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Posted 28 November, 2016 by Wolf is my Soul in Animals, Dogs / Hundar, Photography

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He Watched Helplessly As A Wild Wolf Approached His Dog. Then Something Incredible Happened.   22 comments

Despite their incredible beauty and obvious similarities to our domestic companions, just about everyone knows that wolves are not to be messed with in any way.

But in 2003, Alaskan wildlife photographer Nick Jans and his labrador encountered a wolf in their backyard – and began a relationship that would defy logic and transform an entire community.

Jans was on the back porch of his Juneau home with his dog when a wild wolf appeared. With all the excitement, his dog slipped away, racing out to meet the stranger.

wolf-meets-dog-1

Nick Jans

Nick was stunned to see the two start to play together. He managed to capture this photo of them during the encounter.

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Nick Jans

The wolf stayed in the area, and in the years since, Nick has devoted much of his time to documenting him, naming him Romeo.

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Arnie Hanger

Romeo became a Juneau fixture, known for playing with local dogs at nearby Mendenhall Glacier Park.

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Nick Jans

Residents were unsure at first, but they soon realized that Romeo just wanted to play.

wolf-meets-dog-2

Nick Jans

Romeo didn’t just play with other dogs. He played with humans, too. “The wolf would bring out toys that he’d stashed,” Nick said in an interview. “One was a Styrofoam float. Romeo would pick it up and bring it to [my friend] Harry to throw. He clearly understood the same sort of behaviors that we see in dogs.”

wolf-meets-dog-6

Nick Jans

“The amazing thing was Romeo’s understanding. It wasn’t just our understanding and tolerance. It was the combination of his and ours and the dogs’. We were these three species working out how to get along harmoniously. And we did.”

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Dave Willson

Romeo remained around the outskirts of Juneau for six years, becoming an ambassador to the wild and a powerful symbol in the community.

wolf-meets-dog-8

Nick Jans

After Romeo’s passing in 2010, the residents of Juneau held a memorial for the wolf and had this special plaque made in his honor.

romeo-wolf-plaque

Klas Stolpe/Juneau Empire

It’s so inspiring to see three different species learn to live peacefully together in harmony. It just goes to show how wonderful the world can be.

Share this amazing story with your friends, and check out Nick’s account of this unbelievable tale, A Wolf Named Romeo.

SOURCE

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Two wolves killed in Victoria Beach   2 comments

October 2015 Source

WINNIPEG — A pair of wolves have been destroyed in the Victoria Beach area after killing at least three dogs.

An official with Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship said they were unable to relocate the wolves because they likely would either have been driven out or killed by other wolves in the new location.

The wolves were killed by a professional trapper that was hired by the province last month.

Wolves have become increasingly territorial in the Victoria Beach area and pet owners have been warned to keep their dogs and cats indoors.

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Scientists Find That Evolution Of Dogs Was Spurred By Climate Change   Leave a comment

From Inquisitr August 19, 2015

Dog & Wolf

Nature has been most helpful to scientists aiming to study climate change, and thus, changes to the planet are very well documented. It has long been thought by scientists though that while herbivores adapted to the change in climatic conditions, carnivores did not. The recent findings of a study regarding the evolution of dogs has, however, disabused us of that notion.

On Tuesday, Nature Communications released a study by a group of scientists that analyzed North American wolves and fossils that were as old as 40 million years. It was found that these prehistoric dogs had an evolutionary path that was directly linked to climate change. A lot of the main evolution points of these animals occurred in tandem with major shifts in the climate.

The North America known today is very different from 40 million years ago. Back then, the area was a warm woodland. Canine ancestors living in that North America were small animals and bore more of a resemblance to a mongoose. Native dogs 40 million years ago had forelimbs that were not suited to running and instead relied on ambush methods. After a few million more years, though, the forests thinned and gave way to grasslands as the climate became cooler and drier. Herbivores evolved right along with the times, and long-legged animals like the bison and deer proliferated. The prehistoric dogs also were found to evolve at this time from their smaller counterparts.

