“Pets are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.”
— Milan Kundera
This blog post aims to discuss Donna Haraway’s (2007) notion of the ‘companion species’ as well as personal narratives of relations between pets and humans in the form of a photo essay. Four narratives will be provided, each with a photograph narrating the pet-human relationship.
The Companion Species:
The companion species is a term that was coined by Donna Haraway (2007). It is an active relationship with animals and other organic beings. Haraway (2007) looks at the relationship between dogs and humans and how their lives join to explain the notions of the companion species further. They have been kept as pets, creating fond memories and mourned by their owners (Haraway 2007:14). It is this relationship with humans in society that makes them an example of a companion species and by living with animals, they become apart of our everyday journey, as we do theirs and we create a history together. Haraway (2007:9) describes the Companion Species Manifesto as a “kinship claim”. Humanity therefore only exists due to the companionship with certain species.
The four photographs below are accompanied by personal narratives that highlight pet-human relations.
A photograph of a clutch of chicks after arriving at their new home.
Anlu was born and raised in the small town of Ellisras on a plot of land that was big enough to hold a variety of different animals. One afternoon, her father returned home with a number of baby chicks to add to their sustainable farm inspired living situation. Anlu, being the youngest out of her siblings, was the most intrigued and excited about the arrival of these chicks, immediately claiming them as her own. Over the next few days, she spent hours picking out names for all twelve chicks. Even going as far as making sure all their names rhymed. After picking out names, Anlu went as far as making each one a name tag she would attach to their ankles so she never mixed up or favorited one chick over the other. Four years have gone by and whenever Anlu returns to Ellisras, she still makes time to enjoy the company of what are now fully grown chickens, and is yet to forget one of their names.
Photograph of two lovely Dobermans who changed the life of a lonely soul.
Heather Burgess went through a very emotionally challenging period after her divorce from her previous husband of 34 years. Her children had all left home and were living all over the world so she was left to pick up the pieces on her own. In the midst of all the change Heather was experiencing, she decided to adopt two beautifully breed Dobermans who would quickly become her reason of happiness. Heather adored these dogs more than words could describe, she spent hour’s everyday training them to their full potential and teaching them all sorts of new tricks. And every night, she would prepare not only a meal for herself but a specially prepared meal, full of nutrients for both dogs. Resulting in a proud owner of two dogs that won numerous awards at multiple competitions. Sadly, the dogs passed away due to old age but Heather still holds them dear to her heart with such found memories and the trophies still in her lounge cabinet.
Best friend selfie.
Ryan Dewes was a stubborn nineteen year old who wanted nothing more than his own bulldog he could make his number one companion. After spending five years at boarding school in a hostel which had an English bulldog as its logo, Ryan was set that this was the pet he was going to get after finishing school. After much deliberation and extensive convincing, Ryan got the approval of his parents to buy a bulldog. Ryan spent many months saving up for the exact dog he wanted and based his decision purely on the dog he had the most connection with. Max was the smallest dog out of his litter and was often disregarded by the others. Four years have passed and Ryan still considers Max to be the best purchase he has made. The most cherished moments with Max are the road trips they take together, Max with his head out the window and tongue slobbering everywhere.
A enduring embrace between sisters and the ‘king of the house’.
Huey, otherwise known as Simba or little Lion man, was introduced to the family household by two sisters who had no permission to bring any animal of any sorts back home. It took a few weeks for their parents to warm up to the idea of having another pet running around the house but if you ask the family today, they could not imagine life without Huey. The way the family speaks about Huey solidifies the absolute admiration they have for their little pet. Describing him as the smallest ball of fluff with the biggest heart.
“There cannot be just one companion species; there have to be at least two to make one,” (Haraway, 2007:12). I hope this blog post allows one to reflect on the many positive emotions an animal can provide for us as humans but even more so, what we as humans can provide for them.
An absolute amazing article to checkout! All about the top PET Instagram accounts! http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/pictures/150110-pictures-animals-pets-instagram-cats-dogs-hedgehog/
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Haraway, D. 2007. The Companion Species Manifesto: dogs, people, and significant otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.
Shelton, D. 2001. Pioneer pets: the dogs of Territorial Tucson: a photo essay. The Journal of Arizona History 42(4):445-472.