I suppose that I was born with wolves in my blood (my father was of Roman descent) if there were any credence to the legend of Romulus and Remus. For those of you who are not acquainted with the legend, it goes like this. Romulus and Remus were twin brothers who were abandoned as babies and put into a basket that was then placed into the Tiber River. When the basket was stranded at the side of the river, it was said that the twins were discovered by a she-wolf and the wolf nursed the babies.
When Romulus and Remus became adults, they decided to found a city in the same spot where they had been found by the she-wolf. After quarrelling over the site, Romulus killed his brother Remus and as the sole remaining founder of the city, he named it Rome. This legend is exactly that, a legend. Yet in the Piazza of the Campidoglio in Rome, at the top of a pillar, you will still find this statue.
Let me tell you about some interesting facts about wolves, and then we’ll talk about their domestic counterparts, our dogs. Wolves are 10 times more intelligent than the smartest dogs and are the largest of the dog family, with adult males weighing between 95-100 lbs. The jaw pressure of a wolf is two times the jaw pressure of a German Shepherd. They even resemble German Shepherds but their legs are longer, their feet are bigger and their fangs can grow up to 2” which makes it easy to rip apart their prey like deer or elk. They can see and smell a deer from more than a mile away. Wolves can eat up to 20 lbs at once but many die of starvation, (feast or famine), because of the lack of food in the wilderness. THASC artist Manfred Teller’s wolves in his painting are most likely arctic wolves which inhabit the far north. Adult wolves like these have the ability to adjust their body temperature to adapt to changes in the weather. In extreme cold weather, wolves can restrict the flow of blood to the skin to conserve heat. They have both a fur coat and a thick undercoat, and the overcoat is long and thick.
Most wolves are gray. Today about 50,000 gray wolves inhabit Canada, while Alaska has 10,000, and the rest of the United States has less than 1,300. They also live in China and Russia. Wolves spend 8-10 hours on the move and can run up to 35 mph. Let’s talk a bit about why wolves howl and their association with the moon. The truth is that wolves (Canis lupis) don’t howl at the moon. Scientists have found no correlation whatsoever, so then, what do they howl at? A wide range of theories has been identified: First, wolves pipe up a lot during the night because they are nocturnal. They howl to assemble their pack (wolves live and hunt in packs of about 6-10 animals), to greet each other, to identify their location, to attract a mate, to scare off enemies or simply howl when they wake up… like when we yawn in the morning, or simply because of the “lonesome wolf” cry. A compelling theory here is that howling reaches a peak in the winter months, during the time of courtship and breeding. This certainly seems to be the case in Teller’s “PEACEFUL NIGHT”.
So where does the moon come from? Some think that this whole moon-howling rumor stems from Native American art and mythology. For example, The Native American Seneca tribes believe that a wolf sung the moon into existence. And now we’ll talk about some of the differences between wolves and man’s best friend, the dog. The first thing you notice about a wolf is its piercing yellow eyes. Most dogs have brown eyes or sometimes blue. Wolves’ heads are larger because their brains are larger and therefore are more intelligent.. We know the dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf and dogs are seen in any place that is inhabited by people. Because dogs are domesticated, they have a weaker basic instinct to hunt. Wolves hunt in packs and have stronger molars than dogs, allowing them to rip open their prey’s throat or to crush large bones. Dogs need exercise like a daily walk. Wolves walk all day, every day. The paw of a dog is half the size of a wolf’s. Dogs are affectionate if taken care of, but wolves are wild animals and should not be bothered for affection. Dogs always live near humans, even if they are ownerless. Wolves love to live in packs away from civilization.
Last year about this time, I went to the Mohawk Trail up north and stopped in a souvenir shop. I was immediately drawn to a box with wolves painted on top. Since seeing the movie Dances with Wolves back in 1990, with Kevin Costner and that dear little wolf “Two Socks”, I have been fascinated with these mysterious animals and, with Hallowe’en coming around the corner, I still like to believe they are howling at the moon!
Have a great weekend and remember all of our greeting cards and pocket calendars are available for purchase at www.thasc.com
Two Socks & “Dances with Wolves”