Greetings, Champions! Today we’re going to talk about the bones of the Pack of Dawn and Destiny trilogy: real life wolves!
First up, I have to admit that for this trilogy I abandoned my plans of using a fairy tale as the base. I originally planned to do something Little Red Riding Hood themed, and if you look closely you can still see that theme in initial relationship between Greyson and Pip, and in the way I branded their romance as a forbidden love kind of thing.
However, as I started doing research on wild wolves and compared on contrasted it to common werewolf tropes in fiction, I grew a little indignant and I ended up focusing more on wolf behaviors and accidentally left the whole Little Red Riding Hood thing on the roadside. (I had a few last ditch attempts to work references in, but my beta readers said they felt too out of place and forced, so I took them out and decided to double down on the wolves aspect.)
So, what did I find that made me so driven to make changes to my werewolves? Basically…everything we hold as a werewolf trope is wrong.
First of all, let’s tackle the whole alpha wolf/fight for dominance thing. The phrase was originally coined by a researcher Rudolph Schenkel in 1947–who when observing CAPTIVE wolves said that wolves fought for dominance. Other scientists/researchers piled onto this bandwagon and wrote books on the subject, only to find out that the idea is completely wrong compared to what wild wolves actually do. (On a depressing side note, a lot of scientists/researchers who wrote books/articles based off this bad information have begged publishers to stop spreading their outdated work, but most publishers have refused to do so.)
The root of the problem is that Rudolph Schenkel observed two packs of captive wolves when writing his original paper, and now we have plenty of video and photographic proof that show wild wolves act very differently from their captive counterparts.
In the wild, there is a male/female pair who are the heart of the wolf Pack…that’s because they’re Mom and Dad. And I mean that literally. Wolf packs tend to be very small, and what fiction literature would tell us is the alpha pair are what scientists now call the breeding pair. The breeding pair have puppies and then their puppies stay/live with them. They care for the entire pack because it’s their kids living with them.
So wolf packs are actually family units. The members of the Pack will change as the wolf puppies grow and some will eventually leave to start packs of their own, but this fight for dominance thing doesn’t exist. The breeding pair don’t rule with iron paws because they’re the most deadly, rather they make decisions (like whether or not to have puppies) because they don’t want members of their pack starving and dying.
Additionally, Pack members don’t pick on the puppies–wolves actually love puppies–but since the adult wolves are either the puppies’ parents or the puppies’ older siblings, all adults will take part in educating the puppies on acceptable behavior and actions. (Huh, weird. I’ve never known a single older human sibling to ever boss a younger sibling around, or inform their younger siblings they know what’s best. Must be a wolf thing.)
This information alone was enough to make me dive headfirst into focusing on trying to adjust werewolf tropes to hit closer to the reality of wild wolves, but I did find out some other information on wolves that I thought you might like to learn.
Most interestingly, it’s been thought that the reason why wolves get such a bad rep in fairy tales, fables, and other historic stories (ie: the aforementioned Little Red Riding Hood) is because of the way they hunt.
Wolves aren’t built for swift kills. Despite the popular depiction in urban fantasy/paranormal romance…wolves don’t actually have claws. The only real weapons they have are their teeth and their pack. Blood warning–though I’m going to keep the description as fast and basic as possible–but wolves hunt by running their prey until it falls/stumbles, and then they go at it with their teeth. They can’t pounce like a big cat, or use their claws like bears. This means the way they hunt and eat is pretty gruesome to observe, and seems way more horrible than a big cat making a fast kill. (In doing my research, I found that, interestingly enough, a lone bison or elk could stand up to the wolves if they didn’t run, or–even better–planted themselves in water and refused to give into their flight instinct. Wolves will catch fish on occasion, but they aren’t interested in hunting big prey in water.)
I tried to use real life wolf hunting methods in the Pack of Dawn and Destiny trilogy–as seen in the way they get Pip to run during play hunts, commonly go for throats and bellies, and generally try to knock their opponents over–but I had to be really careful because wolf hunting is pretty gorey, which made me understand why wolves would be extra terrifying to humans historically speaking than a lynx or a mountain lion, who have much cleaner kills.
That’s all for today, Champions. I hope you enjoyed this mini wolf lesson! Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!