DiscoverThe Daily'Animal,' Episode 5: Wolves
'Animal,' Episode 5: Wolves

'Animal,' Episode 5: Wolves

Update: 2024-06-306
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Sam Anderson, a journalist for The Times Magazine, embarks on a journey to a remote village in Japan to visit the memorial statue of the last known Japanese wolf. He encounters a taxi driver named Dysuke, who shares a deeply personal story about his Chihuahua, Gotaro. Dysuke's story reveals the complex relationship between humans and animals, particularly the connection between wolves and dogs. He recounts how his father-in-law, initially opposed to animals, became violent towards Gotaro, ultimately leading to the dog losing an eye. This incident forced Dysuke to leave his father-in-law's house, highlighting the emotional bond between humans and their pets. The story underscores the importance of respecting animals and recognizing their individual personalities. The episode concludes with Dysuke playing a video of Gotaro howling, a sound that echoes the primal howl of the Japanese wolf, reminding listeners of the enduring connection between humans and animals.

Outlines

00:00:00
Introduction

This Chapter introduces the new series "Animal" from NYT Audio, featuring Sam Anderson's journey to encounter animals around the world. The episode focuses on the Japanese wolf and its memorial statue.

00:00:47
The Pilgrimage to the Wolf Statue

This Chapter details Sam Anderson's journey to the wolf statue, highlighting the challenges and unexpected encounters along the way. The journey takes him through scenic landscapes and into the heart of a remote village in Japan.

00:11:36
Listener Feedback

This Chapter features a brief segment where the hosts of the "Matter of Opinion" podcast discuss listener feedback and describe their podcast as a platform for engaging conversations about social issues and politics.

00:12:45
Dysuke's Life Story

This Chapter delves into the taxi driver Dysuke's life story, revealing a poignant tale of loss, family, and the profound impact of a pet on his life. Dysuke's story highlights the complexities of human relationships and the importance of respecting animals.

00:23:10
Approaching the Wolf Statue

This Chapter describes the arrival at the wolf statue, emphasizing the quiet and unassuming nature of the memorial. The statue, a black metal representation of the last known Japanese wolf, evokes a sense of reverence and contemplation.

00:29:23
Reflections on the Wolf Statue

This Chapter explores the emotional impact of the wolf statue, prompting reflections on the loss of a species and the enduring connection between humans and animals. The episode concludes with Dysuke playing a video of his Chihuahua, Gotaro, howling, a sound that echoes the primal howl of the Japanese wolf.

Keywords

Japanese wolf
The Japanese wolf (Canis lupus hodophilax) is an extinct subspecies of wolf that was native to Japan. It was smaller than other wolf subspecies and had a reddish-brown coat. The Japanese wolf was revered by the Japanese people as a sacred guardian and was believed to protect crops. However, the species was hunted to extinction in the early 20th century due to a combination of factors, including rabies outbreaks, modernization, and the killing of livestock. The last known Japanese wolf was killed in 1905.

Gotaro
Gotaro is a Chihuahua, a small breed of dog, owned by Dysuke, the taxi driver in the episode. Gotaro plays a significant role in Dysuke's life story, representing the deep bond between humans and their pets. The name Gotaro is a masculine Japanese name, which Dysuke chose for his Chihuahua despite its small size, highlighting the dog's strong personality. The name Gotaro is also significant because it contrasts with the dog's original name, Love, which Dysuke changed to avoid reliving the trauma of his father-in-law's abuse.

Animal
Animal is a new series from NYT Audio that explores the relationship between humans and animals. The series features journalist Sam Anderson's journeys to encounter animals around the world, aiming to appreciate them without claiming or taming them. The series explores the diverse ways in which animals impact human lives and the complex emotions that arise from these interactions.

Power spot
A power spot is a Japanese term that refers to a place that is believed to have a high concentration of spiritual energy. These places are often associated with natural features, such as mountains, forests, and waterfalls, and are believed to have healing or transformative powers. The wolf statue in the episode is described as a power spot, reflecting the reverence and respect that the Japanese people once held for wolves.

