Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our Love of Animals

While I was still contemplating my generalized love of animals I came upon this article from the Boston Globe which told me about Pat Stillman, an anthropologist who says "animals made us human". She means that early homo sapiens studied animals and came to understand much about them and thus understanding much about themselves. Babara King, another anthropologist at the College of William and Mary has a forthcoming book called Being With Animals. These thoughtful women point out that only homo sapiens cares for the infants of other species [think dogs, cats, horses, etc] and continues caring for them into their old age. These are, of course, our pets and our working animals and some of our food. Our relationships are very much a two-way street. We care for them and they care for us.

At a meeting this a few days ago a woman who had lived in Texas told a story of a neighbor of hers who came home late at night. Their dog was standing in the driveway, barking at them as they drove up -- which was very unusual for this particular dog. When they stopped the car, they saw that there was a rattle snake in the driveway near the garage door. The dog was warning them of danger. This is not an unusual story. I am thinking of this story because of yesterday's feelings about the horseshoe crabs -- which I think are partly dying of old age. The younger ones, I don't know -- perhaps some are molting, and not dying. I'm ignorant about the matter.

However, I notice that both the anthropologists in the article are women, and their thesis is not accepted by all. During my walk today I wondered if women were really the first hunters but stepped aside when the prey animals were found largely because they were often pregnant or toting a dependent baby, so let the men do the killing. I am not an anthropologist, I'm simply guessing. I also wonder if it was women who domesticated dogs and cats partly because both species are good hunters [who hasn't had a pet cat deliver a bird or chipmunk as a gift?]. I'm getting into an area of conjecture in which I have no expertise. My mind meanders along these thought paths when I take my walks. But a final thought -- why do we assume the artists of the cave art where clearly animals had been observed very acutely, were men?

[By the way the picture of pigs is just because I happen to like them.]

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