A term coined by Donna Haraway for our pets is a ‘companion species.’ This blog post will examine four human-pet relationships with reference to the concept of a ‘companion species’ in a photo essay format, thus effectively showing the impact that this kind of relationship can have on humans and vice versa.
My grandmother had this aptly named Scottish terrier, named Scottie. He was a rescue dog that was dumped on the side of the road along with a white Scottish terrier. Scottie was only picked up by my grandmother long after his companion was found by someone else, after my mother begged to take him in. My family’s decision to take him was ultimately the best decision, as Scottie became my mother’s greatest companion. He waited for her every day until she came home from college. He would be taken on trips to the vet without any form of a leash and be on his best behaviour around my mom. Our fondest memory of him was the little tapping of his fingernails on the wooden floorboards at my grandmother’s house, and he was one of the best examples of a companion species that he could be.
My friend, Sam, has a pet hamster named Hammie. He is a dwarf hamster and is the only pet that is owned in the household. From what I heard, Hammie the hamster is an energetic little thing and is extremely loved within the family. Hamsters can pick favourites, apparently, and he appears to like Sam’s youngest brother, Daniel, the most out of the household.
I have an energetic little fluff ball named KitKat, who is basically owned by my parents, due to them being the ones willing to get up at 4.30 in the morning to feed her. She is my dad’s cat in the sense that when my dad comes home, come hell or high water, he has to say ‘Hello’ and love her or else she goes crazy. She’s my mom’s cat during the day, when my mom crochets blankets and she tries her best to lie on the blanket and get in the way. KitKat is definitely the most entertaining cat we own, and we remind ourselves of this fact constantly when she attacks our feet and… everything else.
Lastly, I have a huge fluff named Crunchie. She is not a cat, but a walking ball of fluff and cuteness under which her legs disappear when she sits. She is my shadow and ultimate companion in every way. We both like eating copious amounts of food, sleeping, more sleeping, and standing in random areas and moaning whenever we want something. She is the reason none of my black clothes can ever be free from white hair, the reason why my back hurts when she decides to take up most of the bed during the night, and she is the reason why I enjoy coming home every day to pat her head and get a loud welcoming ‘meow.’
Haraway, D. 2007. The Companion Species Manifesto: dogs, people, and significant otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.
Shelton, D. 2001. Pioneer pets: the dogs of Territorial Tucson: a photo essay. The Journal of Arizona History 42(4):445-472.