Interrupting the aggressive cycle

Months ago I meant to blog about how dogs interrupt the aggressive cycle for wolves.

This came from a conversation at Ben Lomond Quaker Center, during the workshop led by Robin, Wess, and Martin on Primitive Quakerism for a Postmodern Era.

Anyway, Dave was telling us that dogs are "neotonous" wolves -- developmentally, they are like wolf puppies. That's why people keep them around.

The added benefit is that they smell like wolf puppies to wolves. And wolves are instinctively tolerant and encouraging of their puppies.

The wolf's "aggressive cycle" is to hunt, stalk, and then attack the prey (usually in a pack). So when a wolf scents and sees a shepherd dog near the herd, it gets confused. When the dog snarls and barks, the wolf is interrupted in the middle of its aggressive cycle. Is this snarling animal a foe or a little one? That is usually enough to end the threat.

(I don't claim any of the above is strictly, scientifically, and technically accurate. It's a fairly faithful report of the conversation we had, though.)

The parallels with active nonviolence seem clear. The challenge is to find ways to interrupt the human cycle of aggression and violence early enough to stop it from erupting. That takes courage and seemingly endless creativity.

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