Review: Between Dog and Wolf

Between Dog and Wolf: Understanding the Connection and the ConfusionBetween Dog and Wolf: Understanding the Connection and the Confusion by Jessica Addams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Between Dog and Wolf is an enjoyable overview of the behavioral differences between wolves, dogs, and wolf-dogs. Andrew Miller attempts to address the misconceptions and resulting problems that can occur when someone misunderstands the nature of the animal they are trying to have as a pet.

The book is written very well as a introductory overview of animal-human interaction and, as such, provides a reasonable foundation for a better understanding of what wolf and wolf-dog hybrid behaviors can be. The lesson that I think is most important to share with others is that of the difference between "tame" and "domesticated". Any animal can be "tame", it's a trait of personality and conditioning, but "domestication" is a human process that only certain animals have undergone through many generations.

It can be difficult to educate others and change the misconceptions about animal behavior and human interaction, especially when it comes to pets and what people think they can "handle". I found the elephant comparison very enlightening and useful:
Imagine walking into a pet store one afternoon and finding an adorable baby elephant in the window.... It's tiny and friendly and follows you anywhere you go....Then your elephant starts to get older.

It is too big for the children now and sometimes scares them. When they get scared, so does the elephant.... It doesn't understand 'doors' and keeps walking right through the walls. You try to train it, but it is hard to get the animal to listen to you.... It's too heavy for your floor and falls through into the basement. You chain it up outside.

One day, while you are not home, your elephant accidentally injures a neighborhood child who is trying to feed it an apple. The elephant is so excited to see the child that it knocks him over and breaks his arm. The child's mother says the animal is vicious and attacked her child with no provocation and demands it be put down."
It's easy to see how a similar situation can occur with other animals. In point, it's easy to see what might happen when someone does not understand the behaviors and personality of wolves and wolf-dogs. It's important to recognize the difference between a domestic pet and a tame wild animal. This book is a useful resource in clarifying that difference and equipping readers with an understanding that can be shared with others.

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