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on January 4, 2012
I came across a reference to this book in The Whole Dog Journal, where it talked about the way the book takes on the outmoded notion of "alphas" in canine behavior. I was intrigued, so I got the free sample, zoomed through it, and then bought the whole book, which I ended up reading straight through all night and into the early hours of the morning.

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.
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on November 14, 2011
As a biologist specializing in canid behavior, and past owner of a 3/4 wolf hybrid who met a tragic end due to a mistake I made in his pen's security, I echo all of the previous reviewers' high praise for this remarkably personal story with universal relevance. The author is almost brutally honest, but never with any hint of self-pity or without empathy for all the humans and canids in her story. The science cleverly woven into the narrative is accurate and well presented, and the extensive footnotes and reference list lift this book well above the level of a mere personal story about one woman and one wolf hybrid. Today there is much more information readily available on keeping wolf hybrids than when the author adopted Inyo, naively accepting the completely inaccurate and inadequate guidance of the breeder. Her message is that good intentions, devotion, and "doing your best" to provide a proper life for these creatures ill-fitted to being either domestic or wild are often not enough to protect them from the consequences of what, by their natures, they have to be.

Janice Koler-Matznick, MS, ACAAB
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on August 19, 2012
The title describes Ms. Terrill as well as Inyo (at least during the time their lives were together). Her extreme adventures show her searching for wilderness experience outside the bounds of the ordinary. Telling her story as honestly as she did was exceedingly brave. To reveal your personal shortcomings is never easy and her choices with Inyo would have been different after her research.
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.
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on March 15, 2014
This story makes me want to smack the heck out of the author for her foolishness and tolerance of clearly destructuve behavior. Still, at the end, I was grieving the tragic end of her wolf hybrid whose aggression had grown intolerable.

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
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on February 1, 2012
There is no confession of past mistakes that invites harsher reaction than a confession of mistakes with animals. As a longtime follower of two dog-centered e-lists, I've observed how the critics can pile on. And yet anyone--and I mean ANYONE--who has loved, raised and trained companion animals has made mistakes, sometimes of such gravity that they caused suffering. Most often, the reason is simply ignorance which is often culture-wide. Science in the behavior of dogs has grown enormously since the days when we smacked a dog with a rolled-up newspaper or shoved his nose into a pile of poop. Even now, punishment-based theories linger on in outdated notions that dog owners must never allow their dogs to eat before they do, must never allow their dogs to pass through a doorway first, etc.

The difference between Ms. Terrill and so many other animal lovers is that she has been courageous enough to reveal her mistakes so that other people won't make the same ones. She didn't have to write this book. She didn't have to leave herself vulnerable to the condemnations of readers who may be accustomed to "heartwarming" animal stories. Not to say there's anything wrong with stories that make us feel good, but the hard stories have to be told too. Otherwise, how will the lives of animals ever be improved?

The author is no longer the naive young woman who wanted a wolfdog for all the wrong reasons. She did five years of investigative work to find out what had gone wrong in her relationship with Inyo, the wolfdog she had done everything possible to make a way for in this world. She learned--the hard way--and readers have a chance to learn right along with her.

The account of Terrill's journey with Inyo is by turns funny and sad--and always informative, with the latest scientific findings about wolves and dogs beautifully woven into the narrative. Once I started reading, I found Part Wild a hard book to put down--with some of the best nature writing I've read lately.

Lois Crisler, whose book Captive Wild seems to be a source of inspiration for wolfdog owners--why, I can't imagine-- ended up killing her animals with sleeping pills followed by a bullet to the head. Two of them had become dangerously aggressive, circling behind her and backing her into corners. And they'd become "inconvenient" too, as she and her husband were divorcing.

Barry Lopez, another writer with a book about keeping captive wolves, determined that he would never, never do it again. In the wild, wolves maintain ranges as large as 360 square miles; their natural drives are almost entirely frustrated by a life of confinement.

The wolfy part of Inyo could not bear confinement either. And that's the compelling lesson of this wonderful book: "To love wolves is to leave them wild." And that includes the wolfy spirit that inhabits every wolfdog too--though tragically, wolfdogs are NEVER suited to the wild and only rarely able to thrive in the world of humans. As the author says, they are "creatures of two worlds."
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on July 4, 2016
Don't let anyone tell you that this book isn't worth the read. It is one of the most powerful, elegant, beautifully written, and honestly spoken books I have ever come across. You may think you can guess the bottom line. But do not miss a single word in this carefully crafted argument to let the wild be wild. Heart-rending in its sincerity and love for Inyo, the wolf-dog. Spell-binding. Unforgettable.

May Inyo's life save many another.
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on October 8, 2012
Ceiridwyn, pronounced CARE-i-dwinn, escapes an abusive boyfriend who threatens to find and kill her wherever she goes. For protection and company, she decides to adopt a wolfdog, part wolf, part dog. When she brings Inyo home as a puppy, she is sweet and loving, but her wolfy ways soon cause troubles that make Marley of the famed book and movie look mellow. Meanwhile, the author's new boyfriend and soon-to-be husband is almost as difficult to control, and she has problems of her own. In this memoir, love story and study of wolves, dogs and wolfdogs, she takes us through the rocky years of life with Inyo and the inevitable conclusion. This is a beautiful book, skillfully written and so suspenseful that I abandoned work and sleep to finish it even though I didn't want to let it go.
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on March 11, 2015
Love this book so much i read it twice. This is such a great book. Excellent depiction of the love between a woman and a pet and nature/nurture. Truly tragic story But definitely a lesson as to why wild animals are wild animals for a reason.
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Terrill's writing is absolutely beautiful -- weaving in the poetic voice, the healing voice, and the voice of someone constantly growing in understanding. The layers of this book remind the reader how intricate life is. This was a hard book to put down because the reader sympathizes on the human level; she trusts the reader to plunge into the darkness with her. The details range from awe-inspiring to haunting.

I highly recommend this book for people wanting to know more about wolf culture. The literature she pulls in to support her story is solid. I also recommend this book for individuals who enjoy pristine, meaningful prose. I spent two reading this book, and every minute was worth it.
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on February 17, 2012
I found the book difficult to follow at times. The story jumps back & forth between the author's life with her wolf dog. Then jumps to scientific theories & facts. Possibly, this was intentional to catch the reader between the emotional aspects & factual aspects of the book. One is caught between the two worlds. The book was not what I thought it would be. It made me cry & educated me. I found myself going back through the chapters to find facts I found interesting. Not sure if enjoying it is what I would say & why I only gave a review of 4 stars. It is a good read for those that find wolves fascinating & dog present in their lives.
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