Nostalgia and Animals

Domesticated animals were subjected to ‘improving’ methods so they no longer lived wholly in a ‘state of nature’ but were elevated in status and gained access to the polis. By the eighteenth century it was widely believed that domestication was good for animals; it civilised them and increased their numbers. It was also seen as essential for the advance of humanity. In the nineteenth century this inequality had settled into a conception of animals as the property of owners who were responsible for their behaviour. Harriet Ritvo claims this change was the result of a developing human ability to control a threatening nature. In ‘The Animal Estate’ she writes that ‘once nature ceased to be a constant antagonist, it could be viewed with affection and even as the scales tipped to the human side, with nostalgia. Thus sentimental attachment to individual pets and the lower creation in general – a stock attribute of the Victorians – became widespread in the first half of the nineteenth century.’
— Shannon, L. (2009) Petty Crimes: Animal Transgressions in the City, Island 117 p11