The French Romantic poet Gérard de Nerval used to walk his pet lobster, Thibault, through the streets of Paris on a long blue ribbon serving as a leash. An anecdote by one of his contemporaries, Guillaume Appolinaire, quoted by Harper's, has him explaining: "And what could be quite so ridiculous as making a dog, a cat, a gazelle, a lion or any other beast follow one about. I have affection for lobsters. They are tranquil, serious and they know the secrets of the sea."
De Nerval may have been an eccentric, but his case alludes to a larger point: that animals — all animals — have an emotional life that, for the most part, is inaccessible to us. This stems, of course, from the problem of consciousness — qualia — that we all face in our everyday communication: that we can never really communicate exactly what we are feeling or sensing and that we can never really know what anyone else is feeling or sensing. We may never know, for example, if the stars or a painting or a color looks the same to us as it does to our friends.
Some of that gap, however, is bridged in unlikely places. One of those places is the need for attention and affection. Although we may never know why, exactly, our dog wants to go for a walk right after we've just come in for a walk or what, precisely, our cat is meowing about, we can generally ascertain that what is wanted, first and foremost, is immediate attention or affection.
Meditate on that for a moment as you look at these animals — including a very lovable-looking human — who are making their needs known.
Here are 10 animals who would like some attention.