Currently reading: Animals Make Us Human

Temple Grandin’s 2009 book, “Animals Make Us Human,” is fascinating. Animals experience major emotional systems such as RAGE, PANIC, and SEEKING.To keep them happy, we want to trigger SEEKING but not RAGE or PANIC.

Grandin explains that dogs are not pack animals but tend to form small family groups. The much-discussed dominance hierarchy of docs appears when humans throw them into larger packs of unrelated animals. Dogs are selected to pay attention to humans and read human emotions. In fact, they are the only animals that can learn to look where you point instead of at your finger. The “doggy smile” shows their happiness in our company. Dogs do not do well if left alone all day; and if we don’t let them roam we must find other ways of engaging their attention.

Cats are less “readable” and less adapted to us. They are commensals, who “eat at the same table,” but their function for most of our shared history is as a semi-wild hunter. Cats have only three neotenous behaviors: purring, meowing, and kneading as kittens do. People who wish to read cats’ feelings must attend to their ears, whiskers, tail, and posture, not their relatively immobile faces.

Herd or flock animals have different needs based on the same system.

Just don’t read the section on chicken ‘farming’ late at night; it will keep you up with anger or horror.


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