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date: 29 June 2022

Medieval Animal Studies: Dogs at Work

Abstract and Keywords

Literary animal studies investigate relationships among humans and other animals while drawing on further disciplines including biology, anthropology, fine arts, cognitive science, philosophy, and environmental studies. In emphasizing that human cultures are interspecies systems, animal studies contribute to the posthumanist critique of “the human” as an autonomous, privileged, and securely defined category. When the species components of medieval culture are appreciated in their daily, material, and cognitive dimensions, literary scholarship can move beyond the oversimplifications of the past. In the Middle English Gesta Romanorum and Seven Sages of Rome, moral tales of remorse for the death of a working dog revise the patristic and scholastic premise that nonhuman animals have no ethical standing. The hunting treatise of Gaston Phébus complicates medieval scientific distinctions between human cognition and animal instinct. Legends of Saint Modwenna and other British saints that narrate the conversion of a wolf into a livestock guardian ponder how domestication happens and how it participates in culture making.

Keywords: animal studies, species, cognition, ethical standing, domestication, posthumanist, Gaston Phébus, Modwenna, Gesta Romanorum, Bartholomaeus Anglicus


The emerging scholarship called “animal studies,” “critical animal studies,” and “human–animal studies” encompasses many disciplines loosely organized around a dual commitment. Animal studies share the first of these commitments with posthumanist, environmental, and biopolitical studies: to shift critical thought from subtending human supremacy and to explore instead the webs of interdependence that enmesh humans with all other forms of life, technologies, and materialities. The second commitment of animal studies inflects this first decentering commitment toward the ground zero of human claims to hegemony—our difference from and superiority to our closest living counterparts among the animalia. To develop a better apprehension of species interdependence, animal studies begin by valuing the specifics of particular cases and rejecting the broad conceptual distinction between humans and all other animals that has governed humanism for many centuries. This binary distinction has deep roots in classical science and early Christianity, but contrasting models of alliance and resemblance have deep roots as well, for example in treatises on husbandry and hunting, works of natural taxonomy such as the bestiaries, and narratives of cross-species encounter.

The foundational text for thought on animals in medieval Europe was the Book of Genesis. Here Adam is created on the sixth day, along with the other terrestrial species and genera, terms for animal kinds that contemporary sciences still deploy while noting their unsettled frontiers and ever-shifting criteria.1 Adam is sufficiently like other animals that God brings them before him to search for “a helper like himself.”2 John Trevisa’s encyclopedic On the Properties of Things (1399), a translation of the De proprietatibus rerum (1240) of Bartholomaeus Anglicus, expresses Adam’s species proximity in the standard medieval definition of animal: “al that is comprehended of fleissh and of spiryte of lif and so of body and of soule is ycleped [called] animal, ‘a best,’ whethur it be ayry as fowil, or wattry as fissh that swymmeth, other erthy as bestes that goth on grounde and in feldes, as men and bestes wilde and tame [scilicet homines, reptilia, bestiae et iumenta].”3

Of all these animals or beasts that breathe, eat other life forms, reproduce, and die, Trevisa adds, crediting Isidore of Seville’s sixth-century Etymologies, “Isider seith that a man is a best iliche to [a beast like] God.”4 This proximate otherness made God and nonhuman animals the pivot points for defining humankind in Christianity and later in secular humanism.5 Taking Genesis again as a foundational text, medieval exegesis argued that Adam’s likeness to God justifies his dominion over the rest of creation and that his likeness to God is precisely his difference from every other creature. From Aristotle through the Church Fathers to Descartes and onward, likeness to God inheres in the uniquely human possession of logos, or ratio, as manifested in the possession of language.6

To be sure, humans apprehend the world through language and rational thought, although scientists today no longer believe these modes are entirely exclusive to Homo sapiens. The famous hunter Gaston III, Count of Foix, lived with his hounds in part by thinking about them, as his descendants do today with their household cats and dogs. Animal studies cannot push aside the conceptual frameworks of human cultures to attain some fantasy of unmediated access to how we interact, beyond language, with animals. Recognizing that humans tend to think and rethink their relationships, contemporary animal studies recognize as well that our thought is enmeshed in somatic and affective ways of knowing and, conversely, that some interspecies relationships have cognitive, as well as somatic and affective, components. To draw these experiential registers together, I focus on the working lives of dogs (the guard dog, the hunting dog) rather than their symbolic meanings (the dog as sinner, returning to his vomit). Temporality and embodiment bring working dogs and men together in the shared state of being that Bartholomaeus, Trevisa, and Isidore call “animal.”

Histories and theories of labor have tended not to consider domestic animals as working creatures, analyzing them instead as energy sources or technologies that sustain human labor. Medieval sources, in contrast, speak of “laboryng bests,” as well as “labouring men,” and attribute to the beasts certain cognitive dispositions toward their labor.7 In Walter of Henley’s book of husbandry, “the feble ox costithe as moche and more then the beste ox, for yeff he be a wayster ox, he moste be the more spared, and by that sparynge the best ox is the more grevyd [burdened].”8 A presumption of bad attitude or bad character inheres in the “waster ox” just as a presumption of virtuous commitment inheres in the carter’s address to his hardworking horse in Chaucer’s Friar’s Tale: “That was wel twight [tugged], myn owene lyard boy! / I pray God save thee, and Seinte Loy! / Now is my cart out of the slow [mud], pardee!”9 In such passages, and in some contemporary studies of working animals, the cognitive component of the animals’ work contributes to cultural production.10 This recognition need not entail awkward comparisons between dairy cattle and factory workers, or service dogs and orderlies; instead, recognizing the peculiar mental and behavioral world of each species—indeed of each creature—is as crucial as recognizing the value of their working lives. The job of a tracking dog and handler, in Vicki Hearne’s concise formulation, “is not an incomplete version of something else. It is a complete dog–human relationship.”11

Animal studies search for a better apprehension of such interactions by drawing on several theoretical initiatives: posthumanist and neohumanist efforts to move beyond poststructuralism’s fascination with language to the exclusion of further modes of being; multispecies ethnographies and zoo archaeolgies that analyze animal husbandry, shared living quarters, and niche environments; and histories of the senses that emphasize how sensations suffuse consciousness and link sensory bodies. All of these approaches critique the version of culture-making in which individual humans manage and shape an inert environment; these approaches argue instead that “human being” is always in reciprocity with other kinds of being—always affected, as well as affecting.

