Furry families

Making a human-dog family through home

Emma Power*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

102 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The last fifty years have seen dogs increasingly drawn into the home as family members. While the health and social implications of these relatings have been the focus of much research, the everyday practices by which more-than-human families are constituted have received little attention. The paper draws on interviews with, and diaries recorded by, new dog owners in 2006-2007. It highlights three ways that dogs became family in and through the home. First, describing dogs as 'furry children', participants emphasised the time spent caring for dogs. Second, engaging with dogs as 'pack animals', participants discussed an inherent 'otherness' that shaped family relations, and reconceptualised the human-family as a pack relation. Third, the individual agency of dogs was recognised as shaping family and home. However, these familial relatings were often tenuous as humans were faced with the particular character and 'otherness' of dogs. While the majority experienced a strengthening of family ties following the introduction of a dog, a number of individuals discussed the divisive impact of this experience. The paper extends debates about family and home, broadening family beyond biological relations to include more-than-human relationships forged through cohabitation and interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-555
Number of pages21
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008

Keywords

  • Family
  • Home
  • Human-animal relations
  • Kinship
  • Non-human agency

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