a little thought on a hazy Friday afternoon..
For the longest time I successfully played the dog vs. cat game, believing you could only love one species. I, being a feminist and the idea that cat’s were independent, sassy, love factories picked cats! Dogs, contrary, were dependent, loyal, honourable men’s best friends. Just think about the first image that a cat and dog conjure in your mind. A cat laying on the couch with their ladyfriend and a dog standing proudly beside their male master in plaid. Just as the category of pets is dictated by western colonial legacies, classism, racism it is also sexist. Even the way it comes down to interacting with cats and dogs.
I currently am working at a dog rehabilitation space, daycare, boarding and training centre that specializes in dogs that have faced discrimination elsewhere due to their histories or breeds (we LOVE pitbulls). At times, this space can seem very patriarchal fueled by needing to control/dominate these animals into positions of submission for us to gain control with e-collars if a dog is too yappy …. Other times, the same policies and actions equated with the above can seem super feministy, based in mutual respect and attention to each and every dogs unique story and areas that they do not necessarily do the best in.
I have made a few realizations. First, is that I disliked dogs because they personified patriarchy. The ways in which you interact with them, the roles you see them fulfilling (ie police service dogs) and more. Working with dogs in an environment where you can be patient and work with them without homogenizing them has reminded me that dogs have to be freed from the androcentric lens they are seen through.
I have learned and continue to learn so much at BarkAve. and am practicing what I think to be feminist care-ethics and actively having “dialogues with animals” as Josephine Donavan notes. This requires one to be tuned into their communication systems which rely on reading their body language, learning their histories to then base our ethics in this.