Medieval writers often consider how a knight and warhorse, or a hunter and a hound, enter one other’s consciousness as they accomplish some task that would happen differently, or would not happen at all, were both parties not responding to one another. As Anna Tsing puts it, “Human nature is an interspecies relationship.”12 For this brief essay on a vast interdisciplinary field, I follow the twelfth-century bestiaries’ taxonomy of dogs according to the work they do. Drawing on Isidore’s Etymologies, the bestiaries note that there are many kinds or breeds of dog (“canum sunt plurima genera”), but these fall into just three groups: “some track the wild animals of the woods to seize them; others by vigilance guard the sheep folds from the attacks of wolves; others, the house guardians, guard the property of their masters.”13 I map these three kinds of work in relation to three areas of concern in critical animal studies: ethical responsibility, interspecies communication, and the place of domestic animals in human culture.

Guard Dogs and Animal Ethics

Living with other animals raises a host of ethical questions. The most evident of these questions is: Is it licit to kill them? Medieval philosophers tend to refer this question to an underlying question: Are other animals sufficiently akin to humans that killing them, like killing humans, is a matter for ethical consideration? Augustine draws on several passages in Genesis (notably Genesis 9:1–3) to interpret God’s sixth commandment: “We do not apply ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to plants, because they have no sensation; or to irrational animals that fly, swim, walk, or creep, because they are linked to us by no association or common bond. By the Creator’s ordinance they are meant for our use, dead or alive.”14

Here and elsewhere in Augustine’s works, the other animals’ lack of rational capacity excludes them from any “association or common bond” with humans. Thomas Aquinas concurs: “Irrational creatures can have no share in human life, which of its nature is rational.”15 On the killing of animals, Aquinas draws on Aristotle, as well as Augustine, to specify that “brute animals and plants do not have the rational capacity to decide their own lives; they are rather driven by instincts as if from outside. And this is a sign of their natural servility and subjection to the purposes of others. He who kills another’s ox does indeed commit a sin, only it is not the killing of the ox but the infliction of proprietary loss on another that is the sin.”16

Contrasting with Augustine’s and Aquinas’s clarity that killing nonhuman animals lies categorically beyond ethical constraints, other medieval texts represent this killing as an ethically charged moment. Such divergences over the ethical standing of nonhuman animals do not reflect a “development” from earlier to later thought. Aquinas’s views reach back to Aristotle and forward to Descartes and modern philosophy. Contradictory views of cross-species ethics are as characteristic of classical and medieval centuries as they are of our own.17 The conflict informs the widely circulated exemplary tale that inspired the cult of Saint Guinefort, the holy greyhound18 Details shift in the tale’s several versions, but its consistent climax is a knight’s misapprehension that, while the knight was absent from home, his dog killed his infant son. In some versions, the family is so impoverished that the dog’s hunger seems a plausible motive for the killing. But in fact the dog has fought off a snake that was moving to kill the baby. In the course of the fight, the baby’s cradle was overturned, concealing him from view. The returning father, misled by his wife’s distraught cries, believes the blood smattered over the dog and the floor is the blood of his son. Mad with grief, the father kills the dog on the spot—only to discover, moments later, that the infant son is safe beneath the cradle, thanks to the dog’s vigilance.

In its twelfth-century Latin version in Dolopathos, this plot inhabits a cautionary tale about “proprietary loss” that Aquinas would approve: at the tale’s end, the knight “was sorry” that “hasty anger injured him [himself, not the dog] when he impetuously killed the things by which he lived”—things, in the plural, because in this version the knight has also killed his horse and his hawk in his impetuous rage.19 In keeping with Aquinas’s analysis, the knight of Dolopathos has injured himself, as the man who kills his neighbor’s ox has injured his neighbor, by inflicting proprietary loss.

In medieval vernacular retellings of this tale, however, the dog’s death becomes a wrong inflicted on the dog. A Middle English version appearing in The Seven Sages of Rome (c. 1325) prepares for this new interpretation by first enriching the dog’s depiction. Value-laden terms enhance the merit of the dog and his actions: he is “hende [clever, talented] and wel itaught”; his attack on the snake is “his prouesse and his god dede [good deed].”20 From another direction, the translator supplements these active virtues with vivid details of canine behavior: in the greatly expanded fight scene, he “hente the adder in strong ger [stoutly] / And flapped her al aboute his er [ears]” in the distinctive stunning shake of a canine attack.21 When the absent father returns, the dog “him welcomed with fot and tail.”22 Faithful and brave in his behavior, the dog grows further in merit as his virtue contrasts with the mother’s false accusation, in her panicked reaction to the scene of carnage, that the dog has killed the child. Now “slawen was his gode graihond, / For his prouesse and his god dede, /Al for his fole wives rede [foolish wife’s advice].”23 The contrast between dog and wife makes clear how easily gender and species hierarchies can cross-reference, in this case reinforcing the dog’s merit both by contrasting it with the wife’s foolishness and by placing him, dog though he be, on a scale of comparison that the wife also occupies. The dog is now a subject for ethical consideration, and his bereft master condemns himself to perpetual exile to atone for his wrongful killing:

  • “O grehound,” he seide, “wight and strong,
  • I schal mi selve abigge [atone for] that wrong
  • And tache [teach] other knightes saun fail,
  • To leve here [not to believe their] levedis conseil.”
  • He set him doun in that thrawe,
  • Als quik he dede his sschon of drawe [took off his shoes],
  • And karf hise vaumpes [stockings], fot hot,
  • And wente him forht al barfot,
  • With outen leve [without taking leave] of wif and child,
  • And wente into a Forest wild,
  • In to desert from alle men;
  • Wolde he never come agen.
  • He tholede [endured] mani a biter stounde [difficult time]
  • For the wrong of his greihonde.24

With this new conclusion, the Middle English translation reaches a position diametrically opposed to that of Augustine, Aquinas, and Dolopathos. In The Seven Sages, the guarding dog has suffered a “wrong,” and the knight’s response is a life of atonement.

