Close Encounters of the Lupine Kind
|"The Three Amigos." ©Sheila Boneham|
Wolves have always fascinated me, as they do many people. When I was in grade school, we "studied" Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" in music class. I loved the music, loved that the different instruments made the voices of the different characters distinct. I especially loved Sasha the duck, and his oboe voice. And I hated the outcome of the story even then, for Peter, the hero, kills the wolf. Like many folk renderings of wolves, the wolf in Peter is the ultimate villain.
In reality wolves are not villains. They're rarely a threat to domestic animals and virtually never to people (roaming dogs are more of a hazard to human beings and livestock).Some wonderful books about lupine reality have been published over the past 30 or so years, and field studies of predatory behaviors of wolf packs have been studied in considerable detail.
One of my favorite books is Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez. It's a romp through folklore, biology, history, anthropology, and more, crafted with Lopez's usual style and grace. The film Never Cry Wolf, based on the book of the same name by Farley Mowat, did much to open the public's eyes to the social lives of wolves, the reality of their predatory habits, and their plight. Numerous other books based on field studies of wolves in the wild have come out since - check out your library or bookstores to find what interests you.
Art, too, has raised public awareness. Jim Brandenburg's stunning photos are probably among the best known, but other photographers, too, have captured the magic of Canis lupus.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend a photography workshop led by Monty Sloan at Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana. (When you finish here, go to Wolf Park and see all they have to offer, especially this year's new pups!) We spent several hours inside the compound with the wolves, and to call it exilarating would be like calling a wolf a stuffed toy! Late in the day, the young males started to flex their muscles and it was time for the visitors to leave, but the memory of time spent with wolves is here to stay. I hope to make it back to Wolf Park again soon. If you're anywhere near by, you should, too.