“If ever there was a perfect wolf, it was Twenty-One,” says Rick, using the wolf’s research-collar number as his name. “He was like a fictional character.So now you know where all our attitudes and expectations of heroes comes from: our wolfy past.
“Twice, I saw Twenty-One take on six attacking wolves from a rival pack — and rout them all,” Rick recalls. “I’d think, ‘A wolf can’t do what I am watching this wolf do.’ Watching him felt like seeing Bruce Lee fighting.”
Wolf territorial fights resemble human tribal warfare. Wolves often target the rival pack’s alphas, seemingly understanding that if they can rout or kill the experienced leaders, victory will be theirs.
Twenty-One distinguished himself in two ways: He never lost a fight, and he never killed a vanquished rival.
In wolf Twenty-One’s life there was a particular male, a sort of roving Casanova, a continual annoyance. He was strikingly good-looking, had a big personality, always doing something interesting. “The best single word is ‘charisma,’” says Rick. “Female wolves were happy to mate with him. People absolutely loved him. Women would take one look at him — they didn’t want you to say anything bad about him. His irresponsibility and infidelity; it didn’t matter.”
One day, Twenty-One discovered Casanova among his daughters. Twenty-One caught him and was biting him. Various pack members piled in, beating him up. “Casanova was big,” Rick says, “but he was a bad fighter.” Now he was totally overwhelmed and the pack was finally killing him.
“Suddenly Twenty-One steps back. Everything stops. The others are looking at Twenty-One as if saying, ‘Why has Dad stopped?’” Casanova jumps up and — runs away.
Casanova kept causing problems for Twenty-One. So, why doesn’t Batman just kill the Joker so he simply doesn’t have to keep dealing with him? It doesn’t make sense — until years later.
After Twenty-One’s death from age, Casanova became the model of a responsible alpha male. Though he’d been averse to fighting, Casanova died in a fight with a rival pack. But everyone in his own pack escaped — including grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Twenty-One.
The Perfect Wolf
Sunday, July 5, 2015
In honor of Sirius (the SF book I am working on):