Sunday, December 12, 2004

Anthropomorphizing our Animal friends

I've written previously about being a dog owner. In short, once you own a dog, you start talking about wierd things and start talking about your puppy like it's your child. And in all honestly, taking care of and training a puppy seems very much like having a child, albiet it with less responsibility and complications. These comparisons can go all the way to trying to read into your dog's personality and assigning human traits to what they naturally do. This is obviously a pretty common thing to do. Afterall, we tend to find the human-ness in everything.

And so, reading something like this article about gorillas in a zoo performing a "wake" is all the more interesting. To be honest, I got the chills while reading this. (Note: The chills weren't from the fact that animals were doing this, but the fact that it was about a community death...that always gives me the chills for some reason). In any case, this is just another example of animals doing things that humans do. Many members of the primate family do things like we do. Whether it's performing death rites or everyday cleaning, we're much closer to animals than we think.

This story just adds to the list of reasons to read into what our pets do. They may not have self awareness about what they're doing, but they rituals, activities, reactions, and personalities are tied into some basic traits of being animals. If you've ever owned a pet, this is probably very comforting. If you can't relate, then I ask you to imagine watching a gorilla wake in person and tell me if it would move you or not.

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