H is for Hit By a Flying Wolf

Here’s a book recommendation brought to you by the letter H.

Hit by a Flying Wolf by Nicole Wilde

Cover-for-ebook

Yesterday, I quoted from Nicole Wilde’s blog post about growling. As a follow-up to that and my post on the Evolution of Dogs and Wolves, I decided H-day was a good opportunity to tell you about her latest book.

Since Wilde is a dog behavior expert, and I screwed up so many things with our first dog, I didn’t expect Hit by a Flying Wolf to so closely echo my own experiences. How reassuring to learn that an expert has struggled with a dog as much as I have!

The first half of the book contains stories about four of the dogs Wilde has lived with, and the second half concerns wolf rescue. The first dog, a long-haired German shepherd, had the same fear of high-pitched noises that Mia has. Mojo, Wilde’s “soul dog,” was the crossover dog who helped her learn that positive reinforcement training is more effective than using old-fashioned choke collars.

I have a special affinity for Bodhi, who came from a shelter and shared my dog Leo’s penchant for doing things like “grabbing a trailing hand and chomping down, or jumping up in front of me and placing teeth around my arm, exerting a disturbing amount of pressure.” Bodhi’s story hit home the most for me, because it illustrates how much dedication is needed sometimes to get through to a troubled dog, and shows that it’s worth it.

A major highlight of this book are the color photographs. I read a lot of books about dogs, and it bums me out when the photos are grainy and black and white, or worse, when there are no photos at all. I want to see the dogs! Wilde is an accomplished photographer. Not only are the animals described vividly in prose, but the images of the dogs and wolves also are stunning.

I learned about the risks of keeping wolfdogs as pets from Ceiridwen Terrill’s Part Wild. Terrill’s story was heartbreaking, but Hit by a Flying Wolf demonstrates how wolves and wolfdogs can be safely contained and cared for after living in a home hasn’t worked out for them. While not an endorsement of keeping wolves as pets, Wilde’s stories about the wolves are touching, suspenseful, and entertaining.

H is for Hit by a Flying Wolf

H

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G is for Grrrrrrr

. . . and Grrrrrrr is dog for “Growl.”

Not Mia's prettiest look. She looks the The Predator.

Not Mia’s prettiest look. She looks like The Predator.

As the wonderful dog behaviorist and author Nicole Wilde explains:

Growling is a perfectly acceptable canine warning. It’s a dog’s way of saying, “Hey, I don’t like that,” “Don’t come any closer!” or “Please stop what you’re doing.” … Whether a dog is growling at another dog or a person, it’s simply a warning. If the dog wanted to attack, he would have. Growling is meant to avert aggression, not cause it.

Isis wasn’t a growler, and being an inexperienced dog owner, I didn’t realize that was a bad thing. She went very quickly from (seemingly) calm to barking and lunging. If she had growled, I might have been able to get her out of situations before she had a full-blown reaction.

I remember when she was a puppy in her first obedience class. The teacher had a German shepherd, Sarge, who I assumed was perfectly trained. I thought Sarge would get a load of Isis, and I don’t know, smother her with kisses. Instead, he lifted his upper lip and let out a low growl.

I moved Isis out of his way, thinking, Well, I never! (Never considered that Sarge was expressing himself in a socially acceptable way, that is.)

For dogs, getting to know each other sometimes involves lifting an upper lip.

For dogs, getting to know each other sometimes involves lifting an upper lip. This was taken the day we brought Mia home.

Mia lifted her lip and snarled at Leo like that the day we met her. Leo was just a year old, and Mia was the newest member of the family. As the more mature dog, she let him know, very appropriately, “I’m not entirely comfortably with you and would prefer if you take the long way around me.”

Leo, who’s never been very good at heeding human requests, understood and complied. That night, they slept practically nose to nose on the floor of our bedroom, instant besties.

This morning, I was lying on my bed with Mia when Leo propped his front legs on the bed. He does this all the time. He’s so tall that he sprawls halfway across the bed with his hind feet still on the ground.

I wish I had recorded the doggie conversation that took place. Mia rumbled, without lifting her lip. Oddly, when Mia barks, it’s very high-pitched, but when she communicates to Leo, her voice is low. Leo, on the other hand, has an intimidating Big Boy Bark, but his speaking voice is high.

It went like this:

Mia: Rrrrrowrrrrooowwwer.
Hey, buster, you’re horning in on my morning snuggle.

Leo: Aaaaraaar Mrrawwr Aaaar.
Come on, make room for me.

Mia: Rroorrroooowwwr.
No. I need space in case I want to roll over on my back like this (rolls over on her back so I can kiss her belly).
Wrroooouuurrr

Leo: Raawr Aaar Wrawr.
Bed hog!

Then Mia rolled upright and they sniffed each other’s faces. It was a glorious start to my day.

G is for Grrrrrrr, and Grrrrrrr is for Growl

G

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