Toni Shelbourne has written a brief book. It’s not particularly short – there are, after all, approaching 150 pages – but it is brief in the context of her experience with wolves and related canids.
Thirty years ago Wolf literature was as obscure, inaccessible and fragmented as the animals themselves. Nowadays, the internet delivers to our desktop in seconds. However, separating wheat from the chaff or the Wolf from the ‘woffle’ is a different matter.
Here, between the dust jacket, lies a mixture of Wolf Folklore to Facts, Communication to Conservation, Behaviour to Biology and Physiology to Pharmacology. The characters ‘showcased’ in this book are the wolves themselves (11 in all). It’s told in tales and describes events which few people have been privileged to witness.
But, there is more. So far this fleeting glimpse of a description, may have cast a shadow over a message which might easily slip by unnoticed. The importance of the book lies beneath the long guard hairs and fleecy lining. It is a deep and intelligent understanding that animals play such an important part in our ecology. It’s a powerful plea that we reassess our own impact on nature. It begs us to revaluate the status of animals and respectfully suggests ways forward for improvement.
Among the Wolves is an only-one-of-its-kind type of book. Rich in anecdote and information, it has something for everyone who cares about human relationship with the natural world. By writing it Toni Shelbourne has performed a service to wolf-kind everywhere.
Tony Haighway, Wolf Watch UK
Having worked with both wild and domestic canines for several years, Toni Shelbourne's book <em>Among the Wolves</em>, was something I just couldn't put down. A true account, reflection and reality if ever there was one about the life of a wolf carer, guide and healer. In every way, Toni manages to grasp, entice and emotionally connect you to the wolves that were fortunate enough to be in her care. Clowns, aggressors, peace-makers, pups, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers: Toni gives a rare yet much needed insight into the emotions, bonds, rivalry, and ruses that wolves show, and how these sensitive, caring, compassionate and cooperative animals can break or heal the heart of a human in an instant. As Toni explains, wolves mourn, pine, call for and can have a deep sadness for the loss of a family member who they have a strong emotional attachment to. On the other side, they can intimidate, bully and exclude those who are simply not accepted, both human and wolf alike. If anything, I hope Among the Wolves promotes the need to understand and conserve our wild wolf brethren and that their emotional, social, caring and loving natures can be acknowledged and celebrated.
Dr Isla Fishburn, pPhD, MBiolSci, BSc, INTODogs, Dog Welfare Alliance Panel Expert, ISCP Affiliate