"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Matthew Monday: Puppy Announcement

Ever since our beloved Yellow Lab, Brandi, passed on in December (see here and here), we’ve been waiting for the right time to get a new dog. 

Well, that time has come.  We’ve put down a deposit on a female Black Labrador Retriever pup from a breeder in northern New Jersey, called Lynnwood Retrievers.  Our pup was born on August 12th, and if you search around the website you’ll find she came from a litter of twelve, eleven black and one yellow.  Here’s the page on the litter with the parents.

We let Matthew pick out a name, and to our surprise he picked “Rosie.”  I guess it’s a good name for a dog, though it sounds a bit too human.  I think it came from a cartoon he watches, Peppa Pig.  I guess there’s a character in there that’s named Rosie.  So Rosie it is!

Here are a few pictures of the litter the breeder sent us.  Of course we don’t know which pup is ours.

We pick her up on Sunday!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Poetry: “Spring and Fall” by Gerard Manly Hopkins, Part 2

A friend of mine, Kerry, read my post of the Hopkins poem from the other day, “Spring and Fall” and questioned my comment on accents in English.  This led me to contemplation, a little research, and enough of new thoughts to create a second post.  First let me present our email exchange and then I’ll have to modify my comment on accenting.

 So just read your latest piece.  Interesting thought on the accent.  You mention preferring to let the language run naturally, but what is naturally?  As I watch more and more British television, I notice that the syllables stressed in English English is different than American English and even Scottish English and Irish English.  So natural for whom?

Hmm good question.  I'm not aware of stress differences.  I thought the differences between American and English English are vowel sounds.  I'll have to look into that.

The one standing out in my mind right now is garage.

Holy smoke, you're right.  There are stress differences between the two.  Check here:

I knew it!  See... all that BBC America watching is paying off.  Plus my "Mock the week" viewing on YouTube.  I do not know how to write out the accent though.  Just that when we say garage it is more of "ga rage" versus British "gar age"

Apparently the British tend to accent the first syllable while we accent the second on most two letter words that have a French origin.  So they must say GAHrage  while we say gaRAGE.  The accent does effect the vowel pronunciation.

I was surprise to find that on certain type of words, the pronunciation differences between British English and American English is not only vowel sounds, but actual syllabic stress differences.  I was so surprised that I went back to my graduate class text book (I never throw textbooks out) on the evolution of the English language to see what it said about this.  I have The Origins and Development of the English Language, Third Edition by Thomas Pyles and John Algeo published back in 1982.  I wonder when I took the class.  Must have been some time in the 1990s.  You can find later editions on Amazon.  Now to vindicate my original thought, Pyles and Algeo have a whole chapter on British and American language differences and while they do go through vowel pronunciation differences, they never mention differences due to syllabic stress.  Apparently they didn’t think this a significant issue.

Granted the stress differences seem to be mostly on French loan words.  What’s interesting (and counter intuitive to me) is that the American stresses follow the French stress pattern of second syllable stress, while it’s the British that have altered the French pattern by pulling the stress to the first syllable.  Two reasons why that might be, and this is speculation on my part.  But first some context.  Pyles and Algeo do go through the history of French words entering English, and it has an interesting history.  French words entered English in periodic waves.  Prior to 1066, no French words had entered the language, but with the subsequent Norman Conquest a large number of French words not only came in but became prominent, since French became the language of the aristocracy.  French loan words that entered into the language during the middle ages over time became synthesized into English.  That should not be a surprise given the Great Vowel Shift that dramatically altered English pronunciation during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  It is noteworthy that those French loan words are accented similarly between Americans and British. 

The differences in syllabic stress seem to be in words that came into English during the seventeenth centuries and later.  This shouldn’t be a surprise.  British Americans had settled the colonies by then and their language was evolving.  Actually, to be more precise, both the English  language of the old country and the English language of the colonies were evolving, and to some degree evolving separately.  The British speech of the eighteenth century, say that of Samuel Johnson, is markedly different than that of the sixteenth century, say of William Shakespeare.  Pyles and Algeo make the claim, and I’ve seen the claim elsewhere, that American English is actually closer to Shakespeare’s English than today’s British English.

