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Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name Paperback – March 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602390029
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602390027
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First published by Knopf in 1986, Hearne's groundbreaking book was born of her need to be able to talk about her training relationships with dogs, horses and other animals. Hearne (1946-2001) found that there was no vocabulary, that captured the complex set of dependencies, trusts and moral quandaries that arose for when she trained dogs to track, or horses to jump. Through luminous anecdotes, she here develops rigorous and beautiful descriptions of the transactions between animals and people, what they entail and what the expectations-on both sides-are. Drawing on everything from Xenophon, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein to legendary Disney animal trainer William Koehler, Hearne anticipates the work of philosophers like Donna Haraway, but also provides of kind of training manual for the soul of anyone who has an animal or animals in his or her life. She would go on to write Bandit: Dossier of a Dangerous Dog and other books, but none distills Hearne's vision, and imparts a sense of her discovery, as this book does.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal

This engrossing treatise on animal behavior and interspecies communication provides an astute and possibly unique synthesis of a domestic animal trainer's practical knowledge and the intellectually more distant and even sterile theories of the academic world. Modern psychologists and philosophers have typically railed dogmatically against the anthropormorphism and morality inherent in the language of animal trainers. But Hearne points out that the validity of the trainers' methodology is supported by the fact that trainers who actually work interestingly and successfully with animals can accomplish so much more than most academic researchers in training their charges. The author believes that the training relationship is a complex and fragile moral understanding between animal and human. Enthusiastically recommended. Robert Paustian, Wilkes Coll. Lib., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

I think dogs would disagree.
Susan Shott
I assume most readers agree (at least I hope they do) that cruelty to an animal, especially a beloved companion animal, is inexcusable.
L. M. L. Wilson
The book seemed dated and pretentious to me.
dog owner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Laura Duhan Kaplan on November 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorite books of all time.
Vicki Hearne - animal trainer, poet, and philosopher - talks about her relationship with the working animals she trains. She presents her philosophies by illustrating them with stories of animals she has trained.
If you have deep respect for animal intelligence, this book will confirm and deepen your beliefs.
Training, she says, is the creation of a shared language. But language has many ambiguities. For example, trainers haven't a clue what the world smells like to a dog, for whom "scenting" is a primary sense. Yet humans and dogs can learn to work together across the gap of their differences by coming to share the vocabulary of trained scent work.
Animal training, says Hearne, is as challenging for the trainer as it is for the animal. Trainers must learn humility, and learn to communicate in new ways. For example, horses take in information through touch and are extremely sensitive to the motions of the rider. Once a trainer comes to understand this (and other things about horses), she or he can begin to understand the way a horse understands its world and its self.
Of course I don't do justice to the book by summarizing a few of its philosophical points! Hearne writes gracefully, and shows a great mastery of a variety of disciplines - psychology, philosophy, literature, animal training. Her anecdotes make the philosophy much easier to understand, and the philosophy makes the implications of the anecdotes much richer.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Laurel Jenkins-Crowe on November 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Re: the "near drowning" of the hole-digging dog, here's how Vicki describes it: "I put Salty's head in the Hole. She emerges quite quickly (she's a very strong, agile dog)." This is not waterboarding; it's getting the dog's attention. I would not try this method myself, as I am not a trainer. (Vicki warns us we "can't work a dog" from her writings.) Neither would I let this description turn me away from a wise, courageous and ultimately compassionate book about intraspecies communication.

As an ex-vet. tech., I've seen what happens when people and animals don't talk the same language: the animals suffer. When they inconvenience their "loving" owners enough, the animals die. Chapter 8, "The Sound of Kindness," should be required reading for all pet owners.

Other parts of this book soar and inspire with their deep respect for what the relationship between humans and animals should be. It is because of this that we must take responsibility for what we do to and with companion animals. As Henry Beston had it, "They are not bretheren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners in the splendor and travail of the earth."
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By ilgold@aol.com on February 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
Vicki Hearne is both an animal trainer and an assistant professor of philosophy at Yale. With these two qualifications, she addresses the relationship humans have with "dumb" domestic animals, primarily dogs, horses and cats. he book is exquisite, and confirms what we already "know, that animals can think, feel, respond, and--in a sense--make decisions about how to respond to humans. She proves the intelligence of the horse trainer who admitted there were truly "crazy" horses whose indsanity justified their destrucrtion, but that if any trainer had experienced more than one such horse, the trainer should be put to sleep instead. The chapter on cats is a little fuzzy, but the rest is five-star.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 20, 1996
Format: Paperback
Vicki Hearne re-trains "bad" animals - mostly dogs and horses. She's also a university prof. What I got from this book was an understanding of the interaction between communication and discipline when working with dogs, horses and cats (!). I read this book years ago, before I had children - in rereading it recently, I was struck by how useful the author's ideas were in understanding how to communicate with and learn discipline with my kids. My favorite chapter is about how cats contribute to the household enterprise
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bob Fitzsimmons on March 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
In Donald McCaig's new introduction to this wonderful book, he tells of his reaction to first reading Vicki Hearne's writing: "I felt like some homesick exile startled by a voice singing brilliantly in my native tongue." What an apt description! Hearne's writing style is as unique and refreshing as her perspective on animal training. This book is a luminous mingling of literary criticism, science, philosophy, and animal psychology-- a real treat to read.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are interested in exploring deeply the underpinnings of our attempts to share meaningful relationships with animals, don't let the previous negative reviews dissuade you from reading this beautiful book. If you personally have a deep relationship with an animal or animals, you know what she says is true.
For those who don't have such relationships, in particular the aforementioned reviewers, let me just say that you are welcome to persist in your positivist, reductionist, rationalist, anthropocentric world view. Just don't presume to speak for the rest of us who see a bit beyond it, or deny the existence of that which you cannot experience or understand.
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