Category: Animals

December 17, 2020 Off

Crying Wolf

By Tammy Schneider

The earliest memory he had of his mother was of her fangs; thick, elongated fangs that seemed as sharp and lethal as any knife. He hadn't been more than three years old at the time, but the image had remained imprinted in his mind, and never failed to evoke a certain amount of pride. He had hoped his fangs would become just as long and beautiful.

The only memory he had of his father was of him lying at the base of a broad, red buckeye, covered in blood.

Both of his parents had died before his sixth birthday, shot by huntsmen that had been tracking their activity for months. He couldn't recall much about what had taken place, but the clarity of one particular moment still haunted his dreams.

He remembered the blood gushing from the hole in his father's throat, his eyes wide and fearful as he grappled aimlessly for something that wasn't there.

He hadn't known what to do. But the loud snapping of a twig had triggered his survival instincts and injected his veins with adrenaline. And so he had turned and ran with his tail tucked firmly between his legs. When questioned by officials, he had pretended he hadn't seen anything and they'd put him and his little sister into the custody of their only living relative, grandfather Royce McMillan.

Perhaps he should have told the truth instead of internalizing the memory and feigning ignorance. But he couldn't allow them to find out about the family secret, or rather, curse. It was something he vaguely remembered vowing never to let slip, lest their entire pack be compromised. Regrettably someone had made the mishap for him, and tipped off the mercenaries, leading them straight for his family and taking away not only his parents, but uncles, aunts, and cousins as well. It had been a bloodbath that only he and his sister had escaped unscathed, physically at least.

The wind chimes hanging from the white, pergola rafters tinkled melodically as a breeze swept through the terrace. The sprawling, Verbena flowers positioned on either side colored the air with a light, teasing scent that lulled his senses, yet did nothing to abate the mild sense of despondency that seemed to always loom overhead.

Tyson sighed and looked out past the lavishly decorated veranda to the sizeable hills rolling majestically beyond the café. One of the things he loved about living here was the lack of urbaneness that polluted the rest of the East Coast. Bridgeport was a laid back suburb centered in the heart of the woodland just west of the Alleghany River.

An indescribable ache formed in the pit of his stomach.

God, what he would give to shed this human exterior and plunge into the forest at breakneck speed. His palms itched to feel the dew-slicked grass during a pre-dawn run; to bound past shrubberies and have the air pushing at him from all sides while vaulting over streams; to sprint so fast he couldn't separate sky from ground; to transcend to a realm of total oneness with nature.

But the impracticality of this human form denied him from everything except senses so dull it seemed as if his head had been submerged underwater. His olfactory system couldn't pick up anything but the muted smell of the blue rare, skirt steak on his plate. He could barely make out the pin stripes on the suit of a man that sat a couple of tables over to the left.

And Tyson definitely did not hear someone sneaking up on him. He jumped when a black case landed with a loud clank on the table and immediately turned to confront his provoker. The anger instantly drained from him when he saw the grinning form of his best friend and the only girl he'd ever loved.

"Jeez Ty, jumpy much?" Kim teased taking a seat.

Blushing, Tyson ducked his head and scratched his neck. "Um, I've had a stressful day," he said lamely, rejoining the table.

She rolled her eyes and stole one of his fries. "You're such a fraidy cat."

Tyson scowled at being compared to that particular animal. "Don't call me that." He hadn't realized how harshly it had come out until she gave him a weird look. He thought fast. "You know how much I hate those ugly things," he put on a mock pout, hoping that she'd take the bait.

The look gave way to a smile that sent his pulse into a frenzy. "I know. The first time you came to my house you flipped out when you saw my cats."

"Yeah, all seven of them. You're a regular hag in the making."

"Hey!" Kim kicked him from underneath the table. "My cats are great. Anyway, I brought your camera back." She gestured toward the black case. "Thanks for letting me borrow it."

"Don't mention it. How'd the shoot go?"

"Not too bad, though there was this one head shot I wanted to get from Casey. But she came down with the flu the day before yesterday and I haven't been able to get into touch with her. I'm actually on my way to her house to see if she's ok."

"Do you want to take the camera, just in case?"

"Really? The project is due in a couple, have you even started yet?"

"I can start tomorr-"

"No way," Kim cut him off, "you need to get started, asap. It took me forever to capture the right angle and the right amount of light and blah, blah, blah. How about after I stop by Case's I'll swing by your place and drop it off? I can even help you with some of the frames if you want."

Tyson's heart did a double back-flip. "That'd be cool," he said nonchalantly, trying not to seem too eager.

"You are amazing Ty." She leaned over and kissed his cheek. "You're going to make some lucky girl very happy someday."

I wish she were you. He forced a smile. "Considering the slump I've been for the past seventeen years, I doubt it."

"Don't worry. All we have to do is bring you out of that shell of yours and you'll be set." Kim stood and picked up the camera's case. "I'll see you in a few hours ok?"

"K." Tyson watched as she walked away, his thoughts unable to focus on anything but the words she'd just spoken. Could it be that she knew of his secret? Is that why she wanted him to shed his shell?

