The Dogs

The Dogs is a book about what humans have done to the world and what we have done to ourselves. Specifically, it is a book about ‘Man’s best friend’ – their origin-myths, and their place in the world before they were co-opted into human society and ideas of pure breeding and dysgenics. The Dogs also imagines a future where dogs have developed the power of speech; led by the non-violent UnderDogs and the more radical direct-action Der Uberhünd, the animals of the world begin demanding their rights.

Cover-image: Louis Benoit

Sample Poems

I Am a Dog

Once I was a god.
I watched the wolf weep at my feet,
the lamb offered me his fleece,
fish leaped from streams
into my mouth and down my gullet,
figs fell from the trees like raindrops,
angels caressed my flesh,
demons slunk from my shadow,
children kneeled and prayed to me,
women offered me their bodies,
bishops gave me their souls,
kings asked me for mercy,
the monkeys howled in the trees,
the eagles tried to fly into the black pip of my mind,
the lunatics built fires from their chattels,
cut off their thumbs,
gouged out their eyes,
bit off their ears,
then they turned on me,
broke my back,
cracked my ribs,
twisted my hands into claws,
tarred and furred me,
crushed my skull,
lolled my tongue,
stretched my tail,
sharpened my teeth.


In the Beginning

Dog watched his own				face form
in the black waters					of the void
he listened to the welkin			ringing night
and howled						a hole in the sky
Dog ate the dirt					and the herb
and spat out						the firmament
Dog barked						out the stars
and ran round the globe				till it spun
Dog jumped						over the moon
chased every kind of				winged fowl
and all the beasts					of the Earth
then Dog dug						a vast hole
and buried all that creeped			and all that was dead
and all that had never crept			or died
by the tree of good and evil			Dog rested

The Fate of Dogs

Argos died of joy when
Odysseus returned from Troy.
Icarus’s dog, Moera, tried to tell him
that, like Bladud, his wings would fail.
Dragon, Aubry’s dog,
witnessed the murder of his master
and was made to fight for his life.
Bran, Fingal’s dog, stolen from a giant’s castle
as the pup lay with its mother, a deerhound.
Kyon (the bear killer) and Prokyon,
the dogs of Orion, took a sting from a scorpion.
King Arthur’s favourite hound was Cavall:
tusked by a boar.
Kratim, the dog of the seven sleepers,
was allowed to enter Paradise.

Gelert, Llewelyn the Great’s greyhound.
The gift of a king.
Llewelyn left his dog to guard his baby
while he went hunting.
When he returned he found
the baby missing and
the cot overturned.
He looked to Gelert, and saw
that his mouth was smeared with fresh blood.
Believing that the dog had savaged the child,
Llewelyn drew his sword and killed him.
Only then did he hear the cry of the baby,
his son, unharmed under the cradle.
Then he saw a dead wolf
which had attacked the child
and had been killed by Gelert.

The fate of dogs has always turned on a tanner.

The Hand that Cradles the Rock

Dog’s thoughts set fire to the Borophaginae:
proto-dog with bone crushing molars
you cannot compete with those
who hunt in gangs.

Dog’s bones gave birth to its still born.
Dog’s mother was a grey wolf,
his father – a golden jackal
skulking in the cradle
of Dog’s deeds.

Dog’s stone was carved into the crook
of a man’s arm at Gobekli Tepe.
Dog’s testament: the Goyet skull,
Dog’s covenant: pawprints in the Chauvet cave
ghosts your passing.

Dog growled at Dmitri Belyaev
as he tried to tame the silver fox
choosing the calmest ten percent
until they licked the hand that fed.

Dog slept as Lyudmila Trut
carried on the work of Dmitri
breeding rounder snouts
and gracile limbs.

Dog yawned as Trofim Lysenko
watched from the wings,
son of a peasant farmer,
learning to read
through a correspondence course.

Dog scoffed at the barefoot professor
as he greeted luminaries of agronomy
at the Institute of Cytology.

Dog laughed as the apparatchik quack
became the wheat chief, barley king, Stalin’s bitch.
Dog listened as his ranting speech led to
the sacking, imprisonment and murder
of thousands of geneticists.

Dog considered the case
of Nikolai Vavilov
arrested for carrying
German botany books
kidnapped by four men in dark suits.

Dog bore witness to Vavilov
as he was thrown into Lubyanka
where he slowly starved to death.

The Man

The Man took Dog from his den.
First he castrated him,
then he caged him,
put a noose around his neck,
chopped his tail off,
pinned his ears,
shaved off his fur,
forbade him to hunt
and instead taught
him to play
dead, sit up and beg,
fetch a ball, fetch a
stick, fetch a frizbee.
He gave him a name,
expected him to come
when he shouted it,
tossed him scraps from his table.
If Dog barked too much
or if he didn’t bark enough
the Man whipped Dog.

Dog looked around at his lot,
were he to leave the man
he had nowhere to go,
no source of food
and no shelter.
There was no way back
to the place
he’d come from.
He had no choice:
now he loved

T H E 			M A N


‘A tour-de-force of visionary imagination that is at once apocalyptic and analytical, compassionate and chaotic, darkly comedic – and deadly serious. In this grenade of a book, Stewart has done for Dog what Ted Hughes did for Crow.’

Steve Ely

‘Origin stories, recent histories and a future when hierarchies are subverted mingle in an affecting, heady narrative that makes us think about human cruelty. Exciting, exhilarating, moving and profound.’

Helen Mort

A fiery incitement of cruelty, to animals, and also of cruelty to refugees, to poor families queuing at food banks, to all those shackled ad crushed by austerity and the swindles and sweat-stealing of capitalism.’

Nick Moss, Culture Matters

‘an unusual, original and challenging collection.’

Sheila Pugh