HARAWAY’S NOTION OF COMPANION SPECIES
In The Companion Species Manifesto, Haraway explores ‘the implosion of nature and culture in the relentlessly historically specific, joint lives of dogs and people, who are bonded in significant otherness’ (Haraway, 2007:16). In addition, she proposes the concept of ‘companion species’, which refers to two species that ‘co-[evolve] in natureculture’ (Haraway, 2007:12). This implies that ‘companion species’ alludes to a greater ‘heterogeneous category than a companion animal’ (Haraway, 2007:15).
Haraway’s notion is examined in the form of a photo essay in this blog post. This photo essay documents and considers four different narratives of pet-human relations.
NARRATIVES OF PET-HUMAN RELATIONS
KEEGAN AND KULA
A photograph of Kula, a Staffordshire terrier crossed with a Jack Russell. I was unable to interact with her while she was a puppy as I was in and out of hospital at the time of her joining our family. The novelty of having a puppy was one I did not get to experience as she matured quickly and I missed much of her youth, as a result our relationship was not a strong one. When I was thirteen, after frequently playing with her and taking her for walks to relieve myself of boredom, our relationship grew. We formed a close pet-human relation. Kula responds to the nickname Koko, but only if I use it.
CATHERINE AND JAKE
This photograph captures Jake. Jake’s relationship to Catherine, and subsequently her family, is an important one – he was adopted at a time when her family was experiencing a difficult time in their lives due to the fact that Catherine’s stepfather was ill. Catherine, at the age of fifteen, found solace in Jake as he helped her escape from the stress, sadness and worry that filled her home. Their attachment to one another was evident in the fact that Jake allowed Catherine to show him physical affection despite often displaying behaviour that indicated he only wanted to be loved from afar by other family members.
TONY AND POMPOM
This is a photograph of Pompom on the day that marked sixteen human years of his life. Pompom shared an incredibly special relationship with Tony, who never married, but instead found that Pompom’s companionship to be sufficient enough to help him get through life. Pompom would accompany Tony everywhere he went, even to meetings and masses at the school at which Tony was the headmaster. Their relationship as companions saw them growing old and suffering from various health issues together as a result. Sadly, Pompom has passed away, but his love for Tony still accompanies him wherever he goes.
TRACEY AND TROY
A photograph of Troy, a Rottweiler that suffers from hip displaysia. Displaysia is a condition in which the formation of the hip socket in dogs goes awry and results in them experiencing painful arthritis in their joints. Troy struggles with his hip displaysia and has to be given medication to ease his pain. Troy is a great companion to his owner Tracey, who appreciates his beautiful temperament and provides him with the love and affection that he seeks. Tracey is sympathetic to Troy’s crying for various reasons, and comforts him when he experiences a pain while trying to play just as other dogs do.
Haraway, D. 2007. The Companion Species Manifesto: dogs, people, and significant
otherness. Chigaco: Prickly Paradigm Press.