Valuing Dogs Technologies Workers Knowledges

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Referring to advertisements for the sale of working sheepdogs, Donald McCaig, the Virginia sheep farmer and astute writer on the history and current state of herding border collies in Britain and the United States, noted that categorically the dogs fall somewhere between livestock and coworkers for the human shepherds.19 These dogs are not pets or family members, although they are still commodities. Working dogs are tools that are part of the farm's capital stock, and they are laborers who produce surplus value by giving more than they get in a market-driven economic system. I think that is more than an analogy, but it is not an identity. Working dogs produce and they reproduce, and in neither process are they their own "self-directed" creatures in relation to lively capital, even though enlisting their active cooperation (self-direction) is essential to their productive and reproductive jobs. But they are not human slaves or wage laborers, and it would be a serious mistake to theorize their labor within those frameworks. They are paws, not hands. Let's see if we can sort through the implications of the difference, even in spite of the evolutionary homology of the forelimbs.

To do so, I turn to Edmund Russell's arguments about the evolutionary history of technology in his introduction to the collection Industrializing Organisms.20 Far from keeping organic beings and artifactual technologies separate, putting one in nature and the other in society, Russell adopts recent science and technology studies' insistence on the coproduction of natures and cultures and the interpenetration of bodies and technologies. He defines organisms shaped for functional performance in human worlds as biotechnologies—"biological artifacts shaped by humans to serve human ends."21 He goes on to distinguish macro-biotechnologies, such as whole organisms, from microbiotechnologies, such as the cells and molecules that draw all the attention as biotechnology itself in the current science and business press.

In that sense, dogs deliberately selected and enhanced for their working capacities, for example, as herders, are biotechnologies in a system of market farming that became contemporary capital-intensive agribusiness through a welter of nonlinear processes and assemblages. Russell is interested in how the ways in which human beings have shaped evolution have changed both themselves and other species. The tight boxes of nature and society do not allow much serious investigation of this question. Russell's major efforts are directed at analyzing organisms as technologies, and he looks at biotechnologies as factories, as workers, and as products. Even though Russell gives almost all the agency to humans—who, I admit readily, make the deliberate plans to change things—I find his framework rich for thinking about valuing dogs as biotechnologies, workers, and agents of technoscientific knowledge production in the regime of lively capital.

Aside from such critters of the past as spit-turning dogs or cart-hauling dogs, whole dogs are simultaneously biotechnologies and workers in several kinds of contemporary material-semiotic reality. Herding dogs are still at work on profit-making (or, more likely, money-losing) farms and ranches, although job loss has been acute. Their work in sheep trials is robust but located in the zone between work and sport, as is the labor of most sled dogs. Livestock guardian dogs have expanding job opportunities in sheep-raising areas of the French Alps and Pyrenees because of the reintroduction of ecotourism-linked heritage predators (wolves, bears, and lynxes), as well as on U.S. ranches no longer allowed to use poisons for predator control. Dogs have state jobs and jobs fran-chised to private providers as airport security laborers, drug and bomb sniffers, and pigeon-clearing officers on runways.

The popular television show Dogs with Jobs, using the classified help-wanted ads in newspapers as the visual icon for the show, is a good place to get a grip on dogs as workers.22 Most of the dogs seem to be unpaid voluntary labor, but not all. Jobs include warning of epileptic seizures, detecting cancer, guiding the blind, serving as aides for the hearing impaired and the wheelchair-bound and as psychotherapeutic aides for traumatized children and adults, visiting the aged, aiding in rescues in extreme environments, and more. Dogs can be and are studied and specifically bred to enhance their readiness to learn and perform these kinds of jobs. For all of these jobs, dogs and people have to train together in subject-changing ways. But more of that later.

Part dogs (or delegated dog wholes or parts in material bases other than carbon, nitrogen, and water) might have more work in lively capital than whole dogs. Consider, in addition to Snuppy's stem cell scene, dog genome projects. Archived canine genomes are repositories useful for research in product development by veterinary pharmaceutical enterprises and human biomedical interests, as well as for research in—a gleam in researchers' eyes—behavioral genetics.23 This is "normal" biotechnology. Sequencing and databasing the complete dog genome were made a priority of the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute in June 2003. Based on a poodle, the first rough dog genome sequence, about 75 percent complete, was published that year. The first full draft of the dog genome was published and deposited in a free public database for biomedical and vet researchers in July 2004. In May 2005, a 99 percent complete sequence of the genome of a boxer named Tasha, with comparisons to ten other kinds of dogs, was released. Dogs belonging to researchers, members of breed clubs, and colonies at vet schools provided DNA samples. The team that produced this draft, in the process developing procedures that might speed the deposition of many more mammalian genomes, was headed by Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, of the Broad Institute of MIT and

