor: Harvey Ginsburg, Ph.D. | Department of Psychology
Second Reader: Bob Fischer, Ph.D. | Department of Philosophy
Approved: Heather C. Galloway Ph.D. | Dean, Honors College



Since 1959, the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novisibirsk, Russia has attempted to domesticate the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, in order to better understand the domestication of the dog, Canis familiaris, from the gray wolf, Canis lupus. Interest in owning these newly-domesticated animals as pets has increased, adding to the controversy of exotic pet ownership. Pet foxes in the United States have come across negative community attitudes and have been relocated, confiscated, and even exterminated as a result.

This study investigated existing participant attitudes toward pets and pet ownership and analyzed how the manipulation of canine physical attributes by domestication can affect participant perceptions. Anonymous surveys were administered to 97 undergraduate students enrolled in psychology classes at Texas State University. Each participant’s attitudes toward dogs and pet-dog ownership were measured alongside their attitudes toward domesticated foxes and pet-domesticated-fox ownership. Additional questions were created to assess participants’ legal and ethical attitudes, knowledge of fox domestication, and opinions and experiences in regard to pet ownership. Images were created to isolate physical attributes in canines in order to assess their impact on human perception of undomesticated and domesticated features.

The results of this study showed a preference for pet dogs over pet foxes and provided evidence that a majority of people have participated in the practice of owning pet dogs. A connection was found between attitudes toward pet dogs and foxes. Attitudes toward dog and fox breeding and laws regarding pet-dog ownership and pet-fox ownership showed a preference for the legal possession of dogs as pets over foxes, but a moderate agreement to both dog and fox breeding. A low percentage of participants were found to have knowledge of the Farm-Fox Experiment and a moderately-high percentage showed interest in owning a domesticated fox as a pet. This study’s illustrations found that participants instantly reacted to physical attributes manipulated by domestication, but often preferred the standard wild red-colored fox. Different physical traits were also found to have different perceptions of participants.

This study has shown that while our communities are not yet ready to accept these animals into the home, there is potential. Not only do these animals have the genetic potential to become more domesticated and suited for life with humans, participants were shown to have moderately high favorability scores toward pet domesticated foxes.
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When structuring one’s classroom, one should strive to create a community. A community is a place for students to feel cared for, supported, and encouraged. It’s a place where each student is valued and respected as an important individual and a place where each person learns to appreciate the differences of others. Students who learn within positive classroom communities think as a collective group and constantly work together to achieve common goals. In this effective environment, students come together as a group, a team, and even a family. Community means understanding and creates an atmosphere in which students can work, live, and learn together.

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Text: Wolfe, G. (2006). Look!: body language in art. London, England: Frances Lincoln Limited.

Text type: Informational Children’s Book

Synopsis: This book focuses on 18 different artworks from artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol, examining how artists use body language to communicate within their artworks. The author focuses on examining how faces, hands, and bodies, overall, deliver messages and tell stories to show how a person or character is feeling or what they may be thinking. This text illustrates how classical art can relate to contemporary times by recognizing universal ways to communicate nonverbally.

Analysis: This book will challenge its readers to evaluate how communication can be delivered through art and through body language by asking thought-provoking questions such as “What do you think will happen next?” and “How would their lives have been different?” Activities are offered to encourage readers to further their exploration of body language in art. For even further research, biographical information is given about each artist within the book as well as where to find the original paintings shown in the text. This book will allow students to improve their literacy and thinking skills while allowing them to explore a new perspective in communicating within art.

“Leonardo Da Vinci: The Renaissance Man” by Dan Danko

Text: Danko, D. (2012). Leonardo Da Vinci: The Renaissance man. New Delhi, India: Campfire Graphic Novels.

Text type: Graphic Novel

Synopsis: This graphic novel illustrates the life of Leonardo Da Vinci, a Renaissance man who was most famous for his paintings as he experimented with media, his inventions as he tried to revolutionize technology, and his writings as he documented his thoughts throughout his life within many journals and sketchbooks. Focusing on the mystery of the stolen masterpiece, The Mona Lisa, this novel illustrates da Vinci’s life and his impact on the art world today. The reader is given the chance to view da Vinci’s complicated life without missing any details while also following the recovery of the missing painting.

Analysis: This graphic novel is an excellent resource to use in the art classroom, but may be better suited for high school students as it contains dense text and rigorous vocabulary. The storyline of da Vinci’s life is complex and detailed and does not contain any inappropriate or profane material. This text will help introduce or reinforce vocabulary while improving students’ literacy skills as they follow the complex story. It will help demonstrate how Leonardo da Vinci influenced many different subject areas including science, art, aviation, and design by illustrating his inventions, artworks, sketches, and ideas. He also influenced the way that humans view the human body through his incredibly detailed studies of muscles, bones, and skin. This text will allow students to understand more about one of the most influential artists of all time while enjoying a graphic novel that will also help them within their studies of art and design.

