Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Animals Make up Human" by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

OK, so I didn't finish this book. But I read over 100 pages; certainly that counts for something.

If there is one thing I got from this book is that according to the author, animals have some basic emotions: seeking, rage, fear, panic, lust, care and play.

Seeking is listed as emotion number 1. Who would've thunk seeking as an emotion, but as Dr. Grandin explains, it makes sense. Seeking is "the basic impulse to search, investigate and make sense of the environment." It combines different emotions: wanting something good, looking for something really good, curiosity. The wanting part of seeking gives one energy to go after goals. She says the looking-forward aspect of seeking is the Christmas emotion in which kids see presents under the tree. Seeking is an anticipation of what is not yet. (pp 6-7)

According to Dr. Grandin, seeking is major emotion for house cats and dogs, and something they need to be able to do to lead happy lives.

Cats, as natural predators, need to be able to seek. They also can not be trained by negative reinforcement, but through positive reinforcement.

Since reading this, I have been more mindful about my cat. We used to have a bird feeder and he's spend hours a day watching and "stalking" the outside birds and squirrels that came to our sliding door. But the feeder is long gone.

So now I make sure every day he has something to play or seek. I am no longer quick to chase him out of the pantry when I open the door. In fact, I now will keep the pantry door open for a short while. or I may open up a kitchen cabinet. Or open up one of the doors on my coffee table. Or fill a box with cat nip and toys and close it and put it on the floor to give my cat a chance to seek.

It seems to make him happier, as it does me.

It also makes me think how the seeking emotion can be used in sermons about Jesus. If seeking is an emotion, then seeking out Jesus becomes an emotional experience.

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