I think that in order to completely understand what Masson is saying about dogs, it's necessary to read the book. He is not the first person to write about our coevolution and mutual domestication, which are indeed unique. He presents a vegan message and doesn't think any sentient nonhuman is on this planet for our use and his recent books make that clear. And though I don't believe the cats in his home are vegan (and I have no problem with that), the other animals are.
With that said, it is true that the average individual in our culture values dogs more than chickens, and this book could very well appear to be just another "why dogs are different and more valuable" book. It's simply not the case that we--humans--have evolved to have the relationship with cows that we have with dogs, though. He does address the stories (like sanctuary and other rescue stories) that may indeed reflect the love he's talking about with humans and dogs (I've had my own, with Muscovy ducks). He's not saying they don't exist. But those are individual exceptions, and he's not talking about exceptions in this book. He's talking about tens of thousands of years (and perhaps more) of evolution, and his theory (which you might disagree with in the end) that dogs make us human.
I hope that helps.
I'm new to commenting here, and I thought the exchange would be a little less, dare I say, rude.
Perhaps if you read the book you would be less defensive. I don't disagree that we domesticate other animals for our benefit. I don't think Masson would disagree either. He's exploring *that* we have done so, and other authors before him have also explored the idea that dogs chose us, to their benefit, as well.
There's no argument for treating dogs any differently than cows in the book. It is part memoir--an homage to one dog in particular--and part creative nonfiction in that it discusses the reality that dogs have played a unique role in our lives. I'm not sure what all of the anger is about.
I have read Gary Francione (and Best and Dunayer and Regan and Adams and Hall) and I am an abolitionist, although I am not in the Francione-style abolitionist group. I have blogged since 2006 at Animal Person (and daily for over 3 of those years), often about speciesism, human exceptionalism and property. Also I spent way too much time mired in the welfare versus rights debate.
This is tiresome. I can only recommend you read the book, as I don't think you and Masson, from what I've seen thus far, would disagree on much.
Remember that non-vegans read these comments and, fair or not, make judgments about vegans (and abolitionists) based on the comments. This is exactly why I rarely comment anymore. I'd rather spend my time speaking with omnivores and vegetarians than being rude to other vegans.
Posted by marymartin, March 11, 2014 at 05:00 AM
Posted by marymartin, March 8, 2014 at 01:24 PM
Posted by marymartin, March 8, 2014 at 09:08 AM
Posted by marymartin, March 6, 2014 at 05:00 AM
Tell those human animals who keep "pet" pigs, chickens, and other domesticated and free roaming animals that they are not as "emotionally" expressive as dogs. Human selective attention and self centered desires determine who and what we will (because we can) exploit, by describing some as less or more than, and not because of emotive level variations among species of animals. Another Speciesist interview
Human animals have not "evolved" in order to "relate" in any meaningful manner with cows as we do with dogs for a very good reason. We consciously and deliberately domesticate a cow for HER milk which is designed for HER offspring and not for us or our offspring. Currently, goat's have become a food fashion and are exploited for their milk designed for their offspring and cruelly killed for food now that goat flesh and milk is perceived as a "better" animal food health choice. If people could MILK dogs, they would and that is evolution my dear. I daresay, another shill for a book author.
Yes I am outraged and unless one suffers from deadened sensibilities, others ought to be as well. Right now in the U.S., dogs, cats, and other domestic and free roaming animals suffer more pain and death in spite of large wealthy animal welfare organizations who solicit money and make false claims by which they take credit for progress in improving the lives of animals. Dogs and cats are property and, therefore, slaves to humans. Right here in RI, The State Veterinarian proposed bringing back the gas chamber for the growing numbers of unwanted dogs and cats.As you may know, gas is a cheap alternative to euthanasia. Can one imagine a more aberrant and cruel death for an innocent being. Now, imagine a gas chamber with 60 dogs and cats locked inside. It happened right here. Furthermore, none of the large animal welfare organizations have made any difference in improvements or protection in the lives of animals.
My objection to Masson's book is that it is yet another example of a romanticized notion of dogs seen as human partners. Yes, dogs are dependent on humans for food and companionship in large part because canines, like humans, are pack animals and abhor isolation. Yet every day I witness dogs left alone without companionship of any kind for hours on end. So, I need to buy a book to learn this fact? Also, the breed of dog illustrated on Masson's book appears to be a popular and desirable breed of "pet" for families with children: a white Labrador Retriever. I suggest a visit to your local temporary animal shelters where you will find large numbers of black Labrador Retrievers that are dumped and no longer perceived as a desirable "pet." Consider too, that nearly half of the dogs killed in Rhode Island last year were Pit Bulls; many that were lost, neglected, or allowed to roam freely.
Consequently, while some dogs and cats will be treated with kindness and love like Masson's, and yours and mine, annually, millions upon millions will live short horrible lives at the hands of humans. Therefore, as long as animals are property of humans their pain and loss is measured only in monetary terms and waste. Please read: Gary Francione, Animal Rights, Abolitionist Approach.com
My concern with Jeff Masson's book and similar books, is that they create a disturbing illusion which is bought into by the public regarding our relationship with animals. In truth, animals are not on this earth for any human purpose including having endless love for humans or any other desirable characteristic trait to be exploited by us, other than those we have forced upon them in the same way we enslaved humans after the decimation of other humans already living in our country. Whether or not certain individuals treat certain animals kindly does not justify allowing gross suffering to other less desirable animals - ask continue to be enslaved and can, at human whim, lose their safety and lives.
Figures. Your apparent self consciousness toward some who may object to and judge others comments on animals as property serves only to strengthen your own ambivalence. Have a Nice Day.
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