My two speculations as to why Americans stress these later French loan words as the French while the British changed the stress are as follows.  (1) First these words probably came into the language through England, and the Americans probably first came in contact with these new loan words through print.  Since there was no audio to spread pronunciation, the Americans observing the etymology assumed French-esk pronunciation.  (2) The colonies had more direct contact with French than the British in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  What is today our Midwest was part of the Louisiana Purchase, a French colony which the US bought from Napoleon in 1803.  In addition, our northern states had a large French settlement, a remnant of the French and Indian War (1754-63), as Quebec does today in Canada.  Given this closer contact with French speakers, it perhaps should not be a surprise that American English follows the French stressing of these late French loan words.

So how does this change how to look at the Hopkins poem.  Since it’s short enough, let me post it again.

Spring and Fall
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
           to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

In the previous post I said Hopkins’ accents would not have altered my pronunciation of any of the words.  My friend Kerry questioned whether my pronunciation would be consistent for all English speakers, especially British speakers.  Hopkins obviously would have been a British speaker, so possibly he might have pronounced those words differently without the accents and then felt the need to add them.

Hopkins accents nine syllables over eight words in the poem.  Let’s look at each of them.

He accents Margaret on the first and third syllables, “Márgarét.”  Here is possibly the one word where Hopkins accenting makes a difference to the poem.  The name happens to be a French loan word, but it’s an old French dating back to circa 1300.  Dictionary offers two pronunciation alternates, mahr-guh-rit, or mahr-grit and the Collins dictionary offers a British alternative, ːɡrət.  By Hopkins accenting the first and third syllables, he is making clear he wants all three syllables pronounced, wants the first syllable to be accented as one would, but by accenting the last syllable wants the “ret” sound rather than a weakened “rit” sound.  As I mentioned in Part 1, the “ret” sound rhymes nicely with the “and yet” of the ninth line.

Hopkins accents “are” in the first line.  The reason I think he accents this little word is to force the reader articulate the line, “ARE you grieving” instead of “are YOU grieving.”  Does it matter?  The only result that I see is a different pacing to word flow.  And what difference does that make?

Hopkins accents the first syllable of grieving in that first line, “gríeving.”  Does it matter?  How else would you pronounce this?  Again I don’t see why it should. 

Hopkins accents the first syllable of “leaves” in the third line, “Leáves.”  I have no idea why he does.  How else would you pronounce this? 

Hopkins accents “as” in the fifth line.  The only reason I can see for doing so is to prevent the reader from pronouncing “as the heart” as an anapest, two unstressed syllables followed by a stress (uu/).  He wants the iambic (/u/) meter in that line.  Does it matter?  Given he doesn’t hold constant meter anyway, I don’t see why it would.

Hopkins accents the first syllable of sorrow’s in the eleventh line, “Sórrow’s.”  Sorrow is an Old English word and both alternative pronunciation already accent that first syllable, sor-oh, sawr-oh.  Again, I don’t see why the accent would be needed.

Hopkins accents springs in the eleventh line.  Again, I’m at a loss as to what difference it makes.  It’s a strong one syllable word that under all conditions would be pronounced with an accent.

Hopkins accents “are” again in the eleventh line.  Here again he’s trying to prevent an anapest meter, “are the SAME” (uu/) and forcing a cretic meter, “ARE the SAME (/u/).  Does it matter?

After all this analysis, my original position still holds.  Other than the accenting on Márgarét, Hopkins could have done away with the accenting.  They don’t add anything to the poem.

Here, it’s a joy to listen to the poem well read. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Poetry: “Spring and Fall” by Gerard Manly Hopkins

I’m still reading Hopkins’ poetry and came across a seasonal poem perfect for this week.  Autumn came upon us yesterday, and I’ll commemorate the day with this little poem.

Spring and Fall
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
           to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

