A convincing guide for dog owners as well as a memoir of instructive adventures set in nature.
As the title of this debut work suggests, the central figure here is the wolf. Bailey insists that the tendency to anthropomorphize pets doesn’t serve them well: “The dog is a modified wolf, not a human.” The author bases his arguments on decades of experience as a licensed dog trainer, police canine officer, and dog sled racer. Several passages, taken out of context, may strike some readers as harsh. In actuality, Bailey goes to great lengths to explain the economic and psychological influences that cause dog owners to make regrettable decisions, whether due to the machinations of the massively profitable pet industry or the very real human need for affection and companionship. Nevertheless, this book represents much more than a simple training guide. There is an undeniable power and beauty to the author’s musings as he weaves into the text vital lessons learned from his mentor during intense survival training in the Alaskan wilderness. His rugged prose effectively conveys the physically and emotionally grueling nature of these exercises from his youth, to say the least. At one point, he literally stares into the eyes of the alpha male of the wolf pack. He also embraces spiritual elements, carefully constructing each chapter to begin with an appropriate epigraph, often quoting indigenous leaders or peoples. (He throws Jack London, John M. Campbell, and Henry David Thoreau into the mix, too.) As Bailey summarizes, “We are not adequately educated in regard to wolves and their behavior, and what little we do know, we are afraid of.” He successfully rectifies this situation in a bold and refreshing manner. For instance, such knowledge can help consumers choose which portable kennels are most appropriate for puppies based on animal behavior in the wild. Throughout the text, he repeats a mantra derived from the social relations displayed in wolf packs: “ ‘Obey today, eat today, live today’ is the reality. Obedience is required.”
A firm response to currently accepted dog-training methods.