Evolution of Dogs

Now that there was enough room to run, and less possibility of springing from dense bushes to trap prey, predators adapted also. Upon examination of the over 32 species of fossils, it was determined that the dog’s elbow joints and forelegs evolved to facilitate long-distance running, offering more support and less flexibility. Their teeth became more durable as well, which is speculated to have made it easier to deal with dry raw hides or perhaps the grit of the high plains mixed in with their meat. The dogs evolved from ambushers to the likes of predators like foxes and coyotes, and eventually into wolves, who use more pursuit then pounce methods. These species are so closely linked in the evolution gene pool that modern day scientists still make surprising discoveries.

Christine Janis, who is a co-author of the study and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, said that this study may have a broader impact than on dogs alone.

“It’s reinforcing the idea that predators may be as directly sensitive to climate and habitat as herbivores.”

Our modern day domesticated dogs do not have the need to hunt for their own food, and thus, it is arguable if our current climate change will have much of an impact on them. However, these human-wrought climate shifts may still lead to a change in the physiology of predators.

In inarguable fact, though, is that the study has proven that climate change has had a dramatic impact on both predators and their prey.

[Photos Courtesy of Discovery News and Mauricio Anton / Brown University]

The happiness of dogs   4 comments

From Learning from Dogs on August 10, 2015

Why are dogs so very happy to see us?

When I first started writing this blog, more than six years ago now, I had no idea whatsoever that the community of friends who read and follow Learning from Dogs would develop to the point where the volume of ideas and suggestions sent in are, are by far, the biggest source of creative posts.

Take today’s for example. The link to the article was sent to me by Chris Gomez a little over a week ago and yesterday was the first time that I read the article in full.

It’s a fascinating and incredibly interesting piece.

So with no further ado, besides thanking Chris so much for sending it on, here is: Why Are Dogs So Insanely Happy to See Us When We Get Home?

ooOOoo

Why Are Dogs So Insanely Happy to See Us When We Get Home?

By George Dvorsky

Unlike a certain companion animal that will go unnamed, dogs lose their minds when reunited with their owners. But it’s not immediately obvious why our canine companions should grant us such an over-the-top greeting—especially considering the power imbalance that exists between the two species. We spoke to the experts to find out why.

Call of the Wild

In order to gain an appreciation for dog behavior, it’s important to understand that dogs are descended from wolves (or at least a common wolf-like ancestor). Clearly, the two species, separated by about 10,000 to 15,000 years, share a lot in common.

Like dogs, wolves greet each other with vigorous face licking (Credit: Sander van der Wel CC A-SA 2.0)

Like dogs, wolves greet each other with vigorous face licking (Credit: Sander van der Wel CC A-SA 2.0)

But there’s only so much we can extrapolate from wolves; dogs are categorically different by virtue of the fact that their ancestors actively sought out the company of humans. Making matters even more complicated is the realization that Paleolithic era wolves are not the same as the ones around today. Consequently, any inferences we make about dog behavior and how it relates to wolves is pure speculation.

Neuroscientist Gregory Berns, author of How Dogs Love Us, says there’s a fundamental difference between modern wolves and those that lived long ago.

“The most social of those ancestral dogs who were hanging around humans had to have been the most social of those wolves,” he told io9. “They joined humans and eventually evolved to become dogs. The remainder of the wolf population were among the most antisocial of those animals, and did not want to have anything to do with humans.”

That said, however, Berns says we can clearly see behaviors in wolves that are similar to those expressed by dogs. For instance, wolves greet each other by licking each others’ faces. For these pack animals, this licking behavior serves as an important social greeting, but also as a way to check out and determine what the other wolves have brought home in terms of food.

Wolves, says University of Trento neuroscientist Giorgio Vallortigara, greet each other in different ways depending on the type of individual relationships they’ve forged. Feral dogs, he says, behave in similar ways. But the big change in terms of adaptive sociality has been the ability of domesticated dogs to interact with humans using our own communicative signals, such as gazes and gestures.

Dog expert Jessica Hekman, who blogs at DogZombie, has witnessed greeting behaviors among wolves first hand.

