Book Review – Mourning animals: Rituals and practices surrounding animal death
Edited by Margo DeMello, 2016
East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press
John Steinbeck perceives the natural world in The Red Pony as uncaring and unforgiving and predatory since it is full of predators which are in a constant conflict against one another. Such a conflict occurs either between animals and animals or between humans and animals or between humans and humans. At last it results in the survival of the fittest. Steinbeck demonstrates here his knowledge about little boys’ behavior toward animals, and how they have to be taught not to be cruel to animals; Jody Tiflin is a good example. Also, Steinbeck shows us how human and animal lives are closely connected. In this case, old Gitano and old Easter are good examples. Besides, Steinbeck reveals how Jody Tiflin ascends from boyhood to manhood. Jody’s acquisition of the red pony lifts him above his friends. One should remember that Steinbeck is enamored of the Arthurian cycle and so Steinbeck believes that the horse is of key importance to the knight. This idea can clearly be seen in “The Leader of the People” when the grandfather tells the Tiflin family and Billy Buck about his knighthood when he leads his people across the plains to fight the Indians.
The aim of this study was to better understand the general beliefs and attitudes toward companion animals in Puerto Rico. This relationship becoming a possible source of wellbeing and a therapeutic catalytic tool in our participant life’s. Data was collected using an auto- administered questionnaire developed by the authors. The target populations of this survey were Puerto Rican residents, aged at least over 21 years. The total data collected was a total of 1,327 responses. The results shows that 84% of the participants indicated they have an animal companions in their home, only 16% said they have none. Almost 82% participants currently have a total of 4 (mean = 3.8) animal companions. The majority (39%) of the participants indicated that they spend 12 hours or more with their companion animals. Concerning activities with their companion animal’s participants said that they stroked (94%), played (92%), talked (89%) and walked (57%) their companion animals. Concerning the human animal bond, participants rated their companion animals as extremely important (72%), very important (24%), neutral (4%), not that important (0.4%), and not important (0.1%). They also rated their companion animals as family members (99%). The results of this study align with other research on the topic that show that human animal interaction enhance and facilitate positive traits in us (Hediger and Turner, 2014). This in turn becomes a fundamental opportunity in the work of counseling psychology within the context of psychotherapy to create more effective interventions and take into account a very important relationship in the participant’s life. Companion animals should become part of the factors we consider when working and developing therapeutic plans for our participants (Thew, Marco, Erdman and Caro, 2015).
The field of Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI’s) is emerging and developing steadily, however the available literature which addresses this field is limited. This literature synthesis includes 27 articles from this limited pool and addresses what AAI programs exist, how they are being studied, and what the results of these studies are. This synthesis identifies characteristics of current AAI programs, and the methods being used to assess them, and groups findings from all 27 articles thematically. Findings suggest that AAI’s help participants in developing life skills, improve their desire to attend and participate in the intervention, support feelings of non-judgement and the generation of trust within the therapeutic relationship, help to alleviate a variety of symptoms, and are typically cost efficient. Findings also indicate the potential for AAI’s to improve participants levels of sociability and self-esteem but these findings are not consistent across studies. Finally, a number of questions and areas for further research are identified, which will support continued development, and improve effectiveness of these interventions.
In the last decade, research evidence has increasingly demonstrated a co-occurrence of human interpersonal violence and abusive behaviour toward nonhuman animals although the actual nature of this intersection continues to remain controversial. While livestock and wildlife can also become victims, more often the abuse is directed at a family pet whose ‘owners’ view them as members of the family, forming strong emotional attachments with them and grieving their loss when they die. Whether we view animal abuse as a harbinger or a red flag, a discussion about the protection of other animals from abuse must include a critical examination of how to identify and assess situations in which they are vulnerable to neglect or violence. Intervention can be facilitated through cross-sector reporting between agencies whose professionals routinely encounter animal abuse that accompanies other forms of violence. Such a dialogue must also include a review of public policy and legislation that seeks to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, both human and nonhuman.