I could tell the minute we stepped into the park that I was going to freeze. But the dogs looked so happy to be out, and it was a good exercise to get to know their temperament better, so I decided to simply suck it up for as long as possible.
A little earlier that day I have had the pleasure of meeting three little wolf-puppies; Karma, Pixie and a hyperactive male puppy whose name I can’t seem to remember. Mostly because he’d already found a home so there was no use in getting to know him better. Little helpless things, trying to howl but only managing squeaky-toy-like sounds while they shakily wandered about the room on their tiny fours. But the dogs I was walking in the park were anything but helpless. Hearing them bark for the first time froze the blood in my veins. Huge sharp-teethed jaws, a grey or red coat so thick that one of them managed to take a swim in the freezing pond at one point, and an appearance so wild that it can be easily mistaken for a wolf. Beautiful and majestic creatures with hearts of gold.
We’ve been considering becoming doggy parents for a while now. But being a far bigger dog person than I am, he had already done all the necessary research about available breeds and communities in our area. This is how we came across Esther, a dog-mommy of three wolfdogs and a certified breaded of the Dutch wolfdog, aka Saarloos.
“They’re not like any other dogs” she had told us upon our first visit as we sat in her living room, surrounded by a sea of fur. The beasts had just finished their final inspection of us and were now lying in different corners of the room. Some dozing off, others occasionally demanding affection by placing their paws on our knees or laps. My husband was mesmerized, particularly by the alpha male, Caine, so big that he had taken three thirds of the couch he was sitting on. “He’s twelve years old” Esther mentioned a little later, “He’s my rock”.
I however wasn’t as enthusiastic, although undeniably beautiful by appearance, just like any wolf hybrid, they are extremely challenging to train and don’t necessarily respond to command, simply because they’re too smart for it. They are known to be skittish and overly attached to their owners. Separation anxiety training is a must or complete demolition of furniture and belongings might occur.
“So?” Walid asked later that day with glitter in his eyes. “I don’t know, I think I need to spend more time with them. I’ve never encountered a more complicated breed.” The decision was put on hold.
A couple of weeks later we got a call from Esther, one of the females in her pack was pregnant and expecting a litter. I was reluctant at first, but I’ve never met a wolfpuppy before and so we decided to meet them regardless of our final verdict.
Post meeting the little balls of fur Esther had asked if we’d like to join her and her little family for a walk in the park. The dog I got to walk, Somsi, who had once been the alpha female, was instinctively demanding to be walked ahead of the rest. But would occasionally stop to check on the rest of the pack, and of course, on Esther. I couldn’t help noticing how relaxed everybody was. An overwhelming feeling of peace crept upon me from the combination of their energy and the beautiful winter scenery.
“What did you guys think?” Walid and I exchanged quick glances after being jolted from a mutual trance “I think we are still a little hesitant” he answered. One of the owners had confronted us at one point about how difficult his wolfdog was to train. “It’s really hard to watch your house get destroyed” he had told us. We shared our anxieties with Esther. “If you own one of these you have to realise that it’s not about you” She said in response. “You see how calm my dogs are? It’s simply because I don’t want anything from them, I have no expectations, I just want them to be happy.”
It’s really strange how life gives you answers in codes and cyphers. I got my answer for everything that’s wrong about my relationships with humans from Esther’s relationship with her dogs. It had occurred to me at that precise moment that when we form a bond with someone we somehow convince ourselves that we have some kind of ownership over that person. When they don’t behave the way we expect them to, or say the things we want to hear, our ego insists on telling us that we are entitled to something else, something very precise and everything else wouldn’t do. However, it is very rare for us to accept the same form of treatment. We want to be accepted and loved for who we are, without having to change or pressure ourselves into anything. We want to be happy and comfortable, but for some irrational reason our loved ones have to succumb to the demands of our inflated egos at the expense of their own comfort and happiness.
Perhaps Karma and Pixie will find homes other than ours, if they do; I really hope they end up with someone like Esther. As for me, I will forever look at my relationships, be it with humans or canines, rather differently.