No media coverage on Oregon 7 for nearly three weeks now. Since his telemetry collar would inform the ODFW if there was a problem, and since they are compelled to provide updates to Journey’s vast public, we can only assume that no news is good news.
I took another trek up to the Hyatt Lake area, where Journey was last said to be, this time with Rhaja, daughter Megan’s Rhodesian Ridgeback. Rhaja accompanies me on many of these trips. She is a great dog to take hiking or snowshoeing, although she does try to walk on my snowshoes when tired of trudging through the deep snow. Otherwise, Rhaja is the ideal companion, she doesn’t wander, she’s there when I need her, and she agrees with everything I say. If only men were more like her!
While Rhaja runs ahead, flushing towhees from a small grove of trees, I wonder about the differences and similarities between dogs and wolves, especially in the minds of us humans. Most of us respect and appreciate dogs. And most of us feel the same about wolves, the ancestor of dogs. Yet, what is the mental mechanism that triggers some people to view wolves as enemies, animals to be conquered and destroyed, while the dog remains cherished?
Perhaps both extremes are alternate forms of anthropomorphism. Dogs are attributed the best of human characteristics, kindness, loyalty, love. Wolves earn this same reputation from some, but in the eyes of those who loathe them, wolves take on the most evil of human traits, savagery, wonton destruction, even revenge. They are blamed for having the same behaviors, such as being bloodthirsty and cruel, as the humans exhibit who seek to destroy them.
To understand both species, and to understand ourselves a little better as well, people need to not project our emotions, motives, thoughts, and actions onto animals. Not that animals are incapable of these traits, but when we expect them to behave like us we interject our judgment on them as well.
In my estimation, less harm occurs when animals are thought of in an altruistic manner than when they are determined to be evil. But objectivity from both sides allows for a species to be understood as it truly is. A wolf is a wild animal deserving of our protection from those who refuse to understand them. Dogs are simpler. They do what we say and strive for our attention, an easy sell in a world where some project their hostility on others, including wolves, instead of searching inside for the root of their pain.