Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Wolves of Vancouver Island

An urban myth that might be real.

Okay, not urban exactly. A town with fifteen thousand humans can hardly be described as urban, but you know what I mean. I'd come to believe it was a myth, and now I know it might be true.

You see, when I was about eight, my family was given a dog by our neighbor Harley, a scary sort of guy who killed our own dog with his car. His way of atoning was to give us his dog Sentinel, a medium-sized, gray-ish, brownish, blonde-ish dog. Sentinel came with a story--he was supposed to be the offspring of a Pekingese and a wolf. At the time, I thought this perfectly plausible and fascinating, though my mind often reverted to problem of a Pekingese giving birth to puppies that would be twice her size.

The half-wolf thing I bought completely; didn't we have a tenant in cabin number one, a Hell's Angel if I remember right, who tied his half-wolf, half-shepherd dog behind his cabin, where I would pet him a lot, ignorant of the fact that half-wolf dogs make dangerous pets. When the biker left, taking his big dog with him, he left behind a hunting dagger in a leather sheath I have to this day.

But the half-wolf thing I had abandoned. I mean, how likely is it that he really had a half-wolf? It probably made a good story. And how likely was it that our dog was a half-wolf, even if he started attacking the neighbor, took a chunk out of her ankle and left us one day accompanied by my father and a borrowed gun, never to return?

Then I started researching the wolves of Vancouver Island for a story, and discovered an article published just last month that described the complete and intentional decimation of the native wolf population in the early seventies, and the eight mainland wolves who swam over and glutted themselves on the abundant prey-species, but were so sex-starved they mated with domestic dogs, resulting in the current wild wolf population being, lo-and-behold, part dog.

So the story of the Pekingese (surely a part-Pekingese, please) hanging around a forest campfire and being impregnated by a wolf in the darkness might not have been urban myth or our neighbor Harley's rambling fiction after all. And that half-wolf behind the cabin, probably was. I'd come to believe they were all crying wolf.

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