“When I’m at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana, I am always struck by how much some of the specific wolf behaviors resemble behaviors I see in dogs—but so much more ritualized, and sort of writ large,” she told io9. “I witnessed one behavioral study there in which wolves who knew each other well had been separated for a few days and were put back together. The greeting rituals were fascinating, with lots of crouching and chin-licking from the subordinate wolves. You do see these behaviors in dogs, but more sporadically, without such intensity.”

At the same time, dogs exhibit behaviors that are markedly different from wolves. As Hekman explained to me, one of the most dramatic differences between dogs and wolves is the ability of dogs to accept novelty. Simply put, dogs are less fearful than wolves.

“It may sound a little odd to say that a wolf, who can easily kill you, is afraid of you, but that is precisely why they can be dangerous: because they may choose to take proactive measures to protect themselves, using their teeth,” says Hekman. “Dogs are a lot less likely to do this.”

Indeed, given their wolf ancestry, it’s remarkable that dogs get along with humans so well. But as Berns pointed out to me, sociability has turned out to be a rather powerful adaptation, one that has worked a lot better for dogs than it has wolves.

“I mean, look around the world and see how many dogs there are,” he says. “With dogs, it’s proven to be a highly effective evolutionary strategy. There are in the order of tens of millions of dogs in the world, so in many ways, dogs have out-evolved wolves.”

Berns says that whatever the sociality that dogs have evolved, one of the defining traits of a dog is the degree to which they will interact with humans as well as other animals.

How Dogs See Humans

A key aspect of Berns’ brain imaging research is to study how dogs perceive us. We humans know that dogs are a separate species, but are dogs cognizant of this as well? Or do they see us as members of their pack, or as some kind of weird dog?

Callie gets outfitted with ear protection prior to entering the noisy fMRI machine. The research team includes, from left, Andrew Brooks, Gregory Berns and Mark Spivak. (Credit: Bryan Meltz, Emory University)

Callie gets outfitted with ear protection prior to entering the noisy fMRI machine. The research team includes, from left, Andrew Brooks, Gregory Berns and Mark Spivak. (Credit: Bryan Meltz, Emory University)

According to Berns’ research, dogs that are presented with certain smells in scanners can clearly tell the difference between dogs and humans, and also discern and recognize familiar and strange odors. In particular, the scent of a familiar human evokes a reward response in the brain.

“No other scent did that, not even that of a familiar dog,” Berns told io9. “It’s not the case that they see us as ‘part of their pack as dogs,’ they know that we’re something different— there’s a special place in the brain just for us.”

Berns stresses that dogs are social with us not just because of their scavenging tendencies.

“What we’re finding with the imaging work is that dogs love their humans—and not just for food,” he says. “They love the company of humans simply for its own sake.”

Hekman says it’s hard to know what dogs are thinking, but she suspects they understand that we’re not quite like them. As evidence, she points to aggressiveness in dogs as it’s directed to other dogs and humans—differences that aren’t correlated. She says it’s quite common for a dog to have a problem with one and not the other. In other words, dogs appear to perceive other dogs as one group, and humans as a separate group. What’s more, dogs will seek the help of humans and not other dogs—a possible sign that dogs understand that humans have resources that dogs do not, and are thus a different kind of social entity.

But do dogs see us as part of the pack?

“It’s important to note that a pack of wolves is a family—literally, usually mom, dad, puppies, and some young offspring from previous years who haven’t gone off on their own yet,” says Hekman. “Do dogs see us as part of their family? I think they do.”

So Happy to See Us

Virtually all experts agree that the happiness dogs feel is comparable to what humans experience, and that it’s similar to how humans feel towards each other.

One happy dog (Credit: Lars Curfs/CC-A-SA 3.0)

One happy dog (Credit: Lars Curfs/CC-A-SA 3.0)

“All the things that we’ve done with the brain imaging—where we present certain things to the dogs and map their reward responses—we see analogous brain responses in humans,” says Berns. “Seeing a person that’s a friend or someone you like, these feelings are exactly analogous to what a dog experiences.”

Berns says that dogs don’t have the same language capacities as humans, and that they’re not capable of representing things in their memory like we can. Because dogs don’t have labels or names for people, he suspects that they have an even purer emotional response; their minds aren’t filled with all sorts of abstract concepts.

