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Cultural Dimensions of Well-Being

This book presents a cultural history of human-animal relations in Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States, with a focus on the uses of animals for comfort, healing and in developing a sense of well-being. Fujimura and Nommensen discuss the contexts in which the culture of wellbeing has developed and incorporated alternative therapies with animals. The authors turn to qualitative research conducted over a period of two years in veterinary clinics, hospices, reading programs, search and rescue organizations as well as an extensive review of existing literature on cultural studies of human-animal relations to inform their analysis of complex ways in which humans and animals interact. The extent to which animals are accepted either as members of society or, in contrast, as mere material possessions poses a cultural contradiction leading to questions of the ethical treatment of animals.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Animals as Therapists: How We Discovered Them and What They Do Chapter 2: Cultural Foundations of Human-Animal Relations Chapter 3: Well-Being through Communication with and about Our Pets Chapter 4: Mutual Benefits through Human-Animal Contact and Training: What Science and Personal Narratives Tell Chapter 5: The Animal's Perspective

About the Author

Clementine K. Fujimura is professor in the Department of Languages and Cultures at the United States Naval Academy. Simone Nommensen is a veterinarian.


The 21st century continues to bring technological and medical solutions providing what should be happier and healthier societies, yet we find a surge of belief and commitment to an intrinsic and unscientific trust in the healing abilities of animals. Fujimura and Nommensen examine social science evidence in cultural narratives of human-animal relations to discover the connection with human healing and well-being. A compelling and heart-warming read for the animal lover in all of us.--David G. Smith, Naval War College; Co-author of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women An enlightening analysis of human-animal communication and connection for professionals, scholars, and pet owners alike. The history of animal-assisted therapy and pet therapy, and the examples of beliefs about animals drawn from various world cultures (attitudes toward strays and "metro dogs" in Russia, or pets as playthings for traditional elites in Japan) are fascinating to read. The authors articulate an ethical, positive vision of the mutual benefits of human-animal interaction in training, companionship, and service. We are better people for reading this book.--Elizabeth Knutson, professor emerita, United States Naval Academy I have had associations with a dozen varieties of pets and a long life with dogs: training, breeding, judging, instructing, and participating in the many activities that man and a dog can do together. I find this book to be very readable and a remarkable compilation of information.--Kenneth M. Nagler, Canine Training Association

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