Paul Shepard

THE BENEFIT TO animals of being domestic is fictitious, for they are slaves, however coddled, becoming more demented and attenuated as the years pass. Among them, the native canine qualities of foxes, jackals, wolves, and coyotes slip away. The dog is the perverse and dysfunctional wolf, the main instrument and symbol of the destruction of the wild wolf. Wolves are not evil dogs, but the other way around: the dog is the corrupted wolf. Having first trained and then unleashed Folleree and Folleroo {Riddley Walker, a novel by Russell Hoban}, our aggression comes to its apotheosis in the picture of Saint Eustace, the moment of the Fall. Before the hound, men hunted with their minds and were on holy ground. With the dog, an equilibrium was lost. The canine itself was the first victim. Mounted the hunters became slavemakers, and everything was relentlessly hunted, as the two slaves became the weapons against the earth.

Argument as to whether the dog or the horse is "man's best friend" is beset with the irony of a choice in which the animals are perceived as competing toys, as though Folleree and Folleroo were merely playmates of Trigger, Silver, and Black Beauty. Indeed, the two compose a somewhat graver alliance: the means in human hands that hounded and horsepowered the earth into polluted, destabilized, and homogenized environments. As wild forms they will always be locked in our hearts. But neither is man's true friend, nor woman's either, as they energized and symbolized the destruction of the Gaian sensibility--that humility and nurturing ethos which resists the pastoral exhortation to overtake, control, and contain.