The Game of Thrones universe, like other Middle Earthish universes, is full of Shit That Doesn't Really Exist, but that some fans would like to see exist because real life can seem like an endless panoply of quotidian sadness. Wouldn't you like to enter a pet store and buy an adorable tiny dragon that perches on your shoulder and goes, "Eep!" in your ear, tickling your cheek with fire kisses? And who wouldn't want a faithful direwolf puppy, which, in this fantasyscape, is just a more awesome and helpful version of a regular puppy? Unfortunately, there is no direwolf salesperson. Not quite.
You might soon be able to own a direwolf imposter, thanks to the efforts of Schwarz Kennels, home of the Dire Wolf Project in White City, Oregon. Underwire's Rachel Edidin writes that the Dire Wolf Project, while not a true breeding back project (Canis dirus went extinct some 10,000 years ago), selectively breeds for aesthetics, sort of, kind of, maybe a little bit approximating the dire wolf look.
Enter the adorably fluffy and companionable American Alsatian, which, although not strictly-speaking a dire wolf Jurassic Park creation, is still pretty "wolfy":
American Alsatians look really cool. They're distinctly wolfy, but wider, shaggier and warmer in color than huskies, malamutes or modern gray wolves. Basically, they're the kind of fantasy wolves that wouldn't look out of place howling at a T-shirt moon, which may be exactly the sort of pet that a lot of would-be members of House Stark are looking for.
Topping out at 130 pounds, American Alsatians are not quite up to dire wolf size, but in that regard Schwarz says the breed will be informed more by practicality than accuracy. Few families are looking for a 160-pound dog, and Schwarz is anxious to avoid American Alsatians ending up at the pound.
All science needs to do now bestow on us now is a leopard-sized black cat so we can finally have a Bagheera companion to go on tree-climbing adventures with. Oh, and a bear that eats honey, smells like orange blossoms, and doesn't mind wearing an undersized bellhop uniform. I'll wait, science, but that annoying staccato noise is the sound of my foot tapping on the floor of your lab.