The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack

The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack

From the world-famous couple who lived alongside a three-generation wolf pack, this book of inspiration, drawn from the wild, will fascinate animal and nature lovers alike.For six years Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived intimately with a pack of wolves, gaining their trust as no one has before. In this book the Dutchers reflect on the virtues they observed in wolf society and be...

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Title:The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack
Author:Jim Dutcher
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Edition Language:English

The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack Reviews

  • Maxine

    There had been a debate raging in the US starting in the 1970s about reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone and other national parks. Historically, wolves have been one of the most vilified animals on the planet, a dangerous even evil predator. How often, for example, are mass murderers called ‘lone wolves’? It was a universally accepted ‘fact’ that wolves needed to be completely eliminated. And, in the US they almost were. But after they were gone, elk herds expanded out of control. The debate w

    There had been a debate raging in the US starting in the 1970s about reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone and other national parks. Historically, wolves have been one of the most vilified animals on the planet, a dangerous even evil predator. How often, for example, are mass murderers called ‘lone wolves’? It was a universally accepted ‘fact’ that wolves needed to be completely eliminated. And, in the US they almost were. But after they were gone, elk herds expanded out of control. The debate was finally settled in the 1990s in favour of reintroduction although the decision was and continues to be vehemently opposed by ranchers and hunters.

    Before the start of the program, Jim Dutcher was given permission to do a documentary about wolves in Yellowstone. To truly understand the animal, he felt he had to live in proximity with them. Wolf cubs were brought in from Canada and raised by Jim and his team until they were old enough to live on their own. To ensure the safety of the wolves, a fence was erected and Jim and his team provided food for them to keep the pack from wandering. Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived with the Sawtooth pack for six year, watching and recording their behaviour.

    Over the years, they gained the trust of the pack and what they observed looked nothing like the vicious animal of legend. Instead what they saw were distinct individuals but who formed a familial bond, who displayed ‘kindness, teamwork, playfulness, respect, curiosity, and compassion’. In The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack, Jim and Jamie discuss these virtues.

    I have no doubt that some would say that, in The Wisdom of Wolves, the Dutchers have anthropomorphized the wolves, attributing to them human characteristics and behaviour that aren’t really there or that, by keeping them in a safe place they changed the normal behaviour. But, throughout the book, the Dutchers give examples of similar behaviour from packs other observers have documented in the wild and from a distance.

    The Dutchers provide a fascinating view of the behaviours of wolves that makes it clear that, not only are they similar to humans in many surprising ways but that we could learn a great deal from them. By the end, I felt I knew and cared very deeply for the fate of the pack. They also show how important wolves are to the ecosystem. For anyone who believes that nature is a system of interconnected species and that the loss of even one group has a domino effect on the rest or, for that matter, just wants to know more about this beautiful animal, I can’t recommend The Wisdom of Wolves highly enough.

  • Beth

    I have long been a fan of the Dutchers - their work stands as a testament to the amazing creatures we call wolves. And as this book makes clear - we humans have far more in common with wolves than we realize...or like to admit. Taking character traits that we value as humans, the Dutchers show how those very same traits exist in wolves. This book is, frankly, a love letter to the wolves they have known and studied - and a call for humans to do better and to be better when it comes to these amazi

    I have long been a fan of the Dutchers - their work stands as a testament to the amazing creatures we call wolves. And as this book makes clear - we humans have far more in common with wolves than we realize...or like to admit. Taking character traits that we value as humans, the Dutchers show how those very same traits exist in wolves. This book is, frankly, a love letter to the wolves they have known and studied - and a call for humans to do better and to be better when it comes to these amazing creatures. I am not ashamed to say that I shed more than a few tears reading this book, and I can only hope that as more and more people are exposed to the reality that is wolf - rather than the demonization that has long existed - we can come to honor and to respect them as the incredible creatures they are.

  • Jordan

    Simply incredible.

    Find this review and an

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    For six years, Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived on the perimeter of Idaho's Sawtooth Wilderness with a pack of wolves known as the Sawtooth pack in order to observe the movements, behavior, and social lives of wolves. The couple gained the trust of the wolves and used their studies to share the beauty and significance of wolves amidst the prevalence of much rising anti-wolf sentiment and negative image

    Simply incredible.

    Find this review and an

    at

    !

