Once, many years ago, my mother considered the possibility of getting a wolf-dog. I was still a child at the time, but I was completely obsessed with wolves.
This continued on until I began studying zoology and received the opportunity to actually work with wolves.
Don’t believe me? Here are some pics to prove it:
Did this help with my wolf-dog/wolf obsession? Not really. It may have made it worse.
However, I grew up. While I still remain very partial to wolves and wolf-dogs, I recognized them for the dangerous animals that they are, and how unlikely it was that such an animal would never make a good pet.
I like cottonmouths too, but I wouldn’t want one in a cage in my house. Everyone likes to think that they’d be different, and I’ve been inclined to that way of thinking too, but there is no denying that wolf-dogs can be dangerous. Just as dangerous as a venomous snake; even if they don’t mean to harm you, they can kill you by accident.
I’d almost entirely given up on owning a wolf-dog, that was until I saw “Part Wild” for sale in a bookstore.
I was a little put off by the hippy type cover, and I was honestly concerned it would be a fluffy story with little to no research. I was mostly wrong.
Browsing the book before I made the purchase, it became obvious that the writer had done research at some point, and that this book might actually be useful at shedding some light on wolf-dogs as pets.
So I bought it.
And read it.
For starters, this novel is an absolute train wreck. If you’ve ever wanted to read a book about a person who makes bad decision after bad decision, this is the book for you.
Terrill starts off her story with the purchase of a wolf-dog pup, a decision that isn’t the least bit informed. She claims to want a wolf because “no dog could keep up with her hikes through the back-country” and because a wolf will protect her. Protect her from the first horrible man we hear about, a guy who abused her.
So she buys a wolf-dog puppy from a woman who can’t even keep her own wolves and wolf-dogs in their enclosures. The parents have escaped numerous times and one even mauled a neighbor’s dog.
But the author totally buys one, and never gets control back until the end of her story. The book continues with the raising of Inyo, while Terrill ends up with another horrible man (this one who has no real drive to do anything in life and is in massive school loan debt). Meanwhile Inyo, the wolf-dog, grows and becomes out of control. She escapes constantly, chews everything, gets into locked containers, and causes general mayhem.
At some point the author decides to get a dog as a companion for the wolf-dog, thinking she will escape her enclosure less. Inyo leads that lab into a tangle with a rattlesnake (the dog was bitten while Inyo got away) and then leads the dog into a romp through rush hour traffic, from which the lab did not recover.
So what does Terrill do? She gets two MORE dogs. Because the first one with her wolf-dog worked out so well.
Meanwhile her and her husband are being harassed by debt collectors, and evicted from home after home because of Inyo’s howling or escaping and chewing.
Inyo chews on one of the new puppies, permanently disfiguring the pup’s ears.
This escalates, and the author continues to think that if only she could get some land, it would all be better. So she does, finally. And it doesn’t get better. Inyo still gets out, and soon she becomes violent against other dogs, turning on Terrill when she can’t get them.
After three bites, Terrill finally realizes that Inyo is to the point where she can’t be trusted not to harm a human or child, and has the wolf-dog put down.
It was awful that this woman went out and bought a pet she had done little research on, ended up being unable to care for it, and had to have the animal euthanized at only 4 years of age.
This happens all the time in the US, when people buy animals with out doing their research. As a zookeeper I could talk about this all day, but that’s another post for another time.
Terrill does redeem herself though, by doing all the research she should have done in the first place, after Inyo’s death. She begins to realize that no wolf or wolf-dog can ever really be happy with people.
Dogs go out of their way to please people, often training themselves based on the reaction of the human to things they do. Wolves do what they want when they want. A stable mentally healthy dog would never turn on it’s owner without reason. A wolf will.
This book has made me realize that no matter how much I love wolves and wolf-dogs, they will never make a satisfying pet like a dog will. And that they will never be happy behind fences and chains.
I would highly recommend this book for ANYONE who is even toying with the idea of a wolf or wolf-dog pet. It is a sobering and realistic read. It WILL change your mind.
No matter how different you think it will be for you, you’re wrong. So wrong. Are you willing to cost the life of an animal, like Terrill did in an effort to prove differently?
This doesn’t even cover vaccines yet. Rabies vaccines for wolves and wolf-dogs do not always work, so if your wolf or wolf-dog ever bites another person, it will have to be euthanized for rabies testing.
If you still really don’t like regular dogs, or want a wolfly looking animal, I highly recommend looking into the Tamaskan dog breed. They’re a dog breed from Finland (100% dog, no wolf) that has been bred to resemble wolves. They even have straight tails (the trademark of wolf vs dog)!
But enough on pets. I would rate this book 4/5 because, for all the author’s personal mistakes, I think this is a good lesson for people to learn. And better to learn from the pages of a book, than to risk the life and happiness of an animal.