To dog men, there is nothing quite as amusing as the folks who claim a dog is a wolf.
It's amusing, because the animals themselves are always ignored.
As I have noted in the past, the true experts on dogs have tails. People always assume I mean they are a dog, but in fact sometimes they are fox, a wolf, or a squirrel.
When a dog meets a wolf in the wild, what happens next is not romance but lunch or a terror-filled dash for survival. It's not hard to understand why: dogs and wolves have very little to do with each other. They do not come into estrus at the same time of year, do not vocalize the same, do not show and demonstrate rank the same, and are not close to being the same size in 99.99 percent of all cases.
Dog trainer Gary Wilkes notes that "Good science does not propose rules that are not confirmed by an objective observation of nature. Good science reveals nature as it is. If reality contradicts science, then it’s not really science."
Or, to put it another way, the real experts with dogs, have a tail. This is as true in taxonomy as it is in dog training. For years, scientists have lumped species in zoos that looked and acted identical, but would never cross-mate. The reason: the animals knew what the scientists did not.
The very idea of "species" is problematic, as it assumes rigid line. In fact, a very large number of creatures are not speciated, but speciating. Most of the Big Cats can cross breed and produce fertile young, and they sometimes do so in zoos or other "prison planet" situations, but no one says a tiger is the same species as a lion, which is the same species as a cougar, which is the same species as a leopard. A grizzly bear can cross breed with a polar bear, and the progeny are always fertile, but no one thinks they are the same species. The animals themselves clearly do not!
So what's the desperate need for a dog to be a wolf all about?
Some of it is due to the need some people have to cock up an "origins" story for the wolf.
Some of it is due to too many scientists chasing too few research dollars. A dog-and-wolf story always gets headlines which, it is hoped, will result in more funding for bread and soup.
A lot of it, however, is the fact that people want to think there is some semblance of the wild in their living room.
We cut down Christmas trees for the same reason, put pine cones and rocks on our mantles, burnish the natural grain in our oak floors, and put flower prints on the sofa.
We adorn ourselves with the scent of gardenia, put leather on our feet, put landscapes on the wall, and cook slabs of red meat over a grill in the back yard.
And the fat dog asleep on the couch with his collar and tags? The one that is scared of the neighbor's cat? He's a wolf of course; the proud descendant of arctic killers.
To which I can only smile. Of course he is.