The penitential character of the knight’s self-exile is even stronger in a Middle English version from another collection of exemplary tales, the Gesta Romanorum (c. 1475). Here the knight

cride with an hihe voyse, “Allas! allas! for at the wordes of my wyf I have slayne my gentil grehounde, that failid never of his pray, and also savid the lyf of my childe; therefore I wolle take penaunce.” He brake his sper [spear] in thre partijs, and put his wyf in preson, and yede [went] him selfe to the holy londe; and there he livid al his lyfe, and his son helde his eritage [heritage]; and so he made a fayre ende with the worlde.25

The Gesta Romanorum’s invocation of Christian penance and the journey to the Holy Land intensify the moral valence of the knight’s atonement in The Seven Sages. Further enhancing the dog’s ethical status in both Middle English versions, the repentant killer renounces his knighthood and his social contacts as he breaks his spear, leaves his home, and lives in wilderness or holy land. These social renunciations suggest that the knight’s relationship to his dog was itself a crucial social relationship or, at least, that his social relationships were inextricable from his relationship to his dog.26

Augustine’s and Aquinas’s philosophical treatises offer a discursive mode quite different from the exemplary mode of The Seven Sages and Gesta Romanorum. The treatises are concerned with principles of ethics and the exempla with practical ethics. Treatise and exemplum differ also in their degree of specificity, the former aiming for universal claims and the latter confronting the complexities of everyday moral choices. The broad category of “irrational animal” in philosophical writing does not conjure affective and personal memories as powerfully as does the exemplum’s singular, familiar designation of a household’s dog. These differences in mode and purpose can account in part for the difference between Aquinas’s “it is not the killing of the ox but the infliction of proprietary loss on another that is the sin” and The Seven Sages’ “O grehound… I schal mi selve abigge [atone for, make up for] that wrong.”

One final difference in these accounts of animal killing is their degree of engagement with animal labor. Whereas Aquinas and Augustine consider the act of killing abstracted from all but the most skeletal context—in my example, man, neighbor, neighbor’s ox—the Middle English exemplary narratives reach beyond the moment of death to evoke a long-established working life linking the dog to a man and his family. “I have slayne my gentil grehounde, that failid never of his pray, and also savid the lyf of my childe. Therefore I wolle take penaunce”: the man is moved to penance because killing the greyhound was not the recompense that his merits deserved. This conclusion replaces a calculus of proprietary loss with an ethical responsibility based on the shared daily work of sustaining and safeguarding a household.

Hunting Dogs and Animal Consciousness

In addition to inviting ethical consideration, working with dogs involves canine cognition and interspecies communication. Animal studies intersect the broad interdisciplinary field of cognitive studies particularly in relation to ethology, the field analysis of how other animals behave in their ordinary living conditions. One of ethology’s concerns that had particular purchase in medieval thought was how animals, including humans, communicate within and across species lines. Early in the development of cognitive studies, Gregory Bateson chose broadly mammalian playfulness to exemplify a capacity for metacommunication (i.e., communication about communication). In play, dogs tussle as they might when fighting, but they agree metacommunicatively that “‘these actions in which we now engage do not denote what those actions for which they stand would denote.’… The playful nip denotes the bite, but it does not denote what would be denoted by the bite.”27 Mark Bekoff, Donald Griffin, Adam Miklósi, and others have detailed the canine signals indicating that “this is play,” as well as further canine cognitive processes such as generalizing; making inferences; and translating indexical, iconic, and symbolic signs such as finger pointing, photographs, and words.28

These interpretive capacities are on a continuum with linguistic capacity, however distinct they may be, overall, from human linguistic capacity. Whereas medieval theologians concentrated on human uniqueness and found its essence in logos—rational thought, awareness of God, likeness to God—medieval hunting treatises concentrated instead on the continuum of cognitive abilities that could sustain communication between human and canine hunters. Thomas Aquinas would call on exegetical precedent, classical science, and rational argument to conclude that hunting dogs are not cognitive beings but are “driven by instincts as if from outside.”29 In contrast, Gaston de Foix, author of the Livre de Chasse, would call on field experience and his record of success at hunting, “in which I am confident that I have no peer, even though it be boastful to say so,” to conclude that his hunting dogs behave thoughtfully and communicatively, as well as instinctively.30

Cognitive science is shifting attention from the unique capacities of human language to its continuities with other animals’ capacities to “recognize the sign as a signal: that is, to recognize that the other individual’s and its own signals are only signals, which can be trusted, distrusted, falsified, denied, amplified, corrected, and so forth.”31 Among philosophies of language, deconstruction has further inflected the analysis of signs and enlarged signifying capacities beyond the human. In his late work on animal philosophy, Jacques Derrida recalled that his substitution of the trace for the sign “was destined in advance, and quite deliberately, to cross the frontiers of anthropocentrism, the limits of a language confined to human words and discourse. Mark, gramma, trace, and différance refer differentially to all living things, all the relations between living and nonliving.”32 Complementarily, theories of embodiment and the senses have shifted the paradigm away from human uniqueness by stressing the inseparability of mental from sensual experience. When Michel Serres retranslates Homo sapiens as “man who knows how to sniff and taste” and when Timothy Morton declares man to be an Aeolian harp, responsive interconnection becomes more characteristically human than rational isolation.33 A few examples of responsive relationship from Gaston’s treatise illustrate the inseparability of cognition and sensation in the work of hunting.

Gaston’s Livre de Chasse (1387–1389), translated into English as The Master of Game (c. 1410) by Edward of York, stresses cross-species communication because it is crucial to success in the peculiar and counterintuitive kind of hunting that Gaston and Edward value most. In the aristocratic hunt “à force,” which Edward translates as “with strength of hounds,” the hunting party of dogs, men, and horses pursues a single chosen beast of prey to exhaustion, disregarding all other game animals even when they become easier targets than the chosen beast.34 Gaston is not concerned with showing that dogs have a faculty called logos or reason, but he greatly appreciates their peculiarly canine capacity to learn from humans and respond to them in action. In a passage on how to teach the dogs that they must not change from following the scent trail of one stag to following the (perhaps fresher) scent trail of another, Gaston explains that the dogs will associate a certain sequence of hunting cries, threats, and placements of hunters and then “will realize in their animal way” (“s’aviseront en leur bestesce”) what is expected of them.35 Their mental awareness is specific to their nonhuman cognition, their “bestesce,” but their awareness is accessible enough to hunters—and vice versa—that interspecies hunting parties can enjoy success in the field.

