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Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Neither Barbara nor I is a joiner. We don’t play golf or cards, or have much impulse to entertain. Living on a golf course, we consequently sometimes feel cut off. So, we are on the lookout for things to do. One Tuesday, Barbara had attended a lecture on wolves. She came home very enthusiastic, and that Friday we went with others to the Shy Wolf Sanctuary in the Golden Gate Estates section of East Naples.

--The noble heads. The eyes.
--Yes, they got to me.
--All of them different.
--So true. And the director knew them all as individuals.
--I was impressed. The way she started to approach one, then said, “All right, you talked to me and I heard. Not today.”
--I hadn’t seen anything, but he signaled to her she shouldn’t approach, and she read the message.
--She’s been running the sanctuary ten years now. That means she’s very good at reading them.
--True, very important with wolves. Miss a signal, and you’re out of the sanctuary business. Or any other business.
--They’re much bigger than I thought. Much taller.
--That’s because we always think of Chelsea as our junior-grade wolf.
--She certainly looks like one. Sort of. They say all dogs are descended from wolves. Some of them don’t look that way at all, but Chelsea does.
--An eleven- or twelve-year-old miniature rescue wolf with one blind eye, the other with a cataract, and half a tail.
--And a dislike for almost all other dogs.
--Plus a deep distrust of all humans she hasn’t lived with for the last five years.
--The foxes were something, weren’t they? Especially the arctic fox. The way he just climbed up on people’s shoulders. So cute.
--That’s the problem, the cuteness factor. People are so dumb. “Oh, they’re so adorable, let’s get an arctic fox instead of a beagle.”
--Not a red fox, though. The one they had smelled worse than a skunk.
--Not any fox, if you have half a brain. It’s all wrong, exotic pets. Look at the Everglades now, chock-a-block with Burmese pythons. All those foxes, all the wolves and wolf dogs, even the panthers. Every one of them was raised in captivity.
--The stories about the conditions they were in when rescued. It makes you want to spit on the owners.
--It makes me want to visit Old Testament justice on them. An eye for an eye. Or, in this case, a chain of the kind used to pull trailers fastened around the owners’ necks, the other end to a tree. Then you bring in the local kiddies to throw rocks at them. That way, trying to escape, they tear all the skin off their necks. I would love to see that kind of straight-talk, no-spin justice brought to bear.
--You would not be good in a position of authority.
--Of course I would. I’d make posters of what was done to the family wolf, I’d post the photos on the Internet. Then enact the same treatment on the owner. I doubt most people would find this excessive.
--What about the man’s children?
--Send them to boot camp. With parenting like that, where else do you want them?
--You said on the way home you were pretty sure what kinds of people own wolves.
--OK, that was perhaps a little speculative. Except I believe it. “Own” is the key word. No one should want to own something that belongs in nature. But controlling a powerful, potentially dangerous animal, how cool is that? Five will get you ten ninety percent of the people who decide it would be cool to have a wolf or panther for a pet drive Harleys or pickup trucks. They think of themselves as rebels. Pirates. Outsiders defending their tough-guy, uniquely all-American second-amendment individuality. They do this by looking and acting like every other uniquely American, no-neck tough guy. Owning a wolf is almost de rigueur.
--I think the rob roy may be talking now.
--Probably. And you’re right. It’s best not to make me sheriff. I would end up the Bull Connor of exotic-pet-owner profiling and summary justice.


  1. I do not grock wild animal "ownership." I don't understand keeping large dogs in small apartments, either. When I express these views, someone in my family invariably says, "Well, you're just not a pet person." I don't know what that means in this context, but I suspect they are seriously confused.

  2. Did you ever watch the documentary Never Cry Wolf? I loved that movie!

  3. Nance-
    I have a friend who truly is not a "pet person." When I mention our border collie, he rolls his eyes and pretends to back out of the room to shut me up. Sometimes it works.

    Mary Lee--
    We saw a feature film with that title--not a documentary--and we loved it. Charles Martin Smith had the lead human role. I have become more and more sentimental about animals, and am sure this has to do with with growing old, but why this is so isn't clear.


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