It’s also important to consider the dog-human bond and the degree of attachment each feels toward each other. When used with dogs, the “Strange Situation Test” devised by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth, suggests that during absence and then at the rejoining with the owners, a dog’s behavior is very similar to that observed in children and mothers in similar situations. As Vallortigara pointed out to me, it’s appropriate and correct to speak of the dyad dog/owner in terms of “attachment.”

A dog’s particular greeting, however, is dependent on several factors, such as the dog’s temperament, the personality of the owner, the nature of their relationship, the level of stress and anxiety, and the dog’s tendency/capacity for self-control.

It’s important to note, however, that stress manifests differently in dogs than it does in humans.

“The separation from the owner for the dog is not voluntary,” says Vallortigara. “It is always unnatural for a dog to detach and abandon the pack.”

Dogs will sometimes go solo on a temporary basis if they’re sufficiently motivated to do so, but they do it knowing that social contact can be resumed at virtually any time.

“The exaggerated level of greeting that can be observed in some dogs is likely due to the fact that they have not yet learned to accept the possibility of non-voluntary detachment,” says Vallortigara.

When trying to appreciate a dog’s over-the-top greeting, Hekman says we need to imagine what it was like for a dog to be alone all day while we were gone.

So bored. (Credit: Pixabay/Pinger/10 images/CC0 Public Domain)

So bored. (Credit: Pixabay/Pinger/10 images/CC0 Public Domain)

“This dog probably had a pretty boring day without much enrichment, and moreover may have been alone all day, which is unpleasant for a social animal,” she told io9. “So in addition to being glad to see us, they are probably feeling some relief that they will get to do something interesting, like go for a walk, and have someone else around. Some people are able to have a dog walker come in or send their dogs to daycare—this is a great solution to what can otherwise be a difficult lifestyle for a dog.”

And as Berns points out, the greeting ritual is a social bonding mechanism—but it’s also a function of curiosity.

“When they jump up, they’re trying to lick you in the face,” says Berns. “Part of that is a social greeting, but they’re also trying to taste and smell you to figure out where you’ve been and what you’ve done during the day. So some of it is curiosity. If I’ve been with other dogs, for instance, my dogs know it, and they resort to sniffing intensely.”

How to Greet Your Dog Back

It’s obviously important to respond to your dog when you get home, but according to Marcello Siniscalchi, a veterinary physician from the University of Bari, how you should react will depend on the context of the situation and the needs of the dog itself.

“The greeting ritual will vary from dog to dog because any individual dog perceives and reacts to detachment from the owner in a very personal way,” he told io9. “Some dogs need to be greeted, in others it is better to avoid any escalation in the level of excitation, others need to learn strategies for coping with the stress associated with detachment.”

Hekman says there’s definitely a tension between our buttoned-down greeting rituals (“Hi, honey, I’m home!”) and theirs (“I want to lick you on the face repeatedly!”).

happydogs5

“My dog Jenny is a very enthusiastic greeter, and I hate having her jump all over me in her efforts to get at my face,” she says. “So I have taught her to get on a couch when I come home. I generally have to remind her to ‘get on your couch,’ but now she does with great enthusiasm, and waits for me to come over. The couch puts her more on my level, so she doesn’t have to jump, and I can bend forward and let her lick my cheek, which is a very important part of the ritual for her.”

Hekman stresses that, for any dog, it’s important for us not to tell them what not to do (e.g. “don’t jump on me!”), but to tell them what to do.

“Many is the retriever owner who has taught their dog to get a toy when they come home to channel their excitement,” she added.

The main point, she says, is that it’s important for dogs to have the greeting ritual, but it can be redirected in ways to make it easier on the owners such that everyone enjoys it.

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Picnic With Wolves II (A Picnic With a Purpose)   Leave a comment

From BE Orlando on July 2, 2015

picnicwithwolves

Save the date for a picnic lunch on Saturday, December 5th. Why?  Because you need a wolf kiss.

