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Novelty- the agent behind our desire to be different

Part Wild, an autobiographical recount of Ceiridwen Terrill’s decision to try and raise a “wolf-dog,” not only focuses on the impact of raising a “part wild” animal, but also on her personal life, from leaving an abusive relationship to starting over with a new, gentle man.

Ceiridwen, or Vitamin C, as her new husband likes to call her, initially decides she wants a dog in order to redeem herself for leaving her dogs behind with her violent ex-boyfriend. After visiting a shelter and breaking into the secret storage room, she discovers a wolf-y looking dog and decides that’s the type of dog for her. Beyond desiring the wolf-dog “hybrid” (this term is later refuted) for protection against her ex determined to find her, and a hiking buddy, she may not realize it, but she is attracted to the idea of owning this dog due to humans’ natural attraction to things that are novel; things that are new or different.

This psychological law of attraction not only helps push her to desire such a unique and exotic dog “breed,” but she also rushes herself into marriage to the quirky Ryan, despite his bounced checks and childlike addiction to video games. Ryan is an entirely different person than she’s ever met before, and he is the polar opposite of her ex, which leads her to desire him even more than she would have if he were a bit more run-of-the-mill. It could even trick her into feeling of love, which is really infatuation from our obsession as humans with things that are different.

We could argue the power of this social dynamic, but I believe from psychological research, as well as many of Vitamin C’s actions, that this law of attraction could actually overrule our common sense. For example, Vit. C sees with her own eyes her future puppy’s mother attack the neighbor’s cat out of nowhere, though the breeder claims she is the most gentle wolf dog she has owned. Furthermore, the main character ignores more red flags, both with her relationship and adopting the part wild puppy because she is so in love with the idea of something/someone different. She wants a dog that can protect her from her old abuser, but wolves are actually horrible guardians.  They would be more focused on getting the prey for themselves than trying to keep you safe, as Ceiridwen learns after already adopting the puppy. I learned in my introductory psychological class that novelty absolutely impacts one’s dating decisions and can explain why your adorable daughter brings home Diesel, the lead guitarist for a screamo band.  If it can impact one’s dating decisions, it can absolutely effect one’s purchasing decisions.

The principle of novelty can even account for the reason exotic pets have hit the market at all. Why would we consciously want a half wild animal, when we have so many options common domestic animals? Because we are more attracted to things that stray from the norm. I would be lying if I said I haven’t fallen in love with the idea of owning a cute hedgehog, or a tiny turtle (illegal if under 4″), or even a toyger (half Siberian tiger, half domestic cat), but after reading this novel, I feel even more affirmed that trying to domesticate a wild animal is simply wrong and selfish. Throughout her recounts of her adventures with Inyo, Terrill struggles to train and trust the part wild wolf-dog she brought into her tiny condominium. Even in the training session at PetCo, the trainer and Ceiridwen can see that these behaviors of obedience are unnatural for a wolf, and she feels bored, confined, and out of place in her forced human world.

There is definitely evidence that sometimes an environment with humans can benefit an animal; for example, the domestic dog clearly thrives living with humans, for they desire to be challenged and taught, and would otherwise perish in the wild. However, the innate predators like the wolves were meant to remain in their natural habitat and not to serve as pseudo-Fido’s for the greedy humans who simply want a unique animal. It goes against nature, endangers the humans, and frustrates the extremely intelligent and wild wolf.


2 comments to Novelty- the agent behind our desire to be different

  • Kara Van Scoyoc

    I do believe there is a fine line between the hybrid serving as a pet and being dangerous to others. The novel constantly mentioned others having a harsh reaction to the breed and the laws being very strict about putting the animals down if they were to hurt another human. The author portrays these are overly strict and irrational but at the same time is this another instance of humans trying to make an animal that is wild domesticated which will lead to preventable consequences?

    • meganimals17

      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.

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