BOOKS: If You Tame Me
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2004:
If You Tame Me:
Understanding our Connection with Animals
by Leslie Irvine
Temple University Press (1601 N. Broad St., Philadelphia,
PA 19122), 2004. 240 pages, paperback. $19.95.
If You Tame Me is an unusual title for an interesting
investigation into the lives of animals. Concentrating on dogs and
cats, Irvine uses sociological techniques to decode the mysteries of
animal behavior, and then discusses our relationship with animals.
Irvine’s theme is that people care for their companion
animals as intensely as we do because animals, like people, have
individual personalities that she refers to generically as “selves.”
This allows them to interact and connect with individual humans in a
way that would be impossible for an inanimate object.
Irvine disposes effectively of the outmoded scientistic
notion of anthopomorphism; challenges readers to reconsider how we
treat animals in light of her research and arguments; and compares
the position of animal welfarists, who allow the use of animals for
human purposes, if the animals are well-treated, with the
perspective of advocates for animal rights.
Taking the view that animals should not be treated as
property to its logical conclusion, Irvine points out (as PETA
argues), that this precludes breeding them or keeping them as
“I cannot imagine my home without animals in it,” Irvine
writes. “Yet, if they had the basic rights I have just described,
they would not be here.”
–Chris Mercer & Beverley Pervan