The Oxford dictionary (2016) defines the term companion “As a person or animal with whom one spends a lot of time with or with whom one travels. A person who shares the experiences of another, especially when these are unpleasant or unwelcome”. There is a reason why they chose to include animals in the definition of companionship. Animals are not only devoted to their owners, but also extremely loving, kind and above all a friend that will never let you down. Whether you had a long day at work, or a tough day at school one thing is certain your pet will always be waiting for you with a heart-warming welcome.

Haraway explains in her manifesto that dogs are not just here for the sake of it, dogs are a part of us and live amongst us for a reason (Haraway, 2007). Regrettably not everyone shares the viewpoint of being equal to animals and treats them horribly. Some companions are treated with neglect, cruelty, ignorance and indifference (Haraway, 2007). Though not all relationships between humans and companion species are cruel some are filled with love, respect, joy and playfulness (Haraway, 2007). Having a companion animal in your life will help you cope through difficult times and come out stronger in the end, whether you are a child or an adult (Haraway, 2007).

The relationship between people and companion species can be discussed in many ways, but the best way to warm the hearts of every dog lover and maybe convince the not so fond of dog types the benefits of a human – companion relationship, is to show them. This photo essay will show and discuss the relationship between four people and their companion species.

Since his early twenties Jeandre Botes has worked on a lion farm in Rustenburg. Being around lions and other wildlife every day was definitely something Jeandre could easily see himself doing for the rest of his life, but what he could not imagine was his growing companionship with a lion. Jeandre cares for and raises the animals on the farm. Some people will claim a lion is not regarded as a pet but hand raised lions is part of the family just the same as dogs.  Although he loves each and every animal on the farm there is one which stood out from the rest. A lioness named Zeera which he raised from a playful cub to a beautiful strong lioness and in return received the best possible reward ever, unconditional love and a friend.

Not only does Zeera recognise Jeandre when he visits her, she is happy to see him. Zeera easily overpowers Jeandre at 200kg, but is his eyes Zeera is still the playful and gentle cub that he raised. Though playing with his friend can leave a few scratch marks and torn clothes.

Micke De Lange is a typical teenage girl with the usual teenage problems such as mean girls and disloyal friends. Her friends may not be true to their friendship, but there is a dog called Roxy who she relies on every day to put a smile on her face. The pressures of high school can be overwhelming, but with a companion like Roxy it seems possible to overcome any obstacle. Having a tough day at school Micke know there is always one dependable aspect in her life and that is her best friend Roxy being there to comfort her.

Roxy is a loyal, energetic and loving dog given to Micke on her sixteenth birthday by her boyfriend. Micke saw a new and lifelong friend, her parent’s on the other hand envisioned an endless nightmare of cleaning, refurnishing and sleepless nights. Nevertheless Roxy crawled into the hearts of her parents and soon after became a full fledge member of the De Lange family. Needless to say Roxy is still the greatest gift not only to Micke, but to her whole family.

*Jessica Day is my closest friend and when I visit her I am always greeted with love and enthusiasm and when Nunu is done welcoming me *Jessica finally has the chance too. Nunu is a SPCA dog that *Jessica rescued and even though her body is small Nunu has a big heart. Coming from an abusive home Nunu was a shy and scared dog, but *Jessica took her in and gave her a loving home. *Jessica earned Nunu’s trust and since then their relationship changed. Nunu is not just a project or a pet chosen to keep her busy, Nunu is her family.

*Jessica Day is an alias name used to hide the identity of one of the participants.

Nunu is her best friend someone she can talk to, love, hold in her arms after a long day and most of all depend on. When she chose Nunu she did not count on loving an animal as much as she loves her dog. The Oxford Dictionary (2016), defined companion as someone to share experiences with whether they are good or bad and that is exactly what animals are for. *Jessica has the comfort of knowing when things are bad in her life she will always have Nunu by her side. *Jessica may have given Nunu a home and a mother, but Nunu gave her comfort, companionship and love beyond compare.

Peter von Wielligh and his pug, named Pug, not very creatively named, if you asked me, grew up together. Peter and Pug met each other on Pieter’s fifth birthday which would explain the lack of thought put into the name and they have been inseparable ever since. Growing up in a house full of girls Peter needed someone to talk to and share his thoughts and feelings with. Twenty-one years later and Peter and his uncreatively named Pug still share their birthdays, feelings and memories together.

We all need someone in our lives to help us through difficult times whether it is to support us, to comfort us or to love us. Friends will come and go, but if you are good to an animal and earn their trust you will have a friend for life. In the end we should not only see them as animals we are co-existent in this world both equally important and needed. We should see pets as our family, our friends, our loved ones and most of all a part of us. Having a companion species can not only enrich your life, but can also fill your heart.

 

 

Slide1

This photo of Jeandre was taken with Zeera, the lioness cub he raised. While working on a lion farm Jeandre had plenty encounters with animals, but non like Zeera. Their bond grew stronger and the unusual companionship between a man and a lioness began to develop. This picture is a great example of love between a human and a companion species. Not only does Zeera recognize Jeandres voice, she gets excited when she sees him. They spend every day together and with each passing moment they create an even more inseparable bond. Zelna Blom, photographer. 2014.

 

 

Slide2

Roxy went from being a birthday present to a part of the De Lange family when she was given to Micke on her sixteenth birthday. When times are tough Micke can always depend on Roxy being there to comfort her. The love and companionship Micke has with Roxy can be seen in this photograph. Roxy is a part of her life and buried deep in her heart. Little did her boyfriend know, he gave her more than just a dog, he gave her a friend. Juanita De Witt, photographer. 2015.

 

Slide3

*Jessica Day rescued Nunu from the SPCA when she was just a puppy. Nunu grew up in an abusive home and as a result was shy and scared. Just as Haraway mentioned in her manifesto not all companion species relationships are perfect. Nunu was raised in a cruel, unloving and uncaring relationship, until *Jessica rescued her and showed her that companion species relationships can be loving and fulfilling. *Jessica gave Nunu a home and a mother, but Nunu gave *Jessica much longed for companionship. Zerista Badenhorst, photographer. 2016.

 

Slide4

This photo of a pug, not so creatively named Pug, belongs to Peter von Wielligh. Peter grew up surrounded by a house full of sisters with no one to talk to or play with. His dream came true when his parents bought him a dog for his fifth birthday. Peter finally had someone to play with and to share his thoughts and feelings.  Peter and Pug became best friends that day and since then created a companionship and memories that will last a lifetime. Peter von Wielligh, photographer. 2016.

 

SOURCES CONSULTED

Haraway, D. 2007. The Companion Species Manifesto: dogs, people, and significant otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press. pp. 2-65.

Oxford University Press, 2016. Oxford Dictionaries. [Online]
Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaires.com/definition/english/companion
[Accessed 16 April 2016].

 

 

 

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