Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

Animals Make Us Human
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Quantity: Decrease Quantity: Increase Quantity:. Quick view Add to Cart. Whether it's how to make the healthiest environment for the dog you must leave alone most of the day, how to keep pigs from being bored, or how to know if the lion pacing in the zoo is miserable or just exercising, Grandin teaches us to challenge our assumptions about animal contentment and honor our bond with our fellow creatures.

Animals Make Us Human is the culmination of almost thirty years of research, experimentation, and experience. This is essential reading for anyone who's ever owned, cared for, or simply cared about an animal. With the groundbreaking Animals in Translation , Grandin drew on her own experience with autism as well as her distinguished career as an animal scientist to deliver extraordinary insights into how animals think. Now she builds on those insights to show how to give animals the best and happiest life.

Over 60 percent of Americans live with pets, and last year spending on pets crossed the 60 billion dollar line, ensuring these creatures of cohabit are well nurtured, groomed, entertained, and, ideally kept happy. Countless studies have shown the benefits of pet ownership for humans—decreased rates of depression, heart disease, and other ills.

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But what about the animals? Is pet ownership mutually beneficial to the dogs, cats, lizards, and turtles we bring into our homes and families? Run Spot Run leads readers on a mindful exploration of the ethics and experiences of pet ownership.

In a series of short essays, Pierce asks readers to think about the animals, and ourselves. She offers philosophically informed discussions of the decisions we make—from whether to rescue a pet, to how to treat our companions illnesses, to how to best train and feed them.

All pets are considered, from dogs to hermit crabs, and every current or future pet owner and animal lover will find points of relation and invaluable advice on living with animals companions. Grandin is a past member of the board of directors of the Autism Society of America.

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Most recently she was named one of Time magazines most influential people of the year. What do animals need to have a good mental life? This question seems easy to answer until we realize that even though we can provide for an animal's physical welfare, we actually don't know that much about the specifics of an animal's emotional life and what they need to be happy. In this book, Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; , animal welfare guru Temple Grandin explores what the most commonly kept species of domestic animals need to live a good life -- to be happy.

But unlike with most humans, we cannot directly ask animals what makes them happy, so instead, we have to infer that answer based on their behavior.

Basically, if animals act normally, then they are probably happy, whereas animals that act abnormally probably are not. But most people don't know what behaviors are normal for domestic animals or, if we do, these normal behaviors are not allowed by modern society. Therein lies the crux of the problem.

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Grandin's main premise is that autistic people share a similar perception of the world with animals, and since she is a high-functioning autistic with a lot of training and experience in animal handling practices, she is the best person to teach people how to understand the animals that we share our lives with. The author begins her discussion with an overview of neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp's research where he defines the "blue-ribbon emotions": when specific brain regions that correspond to those core emotions are stimulated with a tiny electrical current, specific and predictable behaviors are elicited.

If you stimulate the fear centers, the animal runs away, for example. Panksepp identified these core emotions, which he always writes in all capital letters;. Grandin introduces stereotypies, which are abnormal behaviors that are repeated for many hours at a time. These behaviors range from pacing in captive carnivores , chewing in captive grazing animals , and other non-locomotory movements, such as rocking or self-injurious behaviors in children.

Stereotypies provide comfort to animals and humans that live in an impoverished environment, and the presence of these abnormal behaviors indicate that an animal or human is either miserable now or was miserable in the past.

Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

She gives her readers tips for recognizing various emotional states in these different animals and provides specific advice for how to avoid triggering negative reactions. Overall, I found this information to be very useful, even when I remained unconvinced that it was always valid. At least some of Grandin's comments are just common sense, but most people who have not grown up with various types of animals need to have these things explained to them, just as Grandin had to have human social behavior explained to her. Such as; horses are high-fear prey animals, tame cattle can't be herded, and pigs are highly curious animals that need to have something to do with their minds and their snouts.

Based on my own lifetime of experience with animals I grew up in a farming community where I lived with cats, dogs, chickens, etc. I also think that her book is a useful guide for helping parrot owners to think about how to enrich their birds' environment in a way that is meaningful for them Grandin does briefly mention feather pulling in parrots, but otherwise does not discuss them. But her chapters about housecats are, at least in part, just plain wrong.

Grandin cites English shelter worker, Sarah Hartwell, as saying that personality in cats is related to hair color -- something I am completely unconvinced is true.

For example, she cites Hartwell as claiming that black cats are friendlier and more social overall with both other cats and with humans than cats with other coat colors. I found this to be a most extraordinary claim, especially since I've not found this to be true, despite having lived with and cared for many cats all my life.

This book contains footnotes that refers interested readers to a variety of additional resources in the back, and it includes a user-friendly index. I found the writing to be peculiar; blunt, honest and very linear, sometimes stilted and other times quite amusing, but it was easy to follow once I decided that I trusted Grandin's ability to express herself accurately. Grandin's co-author, Catherine Johnson, is also very well-educated, having a PhD in neurobiology as well as being the mother of two autistic sons. Overall this book is well-worth reading and the tools it provides its readers for thinking about how animals probably perceive the world will be evident long after you've finished the book.

Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University.