The Co-Adapted Community: A New Vision for the Parks at Walter Reed

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The human-canine bond is one that has existed for thousands of years, yet not until more recently has it gained serious attention in the military medical field. The following thesis will use architecture as a way to explore the physical and psychological rehabilitative relationship between veterans and rescued canines. As soldiers return home from deployment, many struggle with reintegration into civilian life. The therapeutic potential of service dogs, however, has become a widely recognized recovery tool. Meanwhile, there are thousands of non-service dogs suffering extended periods in animal shelters with adverse psychological effects. In a society primarily centered on the typical human experience, the built environment often demonstrates a narrow perspective that lacks sensitivity towards the atypical user. Soldiers and dogs alike perceive and experience the world uniquely, and a further exploration of their distinct relationship can begin to inform how we might develop a new type of shared healing environment or co-adapted community.