A JoongAng Daily column raises the possibility that after millennia as the favored companion of humans, dogs may be in for some stiff competition from robots. While it's likely to be a while (if ever) before we see a human-level robot, simpler mammal like robots may not be far away. The article cites recent research by St. Louis University researches that nursing home residents achieved the same level emotional bonding and relief from loneliness whether they were given a meat dog (named Sparky) or a metal dog (a Sony AIBO). Over the course of eight weeks, both groups of old folks came to talk to and pet their dogs equally. The article also notes the rumor that Sony AIBOs may be coming back. See the related Sky News article for more on the study. This research was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association but actually dates back to 2006, the same year Sony terminated the AIBO. See the original St. Louis University press release for more.