I’m not going to do a full analysis of this, but I’ll give you a little background and orient you since Hopkins’s style obfuscates more than most would like.  First the context.  This apparently came from a real life occurrence.  While Hopkins was assigned as a priest in a parish in Liverpool in the early 1880s, he had duty to travel to a country suburb, Lydiate in Lancanshire, a half hour’s train ride, to serve the small Catholic community there.  One small girl, Margaret, from that community was apparently mourning the falling leaves of the autumn season, and so inspired this poem, of which he dedicated it to her.  You can see the play on both spring (“sorrow’s spring”) and fall (“Goldengrove unleaving”).  But “fall” has further significance.  What the narrator tells the girl—in the poem at least, I doubt Hopkins actually said this to her—is that her deeper sadness is not just for the leaves but for the passing of men, which the leaves symbolize, and that ultimately the sadness is for her eventual passing.  The fall is linked to the fall from Eden from which mortality began.  And so we have an innocent young girl—I picture her about eight years old—who learns of the passing of nature, the passing of mankind, and of her mortality.
There are some really fine lines to appreciate.  I particularly like this couplet: “Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed/What heart heard of, ghost guessed.”  I love all the alliterations in that sentence, despite the typical Hopkins tongue-tying fashion.  And how lovely is “By and by, nor spare a sigh/Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie”?  I can’t find any definition for “wanwood.”  Perhaps it’s a local slang or a Hopkins coinage.  It has a melancholy sound to it, perhaps suggesting wood that is wan, that is, weak or feeble.

What I don’t care for in the poem are the accents Hopkins places on certain words.  First, I don’t think they really alter any word he accents.  I would have stressed those words whether Hopkins accented them or not.  Second, I find accenting in English particularly annoying.  Though it doesn’t happen in this poem, altering the language stress to fit a poetic objective seems awkward.  I prefer to let the language run naturally.  The one place where the accent does seem to serve a minor purpose here is on the last syllable of Margaret.  It emphasizes the “ret” sound which couples nicely with the “And yet” of the ninth line.  It is said that Hopkins is a proto-modernist, but the use of accentuation for me places him closer to the Victorian poets of his own day, who also played around with accenting, and not with the modernist.

Still, it’s a lovely poem.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Literature in the News: Chesterton versus Eliot

I just ran into an excellent article by Joseph Pearce in The Imaginative Conservative on the rocky relationship G. K.Chesterton and T. S. Eliot had during their lifetimes.  Eliot of course is the modernist English/American (American born, English immigrant) poet of the 20th century, arguably the greatest poet in English of the century.  I like to think of him as American, but except for his early poetry, I would say his sensibilities were more English.  Wikipedia lists Chesterton as an “English writer, lay theologian, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, literary and art critic, biographer, and Christian apologist.”  He wrote on everything under the sun and had the Victorian sensibility of verbosity, that is, every thought that came to mind apparently made it into print.  His friend, George Bernard Shaw, a complete opposite in world view to Chesterton, was the same.  Joseph Pearce is the contemporary literary biographer, who has specialized in the Catholic English writers.  I consider Pearce’s work, The Quest for Shakespeare, a biography detailing Shakespeare’s Catholicism, as one of the best works of literary biography I have ever read.  It reshaped my understanding of Shakespeare.  One of these days I’m going to re-read it and present it as a blog post.

Now you’ll have to understand that Chesterton and Eliot were a generation apart, and a critical generation, a generation where break in tradition occurred.  The Great War (WWI) separated the two writers, and aesthetically it was a profound separation.  The Great War altered sensibilities, philosophic outlook, and once that happens aesthetic change is not far behind.  Chesterton would not really be known today for his creative writing, except for the charming Father Brown stories.  He’s known for his biographies and Christian apologetics.  Besides his poetry, Eliot is known for his literary criticism, a deep understanding of literature.  However, Eliot was, in my opinion, profoundly biased.  If he didn’t feel sympathy toward your work, he disdained it, and with his stature had the ability to bury your work.  He intensely disliked D. H. Lawrence (what’s with all these English writers and initials?) and tried to get his work ignored.  It didn’t work of course but there was a mean spirited side to the young Eliot.  He sort of loosened up with age.

So it didn’t surprise me when Pearce starts off his essay with the Eliot quote, “Mr. Chesterton’s brain swarms with ideas. I see no evidence that it thinks.”  That’s a good example of Eliot’s bitter wit toward someone whose work he didn’t care for.  Pearce appropriately locates this quote in Eliot’s generational bias.

This was written in 1918, very early in Eliot’s literary career, and should not be seen as Eliot’s final and definitive judgment on Chesterton. There is no doubt, however, that Eliot was initially very antagonistic towards Chesterton, comparing him unfavourably with the new generation of modernist writers, such as Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Percy Wyndham Lewis… Considering the innovative approach of Pound, Joyce, Wyndham Lewis and of course Eliot himself, it is no surprise that the somewhat archaic literary form chosen by Chesterton for The Ballad of the White Horse should serve as an affront to Eliot’s modernist sensibilities.

