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Book Review: What It’s Like to Be a Dog: And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience

In Animal Behavior, Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Nonfiction by Jacki Skole0 Comments

I am forever wondering what my dog, Galen, is thinking. Sometimes I go nose to nose with her, stare into her brown eyes, and ponder what’s happening in that little brain of hers. In those moments, I presume she thinks either, “Why have you thrust your face in mine?” or “How about you give me a cookie?” I’m embarrassed to say for how many years this ritual has persisted and how many times a day it’s repeated. But it is this longing to get into Galen’s head that attracted me to the pioneering work of neuroscientist Gregory Berns, much of …

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Wolf Haven: Sanctuary and the Future of Wolves in North America

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Endangered Species, Nonfiction by John Yunker

After finishing Wolf Haven I went straight to the Internet and looked up Wolf Haven International. I had been aware of the California Wolf Center, located outside San Diego, but was not aware of Wolf Haven, located just south of Mt. Rainier. And now I can’t wait to visit. But make no mistake; this is no petting zoo. In fact, the sanctuary goes to great lengths to keep many of the wolves far away from people so they stand a better chance of survival when they are introduced back into the wild. Just last month a number of Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced into northern Mexico after …

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Book Review: Just Life

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction by Jacki Skole

When I read a New York Times story about a New York City neighborhood grappling with a rare animal-borne disease that killed one resident and left at least two others seriously ill, it was, for me, a tragic case of life imitating art. You see, I’d recently finished Neil Abramson’s Just Life, a fast-paced fictional tale in which a mysterious and deadly zoonotic disease is spreading through a neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In the Times’ story, medical officials concluded the disease—leptospirosis—was being spread by rats. In the novel, Abramson challenges readers by asking this: What if an animal-borne …

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Book Review: The Vegan Studies Project

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Nonfiction, Veganism by John Yunker

Donald Watson is widely credited with having coined the term “vegan” in 1944, when he and others founded the Vegan Society. Since then, the word has become so heavily loaded with cultural and emotional baggage (both pro and con) that an increasing number of vegan restaurants and food brands I come across now use the words “plant-based” instead. But I like the word “vegan” in all its messy glory. And I’m not about to stop using it. The fact is, the word represents disruption on an enormous scale — to food industries, political systems, religious traditions, family traditions, and personal relationships. This word can make people uncomfortable. There …

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J. M. Coetzee (and many others) push for an end to animal testing

In Animal Rights, For Writers, Veganism by John Yunker

The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics has issued an important report that calls for the “de-normalisation of animal experimentation.” The report is backed by numerous scientists, scholars, theologians and writers, such as Coetzee. You can view the report here. According to the report: The deliberate and routine abuse of innocent, sentient animals involving harm, pain, suffering, stressful confinement, manipulation, trade, and death should be unthinkable. Yet animal experimentation is just that: the ‘normalisation of the unthinkable’. It is estimated that 115.3 million animals are used in experiments worldwide per annum. In terms of harm, pain, suffering, and death, this constitutes one …

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The Chain picks up where The Jungle leaves off

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Nonfiction, Pollution, Veganism by John Yunker

The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food, by Ted Genoways, is an important work of reporting. Based on years of interviews and tireless research, the book spans the length of our food system, focused largely on Hormel Foods, the makers of Spam. It covers the tragically interconnected plight of the workers and of the animals. Genoways cites The Jungle throughout this book, and for good reason. We’d certainly like to believe The Jungle brought attention to issues that have since been solved. But these problems have not been solved. If anything they are worse. Worse because there are so more many animals being killed …

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Book Review: The Awareness by Gene Stone and Jon Doyle

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction by Shel Graves

The Awareness (March 2014) is told in the shifting point of view of a wild bear, a circus elephant, a factory farmed pig and a rescued pet dog — all of whom have gained a human awareness of the world. It’s told in four parts. One chapter in each section contains the point of view of each of the four animals as the calamity unfolds. As a consequence of their awakened awareness, the animals realize they are at war with the humans who hunt them, use them for entertainment, eat them and imprison them. It allows for a striking perception …

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Book Review – The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them by Wayne Pacelle

In Animal Behavior, Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Endangered Species, Nonfiction by Midge Raymond

Wayne Pacelle’s The Bond is much more than its gentle title suggests. Rather than present a quaint book about the human-animal bond, Pacelle (president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States) takes readers through a complex history of the relationships among human and non-human animals, from farming to hunting to pets to wildlife. While much of the book highlights the work Pacelle and his colleagues at the HSUS have done on behalf of animals, The Bond is not merely a list of accomplishments; much of its significance lies in the why—the necessity of these battles the HSUS wages …

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Book Review: The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction by Shel Graves

No one gives animals a voice like author Richard Adams. While most may be familiar with his novel Watership Down (1972) from childhood, readers of EcoLit may especially appreciate The Plague Dogs (1977). Adams credits Victims of Science: The Use of Animals in Research (1975) by Richard Ryder and Animal Liberation (1975) by Peter Singer as influences for this book, which tells the story of two dogs’ escape from an animal research station in North West England. The omniscient narration allows Adams to delve into numerous perspectives most notably the dogs: Rowf, a loyal eager-to-please Labrador to the core, and …

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Book Review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction by Shel Graves

If you managed not to hear about the animal rights theme before reading Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (2013), do comment with your experience of the novel. Or, it you haven’t yet read the book, maybe stop here, skip the cover blurbs, and go directly to your naked experience of this exquisite novel. The book is finely structured so that the identity of the protagonist’s sister may come as a revelation — it won’t spoil the novel to know ahead, but will it change your experience? Readers of EcoLit, however, might be enticed to read the …