He brought his fingers to touch the place on his cheek where her lips had been not moments ago. Was she worth telling? And if so, what would her reaction be? Maybe the drive home would help clear his mind.

The twenty minute drive back to his grandfather's ranch didn't do anything but add on to his doubts. Tyson's head whirled with so many probabilities and possibilities and pros and cons that he didn't notice his name being called until looking up and seeing the frown on his grandfather's face. "Did you say something?" he asked setting his car keys on the glass table.

The old man's frown only deepened. "Where've you been?"

"I only went into town, Royce," Tyson responded pulling out a glass from one of the cabinets.

Royce's expression eased as he leaned back in the chair. "Have you taken your medication today?"

Tyson let out a loud, irritant sigh. "Not yet."

"Make sure you do so," he said gruffly. "We wouldn't want to you to have another relapse."

Tyson clenched his teeth, his hold tightening on the glass. "Don't call it that."

"That's what it is boy," he said softly.

Tyson curbed the rising urge to growl. It rolled up from his diaphragm and settled beneath his ribcage, its source a growing presence from the depths of his being. The old man didn't know what he was talking about. He wasn't of his bloodline. He was only a human. He would never understand…

Tyson relaxed his grip and began filling the glass with water. "Where are they?"

"Above the toaster on the right."

He opened the cupboard and reached for the plastic container. An unnamed emotion constricted in his chest. Again, he would be suppressing his very nature, collaring it with magic and medicine to make sure It would never escape. Tyson could hear Its agitated pacing along the edge of his psyche with glaring clarity, down the steady click, click, click of Its claws hitting the invisible cage floor.

He winced when Royce whistled, the normally low-key sound resonating at such a pitch that it bordered on painful. A second later a large, black wolf-like animal trotted into the back door that he'd forgotten to close.

"Can you not whistle at her like she's some fucking dog?" Tyson glared at his grandfather and crouched down to scratch the animal behind her ears.

"Watch your tone with me boy," he said, his tone as hard as his steely, gray eyes.

He swallowed another retort, and merely bowed his head, silently conceding to the elder's authority.

"Besides she's just a…" Royce trailed off at the sharp glance his grandson sent him. Releasing a loud breath he struggled to his feet and shifted the majority of his weight onto a crutch. "Just take the damn pills."

"I will." Tyson watched the older male warily as he hobbled out of the kitchen. He wouldn't be doing too much more of that in a while. "So Reesa, what have you been up to?" he addressed his sister.

With a bushy tail that extended as far as his arm wagging furiously behind her, the huge, wolf-like creature grinned at him and slathered his face in a series of sisterly licks/kisses. "Aw I missed you too." Tyson planted a kiss of his own on her snout.

Although Reesa acted like an older, more matronly pack figure, she was actually a couple of years younger than he. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you looked at it, Reesa was unable to transform back into a human since she had gone so long in her wolf form. No amount of magic would be able to pull her back, not that she was complaining.

"So what do you think Reese? Should I let Kim know what I really am? What we really are? What if she calls me a freak?"

She snorted and shook her head.

Tyson laughed. "I know, I know bad choice of words. We're way cooler than freaks." His grin faded. "But I suppose I'll have to show her my true self. Only then will I be able to determine if she's truly worthy to become my mate. Who knows, maybe you'll become an aunt sooner than later." He ruffled her mane. "Come on and lets go make the rounds."

Feeling Its approval, Tyson walked out of the kitchen with his sister and left the container of pills untouched on the counter.
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Kim squinted as she turned onto the dirt path that hopefully led to the ranch and prayed that this was the right driveway. She'd lived in Bridgeport for ten years and had yet to learn of the thousands of concealed, dirt roads that were all the rage in West Virginia.

"So I did get it right this time," she murmured recognizing the McMillan Ranch sign suspended above one of the wooden posts.

Kim pulled up in front of the two level Victorian house and cut the engine. "Hey McMillan! Get your ass out here so we can do some work!" she yelled stepping out of the car. This place was entirely too big for her to go searching for him; that and she loved pissing off his ill-tempered grandfather.

She waited for Tyson's response or Royce's customary "shut the hell up", but neither came. Frowning, Kim closed the Firebird's door and looked around, becoming aware of the lack of activity on the ranch. For the first time, she noticed the absence of horses grazing in the front. Usually Tyson didn't take them in until dusk.

"Ty? Royce?"

Kim turned and almost ran into a freakishly large wolf-dog. "Reesa are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

Reesa cocked her head to the side for a second before padding toward the wooded area off to the right of the house, then stopped and looked back when she noticed the girl wasn't following. "What? Do you want me to follow you Lassie? Is Timmy in trouble?" Despite her reservations and against her better judgment, Kim followed.

Like the ranch, the forest was equally silent in a way that called the hairs on her arm to attention. Her intuition warned her against going any further, that something was obviously off and no good would come of this venture.

Reesa emitted an animated yip and bounded eagerly through a dense thicket.

