By Thomas Ryan PhD (eds.)
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Extra resources for Animals in Social Work: Why and How They Matter
They are not, therefore, a cross section of all types of women, but they do write as people who are telling stories of their animal companions in their own way. In total, there are 249 contributions, 84 about dogs, 78 about cats, and 87 about horses. The vast The Meaning of Animals in Women’s Lives 25 majority are prose narratives, about real life animals and real life experiences. A very small minority are in the form of poems, and an even smaller number are fictional narratives. I have focused only on the non-fictional prose accounts.
Several women refer to the animal as their ‘soul mate’: ‘We had a connectedness that just doesn’t happen through chance. A special relationship; intuitively knowing how the other feels: a friendship that lasts forever’ (Barber, p. 69, Dogs). There is something about how the relationship unfolds and develops, too, that is integral to what it may mean to the woman. Some women speak of ‘coming to an understanding’, of developing a mutual and trusted relationship with a companion who is not of their kind.
It is a world of all beings – human and nonhuman in interrelated and reciprocal interaction. Finally, I am a bit wary that the emergence of animal-assisted practices may simply represent another iteration of human exploitation of animals for our own ends, however nobly therapeutic the language we employ. The historic record is not encouraging. In truth, the human species has always utilised animals to benefit their survival. But with the advent of agribusiness and factory farming of animals and similar practices, the modern Western industrial worldview has also pushed consumer-fixated society to ever more cruel and exploitative manipulations of animals for human benefit.
Animals in Social Work: Why and How They Matter by Thomas Ryan PhD (eds.)