    For six years, Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived on the perimeter of Idaho's Sawtooth Wilderness with a pack of wolves known as the Sawtooth pack in order to observe the movements, behavior, and social lives of wolves. The couple gained the trust of the wolves and used their studies to share the beauty and significance of wolves amidst the prevalence of much rising anti-wolf sentiment and negative imagery often associated with wolves. In their book, The Wisdom of Wolves, Jim and Jamie share the many important lessons and values they learned from wolves while observing them in their daily lives.

    I have a very special relationship the work of Jim and Jamie Dutcher and the Sawtooth pack, as I grew up with a mother and grandmother who both love wolves and supported their work. When I saw this book, I knew I had to read it, and I am so grateful that I had a chance to read and review a copy! I had such a wonderful time reading this book and it turned out to be one that I could not put down. The Dutchers are both incredibly eloquent with their thoughts and convey such striking, sincere emotion when discussing both the wolves themselves and lessons they have learned from the wolves.

    Each chapter focuses on a different 'lesson' that we, as humans, can learn from wolves. Within each chapter the Dutchers include anecdotes about wolves from the Sawtooth packs, wolves from other locations, and even from individuals involved in wolf protection and research. I found each chapter so enlightening and meaningful, and I feel as though I learned more about life from this short book than I have in a long time. Many of the stories and bits of wisdom shared were heartwarming, some heartbreaking, but all inspiring. I may or may not have even found myself tearing up at more than a few of their stories.

    Throughout the book, the Dutchers introduce their readers to the many distinct individual wolves that make up the Sawtooth pack, such as the alpha male Kamots, the alpha female Chemukh, the omega Lakota, and all the rest. My favorite part of this book was reading about how all of the wolves lived together, worked together, and how truly distinct each one's personality was. This book is also incredibly instructive in the different roles each pack members plays and how they all contribute to the whole.

    Overall, there's simply no way that I could give this book anything less than five stars. You can also find out more about the work the Dutchers have done (and continue to do) at their website,

    .

  • Diane S ☔

    Your reaction of this book will depend on what you are looking for. First, obviously you have to have an interest in wolves, which I do, and second if you are looking for a book about wolves in the wild, this one will not appeal. For me, it was exactly what I was looking for, a controlled environment that allowed the Dutchers a first hand look at wolf behavior. Each chapter is preceded by a photo, by books end all the wolves in their orbit were shown. Beautiful animals.

    Not only did I get to see

    Your reaction of this book will depend on what you are looking for. First, obviously you have to have an interest in wolves, which I do, and second if you are looking for a book about wolves in the wild, this one will not appeal. For me, it was exactly what I was looking for, a controlled environment that allowed the Dutchers a first hand look at wolf behavior. Each chapter is preceded by a photo, by books end all the wolves in their orbit were shown. Beautiful animals.

    Not only did I get to see each wolf's picture but I also learned about their different personalities, their role in the pack. How they played, where they gave birth, how they mourned when a pack member died or was killed. These animals have many of the same emotions and traits thatwe have, empathy, sensitivity, playfulness, loyalty, grief, curiousity. The cooperation between wolves and Ravens, how they use each other to search out food. I felt like I really got to know these wolves personally and missed them already at books end.

    The background of the Dutchers, the reintroduction of wolves at Yellowstone, wolves at Denali are also a part of this book. The fear people have, wanting to kill them when they step out of protected territory, and many are killed that way. There are so horrible statistics given terrible ways these wolves and their pups are killed. Heartbreaking, but as usual many are afraid of something they don't understand.

    Anyway this was exactly the book I personally was looking for.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

  • Hayley

    Well, I'm not sure how to rate this. I live in North Idaho and like alot of people, I love wolves. I thought it'd be a pretty interesting read since it's pretty close to where I live, but I have mixed feelings about this book. First of all this is not a book about wild wolves. It is a somewhat man made wolf pack in a large area of enclosed land, for the purpose of their study/documentary. The couple(Jamie/Jim) lives in this land with the wolves and besides providing road kill, the couple claims

