>Feeding the monster

>I once wrote a story called Dead Wolf in a Hat in which I fooled around with some of the standard werewolf conventions. In researching the story, I stumbled on a Bavarian variety called a Boxenwolf, whose ability to shapeshift was controlled by a special belt, and I got to wondering what other accessories or articles of clothing might have a similar effect. I also got to wondering exactly when it was I encountered my first werewolf.

The mundane truth is it was probably watching Scooby Doo, but I reckon the first lycanthrope that really got to me – and still the most memorable of the movie werewolves IMHO – appeared in John Landis’s An American Werewolf in London. That transformation scene was just so bone-crunchingly real. The next milestone for me was Wolf in Stephen King’s The Talisman (read the book and I guarantee that particular hairy beast will break your heart).

What’s always intrigued me about the whole shapeshifter thing is why the wolf has become – in Western culture at least – its primary incarnation. Of course there are Asian weretigers and so on, but let’s face it, wolves rule and all the others drool. I’ve always assumed it goes back to hunter-clan folklore when man and wolf were first united in chasing down prey. Wolf became dog became man’s best friend. But a friend with teeth, who was perfectly capable of tearing your throat out if the call of the wild came too loud and strong. Or when the moon was full.

If you believe everything you read on the internet (why wouldn’t you?) there are maybe half a billion dogs in the world. And dogs are genetically almost indistinguishable from wolves. There may be one in your home right now. So whenever you open a can of Pedigree Chum, just remember you’re feeding the monster. And next time you go to sleep … consider locking the bedroom door.

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