As to Chesterton, he held the generational view that modernism was poor art.

For his part, Chesterton held the modernists in disdain. In 1923 he countered Eliot’s rejection of regular rhythm and rhyme with a spirited defence of traditional poetic form: “Song is not only a recurrence, it is a return…It is in this deeper significance of return that we must seek for the peculiar power in the recurrence we call rhyme.” It was, however, not only the modernists’ abandonment of traditional form which irritated Chesterton but also their apparent jaundiced cynicism and the evident absence of the spirited joie de vivre which Chesterton saw as the necessary mark of humanity’s humility in the presence of the goodness and wonder of Creation.

You’ll have to read the rest to find out how the two actually became friends.  Pearce locates the change with Eliot’s famous religious experience in the late 1920s that led him to become an Anglo-Catholic.  Chesterton, of course, is famous for his Roman Catholic conversion some twenty or so years prior.  That led to a basis for a relationship outside their aesthetic differences.  Plus I think with time Eliot matured and the modernist aesthetics became less shocking to Chesterton.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Faith Filled Friday: Meriam Ibrahim

There is no finer example of faith in action as that of Mariam Ibrahim.  I’m sure you’ve heard of the Christian woman who was held in a Sudanese jail refusing to convert to Islam.  Pregnant and with her little toddler son beside her, she had to give birth in leg shackles.  If you haven’t heard of her, here is asummary article going back to August 1st when she was granted asylum in the United States.  

A Sudanese woman who faced the death penalty for refusing to recant her Christian faith has arrived in New Hampshire, ready to begin a new life.

Meriam Ibrahim, her husband and the couple’s two children arrived Thursday night at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, where they were greeted by a throng of supporters from the city’s Sudanese community before getting into an SUV and leaving the airport, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

“Thank you so much,” her husband, Daniel Wani, told reporters. “I am so relieved.”

Ibrahim, who met Pope Francis at the Vatican last week after fleeing the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, did not speak.

You’ll have read the whole article to get the full story and see what Christians face in Muslim countries.  But here is her first interview, and it’s a doozey!  This woman’s faith is incredible.  This is a must see interview with Megyn Kelly of FOX News.

That is so stirring.  How many of us would have such courage?  Two noteworthy quotes:

“I had my trust in God; my faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations with Imams and Muslim scholars.”

“Faith means life; if you don’t have faith, you don’t have life.”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Literature In The News: “The First Great Queens Novel”

What a surprise this evening to find as I sat down to dinner reading the NY Post  that John Podhoretz, normally a political commentator, wrote a book review in his column.  Podhoretz   regularly writes for the NY Post (actually he was its Op-Ed editor a few years ago) and now serves as editor for Commentary magazine.  Podhoretz is also the son of well respected Conservative writer, Norman Podhoretz. 

“The first great novel of Queens” is what he called Matthew Thomas’ We Are Not Ourselves: A Novel

It’s a magnificent piece of work, not only the best first novel in memory but the best American novel in a very long time.

In its 640 pages, Thomas relates the heartrendingly intimate story of a small Irish Catholic family over the course of more than 60 years — and almost offhandedly tells an equally powerful and broader tale about the changes in New York and America over that same time.

Eileen Tumulty is the only child of working-class Irish immigrants living in Woodside. Her mother is a cleaning woman at the Bulova Watch factory in Astoria; her father drives a truck for the Schaefer Brewery.

I have not read the novel, nor have I even heard of Matthew Thomas.  What struck me was Podhoretz referred to the work as set in Queens, NY, which as New Yorkers know is part of New York City.  New York City for those that don’t know is composed of five boroughs, Manhattan, The Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens.  Manhattan and The Bronx constitute the original city.   Brooklyn, which comprised of Kings County and Queens County,  had been its own city until 1898 when it joined with New York City, across the river.  Kings County took on the name of Brooklyn for its borough name, and Queens County simply took on Queens.  Staten Island was also added in 1898 to form the five boroughs.    

