We turn to those who are truly spineless, and I mean literally, they are creatures that have no spines. Also featured in this story: the people who study them who, like us all, could sometimes use a little more spine.
Mike Wise tells Ira about a run he went on one winter night with his dog, years ago along the C&O Canal in DC. It was late.
Heather and her girlfriend lived with a cat named Sid. The girlfriend showed all sorts of affection toward Sid that she never showed toward Heather.
When a pet dies, to what degree can it be replaced by another? And to what degree can pets replace people in our lives? David Sedaris tells this story of cats and dogs and other animals.
Veronica Chater explains the conflict in her house between her love for her pet macaw—a kind of parrot—and her love for her husband and three kids. The macaw wreaks a sort of low-level chaos in the house, because it wants Veronica all to itself.
Writer Brady Udall with another story about what animals can take the place of, in our lives and in our homes—this one involving an armadillo. This work of fiction originally appeared in the Autumn 1999 issue of Story magazine.
Nature photographer David Slater went to Indonesia. While he was there, he got some stunning photos of monkeys.
Two women attempt very different transformations. One wants to become a mother.
Charles Foster has always been obsessed with trying to figure out how animals see the world. So he decides to find out—by living life as a badger.
Terriers have been bred for hundreds of years to kill rats. Ray Ray is a terrier, but he lives in a comfy apartment in New York City.
Ira visits an 83-year-old man named Dick Paterniti who’s been waging a long and lonely war against a woodpecker.
Even when an animal is not a pest, not chewing up homes or spreading disease or biting average citizens, even when it is universally loved, it can still wreak havoc when it arrives in our world. James Spring has this example from a community of harbor seals in La Jolla, California, near San Diego.
Back in the day, generally when a wild animal showed up, we’d just kill it. Take this press release the federal government put out nearly a hundred years ago.
In Anchorage, many people take pride in being able to co-exist side-by-side with wild animals. Jon Mooallem has the story of one animal that became a resident of the city in a way that few non-humans ever do.
As a California game warden Terry Grosz went to great lengths — and some depths — to stop illegal fishing. Terry also tells this story in his book Wildlife Wars.
Comedian Mike Birbiglia, his wife, and his cat take a trip together and meet some parasitic zombie mice.
Ben Loory reads his short story about an unlikely friendship that forms between a moose and a man. It's from his fiction collection Stories for the Nighttime and Some for the Day.
Ira admits there is a question he’s wanted to know the answer to since he was a kid in Hebrew school: Why is it that Jews don’t sacrifice animals anymore? Especially since the Old Testament is so clear that God wants it? Ira talks to religious studies scholar Jonathan Klawans to find out. Jonathan is the author of a book covering this subject, Purity, Sacrifice and the Temple.
Susan Orlean tells us about the moment America asked untrained household canines to make the ultimate sacrifice: to serve in World War II. Susan talks to Gina Snyder, who remembers being a teenager when her dog Tommy joined the service.
Camas Davis tells a true story about a rabbit kidnapping that saves some rabbits' lives, kills those same rabbits' babies, and leaves students in a Portland rabbit-butchering class scratching their heads.
This American Life producer Nancy Updike reveals to Ira the staff’s concernabout his dog, Piney.
When America Asked Household Dogs to Serve in World War II
Ben Loory wrote and tells this story, which begins with a duck falling in love with a rock.
Comedian Danny Lobell tells this story about the unintended consequences of bringing new residents to his Brooklyn neighborhood. Namely, a couple of chickens.