To the Wolf, my father’s brother
Hunting a wolf is exactly the same as hunting your neighbor’s dog. Except that a wolf might have a bit more wily intelligence since domesticated dogs have been selectively bread for their obedience. Who human beings hunt, eat and domesticate to love has very little to do with the animal in questions emotional and cognitive intelligence and everything to do with human bias. We fear the wolf because it reminds us of a time when they were archetypal competitors. But we aren’t competitors anymore. We’ve won the race for top species. Good for us. Now maybe it’s time to start showing a little compassion for all walks of life, especially those whose intelligence and familial structure so closely mirrors our own. Hunting and trapping wolves is cruel because wolves are intelligent enough to weigh the pros and cons of losing a leg vs being killed and they have enough pack loyalty to feel torn when one member is trapped. How do I know this? For over 18 years, my family raised Canadian Inuit sled dogs, the closest domesticated dog link to canus lupus (look it up, it’s real science unlike this trapping to save live stock and MN deer nonsense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Eskimo_Dog).
At the highest, we had 13 dogs and two dog packs. Canadian Inuit dogs, like their wolf cousins, function based on familial hierarchy. And just like in many human families, things didn’t always run smoothly. I’ll never forget the battles between Umitok and Anakpok; two sisters who were always vying for the second in command spot in the main dog pack. By the time they were well passed their prime, they still challenged each other so badly that we had to separate them most of the time (Anakpok had arthritis but of course she couldn’t be bothered to fight like she had arthritis). Despite or maybe because of their competition, those two made great wheel dogs and when they ran together with their brothers and sisters they made an unbeatable team. Umitok and Anakpok died 3 minutes apart. I went out to feed them one day and Umitok’s back legs just gave out. She turned and looked at her sister Anakpok. Within a minute, Anakpok had also collapsed. They couldn’t always live together peacefully, but they definitely couldn’t ever live without each other. I feel certain that if they were hunting together as a pack and Umitok got caught in a trap, Anakpok would not leave her sister. She’d either help her sister chew herself free (a fate that both would understand spelled a much shorter life) or stay with her sister until the hunter(s) arrived to shoot and kill them both. Dogs and wolves take family loyalty seriously.
If you’ll bear with, I’ll tell you another story. Taku was one of our first dogs. Together, he and his sister, Kewa were the alphas. I don’t have enough words or time to do justice to their memory. But I will tell you something I don’t generally make it a point of telling people: my human father was a vicious and cruel human being who didn’t think twice about hitting both my sister and I or our dogs. Both the dogs and my sister and I suffered from him. All of us got very good at spotting an imminent attack. When Taku was inside, as he was more and more frequently as he aged, he put himself between my human father and I or my human father and my sister. He’d jump up on his hind legs and howl in my father’s face. Taku showed more compassion and humanity to my sister and I in his ten years of life than my human father ever could or would. Taku looked just like a wolf. I wish I had a picture to show you but we didn’t go digitel in my family until well after his death. You can see a picture of his adopted son Maximus though in my sister, Anna Garski photos. Some day, I’ll tell you a story about Maximus. There are many stories. But the most important one for MN wolves is this: When I look at a sign asking the DNR to reconsider it’s foolish and scientifically lacking plan to hunt and trap wolves, I don’t just see a picture of a wolf. I see a picture of my family. I see Taku. I see Maximus. I see Kewa. I see Umitok and Anakpok. Maybe that sounds bombastic. Maybe that sounds dramatic. Well, sometimes the truth is both of those things. If you support the wolf hunt in MN, I ask you to reconsider. If you don’t support the wolf hunt, then I ask you to take action: