Books : reviews

Vicki Hearne.
Adam's Task: calling animals by name.
Akadine Press. 1986

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 12 April 2020

This is a book about taking domesticated animals seriously: training them, respecting them, and treating them as creatures with their own complex, non-human internal lives. It provides a deeply fascinating account of how domesticated animals relate to humans, and of our responsibilities to them. It is mostly about mostly dogs and horses, told through a series of in-depth stories of particular animals Hearne has trained, plus a chapter on how different cats are.

It is also a book about building a philosophy of communication with domesticated animals. No behaviourism or anthropomorphism or sentimentality, but instead a deep understanding of their existence and differences.

This is a difficult book to summarise, but it is an engrossing read. I was completely hooked, and devoured it in just two sittings. It is an inspiring view into minds simultaneously alien, and yet co-evolved with our own, so that we can communicate meaningfully, if we take the time to learn how.