Sunday, January 31, 2010
From Wolf to Dog
I've been reading an interesting book called, "Animals in Translation" by Temple Grandin. She is a Doctor of Animal Science, and also happens to be autistic. I have learned alot about animals, and autism through reading this book. One of the things she talks quite a bit about is how we have done selective breeding in our animals, particularly dogs. In essence, we have bred the "wildness" out of our dogs. We have bred them to look like puppies with floppy ears and flat faces. We have bred them to be less wild acting. She said that the closer a dog looks to a wolf, the more they have retained those wolf-like tendencies. That would include a dog with more upright ears and a longer nose.
This week I got to see some of that "wolfness" in Sally. Near my house is a paved walking path made by the city. These walking paths wind all throughout our city, and is the city's way of trying to help us not feel so much like we are trapped in a city. The one behind my neighborhood has a big hill where gophers and ground squirrels dig their burrows. Sometimes when we walk on that path, I let Sally off leash so she can run and sniff and dig. The other day she was running, and suddenly I could see her sniffing and digging at something. I don't know if it was already dead, or if she caught it, but suddenly I could see her eating what looked like a big FAT ground squirrel! She had gone behind a barbed wire fence, and I couldn't see a way to climb it without getting hurt. All I could do was watch as my wolf like dog ate her prey. At one point she was having a hard time biting down on something, and then I realized it was the skull. But she eventually crunched through that. Gross.
Part of me was a little worried that maybe someone had put out poison for the ground squirrels, and that she might have been poisoned. I also wondered how old something has to be before a dog gets sick from eating it. I don't really know if she caught it or not. All I know is that she ate it as fast as she could. She didn't get sick at all, so I guess her stomach is stronger than I give her credit. Whenever she digs for gophers, I get a little glimpse of the real dog in her, but that day I got a little glimpse of the wolf.