Gaston’s terminology for canine minds sometimes sounds anthropomorphic, in the reductive sense of rendering other creatures in human terms, but the specificity of canine capacities becomes clear wherever the treatise moves into details. For example, the sentence “There are dogs that are chatty and gossipy and dizzy just as among people” appears anthropomorphizing in the term’s negative sense of projecting human qualities onto animals in ways that obscure their natures.36 However, animal studies have long defended certain anthropomorphisms as strategies for moving toward insight into animal cognition.37 In the decades after structuralism, strategic anthropomorphisms have taken neither the human nor the animal as a clearly defined starting point; instead, they invite both human and animal into destabilizing intersection.38 Gaston’s assertions are often provocative in this way, inverting anthropocentric hierarchies: for example, his dogs “understand me and do what I tell them better than any man of my household.”39 Moreover, his analogies between dog and human are strategic: rather than reducing canine cognition to equivalence with human cognition, the analogies prepare for solving practical problems. In the case of the “dogs that are chatty and gossipy,” Gaston suggests four ways of quieting them: hunt with them early in the day when scents are weaker and less likely to set them off, run them with just a few other dogs, punish them when they bark, or get them really tired.40 The third and fourth of these corrections could work on chatty people as well as barking dogs, and the first and second could work on both people and dogs as well, if we think a little figuratively: give the dogs less material for idle gossip (less scent in the wind) and give them fewer companions with whom to gossip (fewer dogs in the hunting pack). Gaston’s conclusion that “a dog is truly obedient, for he will learn, just as well as a man, whatever one teaches him” testifies to his dogs’ success at making their mental world accessible to training and testifies conversely to Gaston’s success at inviting his dogs into his own mental world.41

This cognitive relationship, essential to the medieval hunt à force, is enmeshed in broader kinetic and sensual exchanges that are equally essential to hunting. Gaston cautions hunters that they should not speak too much to their dogs and that working with dogs cannot be conveyed in words:

A good hunter should say nothing to his dogs but the absolute truth…. And I can’t teach this nearly so well in writing as I would in doing, for whomever could watch me. And truly, it is bad practice and bad hunting to cry and speak to one’s dogs too much, because dogs do not give their confidence or trust so fully when one speaks too much as when one speaks little, but speaks truth.42

At first it may appear that “truth” in this passage coincides with brevity to accommodate the dogs’ limited vocabularies: on average, dogs can learn to recognize only a couple of hundred words. However, in some relation to this “truth” that one should use few words with hounds, Gaston then asserts that the constraint on speaking to dogs could only “truly” be understood by observing him “in doing, for whoever could watch me.” This second “truth”—that Gaston’s readers would require field experience to understand him fully— recognizes that words alone are insufficient for teaching either species how to hunt together. It is not, or at least not only, the size of a dog’s vocabulary that constrains hunters; a hunter’s own capacity for language is insufficient for the experience.

Throughout his treatise, Gaston stresses that sensation as well as cognition inform this working relationship. To explain a dog’s problem distinguishing among several scents in the wind, Gaston recalls that humans can protect themselves from the odor of corpses by sniffing the scent of certain herbs.43 Yannis Hamilakis proposes that sensorial contiguities such as Gaston’s between canine and human scenting constitute a more “appropriate unit of analysis” than the isolated human individual: “sensorial experience is activated at the moment of a trans-corporeal encounter; this is an encounter among human bodies, between human bodies and the bodies of other beings, and between human bodies and objects, things, and environments.”44 To encourage a dog to track just one chosen stag rather than switching to a fresher scent in the wind, Gaston advises the hunter to get down next to the dog and push his muzzle toward the correct scent trail on the ground, pointing his finger in the right direction and saying, “This way he goes, dear brother.”45 The hunter enters the dog’s sensual space, down on the ground seeking odors, and the dog enters the hunter’s cognitive space, apprehending his verbal and gestural commands.

Livestock Guarding Dogs and Domestication

Gaston’s dogs are so impressively capable of hunting alongside humans partly because they have evolved alongside them for so many millennia. Among other genetic adjustments to this cohabitation, dogs can understand what the hunter means by pointing his finger—a capability not shared by their wolf ancestors.46 No other domestic animal has acquired such complex and flexible responsiveness to humans, yet wolf and dog remain so closely related that Canis lupus and Canis familiaris can still interbreed. The paradox of their morphological similarity and their contrasting orientations to humans drew medieval writers into speculations about how wolves became dogs.

Domestication has a broad range of definitions in contemporary animal sciences. At one extreme of this term’s contemporary use, domestication can designate immediate and active control over a subset of a wild population—for example, a flock of geese genetically identical to wild geese but whose movements, reproduction, feeding, and ownership are managed by humans. At the other extreme, domestication refers to a species-forming history of genetic modifications that facilitate cohabitation with humans. In the case of domestic dogs, genetic modifications produced prehistoric wolves with increasing tolerance for living near humans, a tolerance that allowed them to take advantage of the waste dumps near early human camps and settlements. Early dogs emerged over many generations with a substantially reduced fear of humans, and about 12,000 years ago, humans began to select among them for specific useful traits in a third form of domestication that involves artificial selection. This range of meanings for the term domestication recognizes how diversely the many domestic species have participated in human cultures.47

In medieval sources, Latin domesticus is used with similar breadth to refer to entire species or kinds and also to taming particular members of a species. In a single sentence of Geoffrey of Burton’s Life and Miracles of St Modwenna, “domesticus” first denotes a wolf “against the course of nature suddenly made tame [domesticus]” and next denotes the species this wolf no longer attacks: “from then on he lived on beasts of the chase, never venturing to kill any farm animals [domestici].”48 Modwenna’s first miracle coordinates these divergent versions of domestication in order to help her new community take root in its environment.

