To show how difficult it is to tell dogs and wolves apart, here’s an interesting story from Idaho.
Last week, some campers were wandering around the Idaho back country in search of a wolf pack, and they happened to come across what appeared to be a domestic dog puppy wandering around the woods.
Apparently, this puppy apparently was friendly enough for it to allow itself to be picked up, and they brought it home.
DNA tests were performed to determine its exact identity, and it turns out that this puppy is actually a wolf.
This puppy appears to be in the six-week-old range, and it was apparently okay with allowing people to pick it up.
This discovery alone should tell us that a commonly held assertion– and a major assumption of the Coppinger model for dog domestication– is false. Coppinger makes a big deal out of how wolf puppies that aren’t imprinted upon humans at a very early age– if memory serves, younger than three weeks of age– are impossible to handle.
This puppy shows that assumption to be false. It is clearly older than the very early date that Coppinger proposes, but it still allowed itself to be captured and brought into captivity. The pup appears to be nervous and afraid in the video, but it’s not cowering in the corner,like one would expect from an animal that was that deeply afraid of humans.
Of course, allowing oneself to be handled and being an appropriate pet are two quite different things.
It’s a good thing that Idaho authorities are trying to reunite this pup with its natal pack.
But this is going to be quite difficult. Wolves in Idaho have lots of reason to be afraid of people, and as the rest of the pack’s puppies mature, they will be wandering over their large territories in search of prey.
However, this case of mistaken identity shows that even somewhat more mature wolf pups can be handled and eventually socialized to people.
And thus, the “captured cub” hypothesis has a bit more merit to it than Coppinger claims.
So if you’re wandering around in wolf or even coyote territory and you see what appears to be a German shepherd-type puppy wandering around, it’s probably a good idea to leave it alone.