A lifetime dog-lover experiences the pleasures and pitfalls of domesticating a wolf-dog hybrid.
In order to claim her from a breeder, Terrill (Science Writing and Environmental Journalism/Concordia Univ.; Unnatural Landscapes: Tracking Invasive Species, 2007) frantically drove through the night to claim her newly born female “wolfdog” from a local breeder. “Inyo” became a welcomed distraction after narrowly escaping an abusive relationship. The breeder was quick to educate Terrill on owner-specific etiquette and common misperceptions of wolfdog ownership. However, as the author details in her richly descriptive narrative, upon moving to Reno, Nev., with financially challenged new husband Ryan, she learned these lessons personally after much time spent grappling with precocious Inyo’s unwieldy behavior and the intensive training and domestication rituals involved in establishing herself as the “alpha.” Terrill knows her territory extremely well (she’s formerly a Northern California Forest Service wilderness ranger), and she peppers the narrative with interesting knowledge about the nature of wolves, their interspecies behavioral traits, diet and the serious consequences challenging this type of unorthodox pet ownership. In the good-natured attempt at making Inyo suitable for human companionship, the author adopted two more dogs, and things worsened uncontrollably. Vicious, unprovoked attacks on neighborhood animals, coupled with evictions, irate neighbors and serious bodily injuries, finally necessitated drastic measures against a breed who “neither need nor want a bond with humans.” Complimenting each chapter—and, at times, surpassing the main narrative for its sheer factual noteworthiness—are the informational asides found in the author’s generous 18-page Notes section, which includes expanded research material on the Canis species, observations from other wolfdog owners and breeders and the statutory regulations concerning the care and protection of the breed.
Readable, cautionary and dependably informative for staunch animal enthusiasts.