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Read an excerpt from Tom Lang’s WOLF“Fetch!”
“Fetch. Go get the stick and bring it back.”
“Go get the stick? I don’t want the stick. You want it, you go get it.”
I was halfway through my training for the Wolf Protection Program. The Alaskan government was shooting wolves from the air again and a pack of us alpha wolves came up with a plan to save our species. We would train ourselves to behave as domestic dogs so we could be taken in by human packs where we would be protected until it was safe to go back into the wild. The program got off to a rough start when the alpha wolves fought for domination of the school. We finally agreed we had to compromise, which isn’t easy for a pack of alpha wolves.
“Roll over and put your legs in the air.”
“And expose my stomach?”
“That doesn’t work for me. I’m too dominant for that.”
“I am sitting.”
“Then stand up and sit when I say so.”
“Lie down and roll over.”
The concept of submission went against my very nature. To live in a human house as a dog sounded humiliating and defeating to me. I decided at an early age to be an alpha and, after many battles, I’ve never looked back.
We spent our mornings working on exercises in Speak, Sit, Roll Over and Bad Dog. The afternoons were more interesting. We studied the human language, in this case English. Languages come easy to me. I speak fluent Porcupine, Marmot and five Vole dialects. I can fake my way through Muskoxen and Caribou. English was easy. The conjugation of verbs and the present continuum tenses were simple enough for a moose to understand.
“Humans, by their body language and vocal tone, will usually tell you everything you need to know. However, there will be times when understanding English words will help in your disguise and may even save you. Especially if you hear the word ‘vet,’ or ‘veterinarian.’ Let’s all say, ‘veterinarian.’”
A veterinarian sounded great, taking care of the sick, but when our trainer explained spaying and neutering, the classroom exploded in howls.
“What kind of sickos are these humans?”
“I’d like to see them try that with me!”