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Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name Paperback – March 1, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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."
Not so strangely, Hearne does not reveal her special trick for getting dogs to fetch, although there is an entire chapter called "How to Say 'Fetch!'" (Note it is about how to SAY 'fetch', not how to teach it.) In fact, she spends almost as much time talking about horses as she does about dogs, and there is even a substantial chapter on cats. Since the latter "can't be trained," this might serve as an additional clue that (ready?) "This is not a training manual."
To those who got that and still weren't too happy with the book, I offer my sympathy. There are places where Hearne lets "literature" run away with coherence, not on every page but often enough that I found myself writing "More gibberish" in the margin 'way too often. That said, there is enough unique, illuminating insight in the book to more than make up for the occasional rave. I am not sure that all good dogs are "contemptuous of bribes," but I have one who is (admittedly, she is still a teen with teen arrogance), and I had one who was (a Rotty mix of great wisdom, gentleness, and charm). If we remember that our work is "finding a way to talk about our relationship with domestic animals," Hearne's observation becomes apt. By presuming that we can bribe a dog into doing our will, we say something about that relationship that is worth reconsidering.
A key concept of Hearne's "new vocabulary" is the idea that dogs think in terms of "their work.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ms. Hearne was both a dog and horse trainer along with being a phenomenal writer and philosopher. This book is an absolute must for dog and/or horse lovers. Read morePublished 7 months ago by couchalot
This is a classic and none written any better. Great supplier and excellent description of a work that is a cornerstone in the underatnding of the ethical regard for animals and... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Sir Audley
Verbose poorly presented ramblings from a wanna be philosopher. A hard read, not because it's profound, but because it lacks clarity and runs on and on without engaging the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by JLL
Profound, accessible, and synthetically brilliant.
I have never read anything quite like this and will read it again.
Not what I expected. Dry, unexciting. I guess well-written, but I gave it away right away.Published 20 months ago by D. Hubbard
This book is deep and thought provoking. Goes into the philosophical aspects, many of which were very deep and difficult to understand. Read morePublished on June 13, 2014 by Brian Williamson
A friend gave me this years ago and it has become one of my favorite books. I'm a Unitarian Universalist minister and I've used her reflections on "crazy" horses and the... Read morePublished on January 7, 2014 by Craig