"Reesa, I swear," she huffed pushing away thick, thorny branches, "if I get mauled by a mountain lion, you and I are going to…" Kim froze mid-movement. "Oh my god."

They were both fighting over a mangled hare, growling and pushing and shoving for the spoils. Its intestines were hanging comically from its open belly and coated in filth from being dragged along the dirt. Kim coughed and clamped a hand over her mouth to keep the bile pushing into her throat from escaping.

The cough attracted their attention, momentarily putting an end to their game. Releasing her end, Reesa trotted to the small heap of organs that had fallen out and began gulping down the remains. He picked up the hare, proudly ambled over toward Kim, and dropped it in front of her.

She backed up slowly in frozen shock/horror/revulsion until her back met the trunk of a tree. Appearing confused and annoyed, he picked it up and came closer before dropping it on top of her foot.

Shrieking, Kim kicked, intending to fling the dead rabbit away, but somehow ended up smacking him in the process. He reared up and howled in pain. She bit her lip, torn between seeing if he was ok and running for her life.

All traces of affability disappeared. He snarled, baring teeth that he didn't seem to be afraid of using. Kim took the hint and bolted into the thicket. A high pitched wolf cry echoed throughout the noiseless forest and caused her to stumble over a fallen log. Swearing, she pressed on, her panic mounting when she heard his heavy panting behind her.

With a renewed burst of energy, Kim picked up the pace and cried in relief when see saw the house up ahead. She was almost there. But a scream tore from lungs before she could reach the break. He lunged onto her back, knocking her flat on the ground. She flailed desperately, and tried to use her hands to shove him away.

Enraged, he clamped his teeth onto her bicep and began dragging her deeper into the woods. Kim screamed, feeling the warmth of her own blood trickle down her arm.

All of a sudden, his efforts stilled and he slumped on top of her as if passed out. Sobbing, she pried her arm from his mouth, rolled him away, and stood quickly on shaky legs.

"Are you ok?" Tears blurred the form of her savior, but she could tell who it was by his hobble and his gruff voice.

"I'm fine now." She pressed a hand over her wound to stop the bleeding.

Royce set the tranquilizer rifle down and stared at the unconscious body of his grandson. "It wasn't supposed to be like this," the old man said tiredly.

"I knew something was wrong when I saw him, playing with her, playing with her like he was an animal," Kim shivered and hugged herself. "I mean, he was naked, and his mouth was covered in, in, in rabbit gore, like he'd been eating it, raw. I think he was eating it." She took a moment to collect herself. "What was wrong with him?"

"I told that idiot to make sure he took those pills every day," he muttered mopping the sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt.

"Royce?"

"What?" His head snapped towards her abruptly as if he'd forgotten she was standing there. "Oh. It's a form of schizophrenia; makes you see and believe in things that don't exist. He's had it since childhood. Guess I can't blame him after what he saw."

"What'd he see?"

He looked at her as if it were the obvious of answers. "His mother had the same illness. She thought she was a lycan, a werewolf. It got to the point where she would eat nothing but uncooked meat. During that time the medicine Tyson uses didn't exist. My son tried his hardest to help her, but she didn't want to be helped and in the end, tore out his throat," he said bitterly.

Kim gasped. "Oh my god. And Ty saw?"

Royce nodded grimly. "I believed him when he told me he hadn't seen anything. It wasn't until he reached age ten and began howling at every full moon that I knew something had triggered it. So I brought him to a psychologist and they prescribed him the Trilafon pills, a type of anti-psychotic medication." He picked up the gun. "Come on, lets get back. The authorities are on their way as we speak." Royce crouched down to pick Tyson up.

Reesa leapt in front of the boy's body and snapped at the old man until he backed off, her lips curling and a growl vibrating from her throat.

Royce scowled. "Fine, you can protect him for now, but after they put him away, I'll have animal control take you too."

Reesa's growl deepened and her hackles rose.

Sending the animal a resentful glare, Royce took hold of Kim's arm and guided her back to the ranch. "Lets head back. The asylum officials will be here to collect him soon."…

August 30, 2020 Off

How to Decide Whether to Board Your Horse or Keep Him at Home

By Tammy Schneider

Most horse lovers imagine looking out the window on a beautiful sunny day to see their happy horse grazing luxuriously in his pasture. There are some really big advantages to having your horse at home, but the reality involves a lot of work and expense.

Stabling Your horse at Home

When making the decision to board or stable your horse at home, you must first consider your lifestyle and how much time you have to dedicate to your horse and his care. Having a horse at home is a huge commitment. Beyond maintaining a feeding schedule, there is cleaning, maintenance, ordering and receiving feed and supplies, and scheduling and holding your horse for the vet and shoer. Horses are herd animals. They do not do well stabled alone.

 

In order to ride at home there must be an area that is safe and has suitable footing. In many climates a covered or indoor ring is necessary for protection from the weather. Unless you live next to places to ride, you will want to travel with your horse, which means buying a truck and trailer.

