The Companion Species Manifesto (Haraway, 2007:8-9) is described as a kinship claim. Haraway has invented a term to describe this animal-human kinship, which is companion species. This term implies that the man-animal relationship extends to much more than just man and dog, it includes a wide range of insects, birds, and even bacteria too (Haraway, 2007:20). This blog post aims to explore this concept in the form of a photo essay in which I have documented the stories and personal narratives of relations between pets and humans.
The picture above shows my cousin’s cat, Max. Max went through a rather rough patch in his life a few years ago; the old lady that he had lived with had a fall, and was only discovered three days later- thankfully she was okay in the end. Her neighbour discovered her, and her grumpy cat Max who had not received any attention for those three days. The old lady decided that she was not fit to look after Max anymore. Max was then passed around to various homes where he did not fit in, until my cousin opened her home to him. Max grew more and more pleasant as he settled into his new home, and a year and a half later, he is a lazy, talkative, loving cat who loves his new mother more than anything… Except food and perhaps napping.
This is my very own best friend, Roxy. Roxy has brought nothing but joy to my family and I since we adopted her as a puppy ten years ago. She is a cross between a labrador and a rotwieller, but it would seem as though she had some sunshine in her genes too, should you meet her. She always seems to be smiling, and is excited about absolutely everything in life. She also does not seem to realise her size, because she often thinks that she is able to fit on my lap. Roxy is also somewhat of a mother figure to our other pets because of her loving and caring ways. I feel really lucky to have her around.
This is my friend Heather’s puppy, Suki. Suki was rescued from a township when she was only a couple of weeks old. Heather saw a picture of her and fell in love, and so she was quick to open her home up to the puppy when she was well again, at twelve weeks old. Heather describes her as loyal, protective and playful- she also calls her the light of her life. Suki and Heather are inseparable, and depend on each other for their daily doses of love and joy.
This is Rainbow, my cat. We have a rather strange relationship- I would say that we have quite a sisterly companionship. My family got Rainbow from a pet store about ten years ago, when we walked past a window with a fat cat pressed up against it, and just had to have that cat. Rainbow has a very strong personality- she walks around as if she owns the place, she talks very loudly, and, well, Rainbow often doesn’t realise that she is not a human like me. She’ll complain to me all day long, and nothing that I do can make her happy- but then every night as I head upstairs to go to bed, she is waiting for me on the top step; she then races me to my bed and acts like I’m her most favourite person in the world. As high maintenance as this little fluff ball is, I love her dearly, and I appreciate her for being comfortable enough to be herself around me.
Each photograph and caption in this blog post has illustrated how companion species make space for each other in their daily lives. Through long term interaction these humans and their pets have developed a kinship, which makes their relationship something special.
Haraway, D. 2007. The Companion Species Manifesto: dogs, people, and significant otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.