The following is an excerpt from Leaving the Wild: The Unnatural History of Dogs, Cats, Cows, and Horses by Gavin Ehringer, which explores the ever-evolving relationship between humans and domesticated animals.
Preamble, by Jessica Case, deputy publisher, Pegasus Books:
The domestication of animals changed the course of human history. But what about the animals who abandoned their wild existence in exchange for our care and protection?
Domestication has proven to be a wildly successful survival strategy.
But this success has not been without its drawbacks. A modern dairy cow’s daily energy output equals that of a Tour de France rider. Feral cats have become controversial in urban areas.
And our methods of breeding horses and dogs have resulted in debilitating and sometimes lethal genetic diseases.
Human values and choices determine an animal’s lot in life even before he or she is born. Just as a sculptor’s hands shape clay, so human values shape our animals―for good and or ill.
The little-examined, yet omnipresent act of breeding lies at the core of Gavin Ehringer’s book. You’ll meet cows cloned from steaks, a quarter horse stallion valued at $7.5 million, Chinese dogs that glow in the dark, and visit a Denver cat show featuring naked cats and other cuddly mutants. Is this what the animals bargained for all those millennia ago, when they first joined us by the fire?
Cats: Life in the Great Indoors
by Gavin Ehringer
Cleaned cat boxes at pet shows
Brought cats indoors
From the new book Leaving The Wild: The Unnatural History of Dogs, Cats, Cows and Horses, by Gavin Ehringer. (©2017)