by Taylor Solomon
I first fell in love with Temple Grandin while studying psychology in college. I loved her advocacy for herself and others living with autism and respected her ability to talk publicly about her personal experiences. My appreciation for her grew when learning about her groundbreaking work in livestock handling, groundbreaking not only because she was one of the first to promote humane treatment of livestock but also because she was doing so in what at the time was a male-dominated industry.
In Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior, Grandin argues that people with autism think the same way animals do and uses her distinguished career as an animal psychologist and her personal experiences living with autism to support her claim. I found this book not only informative (as both a student of psychology and as a pet owner) but an interesting and entertaining read.
Though I studied psychology for four years, I have barely skimmed the surface of animal psychology and found Grandin’s thorough research and plainspoken language to make for the perfect introduction. This is not a dense textbook-esque writing, this is a captivating and enlightening read helpful to both livestock farmers and pet owners alike.
One of my favorite things about Animals in Translation is the way Grandin explains and directs the everyday idiosyncrasies of animals in a way that puts you inside their head. As much as we love our pets, I feel comfortable saying we each have that thing we wish they would not do. Whether it slows down our day or we just find it a nuisance, there is always that thing.
Our lab mix is hesitant to walk on our black and white checked kitchen floor. Every day it is a struggle to get her to come inside and walk the short distance across the checkerboard floor. After reading about Grandin’s work with cattle and changes in scenery that made them anxious while being herded from one area to the next, I was able to better understand how my dog was feeling and became more tolerant of what I found to be an annoying behavior.
Whether you’re looking to get into animal psychology, to better understand the mind of your pet or jto ust have an interesting scientific read for the summer, Animals in Translation will not disappoint. Take a moment to get inside your furry friends’ head and discover Temple Grandin, the fascinating, empowering scientist I first fell in love with as an 18-year-old psych student.