Feel like going on safari but can’t afford it? Never fear! As a kid I always dreamed of days in the African plains surrounded by wild cats and hyenas, and spent a good deal of time with a safari hat on chasing my pets around the house, and peering at them from behind a couch or chair. Through all of my pretending not only was I working on being patient (a skill that has served me well in the field of wildlife biology) but, unbeknownst to me, I was getting to know animal behavior. Although our family pets seem tame, they are descended from wolves, wild cats, and the like and share many behaviors with their wild counterparts.
Next time you go for a walk with your dog look closely at how they move around, what they sniff at, where and how they mark their territory. As someone who has gone on a walk with a wolf before, it is uncanny how similar they are. But the similarities don’t stop with their movements. All of us dog owners know that when you come home and your pooch is cowering in the corner ears back and averting their large puppy dog eyes away from you, you’re about to walk upon a room in a less than desirable condition. This submissive stance that your dog takes is a behavior that wolves practice in their pack when in the presence of an alpha wolf.
Now for those of you cat lovers it’s even easier to see how your frisky feline could have been a wild cat. All you have to do is play a game of attack the feather or yarn ball to see the quick reflexes and hunter mentality in these pets.
So next time your son or daughter asks you to go on an African safari or to the zoo, strap on a safari hat and venture out your back door to become part of a wolf pack, or stay inside and try to mimic the movements of your favorite feline to become the ultimate hunter.