And forget what I think was in one of the above comments - animals are not cheap - they are very expensive, even a simple mouse costs big dollars.
Thanks for your comment. I have looked at providing laboratory animals because they do fetch a good price (as in 100-200 times as much compared to pets) but the facilities to do so are expensive to build. When I said the animals were cheap, I meant compared to the other costs of research, mostly hiring a team of university masters graduates.
And Ann: forget about two-way communication with animals - we cannot even do it with chimpanzees...
Of course it is just speculation that I can achieve 2-way communication but I think the chosen species have an advantage over chimpanzees. Some humans have lost the ability to speak from some rather minor brain damage yet usually retain the ability to understand and often to write their language. This is due to the high number of areas of the brain that are needed for verbal language creation. Some burrowing animal species that are active in the day and live in colonies (fossorial, diurnal, communal) have genetic pressure to provide more meaning to the warning calls of their colony members so they respond correctly while they are hiding in holes and cannot check what is happening without risking the predator being at the entrance of the hole. Two of such fossorial diurnal communal species (Richardson Ground Squirrels and Gunnison Prairie Dogs) have been carefully tested and confirmed to have a complex verbal language. Two more more species (coruros and a meerkat species http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coruro
) are currently being studied for complex language. If they already have a verbal language in the wild (and all those parts of the brain functioning together correctly), it is possible that they can be encouraged to use that same language in other ways then just warning calls. I may not achieve this but I am going to try. Degus are fossorial diurnal communal animals who make an incredible number of unique sounds among individuals that have been bred in captivity for about 70 generations and they are already in the pet trade for decades. Richardson ground squirrels live in high numbers where I live (to the point of having hunts where several million tails have been turned in yearly) and make good pets too. Those will be two of the species I will start with.
What we can do is look at animals' natural needs and behaviors so that we can provide for the fulfillment of those needs in captivity
One way to have a good pet is to pick one that can act natural and still fit into our lives. The natural behaviors of cats and dogs have made them shine above other species as pets. I am thinking there may be other species that can fit human life well and especially with modern electronics. Two-way communication via computers would be neat and fun and could provide a fun and exciting life for the animal... if verbal communication is a natural part of their wild life. If I don't achieve this or only in limited fashion, I can still develop superior living quarters and toys that can be copied in a laboratory setting (or on fur farms or as people's pets or endangered wildlife recovery efforts).