The Dog by the Cradle, The Serpent
Beneath: Some Paradoxes of Human-Animal Relationships -
Key Porter Books March 2010.
Finalist, Writers Trust Non-Fiction prize, 2009
Nominee, B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.
Available at your favourite bookstore or online
chapters/indigo or amazon.ca and amazon.com
excerpt 1 (Dogs
and Serpents) / excerpt 2 (Therapy
The book’s title recalls one of the oldest and most compelling
animal stories of all time: The sad saga of a devoted greyhound
executed by his master for apparently attacking the man’s
sleeping child Only after he’s killed his dog, does the master
find the dead body of a serpent beneath the infant’s overturned
cradle—evidence not only of the dog’s innocence, but
also his courage in protecting the child from a venomous snake.
With this traditional tale as a starting point, Erika Ritter embarks
on a journey—both in time and space--to the very heart of
“Ark-ness” and follows the twisting trail of human-animal
relationships from empathy to exploitation, from devotion to detestation,
from comedy to cruelty, and beyond. Most importantly, Erika traces
the essential contradictions in humanity’s relationships with
our fellow creatures, from prehistoric worship of the cave-bear
to the latest research on the intelligence of crows, to the future
of animals’ legal rights.
As well, she probes the human-animal bond with experts in animal
cognition, welfare advocates, philosophers and animal rights advocates.
And she paints vivid pictures of research apes in retirement, a
greyhound adoption convention, a public memorial for a fallen police
horse and other unforgettable images of animals among us.
In a world where we increasingly identify our pets as family members,
yet annually dispose of ever more strays, execute more livestock
and sacrifice countless animals to research , there are paradoxes
aplenty to investigate.At a time when animals are increasingly among
us and yet continually below our radar, The Dog by the Cradle, the
Serpent Beneath offers observations both timely and timeless about
Us and Them.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL:
“Ritter's new book, The Dog By the Cradle, the Serpent Beneath,
is a far-reaching exploration of the paradox underlying our relationships
with animals. Her devotion to gaining insight into that tortured
relationship is quite amazing.”
QUILL AND QUIRE:
“While a large library of books about our relations with animals
already exists, the writing in them tends to be either overly emotional
or grimly detached. Ritter deftly avoids both extremes. The result
is a passionate, thought-provoking addition to the canon.”
ELIZABETH STONE, DEAN OF THE ONTARIO VETERINARY COLLEGE
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH, IN “OFF THE SHELF”:
“Drawing upon extensive research and interviews with experts
spanning the globe, the author takes the reader on a wide-ranging
trip through the complex world of human-animal relationships.”
THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS:
"With this wonderful book, her fourth foray into non-fiction
and her second into the topic of human-animal relationships, Toronto's
Erika Ritter confirms her reputation as a talented wordsmith and
gifted cultural sage."
THE MONTREAL GAZETTE
“(Ritter’s) informal exploration—weighty
and whimsical—of the contradictory way we treat animals—as
slaves, prey or companions—is well-researched and thought-provoking…”