    Well, I'm not sure how to rate this. I live in North Idaho and like alot of people, I love wolves. I thought it'd be a pretty interesting read since it's pretty close to where I live, but I have mixed feelings about this book. First of all this is not a book about wild wolves. It is a somewhat man made wolf pack in a large area of enclosed land, for the purpose of their study/documentary. The couple(Jamie/Jim) lives in this land with the wolves and besides providing road kill, the couple claims to be non invasive. But their actions tell me otherwise. When a female digs her den and has her pups, it's talked of how this den is sacred, not even any of the other members of the pack are allowed into it. So why does Jamie feel entitled to crawl into the den just hours after the pups are born? It just seemed a tad invasive and uncalled for. Second, they write about how pups are constantly being added to the pack, but they don't say where or how they came to be added, which leads me to believe they're ripped away from they're mothers. And then again, when new pups are born into the pack on the land, they don't just leave them be to their perfectly functionable parents. They take them to their selves for weeks at a time so the pups will "get used to them". But the couple lives amongst the pack and the entire pack is used to them so why would the pups not grow up to be? I just don't see why this was necessary, it almost seemed like a pretty cruel thing to do, for both pups and parents. And under the said circumstances I just feel like it took away alot from their whole "project".

    Negative feelings about this aside, there is some very touching behavioral observations that I enjoyed and I can tell the couple has a passion for what they do. There is still alot of good to take away from this book. The comparisons to people, unlike any other animal, are pretty remarkable. A real connection is drawn between wolves and people. The personalities, interactions, and journey of each wolf is written about. Stories of other packs and their uniqueness is talked of as well. It's clear these people have alot of knowledge and experience in this field and the casual tone of the book makes you feel like your having a conversation with a couple of friends. I'm glad there are people that have a motivated passion to change the mistreatment/misunderstanding of wolves. I'm glad they continue to do so. This really is an enjoyable/touching read.

  • Correen

    It took me awhile to appreciate the work of Jim and Jody Dutcher. I did not understand the value of a setting where humans and wolves lived in close proximity. It seemed that their observations would be contaminated. What was not clear to me was that in living close to the wolves, they came to understand the values, thinking, and emotions of the wolves. They learned that adult male wolves protected all young wolves, not just their own. He observed deliberate and difficult decision-making in the

    It took me awhile to appreciate the work of Jim and Jody Dutcher. I did not understand the value of a setting where humans and wolves lived in close proximity. It seemed that their observations would be contaminated. What was not clear to me was that in living close to the wolves, they came to understand the values, thinking, and emotions of the wolves. They learned that adult male wolves protected all young wolves, not just their own. He observed deliberate and difficult decision-making in the wolf community. They watched the patterns within the community and could predict behaviors of members based on their preferences, role, and community values. Comparison with other packs was achieved in their various projects and in their participation with other researchers.

  • Janelle

    “Only by seeing wolves as they are, as neither demon or deity but as creatures worthy of our admiration will we find tolerance within our own human character.”

    If you are familiar and a fan of wolves, there are no revelations here. But there are affirmations and beautiful stories about the true nature of wolves that I wish doubters would read.

  • Sheryl

    I had a difficult time deciding how to review this book. Parts of it were really good but I had a difficult time with the premise and that kept me from loving this book. In this review I will explain what I liked about the book and what problems I had and anyone who read the review can decide for themselves which side of the fence they fall on. Do the pros outweigh the cons? I’m still not sure. (Hence the middle of the road, 3-star rating)

    This book provides a lot of insight into wolves— how they

    I had a difficult time deciding how to review this book. Parts of it were really good but I had a difficult time with the premise and that kept me from loving this book. In this review I will explain what I liked about the book and what problems I had and anyone who read the review can decide for themselves which side of the fence they fall on. Do the pros outweigh the cons? I’m still not sure. (Hence the middle of the road, 3-star rating)

    This book provides a lot of insight into wolves— how they live their lives and relate to one another— and how much we humans have in common with them. There are lots of specific examples of how wolves exhibit curiousity, empathy, compassion and intelligence. These examples are not just from the Sawtooth Pack but also from other packs living in the wild in Yellowstone, Denali and elsewhere. The Dutchers share stories of other wolf packs that they learn from other researchers in these regions. I also learned lots of little interesting facts about wolves that I didn’t know before. For example, I did not know that wolves only live an average 10 years. There was some information regarding anti-wolf movements and behaviors. I wish they had spent a little more time on that, as I was appalled by how many wolves are killed by people and the general hatred they have towards wolves. However, I understand that wasn’t the purpose of the book. But rather it was to show people how similar humans and wolves are, how rich the life of a wolf is, and how much we can learn from them. I just wish they had found a different way to gather that information; if they had, I probably would have enjoyed this book much more.