The benefits to keeping your horse at home (besides the obvious romantic ones) are that the work involved feels very rewarding, and you can monitor precisely what your horse is eating and the status of his health. This requires some education and if you don’t have much experience, be prepared to do some reading and enlist the help of people with more knowledge. Another advantage is that you can become more familiar with your horse’s daily and seasonal behavior, and learn about horse culture through direct observation and interaction.

Myth: It’s Cheaper to Have My Horse at Home

While it is true that you have some flexibility in how and when to spend money on your horses’ care when he is at home, it not cheap. By the time land is purchased, and fences, shelter, and storage areas are built, your initial investment is considerable. Other costs to consider are: on-going maintenance from notoriously destructive animals, dealing with mud and other climate related issues, pasture management, and horse care when you are away from home.

Myth: More Time With My Horse

Having your horse at home means more time spent caring for your horse and his environment, but most often less time in the saddle. Unless you are fortunate enough to be able to hire help and build a suitable riding area, people who board their horses spend more time actually riding. Boarders also have a ready supply of riding buddies, which makes recreational riding more fun and can provide horse owners with more opportunities to participate in different activities. They often have on-site access to lessons and training which can really improve your relationship and success with your horse.

The Bottom Line

If you have access to a professional and reasonably priced stable and you have one or two horses, it is probably the best choice. But if your interest is in having an occasional ride and you most enjoy caring for your horse and his home, build a big window so you can really enjoy the view!…

January 9, 2020 Off

Flemish Horses & Cydesdales: Flemish Draft Horses are the Forebears of Shire Horses

By Tammy Schneider

Bred initially as the heavy horses of Medieval knights, Flemish draft horses are large and strong, but capable of some degree of agility and grace as well. There is a little Arabian blood in the Flemish draft horse, but is a mostly cold blooded breed native to Northern Europe. Large boned powerful horses have been known to be native to Northern Europe since the time of Caesar. Belgian draft horses are a related later breed, but the Flemish breed was the peak of Medieval military breeding, also commonly referred to as the “Great Horse.” They were highly prized in the 15th Century, and were known for their black color. At the height of chivalry and jousting English Kings were known to have a preference for Black Flemish Great Horses, and they imported them in large enough numbers that they became the basis for The British “Shire” draft horse breed. When crossbows and gunpowder combined to make the armored knight obsolete these large strong impressive animals were put to work pulling wagons and ploughs.

In the late 17th Century a Scottish nobleman in the Clyde Valley imported new Flemish stock, and bred them with Shires and other local stock to produce the distinctive Clydesdale breed. The combination of these horses produced two great stallions the offspring of which were then interbred to cement this distinctive breed. Like many of their predecessors Clydesdales are known for their amiability and willingness to work. Scottish Clydesdales were of a variety of colors and included dapples and other random colorings, but they all had the large hoof and the “feather” of hair above the hoof that the breed is so well known for.

The uniform color and four white “socks” and white facial blaze of the American Clydesdale is a later breeding preference, and is American in origin. Besides being an American ideal imposed on several breeds, this adaptation results also from their use as advertising promotional tools by several companies that had a preference for a uniform appearance in their teams. In the age of mechanization when they were no longer as highly prized for their horsepower Clydesdales survived and continued to be refined because of their grace, beauty, and style.

In many places draft horse breeds which had been in decline are now in resurgence, even the Clydesdale was listed as an “at risk” breed in the mid 20th century, but organic farming, and hobby breeding have given this and other breeds new life. Besides their days of military glory these breeds also hold an important place in transportation history as the pullers of heavy wagons, barges on canals, mine rail wagons, and numerous other tasks.…

October 13, 2019 Off

Red Wolf Facts

By Tammy Schneider

Red wolves, canis rufus, are one of two species of wolves in the whole world with the other being the grey wolf. They are 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters) in length and stand about 26 inches (66 centimeters) tall at the shoulders. They are more slender than their grey wolf relatives and weigh about 40 to 90 pounds (18 to 41 kilograms). They have large ears for the size of their head, which they use to cool down whenever it is hot and/or humid. Red wolves got their name because of the red fur found behind their ears as well as along their neck and legs.

Red Wolves are only found in North America, specifically North Carolina (United States). They live in dens that are usually located in stream banks, sand knolls and hollow trees. They are active during the night and will rest during the day. Red wolves will either hunt alone or in packs, which usually consists of a breeding adult pair and their offspring. They are able to communicate with one another through body posture, scent marking, vocalizations (which includes howling) and even facial expressions.

The diet of red wolves consists primarily of small mammals like hares, raccoons, birds, rats, and other rodents. They will also eat things like insects and berries should the opportunity present itself. When hunting in a pack, Red wolves have even been known to take down and eat a deer. They do this by carefully using the members of the pack to confuse and put the prey in a corner where they take the deer down.

Red Wolves begin to breed during the late winter months of February and March. Females have a gestation period of around 60 to 63 days. They give birth to anywhere from 1 to 10 pups. Red wolf pups are blind at birth and are nursed by the pack until they are able to hunt for themselves. When they get old enough, they will either remain with their parents or leave to start their own pack.

