This may sound like a strange question, but it is an important one. Especially if you've ever loved a dog or a cat. My father's beloved dog, Rosie, passed away last month and he went into a state of deep mourning. I too can remember when my dog died, I felt like I lost a brother.
Much literature has been written about our bond with animals, especially dogs, but a new book by Frans De Waal, titled, "Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?" takes us further into understanding (or misunderstanding) our relationship with animals...the good, the bad and the ugly.
The short answer to the question, "are we smart enough to know how smart animals are?" is NO.
"For centuries, our understanding of animal intelligence has been obscured in just this kind of cloud of false assumptions and human egotism. De Waal, a primatologist and ethologist who has been examining the fuzzy boundary between our species and others for 30 years, painstakingly untangles the confusion, then walks us through research revealing what a wide range of animal species are actually capable of. Tool use, cooperation, awareness of individual identity, theory of mind, planning, metacognition and perceptions of time — we now know that all these archetypically human, cognitive feats are performed by some animals as well."
De Waal argues that we should attempt to understand a species’ intelligence only within its own context, or umwelt: the animal’s “self-centered subjective world, which represents only a small tranche of all available worlds.” There are many different forms of intelligence; each should be valuated only relative to its environment. - NY Times Book Review
Taking this deep ecological viewpoint even further, Jacques Derrida, the late French philosopher, wrote that our mistreatment of other people (all forms from bullying to racism), can be traced to our fundamental disregard and disrespect for other animals (other species). The anthropocentric bias has been with us perhaps from our very beginning (and for good reason when our survival depended on it). But, in the 21st Century, why do we still hold such a speciesist viewpoint?
How does this tie back to a yuppy puppy? That's where Jessica Cooke comes in. She is the owner of the Yuppy Puppy Pet Spa in Winghaven, MO. JEMA is designing her new hotel, spa and salon. And yes, the hotel, spa and salon are for dogs and cats. The dogs and cats here are treated as any "human" hotel, spa or salon would treat their patrons. Underlying her business and her ethics is a belief that "other" animals are sentient and intelligent and need to be treated with respect and kindness.
JEMA's transparent "farm house" concept will showcase the lobby and retail area for the Yuppy Puppy Pet Spa. The area will also have a viewing window into the salon and spa.