Namaste' all hope everyone has had an amazing summer, its gone by as usual too quickly out here I have pics of the creation of yet another wolf habitat to post, and a few blogs to post about when I get some extra time so enjoy this for now. I also wish to say THANK YOU to the kind gentleman that left a message on my answering machine. Imagine my surprise to hear someone care about me continuing to write in this ol blog. I had tears well up actually. So thank you ever most kindly for that kind of support dear sir.
3) It is stated you ruin your chances of being accepted in the pack if you wear different smells like perfume, that you need to smell the same way to the wolves all the time. I don't wear perfume, or other scents to mask my own smell. But I do believe in just keeping clean (bathing) and allowing my own scent to be a part of me, but if some caretaker wears perfume, they can expect to most likely just be rolled on (or the animal attempt such,) by trying to rub their bodies all over yours! thus a possible jumping up on you to do it, and licked a lot. (Just brace yourself and prepare for it) This is no big deal for an experienced steward. Wearing different smells wont ruin your chances of being accepted. I do like to occasionally put fruit essences on my neck from the health food store, and I smell fruity, I then receive extra special kisses of course.
4) It has been stated that Helen risks her very life (hype and drama) to be *accepted*by the pack, and in particular a certain female wolf within that pack. First off look at the picture at this site http://animal.discovery.com/tv/wolfman/about of them quite happy and content side by side with a wolf putting Helen's life in danger, now if a wolf gets this close to you , they have *accepted* you, if they (*Shaun and Helen) mean *ACCEPT* as another wolf, that will never happen a wolf knows a human is NOT wolf, and though they may apply wolf rules to your physical person if you INSIST on trying to be a different species of animal and gain an acceptance that is simply not possible, you will pay for that as Shaun has in the form of a bloody face and gashes.
5) Adult wolves do not normally regurgitate for each other! They don't sit around chewing up raw or cooked meat, and spitting it back up for adult wolves to scarf up out of their mouths. Wolves are very protective of their food towards other adults within the pack. If an omega has laid claim to *their* share, they will guard it religiously, even from the alpha. Now they wont think your crazy (even if you are) but it serves NO purpose other than them thinking, "Oh thanks! you have food to offer? I'll take it!" You simply put your delicate furless face at risk for being sliced up by razor wire, as they exuberantly take it out of your mouth that's all.
6) The biggest, strongest wolf in the pack is not necessarily the lead wolf. A human that works with wolves does not have to have a great amount of strength and size (Like Shaun obviously has) in order to maintain a respect. I am 5'1 I work out two hours every day, and lead a very healthy active lifestyle, but lets just say many 12 year olds are bigger than me!!!! Leadership is a way of holding yourself. I have seen some very small wolves hold the position of alpha for a great many years. If a wolf is a bully alpha in a pack, they will eventually be taken out/or displaced by the rest of the pack, for they will get tired of a bully. Because I eat lots of vegetables and fruits does not mean I will be seen as an omega by my pack, or no longer accepted. I am a human they are wolves. I do not place myself into a position of acting wolf cause I am not one. I dont want them to treat me like their own kind.
Regurgitation is an instinctual behavior, displayed in adult wolves towards pups starting around 3 weeks of age, for they cannot rip meat off bones yet, thus the mother and other members of the pack throw up partially digested food for them. Adult wolves typically will not do this with each other.
How do any of the above statements have anything to do with respect or acceptance?
Shaun has chosen to not only place *himself* at continual risk in my professional opinion, but also Helen by making her act like himself, and to act like a wolf, when humans are not equipped to have the same mind frame and physical attributes as a wolf. No matter how much a person TRIES to put themselves in *THAT PLACE* , they do not have the same mind frame period, it is acting, like one sees with any actor in the movies. Helen is Not Shaun either, and Shaun gets way with HIS wolves doing certain things, another may get into trouble with, in doing the same things.