There have been lots of novels set in Manhattan.  Henry James and Edith Wharton both had several.  J. D. Salinger, Don DeLillo, Tom Wolf, and Paul Auster famously come to mind.  Also numerous books have been set in Brooklyn, the borough where I grew up.  Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is most memorable, and others by Bernard Malamud, Chaim Potock, Jonathan Lentham, and you can find “9 Great Novels” listed here.  But as to the other three boroughs, one is hard pressed to really come up with anything.  The famous crash scene in The Great Gatsby happens in Queens, but for the most part the novel oscillates between Manhattan and Long Island.  You can find a fascinating list of novels set in New York City here.  If you go through each one, you might find one set in the outer boroughs, but I didn’t have the time to do so.  But as a lifelong New Yorker (except for my birthplace)– grew up in Brooklyn, living most of my adult life on Staten Island—I should read a few of them.  As I scan the list, I’ve probably only read seven or eight.

As to Podhoretz’s review, I can’t say it’s a great review.  He practically runs through the whole plot without seeming to get to the heart of the work.  If anything is the kernel of the work, perhaps it’s this:

Eileen’s dissatisfactions are subsumed in her deep commitment to duty and love in the course of what may be the finest fictional portrait I’ve ever read of a family coping with a degenerative disease.

Eileen sacrifices herself. Connell, who worships his dad, can’t bear to see him slip away — and toys with discarding not only his mother’s hopes for him but his own ambitions as well, in a self-abnegating journey back to the working class that his parents had so painstakingly pulled themselves out of.

It does sound interesting.  It sounds very New York.  Podhoretz adds this little tidbit on Matthew Thomas.

Thomas, 38, was a teacher at Xavier HS in Manhattan who wrote the book in a one-bedroom apartment in Queens he shared with his wife (and, eventually, their twins).

He sold “We Are Not Ourselves” to Simon and Schuster for a million-dollar advance after 10 years of work, a rare feel-good story for American publishing in the 21st century.

His gorgeous book represents the literary redemption of his family, his people . . . and his borough.

I love redemption novels.  I might just pick it up, though it’s long for a work that’s not an avowed classic for me to read.  If anyone reads it, let me know what you thought.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Personal Note: Baltimore Orioles Win Division Title

Wooohooo!  They clinched it tonight!  The last time the Baltimore Orioles, my favorite team going back to when I was eight years old, won the Division title was 1997.  And in the intervening years there were 14 consecutive losing seasons, and a good portion of them in last place. Fourteen years is a quarter of my life.  You don’t know the blood, sweat, and tears I’ve shed for my Orioles.

But tonight they did it!!!!!  American League Eastern Division Champions!  Here's a great little video of some of the season's highlights.

And they did it with still two weeks to go until the playoffs.  I can’t wait.  The rest of these games aren’t going to be meaningful.  Just give the starters rest while keeping them sharp.  If I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow I would be popping a bottle of Champagne myself!

Music Tuesday: The Star Spangled Banner - UPDATED

Our national anthem celebrated its two hundredth birthday.  I caught a little of the celebration in Baltimore as I watched the Baltimore Orioles play the New York Yankees on TV.  The Orioles had special uniforms made for the occasion.  [For those that don’t know, I am a HUGE Baltimore Orioles fan, and they are having a magical year!]

As many of you know, The Star Spangled Banner was composed as a result of a battle of Fort McHenry outside of Baltimore during the War of 1812.    

What I was surprised to learn was that Francis Scott Key wrote the song while on a British ship.  He had boarded to negotiate an exchange of prisoners, and since they had overheard about the battle plans were held captive until the battle was over.  So Francis Scott Key on September 14th, 1814 watched the British bombardment of his home city from an enemy vessel and watched as the attack failed.  How much emotion must have gone into that song as he watched the stars and stripes wave defiantly?

All Americans know that first stanza and I’ll reproduce it here because it’s so stirring.

O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
 What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
 Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
 O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
 And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
 Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
 O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
 O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

My heart stirs whenever the singer reaches the “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave” line.  But there are three more stanzas we never hear, and perhaps it’s a good thing.  They don’t seem nearly as stirring as the first.  You can read the other stanzas on the Wikipedia entry.

First, here is a dramatic telling of the history of the song.  Caution.  If you’re an old Conservative like me, it might bring a tear to your eye. 

I have to agree with those who claim that the best all time rendition of The Star Spangled Banner was given by Whitney Huston at the Super Bowl in 1991.

Boy she could sing.  If you know of a better rendition or a favorite , post the link.  I would love to hear it.