Not too long ago, red wolves were once labeled extinct in the wild with all known individuals (about 17) put in captivity to try and repopulate the species. Thankfully, such measures have been somewhat successful and in 1987, some individuals were reintroduced into the wild. As of 2007, there are more than 100 red wolves in the wild and around 207 captive ones in breeding facilities across the United States. The wild ones roam an area of more than 1.7 million acres throughout northeastern North Carolina. Hopefully, continued effort can bring the red wolf back from the brink of extinction. After all, such a unique creature deserves to live for many years to come.

Works Cited

"Red Wolf" 26 November 2010

"Red Wolf" 26 November 2010

"Red Wolf Facts" 26 November 2010

"Red Wolf" 26 November 2010…

August 6, 2019 Off

How to Create Horse Arts

By Tammy Schneider

Most children love horses. You can turn this fascination with horses into craft projects for the entire family. Children can learn how to make horse jewelry, stuffed animals or clothespin horses. Most of these crafts are inexpensive and easy to learn. Pick a project that is appropriate for your child’s age.

Horse Pin

Create horse pins by using the thin, colored foam or cork material available at most craft stores. Purchase either stencils or cookie cutters in the shape of horses. Try to get a variety with some showing galloping horses or horses in a jumping position. This will give your child more to choose from.

Purchase decorative items like sequins, buttons or jewels to glue onto the foam, along with a pin back. Using the stencils or the cookie cutter, allow your child to trace the image onto the foam. When done, cut out the horse. Let your child decorate her horse with markers or the decorative items. When she is finished, allow it to dry. Glue the pin back onto the foam.

Clothespin Horse

This craft is recommended for older children, preferably age 6 and up. Paint three clothespins. Two sections will be the legs so your child may want to add hooves to the feet. Let dry. Glue the two clothespins with the hooves sections on the bottom together so that the leg sections are pointed downward. Glue the other pin to the front of the horse’s body, so that it faces in the opposite direction of the other two pins. This will give it a little distinction from the rest of the body and make it look like ears.

Let dry. Add yarn as hair, wiggle eyes and felt for the nose. Your child can also add additional decorations if he wishes. Just a warning with this craft, the ears will be as long as the clothespin. Parents may want to cut down the size of the ears if they feel like they do not look right.

Horse Stuffed Animal

This project is recommended for older children since there will be sewing involved. Either buy a pattern or use a coloring book page as a guide. Lightly punch holes through the page until it creates a light marks on the material. Using a cloth marker or pen, connect the marks until they re-create the pattern. Cut out the pattern. You will have to do this twice to create either side of the horse.

Line up your pattern and use pins to hold it together. Either hand-sew or use a sewing machine to sew the two pieces together. Match up the pattern so that the sections correspond, i.e. ears to ears, hooves to hooves, etc. Whatever section will eventually become the outside will be on inside. Sew the material together, but leave one 4- to 5-inch side open. Flip the material inside out. Allow your child to decorate the outside of the horse with markers or jewels. Once done, stuff it with some filling cotton. Sew the rest of the horse together.…

August 5, 2019 Off

The Gray Wolf

By Tammy Schneider

The wolf. Canis lupis. Oftentimes the center of legends and myths as the 'big bad', wolves have gotten a bad rap, which they do not deserve at all. But no matter your opinion on the wolf, everyone has heard of them and many of us live with their descendents: the domesticated dog, the closest resemblance of which is shared between German shepherds and malamutes.

After being hunted nearly to extinction on false claims and completely inaccurate portrayals, the gray wolf is making a comeback in the Great Lakes area, the Northern Rockies and southwestern United States, to name a few places.

And let's not forget to mention that they have also survived the ice age. The wolf is a tough, intelligent predator that can be found all over the world.

General Description
The gray wolf is a large, highly intelligent carnivore (meaning that they are meat-eating predators) that lives in a pack society. They, contrary to their name, can come in many colors, including solid white, black, cinnamon, brown, gray and combinations of those. At the shoulder wolves generally range from 26-32 inches tall or .7-.8 meters, and from nose tip to the end of the tall, they average 4.5-6.5 feet or 1.4-2 meters. In terms of weight, most wolves fall somewhere between 55-130 pounds or 25-59 kilograms. In general, male wolves are bigger than the females in terms of weight and height.

But that doesn't mean they can't be larger than that. The biggest gray wolf ever recorded in North America weighed in at a 170 pounds or 79 kilograms and was killed in east-central Alaska on July 12, 1939. The heaviest wolf recorded in Eurasia was killed in the Kobelyakski Area of the Poltavskij Region, Ukrainian SSR. It weighed 190 pounds or 86 kilograms.

The farther north a wolf pack is, the larger the members tend to be, and reversely so in the south (the farther south, the smaller), as is true of most animals.

Lifespan
In the wild, wolves typically live between eight and ten years of age. However, it is not unusual for wolves of around thirteen years of age to be seen in the wild.

