Above image by Krystal Hamlin, original image available here.
In 1970, Walter LeBon was a master’s student in LSU’s Department of Geography and Anthropology. Preparing his thesis on the origin of the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, he knew there would be challenges. As LeBon recalls in his new book On the Trail of the Catahoula, “I would have to defend not only my scholarship, but the appropriateness of my topic. What does a dog have to do with geography?”
Unlike LeBon’s thesis committee, we at UNO Press didn’t need any convincing that animals are fitting subjects for anthropological study. After all, we know from personal experience that non-human creatures have played irreplaceable roles in our histories, cultures, and daily lives.
Without further ado, here are some of the animals who are most important to our team:
NAMES: Jack (left) and Fess (right)
HUMAN COHABITANT: Alex, graphic designer
SPECIES: Flooficus maximus
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION: Born on the streets of New Orleans in 2013, these two littermates ventured outside the state for the first time in the wake of Hurricane Ida. Otherwise they have always called southeast Louisiana home.
IMPACT ON HUMAN LIFE: Providing dedicated service as morning alarm clocks; sharing warmth through cuddles; monitoring property (through window) for crows, jays, and sparrows.
FAVORITE BOOK: Audubon’s Birds of America
NAME: Zora, aka Booboo, aka Boobliana, alias Precious Baby
HUMAN COHABITANT: Chelsey, editor
SPECIES: Canis familiaris specklearius (maybe even some Catahoula in there!)
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION: Known to spawn in the 2900 block of Dumaine, with outposts by the Lake.
IMPACT ON HUMAN LIFE: Shunting the household through the cavernous lows of firework-, separation-, and rain-based anxieties as well as the highs of bonafide, over-the-top love for salmon skin, couch time, and the members of her pack, Zora is the sun and the storm.
FAVORITE BOOK: Their Eyes Were Watching God; runner-up, Madame Bovary
NAME: Horace, full name Zon Hector Horace Aloysius Lovepilot Zundelspork Smith
HUMAN COHABITANT: also Chelsey, editor (her stepcat)
SPECIES: Creamsicle (ALSO: Dreamsicle; ALSO: Colby Jack)
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION: His kittenhood on the shores of Lake Michigan winks distantly at Horace’s life today on southernly Lake Pontchartrain. Most recently, Mr. Smith sojourned in the Hurricane Ida-ridden woods of Loranger, LA, becoming quite the expert on the subregion’s flora and fauna.
IMPACT ON HUMAN LIFE: An exceptionally mellow fellow, Horace is a charm and a dear whenever he is not currently lost in the woods of Loranger, LA, which is the case 99% of the time.
FAVORITE BOOK: Ilya Kaminsky’s Dancing in Odessa for the warm seasons and Deaf Republic for the cold.
HUMAN WHO GOT TO PET-SIT HIM: Christian, UNO Press / Center Austria Publishing Fellow who doesn’t have a pet, unfortunately, but is fortunate enough to get to spend time with other people’s pets while in the US
SPECIES: Experiment 626
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION: Lives with his human, Sam, in Pensacola, Florida—but frequently visits New Orleans too.
IMPACT ON HUMAN LIFE: Great animator of otherwise idle hands that could be put to use petting him. Loves hanging out wherever people he likes are hanging out. Excellent motorcycle companion.
FAVORITE BOOK: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
TEMPORARY HUMAN COHABITANT: Christian, UNO Press / Center Austria Publishing Fellow who got to meet Buff while evacuating with his family for Hurricane Ida
SPECIES: Bonum puerum
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION: Lives with his family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and spends most of his time there in the sun on the screened porch or on the living room couch.
IMPACT ON HUMAN LIFE: Was a great emotional support animal during Christian’s first hurricane evacuation. Acts as a pettable fidget toy and exudes calm, unless he’s playing soccer in the backyard.
FAVORITE BOOK: Etiquette, 19th edition
NAMES: Leo and Joey
HUMAN COHABITANT: G.K. Darby, managing editor
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION: Ramona’s Room
IMPACT ON HUMAN LIFE: They never stop building/chewing. It’s inspiring. As Max Weber says, “Work hard in your calling.”
FAVORITE BOOK: The Shorter Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (1953)
NAME: Clementine (aka Clembus, Clem, Clemmie Bear, Clembo, Clembulus, Big Baby, Tiny Horse, Snooty McBear)
PART-TIME HUMAN COHABITANT: Caroline Moore, graduate assistant
SPECIES: Pitbull mixed with ?
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION: Patrolling the backyard perimeter, curling into a donut on the couch, or snuggling in her preferred human’s lap.
IMPACT ON HUMAN LIFE: Gives incredible snuggles, protects her humans with scary dog barks, understands English proficiently.
FAVORITE BOOK: Pride and Prejudice
NAME: Evie Steeby
HUMAN COHABITANT: Abram Himelstein, editor-in-chief
SPECIES: Pitbull mixed with ? Ridgeback?
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION: Following her humans around Bayou St. John.
IMPACT ON HUMAN LIFE: This aspiring optometrist gazes into her favorite people’s eyes, examining both their souls and their retinas.
FAVORITE BOOK: Comprehensive Ophthalmology, 6th ed. (Runner-up: any satisfying-to-chew-upon hardcover that happens to be in her vicinity)
On the Trail of the Catahoula: A Geographical Investigation by Walter LeBon is available here.
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