Mika didn’t come inside when I called her.
It was late, and I had just arrived home – normally she’s there to greet me (sometimes by dancing on the table).
I went outside to make sure nothing awry was afoot, to find her hunched over a partially devoured rabbit corpse, blood smeared muzzle black in the moonlight, blue eyes gleaming, prick ears at half mast. She bolted a few more chunks of rabbit hind leg, convulsively, then stepped back as I approached, eyeing the rabbit warily. Not much left past a cute little head.
“Hm. Good job, kid.” I casually picked up the cute little head and tossed it in a plastic sack to go out in the garbage.
Now Mika seems like a civilized dog by all accounts. She’s clean and neat and polite, intelligent and skilled, useful and helpful and utterly responsible around pet birds and small children. She pointedly ignores prey when we’re working, allows me to brush her teeth and trim her nails to manicured perfection.
She’s also a bloodthirsty, mud-rolling, bitch-fighting, rabbit murdering savage. I have seen her after epic battles with the large male squirrels, muzzle slashed and bleeding and eyes wild with joy.
In that, dogs are like us – the thing that I love most about them is that on a full moon night, I go out in the forest with my dogs in the cold and the blue shadows, and with them I can hear that old call of the wild. A lot of people look at dogs and see them as creatures of pure love and joy, beings of light and total innocence.
And dogs are sweet – but they are far from pure innocence. All of my dogs are complicated creatures. Mika understands well that some people are weak, and she has contempt for them. She manipulates, she pushes, she tests. I became a trainer because she was going to eat my lunch if I didn’t.
And truth be told, she’s far from entirely civilized – and that’s not a bad thing. After all, I have a wolf inside, too. Perhaps that’s why we get along so well.