Part Wild

Here’s an interesting brief video on wolves and their impact on the Yellowstone ecosystem. It’s connection to Part Wild isn’t strong, other than that it reinforces Terrill’s implicit disagreement with stigmas about wolves, but it’s still a good watch: This Will Shatter Your View of Apex Predators: How Wolves Change Rivers

Part Wild has been by far my favorite read so far this semester. Her descriptions of Inyo, his behavior, and her thoughts with respect to him are pleasant to read and at times pretty humorous.

One feeling I had was surprise that Inyo exhibited such friendliness toward humans and other dogs. IIRC, Inyo is roughly 75% wolf. He seems more concerned with tearing apart Terrill’s property than other living things. My black lab is ferocious toward any dogs that come near my parents’ property in Maryland, while Inyo seemed to welcome the dogs Terrill and Ryan brought in.

I experienced a little bit of frustration with Terrill in how often she seemed to put off building proper mechanisms to keep Inyo from escaping her backyard. I’m sure she was a busy person like most, and obviously her finances weren’t in the best shape, but on multiple occasions she says something along the lines of she “hadn’t gotten around do it,” and as a result Inyo escapes on seemingly countless occasions.

Though wolves and dogs are genetically the same species, their differences are obvious in this book. Inyo may be 25% dog, but she clearly shows dispositions that favor her finding a niche in the wild. To me, she is a wolf who is comfortable with humans. From this standpoint, I don’t admire Terrill keeping Inyo in a human household.  Having substantial genetic similarity doesn’t seem terribly relevant when classifying dogs and wolves as the same or different species when the genes associated with behavior are so clearly different. In this sense I disagree in part with the heavy focus on reproductive capability in classifying species.

It is difficult to gain much insight from this book on the nature of domestication for obvious reasons. Terrill does make brief scientific explorations (most of which we’ve covered already — e.g., genetically tame foxes), this account is autobiographical and often personal (i.e., about her, not about wolf dogs). However, this doesn’t take away from the book being a genuinely enjoyable read.



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