Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Staff Pick - The Man who Lives with Wolves by Shaun Ellis

The Man who Lives with Wolves is is a fascinating book about a truly remarkable amateur naturalist. It is a memoir of Shaun Ellis, the star of BBC and Animals Planet's Living with the Wolfman television series'. Popular documentaries about his experiments in living with wolves. He has actually lived with wolves as a member of their pack, as a subordinate member who had to be taught his place and fight for his dinner!

Ellis has always had a fascination and a natural way with canides. From a young farm boy who had hide his admiration of foxes, to the man who raised several litters of wolf cubs, to the man who was accepted and adopted by a wild wolf pack.

The book is written in a matter of fact of manner, with no pretense of literary merit. Rather it is written in an easy going conversational style. This makes the reading pretty quick and allows the reader to focus of the incredible feats of Shaun Ellis and his brave partner Helen.

The insights into canine psychology and behaviour are reason enough to read this book. Before you select your new puppy, you should at least consider Shaun's theories on dog psychology and on choosing the right dog for your home.

However, the main enjoyment of this book for me are chapters on Shaun integrating with the wolf pack(s). Ellis' ability to trust his natural instincts, let alone a 140 lb alpha wolf with it's jaw around his neck, are extraordinary and hard to believe at times. Who else would crawl in to a cage with paniced wolf in order to calm it?

I read this book in two sittings because I could not wait to find out what would happen next to Shaun, Helen and their unusual den mates.

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