Wolf Hybrids, Wolfdogs, and Rez Dogs

Part One: Wolves, and  Wolf Hybrids
About the time Pearl was born-1972- it was still a very psychedelic era and a lot of people recognized Mystic Ties with animals. Eagles were extremely popular to go all mystic over. So were bears, lions, and wolves, actually any kind of animal or bird as long as it was wild. This was before Mystic Thinking went mainstream, if it ever did. A lot of people got into it in the 60′s and 70′s and got Mystic Consciousness. People still get Mystic about an animal as a totem from time to time.

Most people did not strive to possess the actual totem animal, but were content with images and models of it. There were a few exceptions like the people who bought a bear or a tiger, or a cobra. Nowadays, such behavior is considered to be practically pathological. The Big Exception was many dog owners who related to Wolf Mysticism and wanted wild wolves to move into their homes and they would tame them and raise them as dogs.

After all, that was the Mystic Myth back then- That people originally took wolf puppies and raised them to be tame and tractable and thus formed the dog directly from the wolf, as man’s first domestic animal. How many stories did I hear or read as a kid, where a kid adopted a baby wolf and raised it from infancy, who later acted like a heroic dog and saved the hero’s butt?

It had been done before, so it could be done again and Mystical Thinking was a huge driving force. Some people had the resources to acquire a wolf puppy from a zoo or animal park, so they did. The puppy would be paraded about in public, at first, then, when it would not walk on a leash like a dog, they went into yards on which the fences grew higher as the animal grew older. Now the owners bragged in public about their “tame” wolf, but one had to go to their home to see the animal, who was locked up in the back yard. No leash seen when the gate was opened and people were admitted inside the wolf’s yard. Very friendly. Yes. He would jump up on people’s shoulder’s, including the owners and lick faces. When he got down from that he would nuzzle you or grab you (gently) by the arm. Ahem. At the time, the wolf owners had no clue about wolf behaviors; all they could see was their tame wolf loved everybody.

Then, surprise, surprise, they bred the wolf to a dog in the hope that the resulting wolf hybrid would be more tractable. This operation cost a lot of money, but since the people I knew who bought wolves had money, they would end up in places out in the country when a suburb could not contain their wolf. Ten foot high fences, 4 acre, 10 acre even 100 acre compounds. By the time a male pup was four, the compound was the only place to keep it. Of course, the pups of any union had to be sold for outrageous amounts of money. It turned out the 1/2 wolves were not dogs anymore than the full wolves were and so the buyers ended up building more high fences and compounds. Or returning the animals to the breeder, or maybe even turning them loose. The breeders had growing packs going on and would practically give a grown animal away to get it out of the compound. The ones with money invested even more and started making catalogs to sell the pups. They began to realize they had to teach people these guys were not dogs and would need careful oversight and fencing for life. People were also all “Back to Nature” in that era too, so having to have country acres with Wolves living in “natural” compounds was very appealing to the people with a mystic connection to wolves who could afford to indulge in that newfangled country gentleman activity.

The biggest selling point in the very Romantic, Mystical, Sales Pitch was that their animals had “Provable Zoo Wolf” said in hushed tones. A corollary to that rule was “if it didn’t have provable zoo wolf in it, it was a “fake wolf hybrid””. Wolfdogs used to be fake hybrids. They were bad and to be snubbed and made fun of, by the “provable zoo wolf” folks. A big step was taken when someone decided to start a registry. My recollection is the Iowolfers were close to being the oldest of these and they set many of the patterns of the wolf hybrid trade as I knew it in the ‘80’s. A search today, seems to indicate they are no longer in operation. I notice other formerly wolf hybrid type sites are wolf/dog sites now. But the same hype still goes on: “Registered Zoo Wolfdog – good,”   “Fake Wolfdogs – bad”.