Wolves are amazing animals. Anyone who watches Game of Thrones or has travelled wilderness areas of the northern hemisphere or has heard a wolf’s spine-tingling howl knows this. Wolves are entrancing, enigmatic.
Earlier this year I read Mark Rowland’ s book The Philosopher and the Wolf. Rowlands writes about the eleven years he spent with a wolf called Brenin. While you may not agree with the conclusions Rowland came to as a result of this incredible interaction, I promise you’ll find the story, and his take on human nature, fascinating.
Here’s what Rowlands says about living with Brenin:
‘It was not just that I loved having him around – although I did. Much of what I learnt, about how to live and how to conduct myself, I learnt during those eleven years. Much of what I know about life and its meaning I learnt from him. What it is to be human: I learnt this from a wolf. And so thoroughly did he insert himself into every facet of my life, so seamlessly did our lives become intertwined, that I came to understand, even define, myself in terms of my relationship to Brenin.’
Here’s a taste of their time together:
‘Trying to keep a wolf under control by making sure it’s constantly exhausted is one approach. But even a moment’s thought will tell you that it’s not a very good one. Our runs did tire Brenin out initially. Me too – but that was of lesser importance, since I wasn’t the one trying to drag the furniture out into the garden. Brenin, on the other hand, became fitter and fitter, and therefore more capable of wreaking havoc on the house and its contents at any given time. Soon, runs that used to plunge him into an exhausted slumber for the rest of the day he came to regard as a gentle loosener. And so the runs, of necessity, became longer and longer. But, of course, Brenin just got even fitter; and you can probably see where this is going…
I kept running, and Brenin kept running with me; and we both got fitter, and leaner, and harder. This pragmatic impetus for my new-found fitness, however, quickly changed into something else. On our runs together, I realised something both humbling and profound: I was in the presence of a creature that was, in most important respects, unquestionably, demonstrably, irredeemably and categorically superior to me. This was a watershed moment in my life. I can’t ever remember feeling this way in the presence of a human being. But now I realised that I wanted to be less like me and more like Brenin.’
Separate from Rowland’s book, here are some wolves doing what they do.
These wolves live at Wolf Creek Habitat and Rescue.
The people at Wired, understand… How much would you like to live with a dire wolf? And before you cry foul at the notion of a wild animal living an urban existence, read Rowland’s book. It’s not as straightforward an argument for or against as you’d think.