Pavlov Pays Tribute to His Canine Colleague
Published: July 31, 2001 (Issue # 691)
Sergey Grachev / The St. Petersburg Times
All too often, it seems, the animals that put their lives and dignity on the line for the sake of pushing back the frontiers of knowledge are quickly forgotten by history. Only a handful - such as Laika the space dog, Dolly the cloned sheep, or Koko, the gorilla who learned sign language - ever achieve the kind of prominence that their efforts merit.
To this list, however, one should add the creature depicted here, an animal known to history simply as "Pavlov's dog." This monument, located in the garden of the ominously named Institute of Experimental Medicine on the appropriately named Ul. Akademika Pavlova, actually salutes not just the dog who famously learned to salivate whenever a bell rang, but all the forgotten four-legged heroes of experimental medicine.
Perhaps more interestingly, the idea for the monument came from Pavlov himself. The great physiologist also approved its design in 1935 and wrote the moving inscription: "Although the dog - helpmate and friend of mankind since prehistoric times - may be sacrificed for science, our dignity demands that it be done only if absolutely necessary and without needless suffering. I. Pavlov."
Although Ivan Pavlov was born near Ryazan in 1849, his life and career are intimately associated with St. Petersburg where he lived from 1890 until his death in 1936. In addition to his studies of conditioning in animals, which were summarized in his 1926 treatise "Lectures on Conditioned Reflexes," and which served as the foundation of behavioral psychology, Pavlov conducted innovative research on circulation and digestion. He won the Nobel Prize for Physiology (now, Medicine) in 1904.
If one takes memorial plaques as the measure of distinction, Pavlov is among the most honored people ever to have lived in St. Petersburg. In addition to a plaque just a few steps away from the monument pictured here at the Institute of Experimental Medicine he is remembered at 1/2 Nab. Leitenanta Shmidta, where he was living when he died.
He is also commemorated at the Military Medicine Academy at 10 Ul. Komissara Smirnova and at 18 Bolshaya Pushkarskaya Ul. Finally, there is a plaque commemorating Pavlov at the Pavlov Institute of Physiology at 6 Nab. Makarova.