A wolf makes it VERY clear when they don't like someone, or won't accept them, and one thing I have learned is if a wolf does not accept you from the start, they NEVER will, you cannot regurgitate enough food to convince them otherwise! If you meet a wolf in captivity where their energy instantly clashes with yours, you can't make enough nice...sorry.
Have you ever watched your dog go into a play bow? Well wolves will also *play/test bow* as well, similar to your dog, and it not mean anything but instigating a play/test session. But when displayed in context with anxiety/fear/aggression/agitation, the bow is far from playful. An agitated wolf will paw the ground like a bull using either one front paw, two front paws and come up from the bow, or use all four paws to scratch at the ground. Dharma used all forms during her agitation in these pictures. This is an aggressive sign.
Here she is getting ready to scratch at the ground her stare is hard and focused and she is consistently pursing her lips together, eliciting a very soft puff sound coming out. Wolves will also make a very rapid puffing sound over and over, like a oof, oof sound, along with occasional deep short alarm barks. She performed both the fast puffing/blowing sound ,as well as the very soft , slow, whisper puff and blow
Here you can see the ground just in front and gathered under her paw, as she brings it up Here above Dharma is in a complete bow right before bringing both legs up scratching, her stare hard and focused.
Look closely at her eyes and mouth, this is what I mean by a HARD stare, it is direct and unflinching, she is not avoiding eye contact but has this person in her direct line of sight. Because I was so close to her I could hear a VERY soft (oof, sound come out like a breathy whisper)
Here she launches into a full blown alarm howl/bark the sound is more choppy in sound. Note tail tuck.
I had the person of her oh so fond affections, turn their back as if to walk away and then she sprang into action and ran at the fence towards the person very intent/focused. Her fear, temporarily taking back seat to the attack mode she launches into here, brought on by the fear towards the person.
As the person *appears* to be moving away her hackles flatten slightly, she lowers her body closer to the ground, tail only slightly tucked and kinked to one side showing apprehension and wariness. Her ears slightly flattened back. Her entire posture is undecided in how to feel and she has conflicting feelings occurring. She is ready to move swiftly within a nano second if need be. Wolves have the reflexes of super race car drivers.
Here Dharma proceeds to mark out of fear, nervousness and instinct. This is her territory she wants this scary person to know it.
The person has now gone, but Dharma remains on fairly high alert for an hour afterwards
Shaun has gotten by (not without being scathed mind you ;0) i.e bloodied up face ) despite of , not because of his methods. It has worked for him with HIS personal private wolf group, up to this point.
Apply ANY of his methods on any wolf he did not rear from bottle-feeding stage, his methods could have dire consequences. As it is they still could, someone can go years until one day, the wrong move made too many times for THAT particular personality of animal, and they can and will show you exactly where you went wrong. Heck, if I was getting a bloodied face I would know I was doing something wrong.
It is good to always be inventing outside the box when dealing with wild animals, you cannot *think* only conventional with them, each personality will be different from the next, thus the application may also need to be shifted..
Will I continue to watch this program? yes I will, but only so that I can prepare myself for the ignorant calls and emails I will get from those people who blindly believe what they are seeing, and wish to apply such methods to other wild animals.
I encourage youth to be themselves despite critics out there, to walk to the beat of their own music, created along the journey. But one must also keep in mind that while treading softly on hallowed ground, and going against the grain, that there may be others watching us, whom will also become teachers. That our choices may have consequences for someone else we don't even know. For it is true we are all connected and linked more closely than we even realize.
Wolves have variant personalities, Take any litter and how one pup may respond and react positively to being reared using one method by a handler, the next pup may not necessarily be as open to thus a handler has to dig back into their tool belt of ideas and tricks to pull out and find something that will work. But there are some very basic rules of handling wild animals too and a handler can expand from those basic rules.
I was asked my thoughts a while back from a visitor why there is such a strong connection with wolves for some, this was my summed up response.
