So You Wanna Buy a Direwolf …

Dire wolf

Plugged In has tracked plenty of correlations between entertainment and its influence on our real-world values. We’ve regularly looked at what scientists have to say about the potential links between our media habits and our choices in areas such as sex, smoking and alcohol usage.

But sometimes those links show up in ways that are less serious—and more … furry.

HBO’s hit fantasy series Game of Thrones features lots of different things—a byzantine plot and graphic sexual content among them. It also includes animals known as direwolves, which are wolves, only bigger. They look, kinda sorta, like bigger versions of Siberian Huskies.

You know where this is going, right?

It turns out that quite a lot of folks—at least in the San Francisco Bay area—are purchasing Husky pups. But when they grow to, erm, dire sizes, they’re subsequently being abandoned.

So GoT star Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister, has teamed up with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to issue a statement urging fans of the show to think twice before purchasing one of these dogs. He said:

“Please, to all of Game of Thrones’ many wonderful fans, we understand that due to the direwolves’ huge popularity, many folks are going out and buying huskies. Not only does this hurt all the deserving homeless dogs waiting for a chance at a good home in shelters, but shelters are also reporting that many of these huskies are being abandoned—as often happens when dogs are bought on impulse, without understanding their needs.”

He concluded, “Please, please, if you’re going to bring a dog into your family, make sure that you’re prepared for such a tremendous responsibility and remember to always, ALWAYS, adopt from a shelter.”

Some may scoff at the suggestion that entertainment really influences our choices and values in the real world. And, admittedly, airtight evidence of actual causation is hard to prove.

Still, stories like this one suggest—anecdotally, if not scientifically—that many folks really are influenced by their entertainment choices in concrete, sometimes surprising, ways.

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

bobed More than 1 year ago
I scoff at this. I'm sure the plight of the Huskies is real, and it makes me sad. People shouldn't buy dogs on impulse. However, there's a real, and silly, stigma against buying dogs from a breeder. Everyone's shelter-crazy, and everyone goes on and on about the "wrongness" of buying from a breeder. That's nonsense, in my humble opinion. A licensed, experienced breeder can provide you with a well-behaved dog whose genetic history is known. Can a shelter do that? No. A breeder can show you the parents of your puppy, so you know what you're getting into. Can a shelter do that? No. A breeder shows you multiple puppies of the breed you want, and lets you have your pick. Does a shelter do that? No, you just take what you can get. 

Breeders get a bad reputation among animal-lovers, and that's just nonsensical. People, if you want a purebred dog whose behavior and health problems can be predicted, then go to a breeder. If you want anything else, try your luck at a shelter. Or get a cat.
bobed More than 1 year ago
Another comment of mine: of all the behaviors that Game of Thrones could cause people to emulate, I'm glad the only newsworthy one is the purchasing of dogs. 
SJamison More than 1 year ago
If pet dragons were available, you bet people would be buying them (especially little silver-haired girls) and abandoning the flame-breathing lizards once they're big enough to eat the neighbor's sheep.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

This is just my two cents, but why would anyone want to buy a dog when cats are WAY better? Unlike a dog, you can still hold and cuddle with a cat when it's grown up. They also don't make nearly as much noise as dogs do.
bobed More than 1 year ago
I don't know what to tell you. I've always liked both animals. Dogs are more openly loving, but cats are quieter, cleaner and more dignified. Over my years I've had both as pets and I can't say I enjoyed having one over the other.
bobed More than 1 year ago
Also, huh? You can hold and cuddle grown-up dogs. What on earth kind of dog are you talking about? I'm scratching my head.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I guess my comment was a little vague. I meant to say that while you can still cuddle with a dog, you just won't be able to pick it up and have it sleep in your lap. I understand that some dogs are the size of cats, but not most of them.

But I can also see what you're saying; a lot of people don't have a preference when it comes to dogs and cats.
bobed More than 1 year ago
I could share with you a picture right now, as I type this, of my fully grown little dog happily sleeping in my lap. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by Peggy Carter

And I wish you all could've seen my beautiful golden retriever who was absolutely convinced that he was the size of a toy poodle and treated our laps like he was one. :)
Natasha Cover More than 1 year ago
I'm not going to say "always and only shelters", but I do usually support shelters and pounds over breeders.  I have several reasons for this.  First, because breeders often charge a ludicrous amount of money; I've found shelters to be far more affordable (in general, not saying this is true for all breeders and all shelters), and that the money going towards shelters helps them take in strays and protect them.  Which is my second point - breeders breed their animals specifically to sell them.  Shelters take in animals that are no longer wanted, are out on the streets, or have special needs.  Those animals are desperately in need of love.  I volunteered for 8 years in the leukemia section of a cat shelter.  Despite the disease not passing to humans, despite them being some of the sweetest and most loving cats I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, I only witnessed a handful of adoptions.  A lot of breeders also sell young animals; old ones need love too, and that's part of why I like shelters.  They give all age ranges a chance.  Lastly, if I don't adopt an animal from a breeder, I know there's a pretty good chance someone else will come along and take them.  At pounds and shelters, however, that animal might never get a home.  They could wait years.  The pound could put them down.  The shelter could reach its maximum capacity and not be able to take in more animals in need.  These are all issues that, as far as I have heard, breeders don't have to deal with.
So if you want a purebred of some sort, or if the bloodline of animal matters to you, breeders are probably your best bet.   However, if you just want a loving and cuddly companion, I highly recommend shelters.  Not just because they can be more affordable, but because they can help a lot of animals, too.
bobed More than 1 year ago
If only people would take good care of their dogs and (this is the most important part) always spay or neuter them, there would be much less of an overpopulation problem in shelters.
charitysplace More than 1 year ago
Selective breeding causes many purebred breeds to have problems that could be corrected if the American Breeders Association would allow crossbreeding -- as it stands now, bulldogs have an average life span of 7 years, many flat-faced dogs have trouble breathing, and other breeds have heart problems... which would not exist without pureblood breeding.

I wonder if this is what God intended, when He asked humans to be Caretakers over the earth -- or if our desire to breed animals into inbred distortions just because they look "cool" that way breaks His heart.

Mixed breeds have a higher chance at a longer lifespan. Since each pet I get rips my heart out when it does, I'd rather go 15-20 years between devastation. ;)
charitysplace More than 1 year ago
*dies, not does