As Modwenna’s miracle illustrates, domestication offers one point of intersection between animal studies and environmental studies. At an earlier stage, the two fields’ interests looked more distinct, even contradictory, with environmental studies focused on wilderness and preservation in terms that scientific ecologists have shown to reify the merely conceptual divide between “culture” and “nature” and to perpetuate a pastoral fantasy of harmonious natural stability.49 In this earlier environmental work, domesticated animals were seen as “the destructive accomplices of human culture.”50 More recently, environmental and animal studies have come to share interests in the ways nonhuman and human being unfold in “parallel and intersecting histories of experiments that continually succeed and fail.”51 Both fields conceive environments as interacting sets of players, human and nonhuman alike, rather than as inert and timeless resources that humans choose whether to exploit. In these respects, animal studies participate in environmental studies. An environmental study of livestock herding would take into account not only the animals involved in herding but vegetation, topography, and climate. Animal studies would focus more tightly, as I do in these few paragraphs, on the material and conceptual intersections that herding generates among livestock, humans, wolves, and dogs.

Many of the animal miracles in insular hagiography involve livestock, and especially prevalent among livestock miracles is a saint’s conversion of a wolf from attacking cattle to defending them. These miracles make easy sense in symbolic terms: the saint is a shepherd of souls guarding the “innocent” herd from the “evil” wolf, winning the wolf’s submission and dutiful work on behalf of the saint’s human followers just as she wins the submission and devotion of those followers. But the livestock miracles do more than reinscribe the saint’s spiritual authority; they also comment on the saint’s engagement in her material surroundings.

Just as Modwenna’s community is taking shape, a wolf kills a calf before the very eyes of the boy who was guarding the calf and its mother. Modwenna begins her show of power by sending only her staff with the boy:

He took the staff, came to the wolf and found him still lying on top of the calf, having eaten all the flesh and now gnawing on its bones. Giving him a light blow on the back with the staff, he said to him directly, “My mistress has commanded you to come to her.” The wolf immediately rose up and went before the boy like a tame dog. When he came to the abbess he lay down before her feet without any display of ferocity, as if awaiting her commands with a guilty conscience, like a penitent seeking to make amends and asking pardon for his crime. “Why have you devoured our calf?” she said to him. “Lo, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to go to that cow whose calf you took away and to guard her from beasts, taking her out to graze and bringing her back, and be a comfort to her, so that she may love you and have you as her very own calf.”52

Modwenna’s charismatic authority stands out in this passage. As the wolf’s roles proliferate, however, Modwenna’s authority over him becomes less salient than her environmental adventurousness. The wolf’s multiple compensations for his predation (first like a dog but also like a calf and later like a herdsman) build a local configuration of creatures, an environmental niche for the monastic community. Emphasizing this species interdependence, Modwenna’s command, authoritative as it is, acknowledges certain strengths in other species and certain limitations in her human community.

First, the little boy was not up to his task of cattle guarding. Geoffrey of Burton highlights the problem by using the same verb for the boy’s work (“he was guarding [custodiebat] a cow with her calf”) and the work Modwenna desires from the wolf for the surviving cow (“guard [custodias] her from wild animals”). In addition, the converted wolf not only takes over; he improves on the boy’s work: “he guarded [custodiebat] the cow with care like a herdsman [sicut pastor].”53 This wolf “pastor” revises Modwenna’s authority as guardian of her flock toward more broadly distributed species roles. Further, the wolf and all his descendents facilitate cattle-raising by “never injuring farm animals but getting their food from the wild.”54 And finally, the wolf’s bond with the bereaved cow that “licked him and loved him like a firstborn son” is a species coordination that Modwenna envisions but does not fully control.55 The cow’s licking and loving probably refer to the conditioning of livestock guarding dogs, still practiced today in countries where large predators occupy grazing land. Unlike herding dogs that use modified stalking behavior to shift livestock from place to place, livestock guarding dogs are conditioned to become members of the herd: they are kept apart from other dogs and humans so that they form social bonds with the herd, sometimes even nursing from a surrogate mother among the livestock. Such a dog gradually comes “to direct normal intra-specific social behavior (especially care-soliciting, including food-begging and other tactile responses) to another species,” the species of livestock that the dog is destined to protect.56 Once the social bonds have been formed, the dog can live independently with the herd, requiring no human supervision, guarding the herd from predators. With livestock guarding dogs as the context for Modwenna’s miracle, her authority is again distributed across species lines: she is relying on the cow that “licked him and loved him” to complete the wolf’s transformation into a livestock guardian. As the cow establishes a tactile and social bond with the wolf and the wolf improves on the boy’s livestock guarding, to become domesticus involves more than a one-sided imposition of human will.

This more complex perception of domestication is echoed in the miracle’s temporal and narrative unfolding. At the moment when the wolf is “against the course of nature suddenly made tame,” becoming domesticus does turn on Modwenna’s intervention, but the moment’s very suddenness encloses a hypothesis that the shift from predating wolf to herd guardian could also happen over time in the ordinary course of nature. A longer time frame for domestication becomes more visible as the miracle story concludes that “wolves descended from this one even to the present day guard the church’s flocks in a radius of three miles around, universally loved and recognizable to all by the fact that they are smaller than others [that is, other wolves] and have a white mark on their foreheads”.57

These details are remarkably accurate to the genetic transformation of Canis lupus into Canis familiaris, as well as to mammal domestication more broadly: smaller adult body size and depigmentation (white markings) tend to accompany genetic modification toward greater tolerance for contact with humans.58 To be sure, the miracle’s temporality produces canine domestication backward, as Modwenna’s comparatively “sudden” moment of intervention precedes the durable species modifications “even to the present day.” Current scientific consensus is that species modifications deep in the wolf’s evolutionary past prepared for, rather than followed on, human intervention. Perhaps the hagiographer grasped even this temporal inversion, given that saints so often prove themselves by standing “the ordinary course of nature” on its head.

Scholars are well attuned to the spiritual symbolism of flock, shepherd, and wolf in the saints’ animal miracles, but little attention has been paid to the miracles’ environmental engagements. Two references to the site of Modwenna’s new foundation further connect her spiritual concerns to her environmental concerns: at the start of the episode, the wolf’s attack takes place “near the church,” and, at the end, his many progeny “guard the flocks of the church in a radius of three miles around.”59 The miracle’s point of reference in the landscape—the church building—links Modwenna’s spiritual care to her material care. She affects the network of species around the church by commanding the wolf, as his spiritual superior, to turn away from the “crime” of killing livestock.60 More intriguingly, her material care inspires her to invite the wolf into the role of a herdsman, into identification with a cow, and into domestication as a dog, or a very doglike wolf. Webbed together in a new way, the species around the church make an environment for growing Modwenna’s little foundation from just eight virgin followers to more than 100.

