Its a Dog's Life: Contemplating the Human-Animal Relationship through Dog Adoption Narratives
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Dog adoption is a popular way for people to find pets in the United States. With dog adoption comes dog adoption narratives, ideologically about the dog, told by humans for humans. Dog adoption narratives, a genre of personal experience narrative, enact a series of formalized conventions that reveal societal binaries, tensions, and anxieties in the interspecies relationship. Using an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, I highlight the way these narratives are performed, organized, and interpreted. By comparing the adoption narratives of two different groups, people who regularly visit dog parks and people who do dog rehabilitation work, I argue that these narratives yield insight about the way humans perceive dogs in the United States within the context of how humans themselves want to be perceived by other humans. Dogs become a form of cultural capital and dog adoption narratives a reflection of cultural attitudes towards, and informed interactions with, the human-dog relationship.