Our Pets and Us: The Evolution of a Relationship

T.E. Creus. Contrarium, $7.99 trade paper (170p) ISBN 978-1-77727-750-5
Despite centuries of scientific discoveries, animals “are still a mystery,” writes Contrarium editor Creus in his wide-ranging ramble on the animal-human bond. Creus draws on history, art, and literature to explore how humans and animals have evolved to understand one another: early cave paintings, he writes, were attempts by homo sapiens to capture animal behavior for their personal gain, as “they believed that by painting them, they could somehow capture their essence so as to become quick as leopards, strong as bears.” The author retells touching stories of loyal canines, such as the famed Hachiko, who waited nine years at a Tokyo train station for the return of his deceased owner, and surveys the archaeological record going back 30,000 years to look for proof of canine domestication. One chapter dedicated to writers and their pets discusses Hemingway and his six-toed felines, and philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who had a series of poodles all named Atma (a Sanskrit word meaning “universal soul”). Little of the information is groundbreaking, but Creus makes it sing with his contagious curiosity: “I don’t know if the type of animal chosen could be in any way related to the type of writing. Do poets prefer cats, and novel writers dogs?” Animal lovers will appreciate this quirky, episodic investigation. (Self-published)
Reviewed on : 02/17/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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