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Author Ceiridwen Terrill on 'Part Wild'

Courtesy of Ceiridwen Terrill

Ceiridwen Terrill needed protection. She wanted a companion animal that would also make her feel safe, as she’d just escaped an abusive relationship. She’d always been a dog person, but Terrill decided she wanted a wolfdog — part dog, part wolf. She found a breeder and soon adopted a wolfdog pup she named Inyo. In her new book Part Wild, Terrill reflects on their tumultuous relationship.

As Terrill told Think Out Loud‘s Allison Frost, “It was a pretty sad and frightening time for me in my life [when I sought out a wolfdog].” With Inyo, Terrill hoped to find a loyal, protective hiking companion. But what Terrill encountered was something a bit different.

“Wolves are generally disinterested in the human agenda,” explained Terrill. As Inyo began to mature, she started to exhibit traits less like a dog and more like a wolf. “Wolves want to leave their birth pack at age 2. That means they strike out on their own, they want to find a mate, they want to form their own pack, they want to have pups and they want to hunt.”

Terrill has a background as a science writer. She includes a lot of research in her book about wolves and dogs and their very different behaviors. While dogs are known for being loyal pets, wolfdogs have a penchant for escaping almost any enclosure their human companions can devise. Inyo was no exception. Terrill describes a turning point in their relationship when Inyo got out and got dangerously close to a neighbor’s goats:

“Inyo and I were supposed to be partners. She would protect me from people who wanted to hurt me and be the loyal companion I relied on to stick close. But Inyo could not be my guardian. Instead I was hers. Not only did I have to shield her from the world, I had to shield the world from her.”

Throughout Part Wild, Terrill chronicles her journey with Inyo with unflinching honesty, reflecting on the legal limbo of keeping a wolfdog, her own misconceptions and missteps, and the emotional toll it took on her and her husband.

Listen to the full conversation with Ceiridwen Terrill on Think Out Loud.

This article includes contributions from Think Out Loud’s Julie Sabatier.