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Tag: animal behavior

Temple Grandin makes a house call

If getting an interview with Temple Grandin weren’t impressive enough, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter John Timpane somehow finagled a home visit from the woman who may understand animals better than anyone in America.

Once she got past his dogs, Ricky and Esco, Grandin (who’d been giving a reading nearby) sat down and talked to Timpane about her new book, Animals Make Us Human, and her continuing quest, in Timpane’s words,  ”to explain animals to people and people to themselves.”

Grandin, as Timpane notes in his story, is perhaps the best-known person with autism in the United States. She holds a Ph.D. in animal behavior; is a professor at Colorado State; author of Thinking in Pictures and Animals in Translation; and consultant on how to treat animals in the wild and in industrial settings such as corrals and slaughterhouses.

In Animals Make Us Human, Grandin writes that, for an animal, ”a good life requires three things: freedom from pain and negative emotions, and lots of activities to turn on seeking and play.”

“I think a lot of dogs today have a horrible life,” Grandin said in the interview.  “In my town, Fort Collins, [Colo.], we have draconian leash laws. If you walk down any residential street in Fort Collins, dogs are whining in half the houses. Dogs need to have a doggy social life, a life off the leash. When we were kids and all the dogs ran free, a lot of dogs were killed by cars, and that was bad, but we also had a lot of happier dogs. Now that we live in such a controlled world for dogs, you need to spend some time with your dog – an hour or so of good play, a walk in the park.”

Grandin has said repeatedly that her autism has given her a powerful connection to the way animals think. “It began when I realized I think in pictures, not verbally,” she said. “Animals, lacking the verbal aspect, see everything in terms of what they see, feel, hear … Most of us have just never looked at things from an animal’s point of view.”

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