A thread of love runs through these three examples of working with dogs, an affective devotion that arises within the working relationship. Whereas pet-keeping cultures today might imagine that the progeny of Modwenna’s wolf were “universally loved” in her neighborhood for their shaggy good looks or their gentleness, it is their usefulness that the miracle story values most. More fully articulated at the beginning of the story of the virtuous guard dog in the Gesta Romanorum, the knight “loved passantly” his dog and his falcon because of their usefulness: “bycause that thei never faylid of theire pray.”61 Gaston’s treatise on hunting associates love and work even more closely, specifying that the hunter’s love inspires the dogs’ work: “I advise the wise hunter to give the dogs their due and their pleasure, and to hold them in love and respect, if he wants to truly enjoy them and lead them to do his pleasure.”62 This “love” deserves an entry of its own, devoted to tracing its nuances and expressions in the canine work of guarding houses, hunting game, and guarding livestock. Too briefly here, I add the affective to the sensorial, cognitive, ethical, and environmental dimensions I have traced in several medieval texts that imagine or remember working relationships with dogs. The many dimensions of such working relationships amply demonstrate that medieval cultures were interspecies enterprises.


The bibliography lists works that have shaped the field of posthumanist animal studies and a sample of medieval scholarship in this new field. I cite translations into English where they are available.

Agamben, Giorgio. The Open: Man and Animal. Trans. Kevin Attell. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.Find this resource:

Allen, Colin, Marc Bekoff, and Gordon M. Burghardt, eds. The Cognitive Animal: Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives on Animal Cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Atterton, Peter, and Matthew Calarco, eds. Animal Philosophy: Essential Readings in Continental Thought. London: Continuum, 2004.Find this resource:

Bruckner, Matilda Tomaryn. “Speaking through Animals in Marie de France’s Lais and Fables.” In A Companion to Marie de France, ed. Logan E. Whalen, 157–185. Leiden: Brill, 2011.Find this resource:

Burns, E. Jane, and Peggy McCracken, eds. From Beasts to Souls: Gender and Embodiment in Medieval Europe. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Calarco, Matthew. Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Heidegger to Derrida. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Cohen, Jeffrey J. Medieval Identity Machines. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Crane, Susan. Animal Encounters: Contacts and Concepts in Medieval Britain. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Crane, Susan, ed. “Symposium: Animal Methodologies.” New Medieval Literatures 12 (2010): 117–177.Find this resource:

Daston, Lorraine, and Gregg Mitman, eds. Thinking with Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.Find this resource:

Derrida, Jacques. “‘Eating Well’ or the Calculation of the Subject: An Interview with Jacques Derrida.” In Who Comes After the Subject?, ed. Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor, and Jean-Luc Nancy, 96–119. New York: Routledge, 1991.Find this resource:

Derrida, Jacques. The Animal That Therefore I Am. Ed. Marie-Louise Mallet, trans. David Wills. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Despret, Vinciane. “The Body We Care For: Figures of Anthropo-Zoo-Genesis.” Body and Society 10 (2004): 111–134.Find this resource:

Diamond, Cora. “The Difficulty of Reality and the Difficulty of Philosophy.” In Philosophy & Animal Life, by Stanley Cavell, Cora Diamond, John McDowell, Ian Hacking, and Cary Wolfe, 43–89. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Fontenay, Elisabeth de. Without Offending Humans: A Critique of Animal Rights. Trans. William Bishop. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.Find this resource:

Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Pantheon, 1971.Find this resource:

Fradenburg, L. O. Aranye. “Living Chaucer.” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 33 (2011): 41–64.Find this resource:

Haraway, Donna J. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Holsinger, Bruce. “Of Pigs and Parchment: Medieval Studies and the Coming of the Animal.” PMLA 124 (2009): 616–623.Find this resource:

Jamieson, Dale, ed. Singer and His Critics. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.Find this resource:

Kirksey, S. Eben, and Stefan Helmreich. “The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography.” Cultural Anthropology 25 (2010): 545–576.Find this resource:

Kiser, Lisa J. “Margery Kempe and the Animalization of Christ: Animal Cruelty in Late Medieval England.” Studies in Philology 106 (2009): 299–315.Find this resource:

Latour, Bruno. We Have Never Been Modern. Trans. Catherine Porter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.Find this resource:

Llewelyn, John. The Middle Voice of Ecological Conscience: A Chiasmic Reading of Responsibility in the Neighborhood of Levinas, Heidegger and Others. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.Find this resource:

Mack, Arien, ed. Humans and Other Animals. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1999.Find this resource:

McCracken, Peggy, and Karl Steel, eds. Special Issue: The Animal Turn. postmedieval 2 (Spring 2011).Find this resource:

Nagel, Thomas. “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” Philosophical Review 83 (1974): 435–450.Find this resource:

Pluskowski, Aleksander. Wolves and the Wilderness in the Middle Ages. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2006.Find this resource:

Rothfells, Nigel, ed. Representing Animals. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Rudd, Gillian, ed. “Colloquium: Animalia.” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 34 (2012): 307–358.Find this resource:

Sorabji, Richard. Animal Minds and Human Morals: The Origins of the Western Debate. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993.Find this resource:

Steel, Karl Tobias. How to Make a Human: Animals and Violence in the Middle Ages. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Steiner, Gary. Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Travis, Peter W. Disseminal Chaucer: Rereading “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.” Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Tyler, Tom, and Manuela Rossini, eds. Animal Encounters. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2009.Find this resource:

Van Dyke, Carolynn. “Names of the Hare: Tracking the Animot in Medieval Texts.” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 34 (2012): 1–51.Find this resource:

Wolfe, Cary. “Human, All Too Human: ‘Animal Studies’ and the Humanities.” PMLA 124 (2009): 564–575.Find this resource:

Wolfe, Cary. Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Wolfe, Cary, ed. Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Wood, David. “Comment ne pas manger: Deconstruction and Humanism.” In Animal Others: On Ethics, Ontology, and Animal Life, ed. H. Peter Steeves, 15–35. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1999.Find this resource:

Yamamoto, Dorothy. The Boundaries of the Human in Medieval English Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.Find this resource:


(1) John Dupré, The Disorder of Things: Metaphysical Foundations of the Disunity of Science (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).