I think there is no more a bond with wolf and man than there is with wolf and deer, we are all connected. Any animal species including our own have shared the experience of living amongst natures elements, and surviving them. Humans disconnected from the land or the majority did long ago, but the remnants of those wild relationships forged (both with other animals and nature itself) still remain within our own wild psyche. :0) we sense it, feel it deep within, but it is more like some long ago forgotten siren song now, that still calls to us, to remember. It is such a powerful song we recognize it, but don't.
The wolf still stands for that wild life, that life that is hard and unforgiving in nature, we recognize that life though no longer want it realistically, crave still the beauty within the savagery that exists, when one truly lives WILD. There is also the point to be made of recognition of anything that may have *similar* family structures at least enough to remind us of our own family. All animals know how to instinctively relate to one another, predator and prey.
There is a book written by Raymond Coppinger called Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior & Evolution: you would find that book very very interesting I think, and is a number one on my list above. But here's a bit more about that for your eyes
To sum this series up If people watch this, I hope the program encourages people to do more research. Shaun has not done more than anyone else before to research these predators, as the first program states in this series. Shaun is a novice compared to many whom have lived with and worked with wolves such as The exemplary research facility Wolf Park started back in the 70's by Wolf Biologist Erich Klinghammer and someone I call friend.
I consider only the wolves experts, at the same time I know I have grown over the years to become a professional educator. I don't have enough hands of people and facilities that have all added to understand more about the wolf in a factual no nonsense way. How many have contributed, and I think Shaun has contributed as well regardless of my other views.
I have a video here sent to me by Erich as a gift, and it shows Erich walking right up to a pack of wolves as they are already eating a deer carcass, and proceeds to take a deer by the leg and move it to a different area. He has never had to get down on all fours and pretend to be a wolf in order to be respected by the wolves, they do not attack him as he takes their deer, nor do they even growl at him. You can see nothing but respect between the man and the wolves.
It is said that anything that gets people more interested in wolves even if the info. is not correct is a good thing. YES it is a good by product that more people will be called to learn about this predator. However I do not want to ever pick up a newspaper, and read about someone else going out and buying wolf pups, repeat what Shaun has done, only to wind up dead (because what has worked for Shaun has worked for HIM) As I have stated earlier on with such power of educating, comes a great responsibility.
The positives? I really like they show how to properly house a wolf in captivity, and that they show these animals requiring a lot of enrichment and stimulation, (which they provide) that this is not some backyard in the city, holding wild animals. I like they show the strength, power and seriousness of the wolf, they do not portray them as bengi the dog. These wolves have been well socialized, so they are not stressed in captivity. I have a feeling if I were to visit, the wolves would come right over to me at the fence and I would even most likely get a kiss. I can honestly say it would not be on an account of consuming liver either. ;0) or getting down on all fours so they can make sure I have not consumed any sugar. :0)
What I like about Shaun is that he is not afraid to just be who he wants to be, that is not easy to do. He is his own unique person and is not someone content to be boxed in. I can so easily picture myself even getting along with this man quite well , and for as much uncommon ground between us, there would be found much in common. I would love to ask him in person about his methods of application. I don't think this man is an absolute idiot, like some other professionals I know think he is. I believe there is a lot of ignorant information portrayed in the program true, but on the contrary he is much smarter than others may give him credit for, otherwise he would not be where he is today.
I do wish Shaun Ellis and Helen Jeffs the best of luck however on their life with the wolves, and with each other. The love they both share together is quite obvious as well, I wouldn't eat some of the stuff she eats, for anyone. ;0)
Great lessons come from many sides and perceptions.
So if you watch this new series, take from it what you will, BUT do further research. Shaun's path and perceptions are not absolute, (they simply work for HIM to date) and if you appy the same methods of madness, to wolves in your own care, you may find yourself on the wrong end of some very sharp teeth someday. ;0)
copyright skylar breton A Wolf Adventure; A Wild Insight