- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; 1st Printing edition (October 11, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451634811
- ISBN-13: 978-1451634815
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 60 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,059,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Part Wild: One Woman's Journey with a Creature Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs Hardcover – October 11, 2011
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"Ceiridwen Terrill will make you fully understand the differences between wild and domestic animals. Her riveting prose about her wolf hybrid is essential reading for everyone who is interested in animals." -Temple Grandin
About the Author
Ceiridwen Terrill is an associate professor of science writing and environmental journalism at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. Her essays have appeared in Oxford American and Isotope, as well as the anthology What Wildness Is This: Women Write About the Southwest. Her first book Unnatural Landscapes: Tracking Invasive Species was published in 2007. To see photos and video from Part Wild and to learn more about her work, visit MyUrbanWild.com. Follow her on Twitter@myurbanwild.
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If it appears that I came to this book with an agenda, I did, but as far as I can tell from reading reviews here, so did many other reviewers who seem to judge the book on whether they agree with the writer's training methods or agree with her opinions on wolf hybrids. Certainly we all hold our opinions, but those opinions don't really tell much about the book itself, so I wanted to admit my agenda first, and then move on from it. I had to anyway: as it turns out, the book is not too much about dominance theories (though it does address them, including the ways in which such ideas have been disproven), but it is a lot about canine (and human!) behavior.
More than that, the book is a memoir, and it is a compelling story, well told. The writer does a good job of showing us what her life was like, years ago, when as a naive and frightened young woman, she got a wolf hybrid, hoping for protection from the abusive man in her life at the time. As a teacher of writing, I expect good memoir to do several things: it should be honest, and create a complex (not necessarily sympathetic) character out of the narrator, and it should include reflection--we expect to know that the writer knows more than they did at the time of action, and we expect to seem some reflection on these past actions. Terrill does all this beautifully.
In the first several chapters, which are tied very closely to the time of action, and thus contain little reflection, I was both drawn in by the narrator's story, and a little repelled by her naivete--her reasons for getting a wolf dog were shaky at best, and when the narrator said that only a wolf dog could keep up with her wilderness treks I rolled my eyes, but I kept with it, because the book is so beautifully written. It was the writer's choice not to comment too much on the early mistakes she made--we'll get plenty of that later--and it was a good choice in the end, because as we read, we're drawn along by the young woman's innocence and naivete. It's heartbreaking, and as other reviewers note, the sense of doom in the book is palpable, but this makes for compelling reading.
Interwoven with the memoir parts of the book is quite a bit of research the writer did much later. This research ranges wildly, from information on dominance theory (yep, it's in here!), to a visit to the Siberian foxes used in the studies on genetic domestication, to information and statistics on wolves in the west, particularly in Oregon. All of this research is relevant to the story and enriches it, and it serves as the time of writing voice--here is the wiser (and sadder) narrator who now knows quite a lot more about canines in general. The research is up to date, and the book includes footnotes and a bibliography (yay!) for those who want to learn more about the issues raised in the book, issues that should be of interest to anyone fascinated by canine behavior.
I suppose this book is a hybrid itself--part memoir, part thesis on canine behavior--but it is a book that blends its two parts seamlessly, and the book has much to say on canine and human behavior, and it makes a pretty powerful argument that wolf hybrids are, in most cases, a bad idea.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in canines, and also to readers of memoir, and those interested in contemporary nonfiction.
Like dog ownership, what happens between human and animal is often a result of the owner and the owner's choices. Many dogs would have had trouble with the lifestyle during those four years. I found it admirable that throughout this troubling four years in her life she pursued a successful academic path.
By exposing the plight of wolfdogs, Terrill has done a great service to them. And there will continue to be controversy. Recently I've the opportunity to spend time with Arctic wolves, perhaps bred by one breeders in the Southwest Terrill mentions. And listen to a wolf refuge manager about how he places wolfdogs in homes. Much information confirmed Terrill's views that owning a wolfdog is a serious gamble on the unknown.
She is doing important work. I look forward to more of her beautifully written and important words.
May Inyo's life save many another.
The story echoes the plot of the only other wolf hybrid owner I know. One day, his wolfdog didn't like having his toy taken, so he delivered a cold, calculating punishing bite to his owner requiring medical attention (broken bones included). I thought it was funny (just deserts) until I learned the poor thing had been put to sleep... the only logical conclusion in a house with children, the end.
The tragedy is not the stupid people who get bit, the tragedy is in the animal bred to die.
If anyone wants a wolf hybrid after reading this book, there is no hope for them