Review: The Philosopher and the Wolf – Mark Rowlands


Mark Rowlands, philosopher and lecturer, first purchased a wolf when he was in his 20’s. The US law prohibits the ownership of a pure bred wolf, but permits breeds that may be up to 96% wolf. And so Rowlands bought Brenin.

By Giardeto team (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Giardeto team (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Marks story begins with a harsh learning curve, where basic dog training methods are quickly swapped for harsher, more controversial methods (Koehler). Despite Brenins bettered behaviour, the wolf exhibited a lonely streak, refusing to be left on his own in the house unless he could cause thousands of dollars worth of damage in the process. 

Rowland’s life thus accelerated into a half-man half-wolf partnership, being accompanied by Brenin to lectures, shops, and even parties in his Alabama neighbourhood.

Sadly, the advantages of attracting the attention of women and fans alike were weighed against the energy costs of looking after the wolf. 

Each day Rowlands must undertake exhausting runs to tire out his wolf, whose tireless energy sustained hyperactivity until the early hours without them. And so begins a daily ritual which leads the author into his next book, Running With The Pack (2013). 

Throughout The Philosoper and the Wolf, Rowlands touches on his deeper understandings and learned traits from Brenin, engaging thoughts on the place of humans in society, ethics and morals, and the history of domestication, amongst the rest.

By The Menageries: Quadrupeds Described and Drawn from Living Subjects By W. Ogilby Published by Charles Knight, 1829 (wp:en) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By The Menageries: Quadrupeds Described and Drawn from Living Subjects By W. Ogilby Published by Charles Knight, 1829 (wp:en) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Although a touching story of his relationship with the wolf, some of these thoughts occasionally appear false, wrongly anthropomorphised, and at times a little unsubstantiated. The discussions on hope, civilisation, and the pursuit of happiness appear to ignore much essential evolutionary biology, and leave much criticism to the reader with a background in the subject.

However, it is an engaging read and well worth the time. You can read Rowlands’ blog here. 

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