In captivity, the oldest wolf lived to be seventeen years old.

Diet
Wolves are primarily carnivores, which means that they eat meat and are hunters. Although, they never pass up a free meal, making them scavengers. If another animal has died of sickness, old age, or for some other reason, a wolf won't hesitate to eat it.

Their usual diet consists generally of ungulates (animals with hooves), such as deer, elk, caribou, etc. These animals are hard to kill, however, and wolves will eat anything they can catch and kill, including beavers, squirrels, mice, rabbits, birds, and even fish.

In the truest sense of labeling a wolf's diet, one should call them an omnivore, as most wolves will eat anything they can catch and kill or find. This includes vegetables and fruit, particularly berries.

Unlike some animals, wolves never cannibalize their own young; however, they have been known to eat adults of their species in harsh winters and times of starvation, generally those that have died or are too weak to live. It should be noted that should they eat a wolf, it is generally a wolf not belonging to their pack.

Wolves hunt in groups (their packs) and generally hunt cooperatively to bring down large animals, which are dangerous to the wolves. They have been known, however, to kill animals such as bull moose and elk in an one wolf hunt. This not the norm though.

Gray wolves rarely attack anything that they do not intend to eat, which is why there are so few incidences of wolf attacks on humans. However, wolves are wild animals and are known to attack out of fear or self-defense. They should never be treated as one would treat their pet dog.

Habitat
Gray wolves can survive in many different places as long as there is sufficient food and the climate is closer to cold than warm. An example of one of the habitats best suited to wolves is the Siberian Taiga, a boreal forest with long, (very) cold winters and shorter summers. It is located in Russia where wolves have the greatest numbers.

In addition to this, all wolf packs defend a territory, which varies greatly in size due to many factors. These include pack size, number of wolves in the area, the density of prey in the territory, etc.

Once common throughout North America, most were killed off in the mid-1930s, resulting in a much reduced range that includes: Canada, Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In 1995 wolves were reintroduced to the United States, and Yellowstone National Park is now one of the most favored places to see a wolf in its natural, wild habitat.

Classification
All animals have a classification and wolves are no different. They are classified in the following way:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canida
Subfamily: Caninae
Genus: Canis
Species: lupus

And all that basically means that wolves are animals who also happen to have a spine, are warmblooded, eat meat, and are mammals of the canine family.

Gestation and Pups
A wolf reaches sexually maturity at the age of one for females (though they never mate in the wild until the age of two) and the age of two for males. Usually the alpha male and female are the mating pair.

Wolves mate once a year between the months of January and March. The female has a gestation (or is pregnant for) approximately 60-63 days. The average litter is around four to six pups, but it can be smaller or much larger, depending on how harsh the winter is and how available food is. Litters of up to seventeen pups have been recorded. These are rare.

Pups are born in a den and are completely reliant on their mother and their pack. They are born defenseless, deaf, and blind, and weigh about one pound. They stay in the den for about two months, leaving occasionally to play outside after about the first month, and the mother takes care of them. She is brought food by other members of the pack, usually the father. During this time, the puppies eyes change from the blue of pups to the golden yellow-brown color of an adult and they gain sight and hearing. Their eyesight begins to develop around nine to twelve days after birth. They begin the process of eating solid food about one month after birth.

Most of puppies growth occurs in the first fourth months. During this time they may grow up to thirty times their birth weight.

Wolves are monogamous, meaning that they mate for life. If one half of the pair dies, the wolf will find a new partner. They are not incestuous.

Older females will generally give birth in the den they gave birth to their last litter in while younger females will tend to make their dens near their own birthplace.

Behavior
Wolf behavior is so complex that it could take several articles just to explain. For brevity's sake, it can be condensed into the basics.

Wolves are very similar to dogs in their behavior. They live in pack structures (compare this to your family) headed up by the alpha male and female (mom and dad). It consists of their current litter, pups and younger members of previous litters (siblings), and other subordinates (grandpa, grandma, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.) Depending on territory size and food availability, the pack size varies. A pack averagely consists of four to seven members, but packs of up to thirty-six animals have been recorded.

They develop intense bonds with each other and are very family-oriented. The entire family pitches in to feed and protect pups, and they are known to help provide for their elderly members who are unable to hunt as well as they used to.

After a kill, the alpha male and female eat first, and then the rest of the pack, depending on rank. They will eat the same kill until it is gone.

Wolves spend their entire lives working – and playing – together. This results in a tight-knit family who follows orders very effectively. Wolves enjoy such games as you might see your pets playing, including 'tag', 'fetch' and wrestling with one another, even as adults. As pups, this is an important part of growing up. It teaches coordination, strengthens the muscles, and helps them when they are old enough to hunt.

They are highly territorial, clearly marking their boundaries and challenging any trespassers. They are often very dangerous and aggressive toward members that are not part of their pack and other animals, such as bears or foxes, that encroach upon their kill or pups.