Chihuahua
The Chihuahua is a small breed of dog that originated in Mexico. Chihuahuas are known for their distinctive appearance, with their small size, large heads, and pointed ears. They are also known for their strong personalities and can be quite affectionate with their owners. In the episode, Dysuke's Chihuahua, Gotaro, represents the deep bond between humans and their pets and highlights the importance of respecting animals, even those that are small and seemingly insignificant.

Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals. It is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals, typically through bites or scratches. Rabies is fatal if left untreated. In the episode, rabies outbreaks in the 1700s are cited as a factor that contributed to the decline of the Japanese wolf population, as wolves became more dangerous to humans.

Modernization
Modernization refers to the process of social, economic, and technological development that transforms a society from a traditional to a more modern state. In the episode, modernization in Japan during the 1800s is cited as a factor that led to the decline of the Japanese wolf population. As Japan adopted Western-style agriculture and cattle herds, wolves were seen as pests and were systematically hunted to extinction.

Extinction
Extinction is the complete disappearance of a species from Earth. The Japanese wolf is an example of a species that has gone extinct due to human activities. The episode explores the consequences of human actions on animal populations and the importance of conservation efforts to prevent further extinctions.

Memorial
A memorial is a monument or structure erected to commemorate a person, event, or place. The wolf statue in the episode is a memorial to the last known Japanese wolf, serving as a reminder of the species' extinction and the importance of preserving biodiversity.

Osaka
Osaka is a major city in Japan, located on the island of Honshu. It is known for its vibrant culture, bustling economy, and delicious food. In the episode, Dysuke mentions that he used to live in Osaka before moving to Kyoto and Nara.

Q&A

  • What is the significance of the Japanese wolf statue that Sam Anderson visits?

    The statue is a memorial to the last known Japanese wolf, which was killed in 1905. It represents the extinction of a species that was once revered by the Japanese people as a sacred guardian. The statue serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving biodiversity and respecting animals.

  • What is the story of Dysuke's Chihuahua, Gotaro, and how does it relate to the episode's theme?

    Dysuke's story reveals the complex relationship between humans and animals, particularly the connection between wolves and dogs. He recounts how his father-in-law, initially opposed to animals, became violent towards Gotaro, ultimately leading to the dog losing an eye. This incident forced Dysuke to leave his father-in-law's house, highlighting the emotional bond between humans and their pets. The story underscores the importance of respecting animals and recognizing their individual personalities.

  • What are some of the factors that led to the extinction of the Japanese wolf?

    The Japanese wolf was hunted to extinction due to a combination of factors, including rabies outbreaks, modernization, and the killing of livestock. Rabies outbreaks in the 1700s made wolves more dangerous to humans, while modernization in the 1800s led to the adoption of Western-style agriculture and cattle herds, which wolves preyed upon. This resulted in wolves being seen as pests and systematically hunted to extinction.

  • How does the episode connect the Japanese wolf to dogs?

    The episode explores the close relationship between wolves and dogs, highlighting the fact that dogs are essentially wolves that have evolved over thousands of years to live in close proximity to humans. Dysuke's story about his Chihuahua, Gotaro, further emphasizes this connection, as he chooses a masculine name for his dog, reflecting the dog's strong personality and the primal instincts that it shares with wolves.

  • What is the emotional impact of the wolf statue and Dysuke's story?

    The wolf statue evokes a sense of reverence and contemplation, prompting reflections on the loss of a species and the enduring connection between humans and animals. Dysuke's story about Gotaro highlights the emotional bond between humans and their pets and underscores the importance of respecting animals, even those that are small and seemingly insignificant. Both the statue and Dysuke's story remind listeners of the profound impact that animals have on human lives.

Show Notes

In a broken world, what can we gain by looking another animal in the eye? "Animal" is a six-part, round-the-world journey in search of an answer. In Episode 5, the writer Sam Anderson travels to an obscure memorial in rural Japan: the statue of the last Japanese wolf.

For photos and videos of Sam's journey to Japan, visit nytimes.com/animal

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'Animal,' Episode 5: Wolves

'Animal,' Episode 5: Wolves

The New York Times