Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

From Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs

From Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs

Hudson Talbott
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Penguin, 2016   ISBN: 978-0399254048

Today millions of people around the world share their homes and their lives with dogs. The dogs are often a member of their family. In some cases the pets are also workers or helpers who serve a vital role in that family. This close relationship between humans and dogs did not always exist. Long ago before they were what we call dogs, these animals were wolves.

The wolves lived in packs, hunting and raising their pups together. There were some wolf pups that, due to unfortunate circumstances, found themselves without a pack to belong to, and for a wolf youngster this was a terrible situation to be in. For a human youngster, being without a community to belong to was also terrible. One night a pack-less wolf pup and a family-less human child met. When the wolf pup howled in misery, the human threw it a bone and the pup devoured the food. The human child fed the pup again and again until one day the two lost youngsters cautiously came together and the child touched the pup on the head.

From that moment on, the human boy and the young wolf were “a great team.” Together they hunted, and at night they kept each other warm. The boy and his wolf friend were joined by other human and wolf “misfits,” and they formed their own cooperative community. The interesting thing was that the community that they had created became very successful. Having the wolves to help with the hunt meant that the humans were able to catch more food and everybody benefited.

Over time the wolves changed in their appearance “to suit their lives with humans.” Humans changed too, becoming farmers instead of hunter gatherers, and in part they were able to do this because their animal companions could guard their herds of livestock and their crops. Humans settled down and the wolves became dogs. As humans evolved, the dogs evolved with them, taking on many different roles, such as herding, tracking, transporting, and guarding. Nowadays dogs not only work, but they serve as companions, as loving friends who offer humans unconditional affection and support.

This fascinating picture book explores how ancient wolves evolved to become the dogs we know and love today. It also shows us how this evolution was closely intertwined with human evolution. The author’s story of how the relationship was formed is indeed a story, but it is very possible that at some point, somewhere on the planet, humans and wolves did indeed begin their relationship due to a mutual need similar to the one describe in the story. There is no way of knowing exactly how to happened, but this book offers up one of many possible scenarios.