Animals versus Humans: What Donald Unger Has to Say About the Human-Animal Relationship
In Partnership with Animal Tails for Grownups
Have you ever wondered what animals are thinking, how they view humans, or how they would act in normal situations we humans run into everyday? Donald Unger’s new book, Animal Tails for Grownups, delves into these questions and more.
Not for the faint of heart, Unger’s dark humour comes alive in this collection of four short vignettes from the perspective of rodents, dogs, cats, and horses that was “birthed from a nightmare”.
Having discovered evidence of rodents-in-residence in his Massachusetts home, Unger set about the work of getting rid of these unwanted visitors.
“When I’d killed over half a dozen,” he says, “I had this creepy ‘dream shard’ in which I was captured by rodents and put on trial for attempted genocide.”
The first vignette from the perspective of rodents all but wrote itself. From there, Unger began exploring the idea of other animals in similar situations.
“I started thinking about what I could write from the point of view of other animals, what the unifying theme might be. What emerged pretty quickly: Animal Liberation!”
While he claims not to be an activist, Unger’s vignettes often confront, or at least mention in passing, some of the more inhumane aspects of the human/animal relationship: the shooting of race horses with broken legs; the declawing of cats; the inconvenient dogs “sent to live on a farm upstate”; mice and other rodents being treated like vermin, despite being kept as pets by some.
“That’s an odd turn, don’t you think?” he asks. “A key piece of the history of civilization has revolved around making our households safe from animal invasions. And now we pay for the privilege of bringing rats and mice into our homes, pay to feed them, build them tiny amusement parks! That’s a little weird!”
Perhaps so, but none of us animal lovers would have it any other way! This relationship between animals and humans is an intriguing concept to Unger who is fascinated by the way we humans interact with our pets.
“Dogs being domesticated from wolves; cats in ancient Egypt; the role of horses in colonialism; rodent-born diseases reshaping populations: there’s an intimacy there, an entanglement going back to the roots of human civilization that’s really quite fascinating.”
It’s interesting to be projected into the mindset of some of our furry friends (and foes), and Unger’s book gives a unique take on the hidden lives of some of our favourites.
“And who knows,” Unger says “perhaps we can learn from getting a glimpse of ourselves through the eyes of other animals.”
Don’t take our word for how captivating these stories are; Unger’s book is available on Amazon now (both in print and on Kindle). Make sure to keep an open mind while reading and let us know in the comments below what you think!
Don Unger was born at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital and has spent more than fifty years now touring medical facilities across Europe and the Americas. He’s published about thirty short stories, a handful of poems, hundreds of journalistic pieces, and done a few dozen radio commentaries for local NPR affiliates. He writes the occasional unpublishable novel as well—one of which was his MFA thesis. He was disappointed to discover that his PhD did not earn him a prescription pad. He accepts that writing is clear evidence of mental illness; he also understands that any relief writing provides is symptomatic and temporary. He has had a headache since 1990.
Please Note: This book is recommended for mature audiences only.
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