Harvard as well as the Agencourt Bioscience Corporation. Part of the National Human Genome Research Institute's Large-Scale Sequencing Research Network, the Broad Institute received a thirty-million-dollar grant for the work. These are the kinds of public-private arrangements typical of microbiotechnology in the United States and, with variations, internationally.24

Further, once the genome was published, the Center for Veterinary Genetics, at the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine, called for individual dog people and clubs to contribute to a full repository of many of the different breeds of dogs in order to address the needs of different domains of dogdom. The goal was to enlarge the DNA data bank from its then current sampling of the genetic legacy of one hundred breeds to more than four hundred international canine populations. Many research projects involving dog genes, organs, diseases, and molecules could be addressed to canine questions as well as to comparative queries for humans. The part dogs are reagents (workers), tools, and products, just as whole dogs are in macrobiotechnological kinds of knowledge and production projects.

Dogs are valuable workers in technoculture in another sense as well. In laboratories, they labor as research models both for their own and for human conditions, especially for diseases that could be ""enclosed" for medical commodity production, including for previously unknown sorts of services to address newly articulated needs. That, of course, is what their archived genomes are doing, but I want to look more closely at another mode of this scientific medical canine labor in the context of lively capital. Stephen Pemberton explores how dogs suffering from hemophilia became model patients, as well as surrogates and technologies for studying a human disease, over the course of years beginning in the late 1940s in the laboratory of Kenneth Brinkhous at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This research is what made human hemophilia a manageable disease by the early 1970s with the availability of standardized clotting factors.25

Bleeder dogs did not just appear at the lab doorstep as ready-made models and machine tools for making things for humans. The canine hemophiliac was made through representational strategies, dog care practices, breeding and selection, biochemical characterization, development of novel measurement devices, and the semiotic and material joining of hemophilia to other metabolic deficiency disorders (especially diabetes and pernicious anemia, both treatable by administering something functionally absent in the patient and both diseases in which dogs played a large role in the research, with crucial payoff in techniques and devices for working with dog organs and tissues). The principal problem Brinkhous faced in his lab when he brought in male Irish setter puppies who showed the stigmata of bleeding into joints and body cavities was keeping them alive. The puppies had to become patients if they were to become technologies and models. The entire labor organization of the laboratory addressed the priority of treating the dogs before anything else. A bleeding dog was given transfusions and supportive care. Lab staff could not function as researchers if they did not function as caregivers. Dogs could not work as models if they did not work as patients. Thus, the lab became a clinical microcosm for its research subjects as an essential part of the last century's revolution in experimental biomedicine. As Pemberton put it, "We cannot understand how scientists discipline their experimental organisms without understanding how these organisms also discipline scientists, forcing them to care."26

In the late twentieth century, drugs developed for people (and surely tested on rodents) came to be agents of relief for dogs too, in a kind of patient-to-patient cross-species transfusion. This kind of dogs-as-patients scene is part of my own adult origin tale in dogland. My middle-class childhood tale had more to do with the confining of the multispecies civic commons through leash laws in the 1950s than with biomedicine. Toward the end of her sixteenth, and last, year of life in 1995, my half-Lab mutt, Sojourner (that grace-giving whelp of an irresponsible backyard breeder, a dog whom we named for a great human liberator), and I began to frequent her vet's office in Santa Cruz. I had read Michel Foucault, and I knew all about biopower and the proliferative powers of biological discourses. I knew modern power was productive above all else. I knew how important it was to have a body pumped up, petted, and managed by the apparatuses of medicine, psychology, and pedagogy. I knew that modern subjects had such bodies and that the rich got them before the laboring classes. I was prepared for a modest extension of my clinical privileges to any sentient being and some insentient ones. I had read Birth of the Clinic and The History of Sexuality, and I had written about the technobiopolitics of cyborgs. I felt I could not be surprised by anything. But I was wrong. Foucault's own species chauvinism had fooled me into forgetting that dogs too might live in the domains of technobiopower. The Birth of the Kennel might be the book I needed to write, I imagined. When Species Meet is the mutated spawn of that moment.

While Sojourner and I waited to be seen by her vet, a lovely Afghan hound pranced around at the checkout desk while his human discussed recommended treatments. The dog had a difficult problem—obsessive self-wounding when his human was off making a living, or engaging in less justifiable nondog activities, for several hours a day. The afflicted dog had a nasty open sore on his hind leg. The vet recommended that the dog take Prozac. I had read Listening to Prozac;27 so I knew this was the drug that promised, or threatened, to give its recipient a new self in place of the drab, depressive, obsessive one who had proved so lucrative for the non-pharmaceutical branches of the psychological professions. For years, I had insisted that dogs and people were much alike and that other animals had complex minds and social lives, as well as physiologies and genomes largely shared with humans. Why did hearing that a pooch should take Prozac warp my sense of reality in the way that makes one see what was hidden before? Surely Saul, on the way to Damascus, had more to his turnaround than a Prozac prescription for his neighbor's ass!