On the morning of November 24, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, infamous for the assassination of John F. Kennedy, was to be transferred to an armored truck; yet, Oswald never made it to the vehicle. Surrounded by crowds of news reporters, cameramen, and photographers, Jack Ruby was virtually unseen as he stepped forward, drew a Colt Cobra .38 pistol, and murdered Oswald with a fatal shot. “The Shot Seen ‘Round the World” was instantaneously covered by the media, scarring the event into the public’s memory.

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Everyone’s heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but there are a few instances when this phrase is no longer true. Some pictures have been seen so many times that they no longer have a voice, no longer tell a story, and can no longer share a thousand words. When found in art, these images hold little value as they remain stagnant and unchanged. Read more

Skyrim Cover

If you don’t know by now, my favorite video game of all time right now is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the PC, Xbox360, and Playstation 3. I personally play Skyrim on the Xbox360 as I don’t own a Playstation3 and don’t care for playing video games on the computer. I am such a fan of the Elder Scrolls video games because of their attention to detail and attempts to create realistic, thriving, natural worlds.

Skyrim is an open-world role-playing fantasy game, which hits many of my favorite things about video games. I love role-playing video games, fantasy games, and games with lots of exploration and open worlds. Skyrim is a massive open world that allows its players to explore to their heart’s content and do whatever they please. While there are plots to delve into and goals to complete, the speed is left completely to the player and all barriers are down, allowing the player to go anywhere at any time and do anything. So many times I find myself simply exploring the countryside and scaling mountains just to enjoy the scenery and see what’s out there.

One of my favorite things about Skyrim is the vast amount of wildlife found roaming the open lands and the realism involved with them. The Elder Scrolls team tries to create believable worlds within their video games, so they spend the time to create a working ecosystem complete with prey and predators. When exploring the lands, you’ll come across deer grazing in the woods, elk venturing the tundra, and bears hunting them down. The animals live their own lives and make sense in the space around them. Not only can you see these animals and simply spend time with them or follow them around, you can also chase and hunt them down, ride them, fight alongside them, battle them, skin their fur, eat their meat, wear their hides, collect their claws, cook them in a stew, and mash their teeth into a powder to use in potions, and that’s only the beginning of what you can do!

The Elder Scrolls series always aims to create living, breathing, believable worlds filled with lore and history, so they allow the player to do almost anything they can imagine. This wide array of possibilities really helps bring the world of Skyrim to life and helps add believability to the animals and wildlife. The animals are not just computer models running about, but can actually help or hinder the player in his adventures. All of this realistic interaction really helps make Skyrim an enjoyable experience full of life and realism.

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Zoomology is a game of wildlife recognition that I created that educates others in zoology through the use of zoomed-in photos and close-ups of animals, such as magnified images of their eyes, feathers, scales, or fur. Through this entertaining, yet educational game, children, students, and people of all ages can test their knowledge of wildlife identification and in the process learn something new. This game not only allows people to enjoy learning more about nature, but also creates a bond between animals and people. People are generally much less afraid and are usually more attracted to the familiar, drawing toward that which they know. When one is able to identify the species of animals that live in his environment, he is more likely to enjoy the environment and wish to preserve it. He has a much closer bond with the nature and life around him and will treasure it more than one who does not know the animals by name. Zoomology is a game that treasures the ability to identify animals in an attempt to bring to attention the threat of losing endangered species, to help those threatened species regain their numbers, and overall, educate the public about zoology and increase their knowledge of wildlife.

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"Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke

“Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke, Translation by M. D. Herter Norton

“Then draw to Nature. Then try, like some first human being, to say what you see and experience and love and lose.” Letter One, 16

Born in 1875, the great German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898 and went on to become renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart. Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young, would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. Those letters, still a fresh source of inspiration and insight, are accompanied here by a chronicle of Rilke’s life that shows what he was experiencing in his own relationship to life and work when he wrote them.

“For the creator must be a world for himself and find everything in himself and in Nature to whom he has attached himself.” Letter One, 17

“After all this it is not hard to understand how I determined in that very hour to send my poetic attempts to Rainer Maria Rilke and to ask him for his opinion. Not yet twenty and close on the threshold of a profession which I felt to be entirely contrary to my inclinations, I hoped to find understanding, if in any one, in the poet who had written Mir zur Feier. And without having intended to do so at all, I found myself writing a covering letter in which I unreservedly laid bare my heart as never before and never since to any second human being.” -Franz Xaver Kappus, Berlin, June 1929, Introduction, 12

“If you will cling to Nature, to the simple in Nature, to the little things that hardly anyone sees, and that can so unexpectedly become big and beyond measuring; if you have this love of inconsiderable things and seek quite simply, as one who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier, more coherent and somehow more conciliatory for you…” Letter Four, 27

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