Family-friendly pot luck social picnic for volunteers, supporters, and friends of the private facility wolf & wolfdog sanctuary.  A guided tour will be provided.

Event hosted by BE. Orlando; members, friends, and families of all groups in our Central Florida Coalition of Reason, Florida Humanist Association, and other secular communities network are welcome (with RSVP on this site).

This event is free to attend, family friendly, and smoke free.

A Picnic With a Purpose! 100% of proceeds through voluntary donations will support IHWN.

RSVP with BE:

Picnic With Wolves

Saturday, Dec 5, 2015, 11:30 AM

7 Awesome People Attending

Check out this Meetup —- >>


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What Kind of Dogs are Wolves by Koda   Leave a comment

From The Human Footprint on July 18, 2015 by Leslie

Hi folks.  I’m going to try something different on my blog.  From time to time, I’ll post reminiscences from Koda, the dog who grew up in the Wyoming wilds.  Here’s the first one.  The stories below took place when Koda was about 7 months old.  We were still living in California and traveling by car back and forth to Wyoming.  After Soona died when Koda was about 1 1/2 years old, we moved to our cabin in Wyoming full time.

This is me.  And this is my first blog post

This is me. And this is my first blog post

After a long drive, Leslie (she’s my person), Soona (she’s my grandma) and I were at our new home, a place not at all like the city we came from. This place was vast—just mountains, trees, and more smells than I ever could have imagined.

A Glorious spring day.  Koda and I hike up Elk Creek Meadows.

A Glorious spring day. Here I am on the trail in the mountains

One morning we were all up in the flats above the house. Leslie was piling little rocks. Soona and I were sniffing and watching. Without warning, Soona made a beeline for the woods. I was still little, only 9 months old, and didn’t know one smell from another, but I knew she smelled something that I didn’t, so I followed her. Leslie was worried for the old lady. The woods, she said, could be dangerous, especially for old dogs. So she followed us. And what do you know, Soona had a great find: a turkey partially eaten by a coyote! We munched on the bird for a while. I know turkeys because they live in California. But I didn’t know they were here in Wyoming too. From that time on I’ve watched them and got to know them. Leslie taught me to let them be. In the winter they come to our yard where I sit outside on the porch while they peck and pick for seeds and corn we sometimes lay out for them. Mostly they amuse me and, as long as don’t run after them, they pay me no mind.

Wild turkeys, not native

The flock of turkeys I’ve come to know. And they know me.

One day just Leslie and I went for a hike up a stream, leaving Soona at home. We returned a different way, a route through sparse meadows peppered with small trees and gullies. I stayed just a bit ahead, yet kept close to Leslie. We were on the side of a small arroyo when I smelled something watching us from behind a tree. I turned to look, and saw the most beautiful girl I’d ever laid my eyes on. She appeared to be a dog, yet she had a different aura about her. My heart jumped and an irresistible urge took over my entire body. It was if this black dog were a magnet drawing me towards her. I’d already met and played with many dogs in my life at that point. I was only 7 months old, but I already knew to ‘ask’ before I could go play. But this dog…she was like no other, and I just had to know what, and who, she was. She seemed to be the essence of what a dog is; a wildness that was wilder than I ever could be. Really, I just lost my head. And so I ran after her, silently.

What a beauty she was

What a beauty she was

I heard Leslie screaming for me, calling my name. But Leslie’s voice was like a dream in the background. That black dog was so fast that I finally gave up trying to catch her. But, I’ve got to tell you, that was the most exciting moment in my life!

I ran back to the little arroyo where I’d left Leslie. She hugged me and seemed so relieved to see me. She told me that I’d seen a wolf and I was lucky that there weren’t other wolves waiting for me there. That wolves weren’t like dogs and they didn’t want other wolves, or dogs, in their territory. But all I know was that was one truly wild and free ‘dog’.

This is a wikiup

This is a wikiup

We rested in a nearby wikiup in the meadows. Leslie petted me, then scolded me for running away. After a time, we headed back in the direction where I’d run after that wolf, till we came to a trail. And what do you think I found at the trail? That wolf got so excited she’d thrown up her lunch! I guess I made an impression on her too.


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