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Saturday, March 12, 2011

The best training ever - by Bruce

I don't often post two articles a day but I have been asked to tell about Lucas and Sheba. Both were instrumental in helping me train dogs even though both were timber wolves. What they taught me were lessons that you can't get from other sources, so here goes.

Lucas was an Alpha male that lived in a wolf refuge near us. You could sponsor a wolf with a financial donation so I sponsored Lucas. He looked just like the photo above. We used to visit him often. He was a timber wolf that was the Alpha not due to his dominance and aggression, but because he was solely and completely dedicated to his pack. He could be fierce but he was the elected leader and not the self appointed leader based upon his care and love for his pack. That is a very big difference in a wolf pack. Most lead by domination and being the baddest boy around. Lucas was everyone's leader due to his enormous love for the pack.

In a wolf pack when the Alpha get older and the young wolves try to dethrone them and take over. Even thought there were several younger males in the pack not a one tried to take over from Lucas because they simply couldn't love enough like he did. He was the rare instance in wolf hierarchal behavior that was the exception rather than the norm. He was Alpha until he died of old age and not challenged. All because he chose to love the entire pack more than anyone else could. So dominance is not always fought for and won, sometimes it is simply bestowed on a unique wolf. That is a very valuable lesson in any breed or culture.

Sheba was a wolf/dog that was mostly if not all timber wolf. I acquired her from a military friend who had her given to him at about 4 months old by his brother. He had hitch hiked to Florida from Alaska and bought her as a gift for his brother. What he thought was a Siberian Husky was really a female timber wolf. Her yellow eyes and temperament should have given him some clue she was not domestic. Sheba hated my ex-wife and would literally stalk her in the back yard. She was overly protective of our two boys. She was confused on her origin as to whether she was a wolf or dog and vacillated back and forth. That is why I'm so strongly against cross breeding them and selling them for profit. The one who suffers is always the wolf.
Her bite was so powerful she could crush huge cow leg bones. Her instincts and behavior was that of a wolf. She was far more powerful than a domestic dog. I was able to train her because she was so intelligent but she had a very dominate alpha streak. When she challenged me it was to kill, not dominate. Once subdued she was loyal and obedient without flaw. Before we could get her spayed there were two male dogs that tried to mate with her. One a police dog twice her size and she nearly killed that dog. The other was a 100 lb. German Shepherd that we had to do CPR on to revive him from her 15 second attack. Her feet were huge and her jaws very strong.
Having and training (with help) a wolf that is partly dog is a challenge to say the least. You end up learning wolf pack behavior and have to be totally on your game if you want to succeed and/or live. It is very cruel to try to cross breed a wolf with a domestic dog and in my opinion should be outlawed. If you get one even by accident you never know when the wolf part will emerge and won't have a clue on how to deal with it. I did it once but never would consider doing it again because I was very lucky the first time around. Once your Alpha is established you have a loyal companion forever.
The reason I decided to do this now instead of wait is because it will lead right into part three of being a responsible pet owner - training part. If you think training a dog can be a challenge try training a timber wolf sometime. My guess is that if she had any domestic breeding at all it was so minute that it was indiscernible. Sheba was a loyal member of our pack for several years but had to be retired to a large ranch to live out her days. That was before they had established wolf rescue's where they could go. Training a dog and a mostly timber wolf are totally different but similar in some ways. Obedience training to a wolf is a game and they excel in playing games. They learn so fast that it is incredible. In one hour Sheba learned to sit, stay, down and heel. Like I say that is game play to a wolf, and it can take days or weeks for those habits to be effective on a dog. She learned in one hour and never forgot. Sheba was an indoor dog although she preferred the outdoors. I would take her out after dark with a flash light to find he yellow eyes. She would actually howl at the moon. Used to drive the neighbors crazy.
People are stupid for the most part. I used to allow my neighbor Ed out in the back yard with her when I was out there. I repeatedly told him NEVER to try to go out there when I wasn't with him and her. He tried one time and found out what it is like to see a wolf with lips curled back, teeth bared and ready to rip your throat out. It would have been better for Ed had he listened to me the first time around instead of coming face to face with obvious death.
Anyway, I learned a lot about wolves, canines and training from the primal wolf. I wouldn't trade that knowledge but wouldn't ever do it again. So there you have it Pat, all about Lucas and Sheba..

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