The Afghan's human was as nonplussed as I was. She chose instead to put a large cone, called an Elizabethan collar, around her dog's head so that he couldn't reach his favorite licking spot to suck out his unhap-piness. I was even more shocked by that choice; I fumed internally, Can't you get more time to exercise and play with your dog and solve this problem without chemicals or restraints? I remained deaf to the human's defensive explanation to the vet that her health policy covered her own Prozac, but the pills were too expensive for her dog. In truth, I was hooked into the mechanisms of proliferating discourse that Foucault should have prepared me for. Drugs, restraints, exercise, retraining, altered schedules, searching for improper puppy socialization, scrutinizing the genetic background of the dog for evidence of canine familial obsessions, wondering about psychological or physical abuse, finding an unethical breeder who turns out inbred dogs without regard to temperament, getting a good toy that would occupy the dog's attention when the human was gone, accusations about the workaholic and stress-filled human lives that are out of tune with the more natural dog rhythms of ceaseless demands for human attention: all these moves and more filled my neo-enlightened mind.

I was on the road to the fully embodied, modern, value-added dog-human relationship. There could be no end to the search for ways to relieve the psychophysiological suffering of dogs and, more, to help them achieve their full canine potential. Furthermore, I am convinced that is actually the ethical obligation of the human who lives with a companion animal in affluent, so-called first-world circumstances. I can no longer make myself feel surprise that a dog might need Prozac and should get it—or its improved, still-on-patent offshoots.

Caring for experimental dogs as patients has taken on intensified meaning and ambiguities in twenty-first-century biopolitics. A leading cause of death for older dogs and people is cancer. Enabled by comparative postgenomics tying humans and dogs together as never before, the National Cancer Institute set up a consortium of over a dozen veterinary teaching hospitals in 2006 to conduct drug trials on pet dogs living at home, to test for possible benefit in fighting the same malignancies they share with humans. A parallel nonprofit group will collect tissue samples and DNA from these pet dogs to pinpoint genes associated with cancer in dogs and people. The companion dogs will be clinic patients and not kenneled lab pooches, possibly relieving some of the latter of their burden, and grants and companies will pay for the experimental drugs. Dogs may benefit from the drugs, but they will get them with lower standards of safety than required in human testing. That's the point, after all, for enlisting dogs in National Cancer Institute state-of-the-art testing in the first place. Pet owners may have to pay for things like biopsies and imaging, which can be very expensive. Researchers will not have either the animal rights scrutiny or the financial burden of caring for lab dogs, including paying for those MRIs.28 Pet owners and guardians will have the power to call a halt to further experimental treatment on the basis of their sense of their dogs' experiences. This system of drug testing seems to me superior to the current one, because it places the burden of suffering (and opportunity of participating in scientific research) on those specific individuals, humans and dogs, who might reap the benefit of relief. In addition, experimentation will take place much more in the open than can ever be possible or desirable with lab animals, perhaps encouraging deeper thinking and feeling by a diverse human population of pet owners, as well as clinicians and scientists.

What I find troubling here is a growing ethos that subjects pet dogs to the same search for "cures" that human cancer patients endure, rather than continuing to work within and improve current standards of care in vet practice to reduce cancer burdens and provide supportive care guided by quality-of-life criteria, not by the goal of maximally prolonging life. Chemotherapy that dogs currently get rarely aims to eliminate the cancer, and dogs consequently generally do not experience the terrible sickness from drug toxicity that most people, in the United States at least, seem to feel obligated to accept. How long can that moderate veterinary approach to dog illness, and acceptance of death as profoundly sad and hard but also normal, endure in the face of the power of comparative postgenomic medicine and its associated affectional and commercial biopolitics?

So, dogs have become patients, workers, technologies, and family members by their action, if not choice, in very large industries and exchange systems in lively capital: (i) pet foods, products, and services; (2) agribusiness; and (3) scientific biomedicine. Dogs' roles have been multifaceted, and they have not been passive raw material to the action of others. Further, dogs have not been unchangeable animals confined to the supposedly ahistorical order of nature. Nor have people emerged unaltered from the interactions. Relations are constitutive; dogs and people are emergent as historical beings, as subjects and objects to each other, precisely through the verbs of their relating. People and dogs emerge as mutually adapted partners in the naturecultures of lively capital. It is time to think harder about encounter value.

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