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We live more intimately with nonhuman animals than ever before in history. The change in the way we cohabitate with animals can be seen in the way we treat them when they die. There is an almost infinite variety of ways to help us cope with the loss of our nonhuman friends--from burial, cremation, and taxidermy; to wearing or displaying the remains (ashes, fur, or other parts) of our deceased animals in jewelry, tattoos, or other artwork; to counselors who specialize in helping people mourn pets; to classes for veterinarians; to tips to help the surviving animals who are grieving their animal friends; to pet psychics and memorial websites. But the reality is that these practices, and related beliefs about animal souls or animal afterlife, generally only extend, with very few exceptions, to certain kinds of animals--pets. Most animals, in most cultures, are not mourned, and the question of an animal afterlife is not contemplated at all.
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Feared and revered, the wolf has been admired as a powerful hunter and symbol of the wild and reviled for its danger to humans and livestock. Garry Marvin reveals in Wolf how the ways in which wolves are imagined has had far-reaching implications for how actual wolves are treated by humans. Indigenous hunting societies originally respected the wolf as a fellow hunter, but with the domestication of animals the wolf became regarded as an enemy due to its attacks on livestock. Wolves, as a result, developed a reputation as creatures of evil. In children's literature, they were depicted as the intruder from the wild who preys on the innocent. And in popular culture, the wolf became the creature that evil humans can transform into--the dreaded werewolf. Fear of this enigmatic creature, Marvin shows, led to an attempt to eradicate it as a species. However, with the development of scientific understanding of wolves and their place in ecological systems and the growth of popular environmentalism, the wolf has been rethought and reimagined. The wolf now has a legion of new supporters who regard it as a charismatic creature of the newly valued wild and wilderness.
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