The An­i­mals Among Us by John Brad­shaw re­view – the joy of pets

The Guardian Australia - - Science - Claire amp;nbsp;Hazel­ton

An­thro­zo­ol­ogy is a term coined by John Brad­shaw and six other aca­demics in the 1980s that de­scribes the study of the “hu­man-an­i­mal bond”. This book sees the sci­ence ap­plied through his­tory, start­ing in pre­his­toric times and end­ing to­day. He dis­cusses ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ev­i­dence that points to the ear­li­est ex­am­ple of an an­i­mal be­ing kept as a pet, the sta­tus of the pet dur­ing the Vic­to­rian era and the emer­gence of pedi­gree dog breeds. The An­i­mals Among Us is packed with facts that, col­lec­tively, form a broad and gen­eral his­tory of our (pre­dom­i­nantly the west’s; non­west­ern cul­tures most of­ten take on the role of “other”) re­la­tion­ships with do­mes­ti­cated an­i­mals. Brad­shaw de­bunks sev­eral myths about pets hav­ing trace­able ben­e­fits for health and other com­mon mis­con­cep­tions about pet own­er­ship, cit­ing an­thro­po­log­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies. While clum­sily writ­ten at times, this is an en­joy­able cel­e­bra­tion of pets that, through its ex­plo­ration of the uses, treat­ment rights and sta­tus of pets, shines a light on the be­hav­iour and psy­chol­ogy of not only the an­i­mals, but also their own­ers.

• The An­i­mals Among Us by John Brad­shaw is pub­lished by Allen Lane (£20). To or­der a copy for £15 go to guardian­book­shop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p amp;p over £10, on­line or­ders only. Phone or­ders min p amp;p of £1.99

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