Book of Treasures

Book of Treasures f. 58r, The dogs


f. 58r, The dogs

Dogs are born blind, but they get eyesight within a few days, according to the order of nature. Even if dogs love men more than any other animal; in general, they do not recognize strangers, but only those they live with. They also respond to their name and identify the voice of their owners.
All dogs heel their wounds with their tongue and they usually vomit food and then swallow it back. When a dog that carries food or something else in his mouth, crosses by a poodle or a water flow, and sees in his reflection what he is carrying, he drops it for what he sees, which is no more than just a reflection.
You must know that from the cross-breeding between dogs and wolfs, very fierce dogs are born. Though the most violent ones are born from the cross-breeding between tigers and dogs, as they are as fierce and fast that they look like devils.
The rest of the dogs, which people have as pets, are of different varieties. There are small dogs that are good guardians of the house, or snub-nosed dogs that are good to live with women and housemaids. If these snub-nosed dogs have been conceived by small dogs, they can be raised with small amounts of food while they are small, in a little pot or a small pan, and they will always be wonderfully tiny. Their ears must be usually pulled down, so that they will be long, as they are more beautiful when they ears hang.
Another variety of dogs are the hunting dogs, with hanging ears by nature. They distinguish beasts and birds by their smell and they are very wise for hunting, which they really enjoy. For this reason, they must be highly estimated and protected from cross-breeding with other varieties of dogs, as their sense of smell comes from their lineage. For this reason, the proverb says that a dog hunts by its nature.
The hounds are another variety of dogs, which are also called “followers”, because they follow the beasts until they kill them. Some of them do what they learn when young: they hunt dears, wild animals, hares, otters or other beasts that live in the water. Some others are greyhounds, very swift for running and agile to capture the beasts with their mouths; and others are mastiffs, huge, strong and brave, and they hunt bears, wild boars, wolfs and all the big beasts. This type of dogs attack very fiercely and they can even attack men.

We can read in old stories that a king was imprisoned by his enemies and that all his dogs gathered a big flock to fight hard against those who had the king as prisoner and freed him by force.Not that long ago, in the Champagne, all the dogs in that land gathered together in a fight so bloody, that none of them escaped from death; all the dogs in that region died.

As it is said in this book that dogs love men more than any other animal, I am going to tell you some stories that our masters tell in their books. You must know that when Iaso from Lycia was killed, his dog did not want to eat anymore, and let himself die of pain. When the king Lysimachus was thrown into the fire for his crime, his dog jumped into the fire with his owner and let himself burn with him.  Another dog went to prison with his owner, and when he was thrown into the river Tiber, which goes through Rome, the dog jumped after him and carried his body through the river as much as he could. 

Translation of the original text by Brunetto Lattini in the Bestiary of the Book of Treasures (ca.1230-1294)
Preserved in the National Library of Russia, Saint Petersburg

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