Communication
Wolves have a complex communication system comprised of many vocals and a lot of body language. While it is true that wolves howl, they do not howl at the moon; however, on a lighter night, they will howl more often, giving the impression of howling at the moon. They also bark, whine, whimper, growl, and make other vocal communications.

Body language is perhaps more communicative than their vocals. They use it to coordinate hunts, show affection, and to show respect, as well as communicate in general. A subordinate wolf will fold its ears back and tuck its tail in between its legs to show submission. They may even lay down and roll over, exposing their stomach to their alpha, whereas alphas carry their tail high and keep their ears up to show their dominance.

An aggressive wolf will also have its tail raised and its fur standing on end to make it look bigger than it is with its teeth bared.

A wolf that wants to play will act just like your dog when it wants to play: by thumping its front paws on the ground and wriggling its rump in the air, bouncing around you excitedly.

Wolf communications can be very much so correlated to that of the domesticated dog.

Domestication
Wolves have been domesticated. They are called dogs now. Or canis lupus familiaris.

The dog was domesticated 15,000 years ago, though some studies suggest that they branched away from wolves even sooner than that.

Domesticated wolves, unlike dogs, respond much better to hand signals and positive reinforcement rather than voice commands and the threat of punishment if they misbehave.

Status as a Species
Wolves are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) throughout the United States, excluding Idaho, Montana, and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. In Minnesota, they are only listed as threatened, and in Alaska, they are not listed at all.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the northern Rockies gray wolf on May 4, 2009, from the endangered list. That means up to two-thirds of the wolf population in that region can be killed. Of the approximately 1600 wolves there that would leave only 450 wolves approximately. Many are against this. For instance, the Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation groups are actively taking part against it. For more information, see this website.

Threats
The biggest threat to wolves is humans. In the wild, they have no real natural predators and more often killed by their pray or starvation than other predators – except humans.

One of the biggest problems is humans lack of understanding of these creatures and a deep, misguided fear of them.

Another problem is human encroachment into their territory, which leads to even more fear and the possibility of wolves eating livestock. This occurs because, a)humans take or scare their food off; b)livestock is easy prey and is often improperly guarded against wolves; and c)wolves only understand their own territorial boundaries and if the livestock is on their territory, it is, in their minds, free game. There are solutions to keeping wolves from attacking livestock that do not involve shooting the animals, such as proper fencing, dogs of the shepherd variety, and keeping dead, sick and dying animals away from the others.

SOURCES
"Gray Wolf – Canis Lupus – Defenders of Wildlife." Defenders of Wildlife – Protection of Endangered Species, Imperiled Species, Habitats. Web. 06 July 2010. http://www.defenders.org/wildlife_and_habitat/wildlife/wolf,_gray.php>.

"Gray Wolf – Canis Lupus." Blue Planet Biomes. Web. 06 July 2010. .

"Gray Wolf." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 06 July 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_Wolf>.…

July 1, 2019 Off

Wolf

By Tammy Schneider

He prowls through the night
With a determination only seen in a rebel
He stealthily stalks his prey through the dark forest
Being as quiet as possible
The deer calmly continues to eat the grass before her
As if nothing in the world could go wrong
That she was safe from all harm
Or dreaming as though evil never existed in its shadowy form

The wolf pries closer still
Attracted to the warm scent of fresh meat
As it seeps off from the doe
And is blown around by the slight breeze
The deer snaps her head up and lays her ears back
Her heart pounds fiercely from the perception of fear
Alert to a threatening presence
She gracefully leaps into the air
Out of urgent need to save her life

The wolf out of hunger and desperation for food
Makes his move
Not caring now about the noise he makes
He quickly joins in on the game of chase
Growling and snarling with intimidation
The deer is too late in her movements of survival
As the wolf viciously attacks
Tearing open the flesh of her neck
Spilling sticky blood on the green grass of the forest floor

Once the struggle is over
A great feast will begin
The wolf will win…
The wolf has won…

March 15, 2019 Off

The Babylonian King Writes to Akhenaten: Burnaburiash Requests a Menagerie and a Proper Escort for a Bride

By Tammy Schneider

A Diplomatic Marriage Negotiation is Finalized.

For some time the Babylonian King, Burnaburiash (ca. 1359-1333 B.C.E.), had been corresponding with his royal counterpart in Egypt, the Pharaoh Amenhotep III (ca. 1353 B.C.E.). Following the death of the pharaoh, Burnaburiash began a new relationship with his son, Amenhotep IV (ca.1353-1335 B.C.E.), who would soon change his name to Akhenaten. Records of this correspondence, known as the Amarna Letters, detail the final phases of a diplomatic marriage alliance between the two great kingdoms that had taken years to negotiate.

Burnaburiash begins Amarna Letter 10 (EA 10) with a standard greeting, but then breaks from the format he had displayed in earlier letters. The Babylonian King recalls a past relationship with Egypt, dating back to the founder of the Kassite Dynasty, Karaindash (ca.1415 B.C.E.), an ancestor now four generations removed. However, in the earlier EA 9 letter, for example, references harkening back only two generations had sufficed to validate the Babylonian Kings point.

