Studies of stray / feral dog populations offer additional insight on how quickly the domestication process can be reversed and how many gradations there along the continuum of socialization with humans: Sternthal, S. (2010, Jan 16). A wolf in dog’s clothing. Financial Times. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/250253043?accountid=14826
(you’ll have to sign in on the proxy server to see the full text.) Also, I forgot to thank Corinne for mentioning my favorite subway riding dogs in Moscow. I posted about them last year here: http://blogs.lt.vt.edu/domesticate/dogs/moscow-strays/
>>I see their common ancestor as on more of a middle-ground behaviorally<>One thing that does irk me is that people have a tendency to refer to all domestic dogs in a general sense, as one entity whose behavior is constant between individuals.<>After all, dogs ride the subway in Russia with no problems. So which is really the more intelligent- dogs or wolves?<<
Well, you'd have to place a population of wolves into Russian cities and see whether they'd be able to learn how to use the subway system. My guess is they'd have no problem. If they did, it would be because of behavioral tendencies they have (e.g., excitable aggression) that would prevent them from learning, not any real deficiency.
I may be in the minority here on the intelligence perspective. According to this page, the average domestic dog has a 30% smaller brain than many wolf subspecies. Brain size doesn't have a perfect relationship with intelligence, but the relationship does exist. While dog behavior is more successful in a human context than that of wolves, I think it is premature to label this higher social intelligence. Behavior is highly malleable using simple learning processes (e.g., conditioning), and combined with artificial selection for tameness and companionship, the dog becomes more apt in the human environment simply as a result of processes that, in my opinion, are separate from the overt construct of intelligence.
Intelligence is a poorly defined construct and few people agree on its meaning in the psychological community, but if I am to describe words I associate with intelligence, these are some that come to mind: systematic thinking, mental adaptibility, swiftness of thought, ability to "connect the dots," and the ability to emulate others' behavior. These are just a few, if we follow this line of thinking on intelligence, I think wolves win easily.
I’m completely guessing here, but I would think your instructor wasn’t lying. My sense is that horses have been domesticated to be quite sensitive animals, which may explain why owners become so heavily attached to them — in some cases I’d say more so than to dogs despite their apparent lower intelligence. Also, emotion is the fabric that most animals communicate with. If we think of emotion as not much more than a form of energy that animals’ brains can intake and decode as information, I wouldn’t be surprised if horses are able to sense and come to express the emotions we give off.
I too felt frustrated with Terrill constantly putting off buying the proper equipment for Inyo. In many ways, she tried to dedicate a lot of her time to Inyo, and she exhibited much more patience than I ever could. For example, she made sure to research and find the best food possible and also took Inyo on long outdoor adventures.
However, she gradually begin listening less and less to Lena, the wolf-dog breeder’s, advice, and starting acting with her heart instead of her mind. Furthermore, trying to keep a wolf-dog, or any dog for that matter, confined in modest town home with next to no yard is simply inhumane and unnatural for such an energetic animal. She even left Inyo unattended on many instances, even at college, which could put many in danger.
Terill also tends to neglect her intuition in her personal life. Though her new husband seems like a nice guy, and they seem to function well together, she ignores her instinct to wait a year to get married, and she seems to see her husband as a project rather than a partner when he gets himself into thousands of debt.
Your ending questing may have been hypothetical, but I believe YES. I know we have argued whether we as humans “mess with nature,” or if we are simply part of nature and create only inevitable consequences, and I feel in this instance that trying to turn a wolf, hybrid or not, into a household pet is wrong and selfish. As unfair as it may sound, some animals seem to simply survive better with the assistance of humans, but it seems like we hold wolves back, and for what purpose? to have an exotic pet? We have enough dog breeds that there is no excuse for trying to transform a vicious hunter into a lap dog.
[…] was different. (See Corinne’s reminder that we need to consider animals as individuals as well as representative of a species.) Her powers of perception could be extraordinary, but I […]
I think that the example of who got hit by a car isn’t the best in terms of intelligence. It could have had nothing to do with intelligence, and instead to do with Inyo being first, and as a result the car swerved to avoid her and hit Panzer. I agree that there are different types of intelligence though.
Regarding the opposite trails of evolution, once the animals that were unsociable and aggressive did not seek out humans and stayed away from them, they’re interactions with humans would have ended and they’d no longer be selected upon for aggressiveness. Evolution persists over a period of time in response to continual selection pressure. Remove that pressure and the driving force for a particular trait disappears. The animals that would avoid human contact would by default be removed from the evolutionary pressures (both sociable and unsociable) of humans.
I wouldn’t consider Inyo to be as undomesticated as you seem to. Many breeds of domesticated dogs display traits such as howling instead of barking, and I’ve know dogs personally that hoard food and other items. To me, Inyo’s behavior is closest to that of an untrained domesticated dog- not surprising, given that Terrill didn’t seem to try too hard to train her once she had mastered a few basic behavioral commands. Even my own dog will ignore myself and my family sometimes if he’s focused on his own agenda. I think we’d need to look at the behaviors of other wolf-dogs to really characterize them as more similar to dogs, wolves, or cats- Inyo’s personality may be just that.
You’re completely right about how backwards it seems that so many people picture the common ancestor of wolves and dogs as the mirror image of modern day wolves- especially given the amount of variety in domestic dogs! All those variations came from the same basic lines of DNA, with just a few mutations along the way. The common ancestor could look more like a breed domestic dog than a wolf- we may never know (however, it’s unlikely given the amount of artificial selection we’ve used to shape dogs). Here’s another brief article about the recent research regarding the genomics of dogs, wolves, and finding their common ancestor which Dr. Nelson pointed out: http://www.ibtimes.com/dogs-wolves-evolved-common-ancestor-dog-domestication-more-complex-previously-thought-1543518