(2) Genesis 2:20, from the Douay translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible.

(3) Bartholomaeus Anglicus, On the Properties of Things: John Trevisa’s Translation of Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum, ed. M. C. Seymour, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 2:1092 (18:1:13); Bartholomaeus Anglicus, De rerum proprietatibus (Frankfurt am Main: Minerva, 1964 [1601], 968–969 (Book 18, Prologue). My italics.

(4) Bartholomaeus, On the Properties of Things: John Trevisa’s Translation, 1:90 (3.1.1); Genesis 1:26: “Let us make man to our image and likeness.”

(5) Giorgio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal, trans. Kevin Attell (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004); Jacques Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am, ed. Marie-Louise Mallet, trans. David Wills (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008); Cary Wolfe, Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).

(6) Classical and medieval philosophies of logos and the animal are introduced in Richard Sorabji, Animal Minds and Human Morals: The Origins of the Western Debate (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993); modern philosophies on the subject are introduced in Animal Philosophy: Essential Readings in Continental Thought, ed. Peter Atterton and Matthew Calarco (London: Continuum, 2004).

(7) Middle English Dictionary, ed. Hans Kurath, Sherman M. Kuhn, and Robert E. Lewis (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1952–2001), labour (1) (b).

(8) Walter of Henley’s Husbandry, ed. Elizabeth Lamond (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1890), p. 51.

(9) Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, in The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry D. Benson et al., 3d ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987), Friar’s Tale, III. 1563–1565.

(10) Donna Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), pp. 55–59, 73–75, 261–263; Jason Hribal, “‘Animals Are Part of the Working Class’: A Challenge to Labor History,” Labor History 44 (2003): 435–453; Nik Taylor, Animals at Work: Politics and Culture in Work with Animals (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

(11) Vicki Hearne, Adam’s Task: Calling Animals by Name (New York: Knopf, 1986), p. 38.

(12) Anna Tsing, quoted in Haraway, When Species Meet, p. 19.

(13) A Medieval Book of Beasts: The Second-Family Bestiary, ed. and trans. Willene B. Clark (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2006), p. 145. Clark, p. 145, notes that similar distinctions into kinds of dog by kinds of work appear in classical treatises by Columella and Varro.

(14) Augustine of Hippo, The City of God, Books I–VII, trans. Demetrius B. Zema and Gerald G. Walsh (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1950), p. 53 (Book 1, Chapter 20).

(15) Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae: Latin Text, English Translation, Introductions, Notes, Appendices and Glossaries, Vol. 34 (2a2ae. 23–33), ed. and trans. R. J. Batten (London: Blackfriars, 1975), pp. 88–89 (2a2ae. 25, 3).

(16) Aquinas, Summa Theologiae: Latin Text, English Translation, vol. 38 (2a2ae. 63–79), ed. and trans. Marcus Lefébure (London: Blackfriars, 1975), pp. 20–21 (2a2ae. 64, 2).

(17) Gary Steiner, Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005); The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics, ed. Tom L. Beauchamp and R. G. Frey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

(18) Jean-Claude Schmitt, The Holy Greyhound: Guinefort, Healer of Children since the Thirteenth Century, trans. Martin Thom (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

(19) Johannes de Alta Silva, Dolopathos, or The King and the Seven Wise Men, trans. Brady B. Gilleland (Binghamton, NY: Center for Medieval & Early Renaissance Studies, 1981), p. 42.

(20) The Seven Sages of Rome (Southern Version), ed. Karl Brunner, E.E.T.S., o.s., 191 (London: Humphrey Milford Oxford University Press, 1933), ll. 723, 821.

(25) The Early English Versions of the Gesta Romanorum, ed. Sidney J. H. Herrtage, E.E.T.S., e.s. 33 (London: Trübner, 1879), p. 99.

(26) In the Gesta Romanorum, which supplements each exemplum with a Christian gloss, the dog is crucial to the knight’s spiritual as well as social identity: the knight is to be interpreted as “eche worldly man,” and the faithful dog is his faculty of Reason, “styrid fro slepe of synne [when] he fitithe with the serpent… [that is], the devil,” p. 100.

(27) Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind (San Francisco: Chandler, 1972), p. 180.

(28) Marc Bekoff and Colin Allen, “Intentional Communication and Social Play: How and Why Animals Negotiate and Agree to Play,” in Animal Play: Evolutionary, Comparative, and Ecological Perspectives, ed. Marc Bekoff and J. A. Byers (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 97–114; Donald R. Griffin, Animal Minds: Beyond Cognition to Consciousness (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001); Adam Miklósi, Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 165–200.

(29) Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae: Latin Text, English Translation, Vol. 38 (2a2ae. 63–79), ed. and trans. Lefébure, pp. 20–21 (2a2ae. 64, 2); similarly, Aquinas likens animals to “clocks and other works of human art,” made so ingeniously by God that they may appear to be, but are not, reasoning or choosing their actions: Summa Theologiae: Latin Text and English Translation, Vol. 17 (1a2ae. 6–17), ed. and trans. Thomas Gilby (Cambridge, UK: Blackfriars, 1970), pp. 128–129 (1a2ae. 13, 3).

(30) Gaston Phébus: Livre de Chasse, ed. Gunnar Tilander. Cynegetica 18 (Karlshamn: Johanssons, 1971), p. 51: “de qui je ne doubte que j’aye nul maistre, combien que ce soit vantance.”

(33) Michel Serres, Les cinq sens: philosophie des corps mêlés—I (Paris: Grasset, 1985), p. 254: “Homo sapiens, homme qui sait goûter. Sagace: qui sait humer”; Timothy Morton, “Of Matter and Meter: Environmental Form in Coleridge’s ‘Effusion 35’ and ‘The Eolian Harp,’” Literature Compass 5:2 (2008): 310–335.

