Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - April 26, 2006)
Wolf song If you
talk to the Animals, they will talk with you.
And you will know each other.
If you do not talk to them, you will not know them.
And what you do not know you will fear,
What one fears
Chief Dan George
While viewing a cute, little baby panda at the zoo, the cuddly ball of fur infant
tiger, or the human-like newborn chimpanzee, its difficult for us to imagine
that someday that cute baby will grow up to be a hunter, provider
Its comfortable to anthropomorphize the animals around us, in other words:
attribute human characteristics to animals. How easy it is for us to forget that
Muffy and Buffy are not just dogs and cats, but are domesticated wild animals.
They dont desire to build a robot, explore Mars or impress colleagues with
the brand of coffee they drink. They dont sit around contemplating, if only I
could have the biggest doghouse in the neighborhood. Hmmm
how nice would it
be to own that brand new, bright yellow Hummer. Hey, that neighbor over there has a
bigger and brighter collar than me or I think I will lay here all day plotting and
scheming how to get back at my littermate who got to go to the park today instead
Those things only happen in cartoons created by human minds. Except for primates,
animals in a natural setting dont conceive greed, hatred, spite, vengeance,
unkindness, nastiness or malevolence. We humans may perceive their behavior in
these terms but they are acting on instinct, fear, hunger, danger and the power of
learned techniques for the long-term survival of the species.
Animal behavior is governed by three basic motives: 1) to find food, 2) to avoid
predators and 3) to reproduce. Consider: If you are edible, I will eat you. If you
are challenging me, I will either walk away in peace or fight you for the sake of
the herd, pack leadership and/or survival. I am here to find food, avoid my
predators, make a family, provide for and protect that family.
This doesnt mean animals dont experience joy, happiness and a sense of
well-being. It means that whatever an animal does involves action and response to
stimulation. Canines understand the concept of freedom, food, social contact and
reproduction. Take a look at the complex social life of wolves.
Wolves form groups called packs, which are typically composed of a
dominant mated pair, their offspring, and an assortment of other adults, often with
some genetic relationship to the first family. A wolf pack is a highly
organized and complex social structure. Pack members live within a rigid hierarchy
and the rules of that hierarchy must be obeyed. This structure determines who will
eat first and thus ensure the safety and survival of the pack. When they go for a
major hunt, they keep in touch through howling. Howling is a very important part of
communicating with the community.
The pack behavior extends to care of the young. Cubs are never left alone and
wolves will often care for other wolves young, bringing them food and
guarding them from danger. They work as an efficient team for the good of the
Unlike humankind, in the world of wolves: No position is of less worth than
another. Each place has a responsibility, which is of equal importance for the pack
to operate as a team. This is a difficult concept for humans to grasp.
Words such as rank, dominant and domineering are human concepts, i.e. I am
of a higher rank, a more intelligent being, my words are to be followed, I am in
control and I am the leader. Im plotting against you. I will punish you. I
will spite you with no regard for the well being of my pack, are notions
owned by humans. In the world of the canine, no such concepts exist.
Alpha animals rule the other pack members through a series of dominant
gestures and sounds. This intricate social order is not kept in place by some
misguided sense of insecurity, but by a rigid structure through which they use in
order to survive, as they depend on each and every other member of the pack for
An alpha wolf pair mate until one dies or falls ill, then the healthy mate will
find another mate. If two wolves have a difference of opinion, they generally draw
back their lips, displaying what they hope to be a grand show of teeth. They growl,
sneer and make every attempt to out show each others fierceness.
If the challenging individual is serious in the contest, the higher-ranking animal
will be forced to defend his/her position or be usurped. This behavior is more of a
ritual than actual fighting and it almost never ends in serious injury.
These dominance rules help to keep order within the pack and dissuade
arguments before they escalate. In this time of fearful confusing politics,
self-indulgence, self-pity, lack of direction and role models and inflated concepts
of worth, humankind could afford to take lessons from the wild wolves seeking
stability, responsibility and unity. What one fears
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.