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