This essay aims to explore the concept of Companion species and it consists of a photo essay in which I have documented four stories and personal narratives of relations between pets and their owners. I will additionally offer a discussion of Donna Harraway’s notion of companion species.
The companion species focuses on animals that play a role in history where they are more part of a relationship with humans than rather being used to do work such as war dogs , laboratory test animals , agricultural etc (Harraway 2007 :13). (Harraway 2007) maintains that in this relationship where the human and animal share and aid each other this beneficial system is not without its difficulties and there are risks involved without any guarantee of a happy ending in the relationship(Harraway 2007:12). The main points that are discovered from this relationship is that elements of interest, knowledge and respect between the two are gained in this human-animal interaction.( Harraway 2007: 33).
Indigo is a rabbit owned by Kierrin Gaffney. This was a housebound rabbit that became friends with the cats it shared its home with and with time started to imitate the cats behaviour such as laying around with the cats and playing with them.The rabbit was thought to be of the male gender at first with it’s mating behaviour but eventually it was determined that she was a female.
She became more interested with the outdoors as a rabbit when she escaped her cage and the owners started to let it roam about and it soon became an outdoors preferring animal. The owner and the rabbit shared a tremendous bond and the rabbit was potty trained from a young age and would only respond to the owners voice and nobody else.
It had a very mischievous character and like to chew on everything and she showed signs that the owner described as “ she is almost human in a way” . The rabbit was a very attractive breed and a friend of the owner who owned a farm asked to allow breeding the rabbit for its beauty. Indigo was then moved to a farm where she now lives in utter happiness where it can be surrounded with plenty of other rabbits and in the vast outdoors which it prefers.
Pica the Toypom Dog is owned by Teresa Bestbier who received her via an exclusive breeder that only breeds Toypoms. The dog is currently five to six years old and it displays numerous attributes of amusing and dear behaviour. Examples are how it shows its very ecstatic excitement to see its owners such as jumping up continuously , wagging its tail vigorously , and will not leave the owner alone for a second.
The dog is very attention dependant and wants to be touching and as close as possible to its owner at all times. It demonstrates this by wanting to lie on the owners lap but its small stature makes it difficult for it to jump up on the couch thus it will jump perseveringly until it gets up and lies on its owner. Another attention dependant attribute is how it gets very jealous of other dogs who get attention from its owner. The dog displays an attitude of constant happiness and follows its owners and remains with them regardless of what ever room it is they just have to be around them.
Jack the Indian Minah bird is owned by Gabriel Bestbier. The bird was acquired through a bird rescue foundation where Gabriel adopted it from. The bird is highly intelligent , it has the ability to effectively imitate sounds of things around it like footsteps , single words ( the owners name) and clear onomatopoeic sounds. The bird is very touch orientated and will sit on top of its owners head as well as sit or even sleep in its owners hand while watching television. The bird has a strong attachment to its owner and even displays signs of depression when the owner is away on business.
Hunter the Basset hound was owned by Shane whom describes Hunter as nervous around other dogs but loving towards people.The dog had an eccentric character where it would gently lick or bite people when paying with them. He was a huge lap dog and would enjoy sleeping on laps as most lazy dogs do.The dog was not very trusting of strangers until they became familiar. The dog passed away due to a heart condition and the family mourned it as a family member , making it a mosaic and photographic mementos in its memory.
Ultimately it can be agreed upon that companionship between humans and animals has great lessons and joys to be benefitted from as well as some harsh difficulties to adjust to but in the overall scheme of things it is a beautiful bond between man and animal (Harraway 2007 :12)
Haraway, D. 2007. The Companion Species Manifesto: dogs, people, and significant otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.