Monday, January 07, 2013

Review: The Book of the Superiority of Dogs Over Many of Those Who Wear Clothes

The Book of the Superiority of Dogs Over Many of Those Who Wear Clothes by .

The author lived, according to my memory, in 6th (AH)/13th (CE) Baghdad.

The book is in two parts. The first part condemns humans for their cowardice, greed and disloyalty. The second commends dogs for their bravery, selflessness and loyalty.

The author quotes poets and relates stories to support these contentions.

The editor/translator includes an introduction on the author and a discussion of Muslim religious rulings and attitudes regarding dogs.

The Arabic Wikipedia has an entry on the book which includes some delicious lines of poetry (my translation):

The human dog, if you consider it,
    is worse for you than the canine dog
If you drive the canine away, it leaves,
    while the human dog clings to you despite your rebukes.
The canine does not harm its companion,
    while you remain your lifetime afflicted by the other kind of dog.

It may be difficult to purchase a copy. Use Worldcat to find a copy in a library near you or ask your local librarian to get it for you using interlibrary loan.

A Glenn Greenwald tweet about a modern instance of a dog traveling miles to stand watch over the grave of its owner reminded me of this book:
Updated May 22, 2013:  Man's Best Friend Guards Owner's Body

A friend of my father's wrote a Facebook note about dogs.

This organization trains dogs and places them with children with special needs: