“Animals Make Us Human” by Temple Grandin & Catherine Johnson

Wag Audio book cover

Written by: Laura

Laura is founder of Easy Peasy Obedience, and works in positive methods based on teamwork and games, and with focus on minimising frustration in the training - for both dog and human.

Published: December 9, 2021

A good life requires three things: health, freedom from pain and negative emotions, and lots of activities to turn on SEEKING and PLAY.

Temple Grandin

Why did I get this book?

Month’s title from Force Free/Fear Free Training Book Club. Simple as that.

What does this book do?

This book takes you on a tour through the entire animal kingdom. Specifically, a tour through the steps we, as human beings must take, in order to provide our animals good quality of life. With an introduction to the five freedoms, it slings you right into animal welfare politics, which carries through the entire book. And this may sound wonderfully dry and boring, but Temple manages to put an angle on it that brings the human half of the equation into it. With this undertone going strong throughout the book, she will introduce you to the Blue-Ribbon Emotions before taking your hand and walking you down the path of human domestication of animals through times and all the way up to modern days. From our oldest friend, the dog, and all the way to zoo animals and wildlife who, while not being domesticated, still have their lives massively impacted by humans.

With Temple being American, I must admit to a lot of “huh? How is this legal?” moments throughout the book. However, it is fairly interesting from a cultural perspective to learn how large-scale farming across the pond works. It was also kind of soothing, that Temple draws from her experience with audits from large chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s who have the financial impacts to make changes in agriculture. I believe this book has a large potential of importance, especially for animal rights activists, as it proposes a different approach to improving animal welfare, rather than just pushing for bans and protests. This approach revolves around making it easy, and rewarding, for the farmers to maintain high animal welfare standards, from the theory that high animal welfare will have a noticeable impact on the farmer’s economy – which I agree with. So does science, as Temple so graciously explains along the way.

I am now a lot wiser on animal behaviour, both in cattle, horses, dogs, and everything in between. I am even a little wiser on things like autism and Aspergers in humans, as she touches down on those diagnoses in relation to animals and academic study culture along the way too. The book is scattered with great stories from Temple’s consultant visits at farms and zoos, where she documented amazing wins that the staff had previously deemed impossible, which help me maintain hope for humanity. At least a little. And that’s nice.
In short, it’s a book full of things I didn’t know I needed to know.

What does this book not do?

Stick to dogs. If you only want to know about dogs, you’ll only need about 100 pages of this book. Personally, I was a bit bummed when it moved on to cats, which I have little to no interest in, but I quickly got excited again when it moved on to larger farm animals. The chapters about wildlife and zoo animals are particularly interesting, and I will recommend that everyone at least read those. But my absolute favourite, was the cattle chapter. It was not about dogs, no, but it was absolutely delightful regardless.

Where do I get this book?

The book is available from Amazon in no less than 4 formats: Audio, Kindle, paperback, and Hardcover. the paperback is the cheapest option and will set you back approximately $7 plus shipping.

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