just how tenuous human-animal bonds can be. Maybe the relationship becomes strained by what the human perceives as “behavioral problems” in the animal, or maybe there are changes in the human’s situation (divorce, illness, loss of job, new baby) which that make the animal’s presence inconvenient. Either way, the animal is often simply ejected from the family system. As Israeli anthropologist Dafna Shir-Vertesh phrases it, animals are “flexible persons” or “emotional commodities.” They are persons when we want them to be, and when we tire of them or they create tension in a family or we are moving house, they are demoted to “just a dog.”

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