Wolf Miscellany

I think there is an unstated human obsession with wolves, perhaps because they contain in essence both the genes of our species’ best animal friend, and the age -old simultaneous rep as humankind’s most visible enemy. Here are a few recent instances.

I have always heard the some of the big Central Asian flock protection dogs are interbred with wolves. As wolves are among their chief adversaries, and the phenotype is so different, I never took the myth too seriously. I was wrong– apparently there is a surprising amount of fraternizing. One of the scientists involved puts it just that way: “”The shepherd dogs are free-ranging, largely outside the tight control
of their human masters. They guard the herds from wolves, which are
common in the areas where they are used, but it appears that they are
also consorting with the enemy.”

The implications of this, in such areas as nature vs nurture, are enormous. Obviously genes aren’t all, or the offspring would not be useful. Training and loyalty must come in somewhere.

John Wilson participated in a “round- up” of some of the breeding Mexican wolves held at the Sevilleta, where they needed to capture a pair to send to Mexico. I was happy to see they are really being kept in isolation these days, having seen evidence of the contrary a few years back– letting in television news helicopter crews for a shoot is not isolation! Also interesting was how passive and shy the wolves are, offering no resistance. The workers formed a line and swept down the hill to where the den boxes are; the wolves retreated to the boxes; the volunteers then opened the den, pinned the wolves, trussed them, drugged them and carried them out. No one, human or wolf, was injured.

Some notes from John (odd format is from his notes):

9 thoughts on “Wolf Miscellany”

  1. There could be a whole series of dishes like this- Shark Frenzy, raggedly-cut tuna sashimi on a bed of mixed blue raspberry and red cherry jello…Camel Spider, a fried softshell crab with two legs cut off (cause it's supposed to be an arachnid) on top of some couscous representing sand, garnished with dog tags…

  2. A lot of the dominant dog phenotypes can hide the wolf-ancestry. One which come immediately to mind is drop-ear.

    There's no shortages of F1 crosses which look nothing like their wolf-parents.

    Actually, most of the dog phenotypes are selected against by natural selection or through assortive breeding.

  3. There are a lot of weird dogs with wolf in them. I was reading a history of the Plott hound a few months ago, and I was shocked at how often the Plott family bred wolves to their hounds.

    There was also a pack of Griffon Nivernais in Brittany whose houndsman was a wolf hunter, but who always crossed in a bit of wolf into his hounds to make them harder on the wolves.

  4. I just don't get the FAKE wolf kill inspired dish–but then I HAVE been known to serve guests things like ACTUAL "woodchuck mcnuggets", the meat from which was actually killed and fetched to me by one of my wolf hybrids! The Mexican Wolf capture/checkup is also par-for-the-course with our "Red Wolves" here at the zoo I work at–despite the FACT that under certain specific circumstances, desperate and/or human habituated wolves CAN be dangerous, mostly they ARE shy and naturally tend to be extremely wary of people. One is really wasting a lot of adrenaline and emotion being afraid of typical wolves in wolf territory. Usually…..And the whole wolf–dog crossing bit–it is a SHAME the whole stupid pet wolf-hybrid fad got started and tainted most peoples' views on these animals(even though it is what allowed me to acquire the 5 that I've kept in my lifetime)–SO MUCH can be learned about dogs, wolves, and LIKELY theories of dog domestication(NOT Coppinger's ramblings!)–I certainly got a superb education on the subjects from mine! Although it certainly IS true that most modern civilized, urban-oriented people are poor homes/environments for any canine with some recent wolf genetics(usually)–but then this type of human is a poor home for LOTS of critters, including many of the more demanding "purebred" dogs! Any in-depth study of dog breeding throughout the centuries will reveal quite a bit of wolf crossing back-and-forth–this is NOT news to me!(But very interesting always!)–but modern "purebred" dog breeders will VEHEMENTLY deny it, of course, because for some reason(inaccurate wolf-hybrid propaganda?), they just don't WANT to believe it! And of COURSE it makes perfect sense, for REAL CANINE FUNCTION and genetic health, but too much human emotion and prejudice is attached, alas, to the whole "wolf" image! The same people that rail against wolf-dog crosses as being "genetic frankensteins" don't bat an eye at crossing almost any other domestic animal to it's wild or feral ancestors for improved health and ability. Go figure……L.B.

  5. …and Steve, I've also read(in books I have) those same comments Retrieverman brought up. The one about hunters in the southern Appalachians occasionally breeding their Plott hounds to a captive wolf was in the great hound book, "Strike And Stay; The Story Of The Plott Hound" by one of the Plott family descendants, Bob Plott. A lot of people might not realize that GRAY wolves(not REDS in the Appalachians, despite modern propaganda to the contrary, as often seen on inaccurate range maps of original Red Wolf and Gray Wolf ranges) were still present(if rare) in the southern Appalachians up until the very early 1900s. And hunters occasionally raided dens and kept and raised pups as captives(usually on a chain), and indeed bred them with their hunting hounds–"fer GRIT"! I also read about the hounds in France being crossbred with wolves back in the days when they were still hunting wolves, in a book I'm sure YOU HAVE in your library, Steve–Daniel Mannix's "A Sporting Chance", in the chapter on Formal Hunting With Hounds, page 194. Of course there is also GOBS of accounts of wolves and dogs crossbreeding naturally and human-encouraged in early explorer/Indian accounts, and plenty in sled dog lore as well(of which I could look up specifics if you're ever interested….)….L.B.

  6. Dear Mr Bodio.

    I have been reading your books as and when they get published, over the years. I am an armature falconry enthusiast. I was posted to Afghanistan in January and head the mission for Doctors without borders here.
    I did some research before I came and all indicators pointed in the direction of the art (falconry) being lost here. This is true for the most part, at least in the big cities. However people here seem to like to have hawks and falcons as pets and there are literally hundreds of birds of pray sold on the streets of Kabul alone. I cannot tell you how many I have bought and freed as they are relatively cheap, especially if you haggle for 5-6 birds(Around 5-7USD each then).
    Apparently they snare the birds using fine fishing nets around the nest and collect only the adult birds. The young are left to die.

    After learning this bit of information about the young I finally succumbed to the urge and got myself a fledgeling that is quite fit and healthy now (8 weeks with me). I plan to train her/him(?)to hunt very soon, only using a manual and the many books I brought. I hope it won't be ruined beyond repair. My only consolation (rationalization??) is that the chick was doomed anyway as the parents were taken.

    I have no idea what type of hawk this is. Is there anyway I can send you a couple of photos of it so that maybe you can identify and give me some pointers? To thread a pun into the weave, I am totally alone on this one and flying blind.

    let me take this opportunity to tell you that I have thoroughly enjoyed your books and learn t quite a bit about not just raptures but about life too, through them.

  7. Roshan,

    Please email me at "ebodio at gilanet dot com" (I have to write it this way in the box or it will not show) Send photos and any questions you may have. And thank you for the comment.


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