EDITOR’S NOTE:  My lovely wife Amy can be a bit of a “renegade” herself, unafraid to speak her mind when she feels strongly about something.  One of the more controversial works of art that she’s created has been “Wolves Chorus,” along with a blog article that she wrote for her music and art website nearly four years ago.  The wolf is a controversial topic in the Intermountain West, and that controversy can even exist among family members.  If there’s one member of the animal kingdom that Amy has done the most research on, it’s wolves.  We’ve seen them up close in their more natural habitat ourselves, and Amy’s research holds true.  They weren’t out to get us, they shied away instead.  They kept their distance.  It’s all a part of nature’s balance.  The painting here received an award as one of the top amateur paintings in the Utah State Fair and ended up being sold at a Salt Lake City art gallery.  It’s one of the best works of art she’s ever done, and she’s contemplating starting a new “mirage” painting with different wildlife scenes soon.

By Amy Kathleen Miller

Wolves are fascinating animals.  The reason why I called this particular painting the “Wolves Chorus” is because wolves really do sing to and with each other.  This is their method of communicating with the rest of the pack.  If a family member is gone for some time, when they return to their pack they are greeted with excited yips, howls, whines, and lots of body language showing how happy they are that the absent wolf has returned.  They sing together, and they love to sing in dissonant chords simply because it causes the pack to appear larger to other packs of wolves coming into the area.

I have a great passion for wolves, and I would like to shed a little light on the reason why I love them.  Lots of people admire the compassion that elephants have for their families.   Wolves are the same, and have even more compassion for members of the pack.  Let me explain why I say this.  In a family of elephants, only the females are in the herd, but for wolves the females and males are both involved.  Wolves are every bit as compassionate for their pack as an elephant is for the herd.  In the wolf pack, the alpha female and male are usually the only ones who have puppies.  However, the puppies are raised by the whole pack.  Wolves love puppies!  When puppies are born, the whole pack gets excited and will jump around, expressing their excitement to one another.  In the book “Wolves At Our Door,” Jim and Jamie Dutcher write about how they spent six years in a tented camp on the edge of Idaho’s wilderness, living with and filming a pack of wolves.  They did this because they were determined to overcome some misconceptions that people have when it comes to wolves.

One misconception is that wolves are nothing but blood-thirsty killers, even among their own.  That is not the case.  Even though bad things might happen in packs, it is a rare occurrence.  Wolves show great compassion for their pack as a whole.  They show respect for all the members of the pack.  The wolves show a wide range of emotions like humans do.  In “Wolves At our Door,” one of their gentle wolves, the omega wolf Motaki, was killed when a cougar got into the Dutchers’ big enclosure.  The rest of the wolves mourned her loss for about two months.  For many weeks, they did not engage in play, which wolves normally do every day.  The omega instigates play, and without Motaki, they lost the spirit.  Jim could use no better word than depression to explain the wolves’ mood.  Before Motaki’s death, the wolves would rally together and howl enthusiastically as a group, but after her death they would stand apart and sing alone; they were mournful.   When Jim went for a walk toward the place where Motaki died, the mood of the wolves accompanying him changed when they passed the place where she died.  Their tails went down, their ears went back, and they sniffed the ground where she laid.  These gestures were reserved for submission.  Jim wondered how much they understood about death.  Surely they had seen her body, but their mournful howls had a searching quality to it, as though they thought she could return to them.  To cheer them up, Jim decided to introduce new wolf pups.

I highly recommend “Wolves At Our Door” for anyone who wants to know more about the wolf.  It is an excellent story to read to older children or have them read themselves, or you can get the movie “Living With Wolves” and show it to younger children.  It is the story of the wolf pack that Jim and Jamie lived with.  They were devoted to their wolves and it showed in the pack.  The alpha wolf was Kamots and he was a benevolent leader.  He would come up to Jim and just sit with him in silence and extend his paw to Jim’s hand.  The two of them would just sit that way.  He would even play with his brother Lakota, who was the omega wolf (lowest wolf in the pack).  Next in rank from Kamots was Matsi.  Jim and Jamie learned from Matsi more than from any other wolf about companionship, about how deeply wolves need each other.  Matsi was a male wolf and he loved wolf pups.  Even after the female wolf had her puppies and when they could finally step out into the world, Matsi took over the raising of the pups.  In fact, he was so good at the fathering skill that after a while the pups preferred him over their own mother.  He was also quick to jump to defend Lakota, the omega wolf, if he felt Lakota was picked on too much.  He would be found in many wolf squabbles defending the underdog.  He had a lot of compassion.  Lakota, as the omega, was the mildest and gentlest wolf in the pack.   Even though these wolves are low in rank, they are important to the pack.  The omega wolf was the wolf to instigate play and ease tensions and bring about harmony in the pack.  He or she would start the howling and the silly games of keep-away or chase.

Wolves are known to take care of the injured wolf in the pack as well as their elderly wolves.  In the book “Kinship With The Wolf,” there is a woman named Tanja Askins who worked with her own pack of wolves in Lundeburger Heide Wildlife Preserve in Germany.  She revealed a new picture of the wolf as a highly intelligent, social, sensitive creature that brings inestimable value to healthy natural systems.  In the book, there was a wolf’s skull found that had evidence that it had been broken at one time but it had healed again.  Tanja made it clear that wolves take care of the injured as well as the elderly.  They feed the wolf until it is healed up enough to help with the hunt or help by caring for the pups.

I hope I am clearing up some misconceptions about the wolf.  They deserve our understanding and respect.

“Wolves Chorus” By Amy K. Miller (All artwork Copyright 2012, Amy K. Miller’s Studio — ANY UNAUTHORIZED DUPLICATION OR REPRODUCTION IS PROHIBITED)

Editor’s Note:  “Amy’s Angle” is a weekly Wednesday feature in this blog.

Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media



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