The Wolf In My Dog, My Dogs Ancestors
The earth trembled.
A great rift appeared separating the first man from the rest of the animal kingdom.
As the chasm widened, all of the other animals returned to the forests, where they lived in
But the dog leaped the chasm.
His love for humanity was greater than his bond to other creatures.
He willingly forfeited his place in paradise to prove it.
---Ojibwa Legend: Told by Native Americans in the Great Lakes region
Embedded in paradise as tightly as the gem in a treasured ring, the gray wolf torses her
body to bite and chew at her side. Her breaths come in short gasps: “hut, hut, hut.” She stumbles,
initially dragging one rear leg, then the other. Finally toppling over, she forces her backbone
against the packed dirt. She must free her body of the pups she carries, or they will bind her up
internally, and she will die a slow, tormented death.
The wolf begins open-mouthed breathing, forcing oxygen into straining lungs and
muscles. The litter is larger than she has ever carried, and is complicated by the breech
presentation of the puppy with the odd-shaped head. Rippling contractions of her uterus become
uncoordinated, and the impatient life within is tossed back and forth like a lifeboat in a sea at
storm. The precious cargo in this wolf is of greater than usual importance because the
odd-shaped puppy is an immature dog. Bearing an un-wolf-like short snout and wide palate, this
puppy is waiting for her encounter with man.
“Ya-woo,” bleats the mother, seeking to find a position to ease her agony. Then with a
rush of fluids and a final yelp, the little creature is delivered tail end first. The mother reaches to
clean the pup, and others come out in a rush. Her male companion and other members of the
pack will provide her and the pups with food, as none of the other females will accept a mate this
She nurses them all, even the odd one, whose eyelids and ears eventually open the same
way as the wolf puppies. The pup stays with her mother until she is strong enough to walk
through paradise on her own power, seek her own mate and reproduce.
Then the life cycle repeats itself.
Feed and protect young.
In each generation of nine to twelve months, there appear small changes to the boney
structure of the face, the mandible, the teeth. Not involving every pup in the litter, but enough
puppies that overall a new set of beings comes to life.
Something like this could happen. Something like this did happen.
Many generations later, the wolf turns up again. This time, it is in a boneyard. A gigantic
gravesite in Czechoslovakia with over four thousand skeletons of canids: wolves, foxes, and
dogs. Where did they come from?
The history of the dog cannot be told independently of the history of man. In addition to
this unprecedented finding of fossilized wolves and dogs, there are human skeletons. Some thirty
thousand years ago, a tiny community of people banded together and left their mark on the earth.
It is very likely that this is the first grouping of people who involved themselves with wolves and
Life is raw for this clan of seventy to one hundred human beings.
They live a heartbeat away from nature.
Their environment is shared with fantastical beasts. Woolly mammoths with twelve foot
tusks, thick pelts, and pearlescent toenails dominate the land. Only slightly shorter in stature,
another creature with impressive ivory shares their territory. The woolly rhino stands six feet tall
at the shoulder and can easily grow to fourteen feet in length.
More familiar beasts also populate the landscape: reindeer, rabbits and bear.
Though these canines are not as large as a full grown human being, they nevertheless
weigh in at nearly eighty pounds. With a squashed backbone and bowed legs, it is easy to
surmise that they carry heavy burdens for the tribe. Considering the number of mammoth bones
lying around--the remains of well over a thousand animals--many scientists believe that dogs
acted as pack animals to carry the bulk of the mammoth parts and pieces from the hunting
grounds back home.
The typical dog eats well. Her wide set jaws with unique molar teeth are able to bring
down a reindeer. These jaws and short snout have come under intense scrutiny in the present day
because they are part of scant proof that she is not a wolf either of the present or the past. Her
teeth are worn and cracked. There is a good chance she suffers daily pain due to exposed roots in
her mouth, but like Fido of the twenty-first century, she has to eat and will do so no matter the
pain. And she lives to a ripe old age--somewhere between four and eight years.
This animal’s parents and grandparents are surely dogs, but earlier than this time period,
her heritage is hazy. Recent predecessors are definitely not wolves, but she can breed with a male
wolf if she so desires. From the number of wolf skeletons in the graveyard, there appear to be
many opportunities. What differentiates her from other canids is this: she serves man willingly.
The civilization she supports is brilliant. At a time when the contemporaries of this clan
are wandering the earth, pulling up plants for nutrition and finding the occasional hare to eat,
these prehistoric people are reaping the benefits of personalized hunting techniques.
Furthermore, they protect themselves from winter blizzards that frequent this region, unlike the
hunter-gatherers. Tribal members fashion thick-walled boney enclosures made from the
skeletons of mammoths and rhinoceroses.
Toolmakers already exist at this point in time, and are in demand for finely splitting the
flint rocks which will be fashioned into brutish knives or the business end of a harpoon. From the
carcass, they extricate and clean towering pelvis and rib bones, anchor them in the ground, and
elevate them skyward to provide a scaffolding for homes. Families dry rescued skins in the sun
and wind, stretched out on a frame of bones to deter shrinkage. Stripped meat is made into
lengths appropriate to be placed in the sun and dried for later meals. Everything is saved for later
Seamstresses are also highly valued. Bone needles are found which were apparently used
to make sufficient holes in the dried skins so that, much like present day sewing, someone could
pull a string of dried intestine or fine strip of meat through both layers and thereby knit the skins
together. The skins could be wrapped like a second skin over the bone shelter and be tight
protection against the weather.
A further function of properly dried and prepared bones is to utilize them in bonfires to
ward off intruders, human or otherwise. Smaller domestic fires are used to warm the family hut
so that kin can move about without their bulky clothing.
Unbelievable as it may seem, neighboring clans of this time period produce some of the
oldest pottery on the planet. Lumps of clay are fashioned into animal bodies, then scoured with
ground-up bone and fired. Twentieth century explorers discover reindeer, hares, rhinos,
mammoths, wolves and other creatures from these leavings. Scientists find kiln remnants.
Though undoubtedly the kiln fired at a low temperature, it fulfilled the remarkable purpose of
sustaining the pieces from the thrashing forces of nature.
The most famous piece is the diminutive ‘Black Venus’ with pendulous breasts, wide
hips and etched markings along her back representing her backbone. Current thinking is that she
is a fertility symbol, but it’s also conceivable that she oversaw the hunt.
Tribal people go after prey like hungry people do--with overabundant numbers of men to
assure success. No one knows whether this tribe used dogs to hunt mammoths. It is a fact,
however, that instinct drives packs of dogs to surround beasts much larger than themselves,
confound the senses, and then strike from multiple angles. Fighting dogs are expert at locking
their jaws around a tender part of their prey, and holding on while being thrashed about by a
much larger adversary.
Locating and trapping the mammoth is the duty of the males of the tribe. To ensure
success, a group of men starts out to look for fresh tracks and tufts of fur from the woolly
behemoth. Once located, they propel the mammoth herd sometimes for miles into a valley with
steep sides, surrounding the beasts from above. They choose a member of the herd that seems
fragile, perhaps a straggler or elderly animal. All attention is focused on that one mammoth.