my favorite titles of animal studies works: a list
presented here for you, without comment:
- Cosmodolphins: Feminist Cultural Studies of Technology, Animals, and the Sacred
- Empire of Dogs: Canines, Japan, and the Making of the Modern Imperial World
- Beyond dominance and affection: Living with rabbits in post-humanist households
- The Platypus and the Mermaid and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination
- The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats
- The tamed wild: symbolic bears in American culture
- Blue Juice: Euthanasia in Veterinary Medicine
- Frog and cyberfrog are friends: Dissection simulation and animal advocacy
- Blood Intimacies and Biodicy: Keeping Faith with Ticks
“19th century coal miners would traditionally take canaries in cages down into the mine with them. The birds would act as an early warning system for carbon monoxide gas. When the canary stopped singing the miner would know that he had to escape the chamber he was in.”
“This particular yellow canary was obviously a favoured pet as well as a working bird. Inscribed with the legend : ‘In Memory of Little Joe. Died November 3rd 1875. Aged 3 Years’”
this is quite lovely- a bird that wasn’t just a tool for the miners, he was an individual and obviously well-loved.
The turnspit dog, now extinct, was a small working breed used in the kitchens of large households. The dogs would run in a small wheel, kind of like a hamster wheel, to turn roasting meat over the fire. According to written sources, the dogs were usually kept in pairs so that neither dog would be overworked or overheated. The breed died out around the 19th century, when household chores became more mechanized.
Although the idea of dogs bred just to turn meat might seem too bizarre to be real, the dogs do appear in the historical record, both written and visual. Here’s an selection from the 1877 book Breeding, Training, Management, Diseases Of Dogs: Together with an easy and agreeable Method of Instructing all Breeds of Dogs in a great variety of Amusing and Useful Performances by Francis Butler that describes a turnspit dog in verse:
Yellow or brown, with muzzle often black, Low bandy legs, and disproportioned back ; Eve of intelligence, car rather small, Nose quite extensive, teeth, the best of all; Short coat, stout built, inelegant in form, Problem unsolved, where Turnspit first was born ;
His home the kitchen, ‘prenticed to the cook, He notes her movements, scans her every look. When fat and lazy, and for work unfit. Is oft’ incog., when called to turn the spit; Hides in the garret, or would fain be laine, So dinner’s late, and Bandy gets the blame. Defends his post beside the kitchen fire; Nor stranger dare provoke his latent ire ; Displays his ivories, and with angry tone, Growls out menacingly, “let me alone.” Unlike his compeers, never made a pet, Confined at home, and at his duties set, His working time p’raps three scant hours a day,
From them, unguarded, slyly steals away. Although his master often may you greet, Ashamed t’ acknowledge Bandy in the street: Alone perchance you’ll find him on the jog, The awkward, crooklegged, fireside kitchen dog.
You can learn about Whiskey, the only surviving specimin of the breed, here.
They don’t want to control people, they want to control their own lives. It is what we are all aiming for – to keep control of our own lives. It is a fundamental biological urge.”
— Prof. John Bradshaw on dogs, “Why dog trainers will have to change their ways”
Extensive observations reveal it’s primarily those cats and dogs that are owned by humans that carry on with their loud seemingly pointless conversations. A study on free-ranging dogs in Baltimore in the 1970’s spearheaded by Dr. Alan Beck, showed that dogs that were owned but allowed to roam barked boisterously on many different occasions. Dogs that grew up in the absence of human and that were not tame remained relatively quiet.”
— Dr. Sophia Yin, Meowing Cats and Barking Dogs: Why Are Some Pets So Vocal?
They largely elude us, whales, thus their deep allure. The earth’s most massive creatures, they nevertheless spend the bulk of their lives off in their own element, beyond our ken, about as close as fellow mammals can get to being extraterrestrials. Other than the occasional disoriented stray or the victims of strandings, whales typically visit us only fleetingly, to grab a passing breath of air or, rarer still, when they’re breaching: spectacular, body-long heaves, the impetus for which still baffles scientists, who have attributed them to everything from sheer exuberance to attempts to shake off body lice. And yet for all of their inherent elusiveness, the gray whales of Baja baffle scientists for the opposite reason: They can’t seem to get enough of us humans.”
— Charles Siebert, Watching Whales Watching Us