Part Wild – An Extremely Apt Title

Ceiridwen’s experience and records of living with and raising a wolf-dog mix offer insight into the difference between a tame animal and a domesticated one.  Based on this reading I would argue that cats as a whole cannot be called domesticated, though many individuals act domesticated.

Ceiridwen’s wolfdog, Inyo, is tame.  She is relatively calm around people and doesn’t attack them, even when provoked.  Inyo was able to be trained and kept as a pet, but still retained behaviors attributed to wolves.  Hiding her food for times of hunger, and howling rather than barking, Inyo was by no means completely domesticated.  There are a variety of breeds of wolf dog, some of which have surprising features.

220px-Czechoslovakian-wolfdog-profile_big(Czechoslovakian Wolfdog)

220px-Llop(Arctic Wolf/ Malmute Hybrid

220px-Kunming_Dog(Kunming wolfdog)

Inyo’s independence and lack of blind obedience lend credence to one of the breeder’s statements that, “Dogs are retarded wolves.”  I was reminded by this of how cats act in comparison to dogs.  While dogs are blindly loving and relatively obedient, barring abuse, cats are more independent, aloof, and far less trainable.  Cats act more like the wolfdog hybrids, tolerating and even being fond of people, but retaining their own agendas.  As a whole cats would be better described as a species that adapted itself to a niche opened up by people, rather than as domesticated.

One suggestion that arose in class as to how wolves had been domesticated was that the wolves adapted themselves to live around humans.  This idea was supported in the reading by the idea of genetic tameness preceding full domestication.  This would also support the idea that wolves were domesticated in different areas at different times.  This would also explain how different researchers determined that dogs had been domesticated in both the Middle East and China.  I do find it dubious that dogs were domesticated in China as food animals, as they’d be horribly inefficient from an energy standpoint.

The legal ramifications of wolfdog hybrids was explored well in the reading, as Ceiridwen was forced to lie about her wolfdog’s identity to get it vaccinated.  The threat of Inyo being put down has been ever-present, and her identity being something of an open secret will likely become a problem.  Most of the laws seem to either outright declare the hybrids illegal, or give them the benefit of the doubt up until they cause any bodily or property harm.  While the laws do appear unfair in how they’ve been portrayed, they do exist for a reason.  Not all hybrids will be as calm as Inyo, and the breed has the capacity to do major harm to a person if it attacked in full force.  Personally I’d be inclined to agree with the benefit-of-the-doubt laws, though with more wiggle room for exceptions and slip-ups.

(images are pulled from wikipedia)

10 thoughts on “Part Wild – An Extremely Apt Title”

  1. I don’t really see how this reading supports your theory on cats. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily think there’s something wrong with your theory, I just don’t see how this reading supports it. A cat may share some traits with a wolfdog, but not enough to the point that you can draw a strong correlation between wolfdog behavior and cats. For one thing cats are not protective (at least none that I’ve ever heard of), yet if someone attacked the author I bet Inyo would’ve ripped their arms off.

    1. The main reason I tied my ideas on cats to the reading was that wolfdogs show a more clear example of semi-domesticated animals, ones which exhibit traits of domestication and being wild. I suppose it would be more accurate to say that the reading helped me better see how cats fit the description of semi-domesticated.

  2. I’m actually really glad you brought up your comparison to cats. That’s exactly what I was thinking. I do understand, as Kelly mentioned, that the reading doesn’t necessarily support this idea, but that fact aside, I did still have this thought while reading, and I obviously wasn’t the only one. It’s not a scientific theory or anything, it’s just an interesting idea to ponder when considering the different ways that dogs and cats were domesticated. Obviously, dogs and cats each have an extremely different demeanor, and although cats aren’t as large or destructive as a wolfdog, I can still see some of the similarities between Inyo’s behavior and many cats. It’s just an intriguing thought.

  3. I like your musings about the tame vs. domestic distinction, which is super important, and this discussion of cats is really helpful. As I mentioned elsewhere, it’s hard to keep our own biases in perspective when we evaluate the “intelligence” of another species. And thanks so much for questioning the “dogs domesticated as food” in China theory. I think most scientists agree that it is extremely unlikely that a predator was domesticated primarily as a food animal. Sounds like way too much work. Eating dogs is (still) common in many parts of Asia, but it still seems unlikely that eating dogs was the primary impetus for domestication.

    1. The only thing I can think of in favor of the “dogs domesticated for food” theory is that dogs can eat a lot of scraps and leftovers that people prefer not to. As recycling animals they are at least partially useful. I would think though, that pigs would be more versatile and easily consumable than dogs.

  4. 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.

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