    In an effort to gain enough trust to get close enough to film the wolves, the Dutchers created a wolf pack which they could live near. They started by hand-raising a little of 3 pups, after which time they added another litter of 3 pups (which they also hand-raised). This was followed by another litter of 3 pups. With each addition of pups, they hand-raised them just long enough to gain their trust and then released them into a large fenced in area (about 25 acres) in the Sawtooth Mountains. And so their Pack was created. A fourth litter of 3 pups was born to the Sawtooth Pack. They did not treat the wolves as pets and, after the hand-raising period, only interacted with them when instigated by the wolves themselves. They did, however, provide food for them (road kill animals). One of my big issues is that it is never quite clear where these litters of pup came from. There is brief mention of a rescue center at the beginning of the book in reference to two adult wolves that they had hoped to include in the Pack, but they quickly learned that the adults would not be good for what they wanted because they could never fully earn their complete trust. That was when the Dutchers realized they needed to start with pups that they hand-raised. But where did these pups come from? They got 3 litters of pups over the course of a year or two. Were these pups orphaned or taken from their parents? It bothered me immensely that they might have been taken from their parents, especially since the Dutchers, time and again, wrote about how close wolf families are and how wolf packs are often several generations living together. They told us that wolves mourn the loss of pack members. If this is the case, how could they justify removing pups from their parents in order to study them? Another thing that bothered me was that they took the litter of pups born to the Sawtooth Pack and hand-raised them in order to gain their trust, as well. They removed these pups from two healthy and attentive parents for several weeks before returning them to their pack. In this book, they repeatedly wrote that pups learn from the other pack members. I’m not an animal biologist or researcher, but couldn’t these new pups learn to trust the Dutchers simply by watching their parents and fellow pack mates interacting with and trusting them? It didn’t seem like it would have been necessary to remove those pups and hand-raise them.

    Additionally, the Sawtooth Pack was a captive pack. They didn’t have the same constant worry over predators that wild packs have. (With the exception of one incident, predators never bothered them in their enclosure.) They didn’t have to hunt for their food or worry about the scarcity of it. These things made me wonder just how much value was gained by this project (other than some wonderful pictures and video footage), because everything they observed among their pack, they reinforced by sharing stories and observations of wild packs exhibiting the same tendencies. I don’t doubt that the Dutchers loved and cared about the wolves in the Sawtooth Pack and that these wolves had a high quality of life. But, if other researchers could observe these things from wild packs, why then was there a need to create and observe a captive pack?

    These are some of the thoughts, questions and concerns I had while reading this book. I loved the stories about the wolves and how they interacted with one another, but I loved the similar stories about the wild packs just as much. I loved learning about the social structure of packs and reading about just how much like humans they are (or perhaps we are like them?). There is much to learn from this book but I think I would have enjoyed it more had some of my concerns about the origin of the wolves been answered or if this had actually been a wild pack.

  • Kunal

    This was an interesting book on the lessons that one man and his wife learned from his time conducting a 6 year project where he analyzed Wolves and lived in their habitat. It was quite incredible to understand some of the human natures that Wolves have operating in packs and how their behavior exhibits qualities of friendships, loyalty, love, fear, etc. Each of these wolf packs have an alpha male who is their leader, but they also have a weak wolf who gets bullied, and even one who is known to

    This was an interesting book on the lessons that one man and his wife learned from his time conducting a 6 year project where he analyzed Wolves and lived in their habitat. It was quite incredible to understand some of the human natures that Wolves have operating in packs and how their behavior exhibits qualities of friendships, loyalty, love, fear, etc. Each of these wolf packs have an alpha male who is their leader, but they also have a weak wolf who gets bullied, and even one who is known to play around with everyone. There are even bully wolves as well. It was incredible to learn how the alpha males would protect the weaker wolves and how whenever there was a death of one of the wolves in the pack that the wolves would stop playing around and would go into mourning for several months which you can tell by the type of howl they would have. You really get a sense of these wolves having real human like personalities after reading this book and you can understand that maybe they are not as dangerous as society makes them out to be and that we have a lot to learn from these species as well. Definitely a unique book about an interesting topic, however I didn't make any major realizations from the book aside from that wolves are an interesting species that are smarter than I ever thought they were.

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