Burnaburiash Asks for Carved Animals from Egypt

Despite the long standing relationship between the two powers, by the time of Letter 10 messengers had traveled between the kingdoms three times without an exchange of customary “greeting gifts.” To make matters worse, the last time gold was sent from Egypt it’s quality was so poor that it was almost unrecognizable as gold. Nevertheless, in this letter Burnaburiash appears ready to dismiss these transgressions, as long as his new requests are met.

After a break in the tablet, the text resumes with Burnaburiash's request for carved animals. "These can be either land animals or aquatic", he states. He goes on to tell Akhenaten that these carvings must be lifelike renderings. The King tells the Pharaoh that if there are no carvings available, then the finest craftsmen should be put to work right away, and if any are available then they are to be hurried to Babylonia without delay.

When this request is combined with a request for carved plant life that Burnaburiash makes in a later letter, Amarna Letter 11, it becomes conceivable that Burnaburiash was constructing a menagerie in Babylon. Scholars have formed no conclusions as to what the purpose of this collection of carved animals and plants could have been. However, it is possible that the Babylonian King was using these objects to gain further understanding of the Egyptian lands, or perhaps simply to enhance his own prestige.

The Death of a Queen and a Princess

Burnaburiash also sends along with his request for carved animals in EA 10 with a “greeting gift” for the Pharaoh. In an interesting twist the Babylonian King, who had at one time sought an Egyptian bride, makes a special gift to the princess Meritaten, one of Akhenaten’s daughters by Nefertiti. This unique gift is described as a necklace made of 1,048 “cricket-sized” gems of lapis-lazuli. Burnaburiash continues with a subtle reminder that neighboring kings may take notice if the amount of gold sent out of Egypt does not increase.

It is evident from the ancient texts that when Burnaburiash wrote again, in EA 11, much has transpired. The powerful wife of Amenhotep III, Queen Tiye, had died. Tiye had outlived her husband and moved with her son, Akhenaten, as he set out to build a new city named Akhetaten, at the site now know as Tell el Amarna. There are also indications that a Babylonian Princess, who was to be sent to Egypt to wed the pharaoh, had died in a plague. Fortunately another princess was available to be sent, and and the letter tells us that preparations were being made for this in Babylonia.

Waiting for More Troops in Babylonia

The Babylonian king wrote that several diplomats had already arrived from Egypt and had proceeded to ritually anoint the princess with oil, as was part of the official betrothal process. Yet Burnaburiash was concerned. The official who was to provide the escort, a man named Haya, who may actually be the future Pharaoh Ay (ca. 1322-1318 B.C.E.), only had a force of 5 chariots with him. The last time a bride had been sent to Egypt, an escort of 3,000 soldiers had been provided. Now, a mere 5 chariots was deemed by the King to be wholly inadequate. Burnaburiash also insisted that Haya had to be the one to take the princess to Egypt, and that he would remain in Babylon and await the arrival of more troops.

The complications over transporting the princess are eventually resolved and a large dowry is sent along with her to Egypt.Once again the diplomatic ties between Egypt and Babylon are strengthened by this marriage alliance between Akhenaten and the Babylonian Princess. Unfortunately, In a little more than a decade, Burnaburiash’s Babylonia would become consumed with affairs in Mesopotamia while Egypt would face a total war against the Hittites. These events would forever change the balance of power in the Near East and the alliance between the Pharaohs and the Kassite Kings would eventually fade into the past.

 …

March 1, 2019 Off

Wolf's Secret with the Moon

By Tammy Schneider

Oh keen wolf howling at the moon
Are you in a rage
That the night ends to soon?

Or is it a valiant battle cry?
Leading your kin
To their doom?

Tell me great wolf what could you say?
When your instincts are to kill
Destroy and consume?

Perhaps it's your sabre
That you rattle
From the womb?

Or maybe you're lost deep
In the
Shadows tomb?

So sly wolf be it a tale?
Woven intricate
From a clever loom?

Words of your fore fathers
Or some
Other heirloom?

They must be transmissions cloaked
As clever
As you please

The wolf did I admire

From behind this great oak tree
Draped in a calm breeze
Thoughts ventured illumination
Query's solution became clear to me

The wolf howls because it is free
The wolf howls so it can be…

September 30, 2018 Off

Wolf!

By Tammy Schneider

Wolf!

So you thought I would play,
And then I would pay.
Maybe you also thought,
I am some kind of fool,
And you are just too cool.
Well this is a small world after all.
And when there’s a wolf in our midst,
There does arise a panicked call!
Me I don’t panic, not anymore.
I go and get me my wolf gun,

 

What is it to assassinate just one more.
Don’t you get it? You’re the fool,
And we will track you down,
And snare you with your falsehoods,
And kill you, not so softly,
With your own toxic words.
Get wise, you better run and you better hide,
Cuz we got your true identity,
And it’s on the wind,
There’s a wolf in our midst,
And we’re gonna get him!
5/4/2004…