The relationship between humans and wolves first occurred approximately 33,000 years ago based on DNA and fossil evidence. Dogs from southern East Asia have significantly higher genetic diversity compared to other populations, and are the most basal group relating to gray wolves, indicating an ancient origin of domestic dogs in southern East Asia 33 000 years ago. Around 15 000 years ago, a subset of ancestral dogs started migrating to the Middle East, Africa and Europe, arriving in Europe at about 10 000 years ago.
So the relationship between humans and wolves is a very ancient one. Suprisingly, domestication happened because wolves came to humans and not the other way around.
Looking for scraps
It’s unlikely that humans took in adult wolves to serve as skilled hunting companions. Wolves are great hunters, but humans were successful hunters on their own, so they wouldn’t have been looking for extra help.
Domestication probably started when wolves learned that groups of hunter-gatherers were a fruitful food source and enjoyed the scraps of food left around their encampments, especially when hunting was difficult. When you eat, notice how longingly your own domestic dogs look at you awaiting scraps. Even well-fed dogs prefer your food to what is in their bowl. And this relationship goes way back into prehistory.
Survival of the Friendliest
We hear about survival of the fittest, but with wolves it is more about survival of the friendliest. Aggressive wolves would be chased off or killed by humans, while those who took a friendlier approach would be tolerated and maybe even welcomed. As time went on, the friendlier wolves would be the ones to survive and carry on the lineage, eventually evolving into domesticated dogs.
In modern times, there really is a genuine love relationship between some humans and domesticated dogs. They look up to you as part of their pack. If you leave them for just 10 minutes or all day, they will give you the same greeting as soon as you walk in. You are their family and they are yours.
What Makes a Pack Successful
Dogs will have a pecking order in their pack, whether it is with other dogs or humans. Children are lower down the pack, but most dogs enjoy playing with children, and this gives children a great start in life. Learning your place in life is an important lesson.
What Makes a Good Alpha?
They will also recognise one or two as the leader(s) of the pack, the Alpha(s). There is a societal backwardness as to what an Alpha male is. Alpha male for a start is a misnomer since females and adult couples can be seen as Alphas. There is a stereotype Alpha male, who whilst at home are seen as in total command and outside the home can be snarling and aggressive.
This alpha male stereotype comes from a misunderstanding of the real thing. The male wolf is, in fact, an exemplary male role model. Those who have observed wolves in free-living packs in Yellowstone National Park notice that the leadership of the ranking male is neither forced, domineering, or aggressive to those in his Pack. The same applies to female Alphas.
The main characteristic of an alpha wolf is quiet confidence and self-assurance. You know what you need to do and you know what’s best for your pack. You lead by example and have a calming effect on the pack.
Alphas are not aggressive and don’t need to be. They are emotionally secure and great champions. They have nothing to prove to anyone because it is already proven.
In evolution, survival of the fittest does not necessarily mean survival of the most aggressive or meanest. With both wolves and humans the ones that survive and reproduce are those whose members are more cooperative, sharing and less violent with one another. Compared to the group whose members are constantly fighting and competing with each other.
So whilst an alpha wolf may be a major player in a successful hunt, after the takedown of the prey, they step away until the rest of the pack has eaten and is full. For humans, our hunt is through earning money and shopping to ensure our pack is fed. Those with less, do their best, and often skip meals to ensure their pack are looked after. A successful pack leader (or Alpha) is self-sacrificing.
Veteran Yellowstone Wolf researcher Rick McIntyre he has rarely seen an alpha male act aggressively toward the pack’s other members. They are his family – his mate, offspring, and siblings. They even adopt orphan wolves and treat them as their own offspring.
Your Inner Wolf
It is unlikely that you will have a wolf as a member of your family today, but many of you will have dogs. Observe them and learn from them. Notice how loyal they are. Connect with them on a spiritual level. Try out the following exercise to connect with your pets. Now, this exercise is for cats also, although their relationships with humans are far more complex.
Call your pet to you, whether it is a cat or a dog, and slowly stroke it.
For cats, stroke from the top of the head from the ears to the neck. This imitates their mother licking them. Get the cat to totally relax, and if it is responsive, talk gently to it, staring into its eyes.
If you have a dog, to relax them make circular movements just below their ears. This is an area that calms them. Again, talk to them softly and look into their eyes.
Do this regularly, and your emotional and spiritual connection with your family pets will grow so strong. Love your pets, and they will love you and respect you as the Alpha of their pack.