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Animals Make Us Human

Temple Grandin explains what animals feel and why it matters

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Our Sheba is the Sarah Bernhardt of dogs. If we pull our coats on to go out for the evening, she immediately deflates into a limp ball of canine sorrow, shooting us looks of such utter despair that we’ve occasionally been known to change our plans.

Those of us who live with companion animals are often acutely aware of their feelings. But “a lot of executives, plant managers, and even some veterinarians and researchers still don’t believe that animals have emotions,” writes Temple Grandin in her sharply informative new book Animals Make Us Human.

Grandin is a renowned expert in the field of animal behavior, famed for decades of work advocating for the humane treatment of livestock on its way to slaughter. Things have gotten better, she says and yet, still, “When I listen to long technical lectures about cow hormones at conferences I want to say, ‘There’s an animal attached to that ovary,’ ” she writes.

“Researchers need to look at the whole animal.”

The need to improve human-animal relations by better understanding animal emotions is the theme that runs through “Animals Make Us Human.” Grandin begins with cats and dogs, the creatures that many of us know best – or at least, think that we do.

But for most readers, Grandin’s book will contain at least a few surprises.

Forget, for instance, what you learned on “The Dog Whisperer” about dogs needing to live in a pack with an alpha leader. Dogs like to live in families, Grandin says, and what they really want are “parents” who offer the same kind of clear-cut behavior guides to which children respond.

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