8. The Use of Symbolism and Rituals
The Wolf is one of the few animals that uses symbolism. Often times when a young addition to our breeding staff is introduced to the pen it will be ingratiating to the extent that it will pick up a bit of shed hair, a stick, or any small object and carry it from pen to pen, presenting it to its adult peers as a peace offering, hunkered down in the submissive role, tail low and tucked but valiantly wagging, ears flattened to the head, lips retracted horizontally. They will also present these little symbols to two-legged wolves who have come to see and learn.
This same process is used by a pregnant female when about halfway through gestation. Though she might be quite dominant at other times she becomes quite submissive in begging for the other pairs to approve of her symbolic cub that she is presenting to them. There are several other forms of symbolic behavior but these are the most important and most often used. Pretty sharp, huh?
In ritualistic behavior, the Wolf is rivaled by NO animal. It hikes to mark its fence, either natural or manmade — both male and female do it; then they scratch vigorously to scatter the scent to supposedly impress the next wolves in line of their high rank and dominance with the poor submissives not being allowed to hike.
Ritualistic foot races — a determination of inferiority or superiority. Growling to impress their peers of their determination is ritualistic. Raising the full back length of hackles, inflation of entire body mass, every hair in standing position is usually ritualistic and bluffing posture. The ritual of gathering together, heads over each other for a sing, for a hunt, for a seemingly decided direction of travel and many others.
The ritual of rolling in anything that has a strong scent, wallowing on a dead fish, and catnip stalk, or fly repellent — this is ritualistic to the times when they had natural enemies and needed to camouflage their scent. Even some individual dogs indulge in some of these rituals, so I hazard a guess that we haven’t quite bred all the Wolf out of our dogs as of yet.
He is smart enough to direct a game animal toward boulder strewn ground with a couple of wolves up at higher elevation so as to both blow the scent above the prey and to use the down hill gravity for the pass and the wounding and weakening of the animal.
He is smart enough to herd a deer into a swamp while it is swimming and plowing its way across and send a couple of wolves around the perimeter to meet it when it comes out of the water. He is smart enough to hold the head of a swimming deer under water as long as he can hold his breath, then turn the neck hold over to a fresh wolf.
How can we deny the intelligence of the Wolf?
He is smart enough to pretend that his foot hurts just because I am limping from a corn on my toe. He will offer sympathy and compassion when I don’t feel well. He can count to twenty by mental subtraction or addition from original volume. Don’t tell me about Wolf intelligence. Hey man, I’ve seen it all and it constantly amazes me even after these many years of observation and handling. This should be enough to convince you, and I stand ready to prove it all to you.