No. 24.—The Wolf.

THE WOLF IS a variety of dog that has traded servility for independence, and consequently abundance for mere subsistence;—from which you may draw any moral you like. Wolves live mainly on a diet of kindly old grandmothers, but many wolves suffer from a type of bulimia that renders them unable to keep their supper down. Their attempts at obtaining fresher prey, no matter how cunningly devised, invariably fail, leaving the wolves hungry and frustrated. They may in extreme cases turn to scavenging in the grocery sections of large discount department stores, but their limited budgets and poor comparison-shopping skills put them at a disadvantage here as well. Some wolves are therefore lured back into domesticity; and it is suspected, though never more than whispered in dog-fancying circles, that standard poodles are simply wolves that have fallen into the hands of a hairdresser.

Wolves are also noted for their peculiar habit of adopting and nursing human infants with remarkable destinies ahead of them. How a wolf can sense which infant is a child of destiny is still imperfectly understood; but it is known that wolves possess an olfactory sense far keener than our own, and it may be that certain human children simply smell like destiny.

In spite of the animals’ superficial differences, biologists regard the Grey Wolf, the Red Wolf, and the Yorkshire Terrier as varieties of the same species. Wolves can be successfully domesticated with some effort; whether the same can be said of the Yorkshire Terrier is a matter requiring further study.

Allegorically, the wolf represents independence, and specif­ically what a fat lot of good independence does us if we are not also independently wealthy.

Published in: on October 12, 2010 at 10:49 am  Comments (5)  

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  2. A correction: wolves and terriers are members of the same genus, not species. This is a relief to those who consider wolves noble animals, and Yorkies as rather less so.

    • According to modern biologists, the domestic dog is Canis lupus familiaris, a subspecies of the wolf species Canis lupus, which also includes the familiar European wolf (Canis lupus lupus) and at least 37 other named subspecies. It is true that biologists once classified dogs as a separate species, but they no longer do so. Whether this reclassification was meant as some sort of taxonomical insult to the noble wolf is not a question the standard references will answer. Your comment does, however, remind Dr. Boli that he had mistakenly spoken of the wolf as if it were a separate species in the first paragraph of this article. The error has now been corrected.

  3. […] Dr. Boli: I understand that the domestic dog has been reclassified as a subspecies of wolf (Canis lupus familiaris) by human biologists. But what do the dogs think about it? Has anyone […]

  4. Dr. Boli may be at his best blogging.

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