Science Pub Hillsboro:
Are Dogs Really Just "Designer Wolves"?
with Dr. Ceiridwen Terrill
Cost: $5 suggested cover charge
In 1993 American scientists reclassified the dog as a subspecies of gray wolf because their mitochondrial DNA differs by no more than 0.2%.
Doesn’t sound like much, but it represents a huge difference in the behavior of these two animals. 40,000 years or more of selection has made it possible for dogs to live with humans on human terms. The very survival of wolves, on the other hand, often depends upon avoiding humans and their livestock. So why are there more wolves and wolf-dog hybrids in captivity than there are wild wolves in all of North America? Why do some people want to possess a bit of the wild, and why are dog-food companies featuring howling wolves on their bags of kibble and promising a “return to an ancestral diet”? Join us for a lively presentation about wolves and dogs, illuminating the genetic, morphological, and behavioral differences between them.
Dr. Ceiridwen Terrill is an associate professor of science writing and environmental journalism at Concordia University, and the author of Part Wild: One Woman’s Journey with a Creature Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs (Scribner 2011). Dr. Terrill’s work has recently taken her on a five-year journey into the genetics, morphology, and behavior of wolves and dogs. She has interviewed breeders and rescuers of wolves and wolf-dog hybrids across the United States, as well as traveled to Russia to study the world’s foremost domestication experiment with silver foxes. Temple Grandin calls her writing “riveting”: “Ceiridwen Terrill will make you fully understand the differences between wild and domestic animals.”
Copies of Part Wild will be available for purchase and signing at this Science Pub.
Part Wild is the unforgettable story of Ceiridwen Terrill's journey with a creature whose heart is divided between her bond to one woman and her need to roam free. When Terrill adopts a wolfdog—part husky, part gray wolf—named Inyo to be her protector and fellow traveler, she is drawn to Inyo’s spark of wildness; compelled by the great responsibility, even danger, that accompanies the allure of the wild; and transformed by the extraordinary love she shares with Inyo, who teaches Terrill how to carve out a place for herself in the world.
Over almost four years, Terrill and Inyo’s adventures veer between hilarious and heartbreaking. There are peaceful weekends spent hiking in snowy foothills, mirthful romps through dirty laundry, joyful adoptions of dog companions, and clashes brought on by the stress of caring for Inyo, insatiable without the stimulation of a life lived outdoors. Forced to move and accommodate the complaints of fearful neighbors and the desires of her space-craving wolfdog, Terrill must confront the reality of what she has done by trying to tame a part-wild animal.