copyright – Alan Conrad

In my book The Shyness Guide, I discuss The Pipestone Wolves, a book by animal behaviorist Gunter Bloch about a family of wolves that lived in Canada’s Banff National Park.

In explaining wolves, Bloch writes about the shyness that is common in many of them. But he has a concept of shyness that is different. He has concluded that the psychological pie can be best divided up not with one split – the usual introvert-extrovert – but with two:

Shy vs Non-shy

Strong-minded vs Weak-minded 

Bloch started his studies in Italy with feral dogs, when he says he was using “introvert/extrovert” terminology. But he found it too confining, so he switched to ‘type A, type B’, which incorporates his different understanding of shyness.

Type A’s, Block says, are explorative and daring. They are the wolves most often seen on the park’s roads by tourists. Then he adds:

By contrast, there is the Type B personality, who always waits and behaves more cautiously and is more reserved in decision making. This personality does not spontaneously approach unknown stimuli but rather behaves discreetly and is shy. Type B wolves often take detours around any obstacles, such as vehicles.

Block emphasizes that both type A and type B can be either strong or weak, or somewhere in-between.

The male leader of the Pipestone pack was a black wolf they called Spirit. He was a shy wolf – type B  – more avoidant of humans and other dangers than most wolves. But he was also a strong-minded, brave wolf who successfully led the pack for years both in hunting and fighting rivals. His partner Faith was Type A, more outgoing than Spirit, and also strong. The two shared their leadership duties on a more or less 50/50 basis.

One of Bloch’s many interesting findings is that wolves tend to mate with a partner who is their opposite – type As join up with type Bs, etc. He has never found two type As or two type Bs together. It makes you wonder whether wolves might know something about psychology that we don’t know.

Aside from being a new way of perceiving shyness, The Pipestone Wolves is an important addition to the literature about a fascinating animal, and the Pipestone family is one you won’t forget. Here is a link to their book on Amazon:


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