Researchers at Saint Louis University gave one group of old people in nursing homes a proper biological dog made out of bones and meat and hair, then also tried out a robotic AIBO to see how the old folks reacted to the two.
They were both received very similarly, with the oldie subjects bonding pretty much equally with the unconditional love offered by the robotic and real doggies.
"The most surprising thing is they worked almost equally well in terms of alleviating loneliness and causing residents to form attachments," said Dr William Banks.
Apparently, lots of elderly people feel more than a little upset about having to ditch their pets when moving into a home - and the easy-to-care-for robot versions make it easier on them. Plus there's no poo, and if they start whining to go out you can switch them off. And they can be kept in a cupboard without the RSPCA getting involved.
Shares in Dogs closed down a record 42p last night to finish at an all time low of 112p, on the back of this devastating news for the meat-based dog industry.