Animal Inventory Blog

Keeping track of animals in popular culture.

What is This Love? Part I.

Posted by lisagbrown on February 14, 2008

From Baghdad with LoveIt’s Valentine’s Day today, so it’s appropriate to tell you that lately I’ve been thinking a lot about love. There are a number of different kinds of love: romantic love, sexual love, familial love, friendship love … and these are all well defined in our culture. People experience the varied and integrated roles of love with the expectation that other people feel the same.

But what about love of animals? This remains enigmatic in the sense that our culture is still wrestling with the legitimacy and definition of this love. For some people, it is hard to imagine that love can be extended to include another species. They see love for animals as a representation of human love that is absent: the absence or inadequacies of a spouse; a substitution for human offspring; or too few human friends. Meanwhile, other people whole-heartedly (and without hesitation) include animals within the bounds of familial love and argue that human-animal relationships are unique bonds, not substitutes for anything else. The extremes of these two viewpoints demonstrate the fractured relationship our culture has with animals.

The book pictured at left, From Baghdad, With Love, tells a tale that could only be described as a love story. Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman was fighting in Fallujuah when he and his battalion found a tiny puppy. They called him Lava, and spent the next few months protecting the pup until they could smuggle him out of the country. In the backdrop of a violent and ravaged landscape, Kopelman found something — someone — to live for. With all the death and pain around him, he saw someone he could rescue, even if he could help no one else.

An excerpt from this book, along with links to news stories about it, can be found on the blog littera scripta .

2 Responses to “What is This Love? Part I.”

  1. redstarcafe said

    Jeffrey Masson described animal emotions, including love, eloquently in his books, “When Elephants Weep” and “Dogs Never Lie About Love”.

    So many in the scientific community would deny Masson’s thesis as anthropomorphism, but they are sadly missing out on the rich bond that animal lovers are fortunate to enjoy.

  2. lisagbrown said

    Thanks for the suggestion! Jeffrey Masson is indeed doing very interesting writing about animals — work that is accessible to a large audience. It’s sad that anthropomorphism is often seen as a negative way to look at animals. It can be a valuable and legitimate tool to promote understanding across the species divide.

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