“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer – which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.”
― Farley Mowat, Never Cry Wolf
The issue of wolves is something that one cannot write enough about. The tragic and mindless nature of so many people who make the wolf the target of their personal ignorance and frustration is something that will be a footnote on our present history.
I have thought a lot about this over the past week, as I lost an animal that I have loved and cared for the past twelve years. My dog Sam, a basset hound of irrepressible love, stubbornness and vocal accolades, who had the desire to be the alpha of my own pack of dogs. It was a place that was owned his whole life to my Joseywales, a Pyrenees-Spaniel mix. I write this because basset hounds and Sam in particular are not the type of dog that everyone can understand, tolerate or love.
Sam to begin with was special, he needed lots of attention, and he was rather grumpy and aggressive at times when other dogs were in my home. Friends often scolded me for not training him better or keeping him quiet after he expressed himself in an aggressive and fraternal manner. His life was not always easy as people felt a need to try and train him, or enforce their own sense of discipline despite my objections.
I mention all of this in the context of the wolf. For the wolf, much like my Sam, remain maligned by those who think they know better. By those that feel all animals must fit perfectly into their vision of a structured and disciplined animal norm. That of course was not going to be Sam, nor will it be wolves. What strikes me as interesting is that in truth it is the human ego that needs the adjustment, and without it, animals like wolves will remain the hunted, the crucified, likely for the basic lack of understanding that remains pervasive.
It’s funny when you consider what so many people see as orderly wildness. For them it is a place of roads, off-road vehicles in a land filled with deer and elk. Its orderly, nothing left to chance. But that is not nature; it might as well be Manhattan, with pavement and signs, lots of people and police on every corner.
Nature is unpredictable, it is wild, there are no roads, there are predators, rivers flow and bugs bite. Often you climb mountains or ridges for a view. At night as you sleep, sounds ping across the landscape filled with the voices of those who call it home. You sometimes encounter wolves, bears, and cougars, who give you a sense of wildness. It’s something that registers in your heart and defines your soul.
Animals are meant to have a sense of wildness, some are defined by wildness. In my home, the last few days, there has been an eerie silence. My boy has crossed the rainbow bridge, where one day I hope to run and laugh and play with his magnificent ears once again.
We all should want this for wolves, not to play with them, rather to allow them to be wolves; to howl, to hunt, to run in packs and be themselves, wild and unpredictable.
Perhaps a more specific goal is for people to evolve, to stop holding onto a anthropomorphic vision of how animals should behave and which ones should be allowed to live or die. All animals, even my Sam are not designed to fit into a perfect mold. They are alive, still holding onto a sense of wildness, far deeper than humans. They are a beacon of hope that continues to ask us to simply let them live, and perhaps even begin to learn from them rather than be humanized.
We are, as Farley Mowat proclaimed, the root of the evil and that evil is the reflection of our arrogance and sense of moral superiority. We are wrong.
I am blessed to have owned what some would see as a flawed animal, for I learned and loved from one of the best, and discovered what so many cannot understand, the pure love that comes from animals.
Wolves are perhaps the best reflection of wildness, their freedom to live wild and roam is essential not just to their survival, but to ours. We must open our hearts to understanding and allow the arrogance to flow away with the rivers that bisect the wild lands that are home to the nerve center of our own survival-Wilderness.
Bold Visions Conservation