Thursday, September 17, 2015


Smooch the Boston terrier
Folklore says every little girl goes through a horse stage. They love ponies ...
I don't know if that's true. I've been around horses a bit. I have family who treasure horses. I always make it a point to watch horse racing when it hits the television.

For me, however, it's dogs. I love dogs.

Presently we have three, all purebreds. A Boxer. A Standard Poodle. A Boston terrier.

The Boxer is a neurotic. The poodle is too smart for her own good, as witnessed by food thefts ranging from the bread top of sandwiches left unintended to stealing a stick of butter (wrapped) when the refrigerator is left open.

Smooch the Boston is a different kettle of canine. Her predecessor was all bulldog, tough and fearless. Smooch is the opposite, wary, overly friendly, and yet not so needy of human attention.

I thought of these dogs recently on a visit to a local zoo. The zoo displays a coyote pair and a small pack of wolves.

The coyotes prowled the fence line of the enclosure, warily watching me, mostly over its shoulder.

The wolves gathered 20 feet or so from the fence line, with one—the dominant female, or male—patrolling the fence, watching me especially.

Of course, I use a wheelchair. If a wolf has memory,  I suppose it might have remembered seeing me previously, but this wolf was particularly curious about me. I was in a large group, but the wolf followed my every movement. When I turned an d headed in the opposite direction, the wolf followed.

I think these animals—and the big cats as well—are bored in zoo enclosures. No doubt they live longer, perhaps healthier, lives, but no matter how dog-like they appear in their behavior, I know they shouldn't be confined.

It may be necessary, of course.

I said to my wife, "I don't know why they don't feed them naturally."

"What do you mean?"

"Turn rabbits or chickens or other prey loose in the pens."

I know the authorities, let alone ASPCA or PETA, would not allow such behavior, and I suppose it's no more unnatural to stymie their prey drive than it is to pen them, but ...

I cannot see my dogs without thinking of those coyotes and wolves. Deep in the eyes of these pets, these tame companions, there lurks the glow of the wolf, and I treasure that.

Funnily enough, there are people who want wolves, or wolf hybrids, for the same reason other people want pit bulls—to fill some sort of psychological hole.

I don't. A wolf, a coyote, is a wild thing, and belongs in the wild. I will take Smooch the Boston, Pinky the Poodle, and Daisy the Boxer and the 10,000 years of domestication.

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