Good Morning or Afternoon or even Evening! : ) (Not sure when you’re joining us today.)
By the way, I’ll be giving away a free book to some lucky blogger today. Nothing to read — nothing to buy — just log on and leave a post and you’re automatically entered.
Okay, with that said, off to the right here is Georgie, the little kitten that I rescued when I was in Florida. Georgie is now full grown and two years old. But he’s the most recent addition to our pets. Pets are so important in any culture. And probably there is no human culture alive and well that doesn’t keep pets. Sometimes these pets are in the form of the family cow or the family pig or the family chickens. (Just recently a friend was going out of town and needed someone to watch her chickens. We were interviewed to see if we qualified to watch them for a week!)
Off to the right here is another one of our pets, Bear. It seems to me that pets enrich our lives. They love us when perhaps no one else might and they’re always there for us. Now, there were many pets in Native America. There were dogs aplenty. Indeed, before the advent of the horse in America, the dog was a necessity to any family. They watched the children, carried the family’s supplies and in Alaska, they formed a very needed mode of transportation (the dog sled).
I don’t know if you can see this very well, but behind me is a tiger. We discovered him (my husband and I) at a gas station along the route to Florida. He’s very much a pet. But I do wonder what it costs to keep him in food.
But I digress. I wanted to tell you about a true story. The story of Laughter the pet wolf. It’s a story told by James Willard Schultz in his book, Why Gone Those Times. The title of the chapter is called, Laugher, The Story of a Tame Wolf. Found by Schultz and his Blackfeet friend, Nitaina, after a rain storm had killed all of its brothers and sisters, Nitaina and Schultz carried the baby wolf home. I do want to repeat a little of the book’s narrative, if you will bear with me.
“Woles are not like dogs, you know. A dog father knows not his own children. A wolf marries and he and his wife live always together until death. When children come, he hunts for them, and brings food for them, and watches over them faithfully while the mother goes out to hunt and run around, and keep up her strength. Ah, they are wise, true hearted animals, the big wolves of the plains. And what hunters they are; they never suffer from want of food.”
Laughter was a male pup. He would sit outside the lodge at night and listen to the wolves off in the distance. He would run to his mater then and plead with him to take him out there. But his master would say “no,” and Laughter would obey. Interestingly none of the male dogs in camp liked him — the females did — but not the males, and so Laughter’s lot in life became fighting very early on. At first he was afraid of the other dogs, but then after he killed one of them, they all left him alone.
Now, interestingly, Laughter was only friendly to his master, Nitaina. He would tolerate Schultz, but he never really warmed up to him. In fact, he would snarl at anyone else other than Nitaina. Nitaina and Schultz would take Laughter with them when they were going on war parties. You couldn’t take a dog, because dogs would act the same as saying, “We’re here. We’re here. We’ve come here to fight you.” But not Laughter. He was a help to the war party, and not a hindrance. Indeed, Laughter saved their lives by sniffing out the enemy before Schultz and Nitaina were even aware there was an enemy about.
What became of Laughter? He stayed with Nitaina until he was full grown. They had many adventures. But Laughter began to absent himself from the camp for several days — and then for many days. Again, I should say again that wolves are not like dogs. He needed his own kind. He needed to marry. At first Nitaina tried to tie him, but Laughter would snap the ropes in two. And so there came a day when Laughter came no more. But there is a happy ending to the story, and I quote, “Later on we saw him one last time. We were hunting, and away out on the plain noticed two wolves sitting on a low butte watching us. As we neared them one came trotting down to meet us, and lo! it was Laughter, oh, so glad to see his master. Nitaina got down off his horse and petted him, then remounted and called him to follow. He sat down and watched us starting on, and whined, and trotted back to the butte and the wife hd had found. He jumped around her, wagging his tail, and then started toward us, looking back — by all his actions coaxing her to follow, but she would not move. Again and again he did that, and at last gave up and howled. He loved Nitaina, but he love his young wife most.
“We had thought in the spring to capture several wolf pups and tame them, and saw that it would be only a waste of time and trouble. The call of kind to kind is stronger than any other love.”
And so ends the story of Laughter, the tame wolf as told by James Willard Schultz.
Now, my question to you is this: Do you have pets? Have you had any unusual pets? And what do you think? Aren’t they family?
And don’t forget, if you haven’t yet picked up your copy of BLACK EAGLE, please do so today. Here’s a link:
And watch for my new book, SENECA SURRENDER, due out in April 2010.