Friday, July 27, 2007

A Wolfman No More

I was recently disheartened to read Tossing Pebbles in the Stream's post entitled Living with the Animals. His rural neighbour had shot two wolves of the dozen or so that were in his backyard on the previous night. According to the neighbour, "Wolves are vermin," and they eat livestock. Although he didn't have any livestock, anti-wolf feelings apparently still run high in rural regions, and this guy used his trusty gun even though it was illegal for him to do so.

Several years ago, I read Barbara Kingsolver's, A Prodigal Summer, a novel that I liked a whole lot. The themes were environmental in nature, and in one of the main plot lines, a ecologically-minded forestry lady attempts to disabuse her lover, a western rancher, of his views about evil wolves. Of course, she was unable. Old views die hard after all, no matter how uninformed they may be.

As distasteful as the above account may be to most, it does provide me with a segway into the humourous anecdote below. I don't know if I can actually relate it in a funny way: probably not, but I can tell you what happened, and perhaps it will raise a chuckle.

First, you need to know that about six years ago, I owned several T-shirts with wolves emblazoned on the front. I'd been quite taken with the critters since I had seen Never Cry Wolf many years previous. It so happened that I was wearing one of these wolf shirts when I entered a shop in a New England village while visiting a friend in New Hampshire. The three of us, me, Cuppa, and our kind host, ambled around the store for a bit, but when we were about to leave, I was asked perhaps the oddest question of my life.

The curious saleslady asked, and I kid you not: "Oh, I love wolves. Do you have one?" Really! That's what she said!

What does one say in reply to such a question? In rather stunned monotone I mumbled something like, "No, this shirt is just a souvenir of our trip out west last summer."

As the three of us puzzled and giggled over the incident in the aftermath, in great mirth I asked our host if keeping wolves as pets was common in New England. Cuppa opined that I should have said that I had several back home. I thought that I should have replied that the wolves on the T-shirt were actually a picture of my mom and dad.

Oh the clever things that I could have said and should have said, but I had been too flabbergasted at the time to think of any sort of witty reply. Besides, I was a touring Canadian and wanted to be nice and respectful to the locals and also to represent my fellow countryman well. And who knows? Maybe she did keep wolves as pets. I dunno; maybe she even ran with them at night.

I hereby thank the lady, however, for we have howled over the incident many times since. Not only that but it now turns out that she has unwittingly supplied me with that ever so precious commodity — blog fodder. Nevertheless, I now wear very plain and unremarkable T-shirts.


karla said...

Definitely chuckling on this end of the computer.

PBS said...

I don't know about in New Hampshire but around here in Minnesota and northern Wisconsin it's fashionable (for certain groups of people) to have large surly dogs that they claim are "part wolf" and there are "wolf" puppies for sale in the newspaper. Maybe that's what she meant :)

Heather said...

I like the "mom and dad" retort. :-)

I loved "Prodigal Summer". One of the more memorable novels I've read. I was also particularly fond of Kingsolver's other book, "The Poisonwood Bible".

Turtle Guy said...

'The curious saleslady asked, and I kid you not: "Oh, I love wolves. Do you have one?" Really! That's what she said!'

My pottery instructor has a t-shirt that reads on the back,

"I love dead goats"

While in a bar somewhere, he was approached by a woman who thought this was totally inappropriate, and why the hell does he love dead goats?!

He turned around.

The front of the shirt reads,

"Davey Drums"

He builds drums.

He explained that he uses goat skin to build his drums. She kinda sorta, but didn't really understand.

Bonita said...

I'm in favor of the plain and unremarkable T-shirts, too. Seems like these tourist T-shirts are as interesting as old campaign bumper-stickers. It's always odd to see that new car with the old campaign sticker still stuck to the bumper - especially if the politician lost.

Anonymous said...

Wolves??? Naaa, no wolves here!! Besides, they would only drown!
However . . nobody should just shoot them!

Gina said...

There are people who breed dogs as "part wolf" here as well.

I think wolves are beautiful, and are just doing what God meant them to do. To heck with the ranchers!

Valerie - Still Riding said...

I always wanted one that said, "No Comment"

Coll said...

A neighbour of ours.. many many years ago.. when I was still a child, used to boast that his huge dog was part wolf. Never new if it was fact or fiction.. but I never forgot that dog. The truth be told.. he (the dog) was indeed very large.. but probably much to gentle to have ever been related to a wolf.

Maya's Granny said...

I once, for a very short time, had a dog which had been found as a puppy and given to me that was very shy. And one day my team teacher's husband, who worked for Fish & Game, saw him and told me he was a timber wolf and it was illegal to keep him as a pet. Which explained why he was so shy.

I think it is illegal to keep wolves in most states, and from what I've been told, dog/wolf crosses are usually very shy animals. Not always, but most people who claim their dog is part wolf are incorrect.

ChrisB said...

There are several wolf conservation programmes in the UK and I believe they are introducing them back into Scotland, where there are quite a lot of protesters. They are fascinating creatures but at the same time I understand peoples concerns.

Cathy said...

True. I've met people who say their dogs are part wolf. I think they thought they were telling the truth.
They are marvelous animals, but jut last night walking from my brother's house up the hill in the dark to my house in central Ohio - I was really grateful I'm at the top of the food chain. It'd be tough for me to live in an area where I had to worry about the safety of small children and pets.

KGMom said...

Oh, I loved Prodigal Summer--but I thought she was studying coyotes.
Whatever--people have similar attitudes--if they think wolves are "varmints" probably same attitude applies to coyotes.

Pam said...

This is my third attempt to comment here, I never understand these little glitches.

I enjoyed Prodigal Summer also, and think the wolf is an animal to be celebrated. As they all are.

Madcap said...

I vote for "mum and dad", too.

Coyotes eat ground squirrels, which are definitely varmints. Hooray for coyotes!

cat59 said...

Just catching up; reading all of your posts from the past few days. What can I say that hasn't already been said? Loved the photo of the trees and I do think those necklaces qualify as "bling"! Also loved the b&w photo of your granddaughter.

Ginnie said...

My kids in NY state don't have a wolf but they do have a family of Red Foxes that have adopted them. My son-in-law is a Naturalist and knows not to try to get too near... but they love to watch them frolic (especially in snow) and leave bits of food for them which they seldom see the foxes take but which are always gone next morning.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I'm so glad I read this on my first time here because I did own a grey wolf for 13 years. She had been born in captivity in MA and blinded by her first owner, but despite the abuse, she was the sweetest and most intelligent animal I have ever known.

We had a wonderful life together, and I still miss her.

Wolves are truly magnificent animals, so wear those shirts proudly.