Sunday, 18 November 2012


I have always been fascinated by wolves - and no this is not because of Jacob Black from the movie Twilight - for as long as I can remember I have been endeared to them. I think it started with the cartoon, Balto, if you remember it. It tells the true story of the Wolf-dog Balto who helped save children from the diphtheria epidemic in the 1925.

The story goes thus:
Its dogsled race day for the dogs in town with Balto is in the competition getting ready when he sees a young girl named Rosy and her pet, a female husky dog named Jenna. He is immediately smitten by Jenna, and when Rosy loses her hat to the wind, Balto outruns the sled team and retrieves the hat to show off. However, when he brings the hat back to Rosy, Rosy's dad pulls his daughter away from Balto, believing that he may be dangerous, like everyone else did.

The night after the race, Rosy and several other children fall ill. As Jenna worriedly watches through the hospital window, Balto appears and takes her to the underfloor area of the hospital, where they watch the doctor give the diagnosis — Rosy has diphtheria along with most children in town. A request is sent via telegram for the antitoxin but when sea and air routes fail it is then decided to take a sled team to a far away town to get the medicine.

After overcoming three near-catastrophes, Balto makes it back to Nome in time to save the children and the whole town which once shunned Balto gives him a hero's welcome.

How can you not fall in love with that as a child? Not to be disillusioned, wolves are deadly animals though they almost never attack humans. Wolves are considered one of the animal world's most fearsome natural villains. They do attack domestic animals, and countless wolves have been shot, trapped, and poisoned because of this tendency according to National Geographic.

However, like any other pet once tamed they are very loyal, protective and loving.

OK, so we know all about werewolves (or Lycans like I like to call them so I'm cool like that ;)) but did you know according to the Roman tradition, a wolf was responsible for the childhood survival of the future founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. The twin babies were ordered to be killed by their great uncle Amulius. The servant ordered to kill them, however, relented and placed the two on the banks of the Tiber river. The river, which was in flood, rose and gently carried the cradle and the twins downstream, where under the protection of the river deity Tiberinus, they would be adopted by a she-wolf known as Lupa in Latin, an animal sacred to Mars. As a consequence, the Italian Wolf is the national animal of the modern Italian Republic.(Thank you Wiki).

There have been bad legends about wolves being evil, like Fenrir. In old testament wolves are either agents of God sent to punish sinners, or agents of the Devil sent with God's blessing to harass true believers to test their faith. Even the Qur'an references wolves as devourers.

The legends surrounding Saint Francis of Assisi show him befriending a wolf. According to the Fioretti, the city of Gubbio was besieged by the Wolf of Gubbio, which devoured both livestock and men. Francis of Assisi, who was living in Gubbio at the time took pity on the townsfolk, and went up into the hills to find the wolf. Soon fear of the animal had caused all his companions to flee, but the saint pressed on and when he found the wolf he made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf to come to him and hurt no one. Miraculously the wolf closed his jaws and lay down at the feet of St. Francis. “Brother Wolf, you do much harm in these parts and you have done great evil…” said Francis. “All these people accuse you and curse you… But brother wolf, I would like to make peace between you and the people.” Then Francis led the wolf into the town, and surrounded by startled citizens he made a pact between them and the wolf. Because the wolf had “done evil out of hunger” the townsfolk were to feed the wolf regularly, and in return, the wolf would no longer prey upon them or their flocks. In this manner Gubbio was freed from the menace of the predator. Francis, ever the lover of animals, even made a pact on behalf of the town dogs, that they would not bother the wolf again.

The wolf scenes in the TV show Game of Thrones sealed my love for them once more and I am nursing the idea of having a pup :) Aren't they just adorable!!


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