Three Among the Wolves: A Couple and their Dog Live a Year with Wolves in the Wild
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Helen and Bill Thayer, accompanied by their part-wolf, mostly Husky dog, Charlie, set out to live among wild wolf packs — first in the Canadian Yukon and then in the Arctic. When they set up camp within 100 feet of a wolf den, they were greeted with apprehension. But they establish trust over time because the wolves accept Charlie as the alpha male of the newly arrived "pack." Readers travel with the Thayers as they learn about wolf family structure, view the intricacies of the hunt, the wolves’ finely honed survival skills, and playfulness.
identifiable with the North might work,” I suggested. Bill agreed and took out the map for ideas. In the end, we named each according to social position in the pack or landmarks on the map, after first determining genders by observing urination postures. A wolf pack has a well-developed social system that allows it to operate as a cooperative, cohesive unit, giving its members the ability to live together peacefully, hunt successfully, and raise pups. The dominance order is topped by an alpha
group left the den. We soon discovered a frequently used junction three-quarters of a mile away: a two-foot-high rock and an ancient tree snag at the edge of the tundra. Both were heavily scent-marked and surrounded by numerous wolf scats left by passing hunters. From this point the wolves would branch off in several directions, sometimes following faint trails but most often heading across the trail-less tundra. The junction sat beneath an easily climbed three-hundred-foot ridge. We decided to
and I were the subject of their attention, it was impossible to ignore their piercing stares, which seemed to strip away all human pretense and lay bare our souls. Sometimes they observed us with heads resting on front paws, while at other times they sat alert, with heads raised, so as not to miss a single move. Mostly, though, they ignored Bill and me, instead studying Charlie, but with a different expression—not the curious stare Bill and I rated, but a soft look that spoke of friendship, even
her voice. We fiddled with the dials until she came through more clearly, then made final arrangements to meet her at the Dempster Highway in three days. At daybreak the next morning, we packed our gear. We folded our sadly abused tent, which the wolves had reduced to a barely functional model. The rest of our things had fared relatively well: a few teeth marks on various items, and some corners chewed off in odd places. We stowed everything in our rapidly expanding packs. We bundled up the
we named for the Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary, north of our position—was less intense than her brother. She seemed almost scattered when she played tag among the trees. Sometimes she stopped to peer around with a “Where did they go?” look. Then, seeing her quarry, she would race toward it full speed with long, bounding strides. Her lithe body destined her to become a speedy hunter. After three days of resting and playing, the family disappeared during the night after hearing a bull moose