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Adam’s Task: Calling Animals by Name by philosopher, poet, and animal trainer Vicki Hearne describes an innovative and metaphysical approach to training animals. Based on studies of literary criticism, philosophy, and extensive hands-on experience in training, Hearne asserts that animals (specifically those that commonly cohabit or interact with humans) are far more intelligent than most people assume. In fact, they are capable of developing an understanding of “the good,” a moral code that influences their motives and actions. In response to her studies and experiments, Hearne developed an entirely new system of animal training that contradicts modern animal behavioral research and yet, she insists through many examples, is astonishingly effective.
Adam's Task was Hearne's first—and probably best-known—book, though she authored several other successful titles, including Animal Happiness and Bandit. The focus of Adam's Task is on the complexities of human-animal communication and the importance of seeing domestic animals as they truly are—not as anthropomorphized creatures whom we see however we wish to see them. Some of the training methods described in the book have drawn criticism from various factions of animal activists, but Hearne stresses that she is striving for intellectual and moral integrity in all of her studies, and many agree that her obvious love for animals speaks in her defense.
The Boston Globe calls Adam’s Task “A beautiful, wonderful book of the sort that permanently refreshes thought and feeling.” The New York Times says “When Ms. Hearne relates a dog or horse story, the animals become full-fledged characters, as brightly delineated as people created by Dickens or Twain.”
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