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Its a Dog's Life: Contemplating the Human-Animal Relationship through Dog Adoption Narratives

By Nicole Silvestrini

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Dog adoption is a popular way for people to find pets in the United States. With dog adoption comes dog adoption narratives, ideologically about the dog, told by humans for humans. Dog adoption narratives, a genre of personal experience narrative, enact a series of formalized conventions that reveal societal binaries, tensions, and anxieties in the interspecies relationship. Using an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, I highlight the way these narratives are performed, organized, and interpreted. By comparing the adoption narratives of two different groups, people who regularly visit dog parks and people who do dog rehabilitation work, I argue that these narratives yield insight about the way humans perceive dogs in the United States within the context of how humans themselves want to be perceived by other humans. Dogs become a form of cultural capital and dog adoption narratives a reflection of cultural attitudes towards, and informed interactions with, the human-dog relationship.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2016
Pages 144
Publisher University of Oregon
Location of Publication Eugene, Oregon
Department Arts
Degree Folklore
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Adoption
  2. Animal roles
  3. Anxiety
  4. Culture
  5. Dogs
  6. Health
  7. Human-animal relationships
  8. Interspecies interactions
  9. Mammals
  10. Narratives
  11. performance
  12. Pet ownership
  13. Pets and companion animals
  14. Social Environments
  15. stories