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>
>  Empirical observations- that they are all actors in a network, because
>  they are linked together - exacerbates the need for theoretical clarity
>  of the specific actor attributes and specific relational attributes -
>  that I would expect to vary in heterogeneous networks.

One thing interesting about these networks, and perhaps
interesting from a modeling perspective about more
networks than we typically acknowledge, is that different
people (or dogs) perceive the network differently, and thus
the traditional assignment of attributes to nodes hides a
lot of subtlety and truth.

E.g. a dog fancier will put a mutt and a pedigreed schnauzer
into two separate categories in the context of a dog show,
but that same person might treat those two animals as
equivalent when walking around the neighborhood.  If the mutt
is part ill-tempered pit bull, you might reasonably classify both them and
their owner as "dangerous unwelcome neighbors" independent
of species.

A not very exhaustive search turned up this reference, indicating that
pets are good for social capital.

The pet connection: Pets as a conduit for social capital?
Lisa Wood, Billie Giles-Corti and Max Bulsara
School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia,
Nedlands, Western Australia 6009, Australia
Available online 3 March 2005.
Social Science & Medicine
Volume 61, Issue 6, September 2005, Pages 1159-1173

Abstract

There is growing interest across a range of disciplines in the
relationship between pets and health, with a range of therapeutic,
physiological, psychological and psychosocial benefits now documented.
While much of the literature has focused on the individual benefits of
pet ownership, this study considered the potential health benefits
that might accrue to the broader community, as encapsulated in the
construct of social capital. A random survey of 339 adult residents
from Perth, Western Australia were selected from three suburbs and
interviewed by telephone. Pet ownership was found to be positively
associated with some forms of social contact and interaction, and with
perceptions of neighbourhood friendliness. After adjustment for
demographic variables, pet owners scored higher on social capital and
civic engagement scales. The results suggest that pet ownership
provides potential opportunities for interactions between neighbours
and that further research in this area is warranted. Social capital is
another potential mechanism by which pets exert an influence on human
health.

Keywords: Pets; Social capital; Health; Community; Sense of community; Australia

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