UPDATE: 16 September 2014, 8:29 PM, EST

While I was singing the song this morning I realized why that penultimate line is so stirring.  It’s poetic effect.  Every line but that one has a caesura in it.  A caesura is a natural pause in the line built in by the syntax.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesura  I’ll show you with the first two lines.  The double slash indicates the pause break, or caesura.

O say can you see // by the dawn's early light,
 What so proudly we hailed // at the twilight's last gleaming,

So when we get to the seventh line and it doesn’t have a pause, the effect is a forward marching thrust:  “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave.”  And it’s no coincidence that the climax of the stanza is in that line, the flag defiantly waving.  And then when the caesura returns in the last line, it provides a coming home closure.   Nicely done.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Photo Essay: Wolf Sanctuary

I realized that over the course of the past year or so I’ve promised several photo essays from pictures I took.  I’m sorry, I’ve been delinquent.  And I bet many of you would actually prefer pictures to my “stodgy” old literary analyses. 

Here’s one I had promised after last year’s vacation to central Pennsylvania where we went to Amish countryDutch Wonderland, the railroad Museum, and to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA.  I didn’t post any pictures from the Wolf Sanctuary because I said I would reserve a photo essay post especially for it.  Here is that post.

I think the vacation was about thirteen months ago, so I’m afraid a bit has been lost in my memory.  When I found out there was a wolf sanctuary nearby, it was a must to visit.  Matthew didn’t really care for it, I have to admit.  He was just under four years old at the time.  I loved it, and I think my wife did as well.  I don’t remember if it was actually free, but it was very inexpensive, and they kind of twist your arm for a donation.  It was not pricey. 

If you’re a reader of my blog, you know I’m a lover of canines, and the wolf is the preeminent canine.  Now I don’t claim to be an expert, but here’s what knowledge I’ve gathered on wolves and dogs.  Dogs and humans exist in a very similar wave length.  We are so compatible that I don’t think any other creature comes close.  I’m convinced we evolved together.  We are both social creatures, and we socialize with each other.  At least we do with dogs.  Wolves, while nearly a dog and can interbreed with a dog, is wired in the brain just a little differently.  A wolf can’t become domesticated.  It seems to as a pup, but once it reaches a certain age it will separate from its human bond.  It may even turn on you, but to some degree it does seem to respect your being as some sort of simpatico.  Many people have tried to domesticate them but it’s a rare thing for it to have worked out.  So there are a number of wolf sanctuaries across the country where people can give up the creature and let him live in an environment he is accustomed to. 

This sanctuary in Pennsylvania seems to be a particularly good one.  It’s run completely by volunteers and you have to be schooled to an astonishing high level of training to become a trainer (?).  Actually that’s not the title given to those who assist but I can’t remember what it was.  Wolves there are separated into packs, and they had a very deliberate process on introducing wolves to packs.  Packs don’t necessarily accept outside wolves. 

The one thing I absolutely remember was the smell.  Wolves do not smell like dogs.  I was surprised.  It was a very sharp, penetrating, wild aroma, not pleasant at all.  I don't know how to describe it.  At first I think I wanted to vomit, but then I got used to it.  Here are some pictures.

Here is a small pack of three.  If you go to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA website, you might find the names of the various packs and individual wolves.  There is no way I can remember now.

And a close up of one of them.

Here’s another pack, but I think this one is mostly of hybrids.  By the way, there is ample room behind for each pack; I think they are given natural amount of territory.  A large number of the wolves at the sanctuary are mixes of dog and wolf.  People think they can breed out the wolf biology, but it takes more than a few generations.

This one in the front seems to have the color of a Golden Retriever, clearly a mix.

Here are some more.

Here’s a rather large pack.

By the way, the reason they have congregated to the fence is because the trainer is feeding them.

Here’s an older one.

Finally I want to post a few pictures of Billy.  I distinctly remember this one, though I had to look his name up on the website.  Billy was the model of the wolves.  Whenever you see a wolf in a movie or picture, there is a good chance Billy was used.  He has the size and coloring of what we all imagine a wolf to look like.  Unfortunately I found out that Billy died during the course of this past year.  He died from canine bloat, which is a circumstance where the stomach and intestines twist and cut off the blood supply.  It happens in large dogs.

But wasn’t he magnificent?