(34) Gaston Phébus: Livre de Chasse, p. 193; Edward of York translates Gaston’s phrase “with strength” and in independent passages uses also “with strength of rennyng houndes”: The Master of Game by Edward, Second Duke of York, ed. William A. and Florence Baillie-Grohman (London: Chatto & Windus, 1909), 30, 148, 165.

(36) Gaston Phébus: Livre de Chasse, p. 210: “il y a des chienz parlerres et janglerres et estourdiz einsi que des genz.”

(37) Gordon M. Burghardt, “Cognitive Ethology and Critical Anthropomorphism: A Snake with Two Heads and Hognose Snakes that Play Dead,” in Cognitive Ethology: The Minds of Other Animals, ed. Carolyn A. Ristau (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1991), pp. 53–90; Timothy J. Eddy, Gordon G. Gallup Jr., and Daniel J. Povinelli, “Attribution of Cognitive States to Animals: Anthropomorphism in Comparative Perspective,” Journal of Social Issues 49 (1993): 87–101.

(38) Lorraine Daston, “Intelligences: Angelic, Animal, Human,” in Thinking with Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism, ed. Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), pp. 37–58; Vinciane Despret, “The Body We Care for: Figures of Anthropo-Zoo-Genesis,” Body and Society 10 (2004): 111–134; Tom Tyler, “If Horses Had Hands…” Society & Animals 11:3 (2003): 267–281.

(39) Gaston Phébus: Livre de Chasse, p. 217: “m’entendent et font ce que je leur di mieulx que homme qui soit en mon ostel.”

(41) Gaston Phébus: Livre de Chasse, p. 110: “chien est bien a commandement, quar il aprendra tout einsi que un homme tout quant que on li enseignera.”

(42) Gaston Phébus: Livre de Chasse, p. 217: “Et bon veneur ne doit dire a ses chienz fors que la pure verité…. Et ceci ne pourroye je mie si bien aprendre par escripture comme je feroye de fet, qui le me verroit fere. Et vrayement, c’est tres mauvaise chose et mauvaise venerie de trop crier et de trop parler a ses chienz, quar les chienz ne donnent mie si grant foy ne croyent si bien quant on parle trop comme ilz font quant on parle pou et verité.”

(44) Yannis Hamilakis, “Afterword: Eleven Theses on the Archaeology of the Senses,” in Making Senses of the Past: Toward a Sensory Archaeology, ed. Jo Day. Center for Archaeological Investigations, Occasional Paper No. 40 (Carbondale: Board of Trustees, Southern Illinois University, 2012), p. 411.

(45) Gaston Phébus: Livre de Chasse, p. 174: “vez le ci aler, biau frere.”

(46) Brian Hare, Michelle Brown, Christina Williamson, and Michael Tomasello, “The Domestication of Social Cognition in Dogs,” Science 298:5598 (22 November 2002): 1634–1636.

(47) Where the Wild Things Are Now: Domestication Reconsidered, ed. Rebecca Cassidy and Molly Mullin (Oxford: Berg, 2007); The Walking Larder: Patterns of Domestication, Pastoralism, and Predation, ed. Juliet Clutton-Brock (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989).

(48) Geoffrey of Burton, Life and Miracles of St Modwenna, ed. and trans. Robert Bartlett (Oxford: Clarendon, 2002), pp. 20–21 (translation slightly modified): “contra naturam domesticus repente factus, ex illo tempore de venatione vivebat… nichil domestici omnino attrectare presumebat.”

(49) Influential early critiques of this conceptual divide were Daniel B. Botkin, Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990) and Kate Soper, What Is Nature? (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995).

(50) Greg Garrard, Ecocriticism (London: Routledge, 2004), pp. 136–149 (quotation at p. 149).

(51) Ursula K. Heise, “Lost Dogs, Last Birds, and Listed Species: Cultures of Extinction,” Configurations 18:1–2 (2010): 49–72 (quotation at p. 72); Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010).

(52) Geoffrey of Burton, Life and Miracles of St Modwenna, pp. 20–21: “Quem ille capiens venit ad lupum et invenit eum adhuc super vitulum incubantem et, iam consumptis totis carnibus, etiam ossa illius rodentem. Et percutiens eum baculo leviter ictu super dorsum, simpliciter dixit ad eum, ‘Domina mea precepit ut venias ad eam.’ Qui statim consurgens in modum domestici canis, antecedebat puerum et pervenit usque ad abbatissam prostratusque ante pedes eius, omni ferocitate deposita, quasi culpe conscius expectabat quid illa preciperet et, velut penitens ac satisfaciens sui criminis, veniam postulabat. Ad quem illa ait, ‘Quare devorasti vitulum nostrum? Ecce precipio tibi in nomine Christi Iesu quatinus eas ad vaccam cuius vitulum abstulisti et custodias illam a bestiis, ducens in pascua et reducens, et sis ei solacio ut amet et habeat te sicut vitulum proprium.”

(54) Geoffrey of Burton, Life and Miracles of St Modwenna, pp. 20–21: “nulla prorsus ledentes domestica, sed de silvestribus sibi semper victualia queritantes.”

(55) Geoffrey of Burton, Life and Miracles of St Modwenna, pp. 20–21: “et illa lingebat eum et amabat quasi filium unigenitum.”

(56) Raymond Coppinger and Richard Schneider, “Evolution of Working Dogs,” in The Domestic Dog, ed. James Serpell (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 21–47 (quotation at p. 27).

(57) Geoffrey of Burton, Life and Miracles of St Modwenna, pp. 20–21, translation slightly altered: “lupi propagati ex isto usque in presentem diem custodiant pecora ecclesie per tria miliaria in circuitu, dilecti ab omnibus, cunctis cognoscibiles utpote minores ceteris et albas in frontibus notas habentes.”

(58) Lyudmila N. Trut, “Early Canid Domestication: The Farm-Fox Experiment,” American Scientist 87 (March–April 1999): 160–169.

(62) Gaston Phébus: Livre de chasse, p. 221: “je loe au bon veneur qu’il face aux chienz leur droit et leur playsir et qu’il les tieigne en amour et en doubtance, s’il veult d’eulx bien jouyr et qu’ilz facent bien son playsir.”