It’s all about (historical) perspective

When we start delving into the histories of particular domesticates it can be challenging to keep everything straight.  We’ve talked a lot about how domestication is a process and a relationship rather than an “event” or a given, but getting perspective on what that relationship looks like from both sides (the human and the non-human) at the same time is tricky. We need to think carefully and question our assumptions about what we think animals “do,” and what our interactions with them mean.  Last week I found this post by Patricial McConnell to be a really helpful example of how 21st century Americans misread dog behavior and affect due to our own sign systems. This week, I stumbled on this very cool story about a polar bear and a husky.  The article offers a pretty interesting explanation for a 180-degree shift in public perception of the same bear-dog interaction over the course of thirteen years. While thirteen years isn’t very long at all when compared to the much longer history of human-animal interaction, this example reminds us that perspective is relative and the context in which we observe and evaluate things is changeable and important.

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