Comfortable As Part Of The Pack

When I got my first rescue dog years ago, I read a fascinating book written by a vet who had studied how wolves operate in the wild, and he said every pet dog is merely a wolf in disguise. He quoted an experiment involving hundreds of pet dogs that owners agreed to release into a very large area of land in the U.S.A. to see what would happen. (I dont quite know how they got the owners to agree, I cant remember - too long ago!)

After 6 weeks, the experiment was up, and it was found that the dogs had all formed into smaller packs.  They had paired off, marked out their territory by urinating on their boundaries, and had sorted themselves into functioning groups that worked very well. Even the little dogs had done this, - it wasnt about size, but about the pecking order. They had got themselves organised in groups to bring down larger animals to feed on, and had reverted to the wild in just a few weeks, proving pet dogs are wolves in disguise!  Some were pregnant. Once mates were chosen, they appeared to be solidly stuck together and looking out for each other.

That is one aspect that influenced me. Another was that when I was a child, I experienced my mother as disempowering and often cruel, sarcastic and critical. She loved to humiliate and ridicule others.  I would escape her by staying out of the house as much as possible. Fortunately we had lots of garden, and one of my favourite things to do was to go and see our German Shepherd puppies with their mother - my mother bred these dogs.
 I would release them from their area, and bring them out onto the lawn, and as their warm soft fluffy bodies climbed all over me squeaking and grunting in delight, tumbling over each other and looking so funny, my heart felt light again and carefree.

I realised that being part of a pack was a great and wonderful thing,above all, feeling unconditionally accepted.  There was no pressure, criticism, humiliation, or manipulation, - just freedom from stress, which I found healing, peaceful, - magical in my child world.

The last major input into why | feel comfortable with wolves was when I watched a programme about Lobo the wolf. It was nothing less than awe inspiring. He lived in the 1890's in New Mexico, and a hunter named Ernest Seton set out to kill him and his pack, leaving  poisoned steaks out where paw prints were in the snow, and returning a couple of days later to inspect the bodies. To his surprise there were no dead wolves, and then he noticed the poisoned steaks had been moved by Lobo (who the hunter named, and recognised as the alpha male, because he had huge pawprints). Lobo had carefully placed each steak one on top of the other, and then defaecated on them. The hunter wrote a book about what happened, he had hunted and killed wolves for years, and realised this wolf was different, ahighly intelligent adversary.  He didnt want to look stupid, and he determined to win what would obviously be a battle. He tried many ways of killing Lobo, but none worked, Lobo would outsmart him each time.

It made him determined to think of some other way, and then he hit on it. Lobo had fallen madly in love with a pure white wolf Seton named Blanca, and from tracks in the snow, they played together most of the time, and wherever Lobo went, there were her pawprints beside his. Always. The hunter realised he now had a way of defeating Lobo. What he had to do to destroy him was kill his mate, He did manage this, and loaded her onto his wagon, driving her to his barn, and leaving her there, hoping Lobo would fall into the trap, and follow her. Just as he thought, Lobo was so unable to exist without her, that he followed where the hunter had gone with her body. He hung around the hunter's barn where he could sense and also smell, his loved wolf mate lying in there dead. He never gave up, visiting her every evening to get as near to her as he could. All this is known because the hunter began to have a great deal of respect for Lobo and kept a daily diary. He was still determined Lobo must die, he was the official wolf hunter paid by government, and would be a laughing stock if he didnt kill a wolf he set out to kill. Apparently this wolf was the first who constantly outsmarted him. People were starting to snigger.

As no ideas he ever had worked, he got more desperate, and installed a couple of gin traps which he buried under the soil where Lobo's pawprints showed he waited to be near his dead mate each evening. But Lobo outsmarted him again, and side stepped his usual path, seeming somehow to realise traps had been laid and exactly where. He laid more traps, but still no luck as Lobo was forced a little further away, but remained free. He then laid a lot more traps, and Lobo got 2 of his legs trapped in the merciless steel teeth, but still he walked away, and returned as usual hobbling with the horrific traps eating into his legs, just to be near his mate. Incensed, the hunter decided to lay traps everywhere with no gaps at all, so that Lobo would finally either not be able to be near his mate at all, or he would have to be caught.. It cost a lot of money to do it, but there was now no place Lobo could possibly get anywhere close enough to be with his mate without getting trapped. This worked, and there in the snow outside her barn, Lobo lay down with all 4 legs in the vicious traps. The hunter was waiting for him, and approached Lobo, delighted to have trapped him. He was struck by the way Lobo didnt cower or look afraid, but in fact seemed to accept his fate with a calm courage that took the hunter completely by surprise, once again. He took photos of Lobo which I have seen, just lying down, not on his side, just normally lying down, the steel traps on him almost a detail. The hunter realised from Lobo's expression that he was now prepared for death, so he actually moved him into the barn so he could at last be with his mate. Lobo seemed very peaceful. The hunter suddenly realised that he had fought for so many months to kill Lobo, that he hadnt realised something inside of him had changed. He suddenly and painfully realised in a flash, that the wicked wolves he had killed all his working lives were in fact, beautiful dignified brave creatures, who loved with as much fervence as any human could, and more than a lot of the humans he knew. He decided to release Lobo from the traps in the early hours of the morning, but when he entered the barn, he saw Lobo gaze at him, and knew he was too late. Lobo almost seemed to choose that moment to die, and did so. As strong in death as in life.

The hunter was very moved. He buried both wolves together. He then spent the rest of his life educating people about the wolf pack, and the truth of their inner beauty and wisdom. He wrote a book about Lobo, and it sold worldwide, and changed a lot of peoples' perceptions.

That story was one of the most heartbreaking I have ever heard, and even now it makes me cry. To see film of Lobo and his mate tearing about in the snow playing, was just so enchanting, never to be forgotton. Their love for each other was such that the hunter admitted he was in awe of it. To his dying day he maintained it was the biggest regret of his life that he had ever hunted such wonderful creatures and then destroyed them, saying he thought he knew what he was doing, but it turned out he definitely had had no idea in fact.

Watching the story, I felt so much a part of the pack, the way they communicated was so clear, so easy to understand, and so full of love, that I wanted to be part of them, and somehow felt a part of them. That feeling has never gone away......

(The Wolf That Changed America - Nature Channel, PBS Video)
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5 Responses Nov 10, 2010

Just reading what you recapped made me cry. The good that came out of it was that a helped educate people.

The human alpha males used to kick them out of the back gate in the morning and they used to run around the old council estates and cause meyhem and scare children and mothers so had to be controlled if the owners wouldn't then the dog warden had to, used to help.the worst thing was thes owners would reclaim them if they had licence and next day turn them out again.

yes its from wolves all dogs come and the pack instinct is still in them,you only have to go round the poor parts of any town/city and see those loose dogs that have been kicked out of houses form into packs and watch how the larger dogs try to protect the smaller as the dog wardens attempt to catch them.

Oh good!! I think you are going to just love it!!! So empowering. She compares women to wolves ... domesticated wolves who are therefore instinct injured. So fun ... I will look forward to hearing your thoughts on it. Not the kind of book you necessarily read in order ... more the kind of book you jump around in depending on what story calls to you!

Oh my goodness ... what a beautiful story! I am so glad you took the time to share it. I wish I wasn't so beat from work or I would have so much more to say about your wonderful post. I can relate to everything you wrote and I too have a tremendous feeling of connection with dogs and with the idea of a pack. I am curious ... Have you ever read Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes? If not ... I think you would truly enjoy ... if you already have ... I would love to discuss it with you some time. ~ JoyceAnne