Image used by kind permission of the artist.
Humans always had fantasies about turning into animals. They feared or they dreamed to be able or forced to change their human body against the one of an animal. They are therianthropes (greek: therion = animal, anthropos = human.) Therianthropes are common to every culture. The shape shifter and wendigo for American native believes, kitsune (fox spirit) for Japanese mythology, the Minotaurs and Centaurs of the antiquity or the the werewolf of the Indo-European cultures for example.
What's the fascination with therianthropes? Is it that most animal bodies are superior to our human ones? That they acquire food apparently easier? Are we thus craving for the supposed omnipotence of seemingly "wild" animals? Or is it even "animal" sex we are fascinated about?
Quite a good motivation for a lot of people. But there is a problem with this concept. No other animal (except rats perhaps) is as flexible as the human. No other animal is as flexible regarding nutrition as the human. And no other animal is more independent of the season when it comes to sex. Furthermore no animal develops more sexual phantasy. Thus man has no apparent reason to attribute animal traits to himself.
On the other hand humans are the champions to spoil each other their chances. No other animal invests as much time as mankind to make living a hell for fellow specimen and drive them into a most cruel and degrading death.
Nature is not heaven on earth, though. Other species than homo sapiens have to endure brutality, hunger, illness, pain, death, conflicts and fights as well. However nature does not mean that only the strongest survives. That's not what Darwin said at all. He was talking about the survival of the fittest, i.e. the best adjusted. It isn't even correct to understand evolution with the focus on the survival of individuals. The one best adapted individual is (normally only slightly) more likely able to pass his or her genes to the following generations as numerous as possible.
I'm a human being, but I don't like this skin. The human body is not very attractive to me. I'm not just talking about my own, nature wasn't very disgraceful to me. But there is, without reason, a longing for another shape; the memory of another life.
You feel the wind caressing your fur, from the head over your back of your tail. You smell the scent of your mate. She licks your muzzle. You hear the leafs rustling in the trees, ears peaked up. You feel the humid grass below your feet but you concentrate on the new scent -- a young deer. You can feel every single muscle in your body, one look to your mate. She's ready, the hunt begins.
Since I have to live in this human body I'm obsessed with pictures of Furries. Furries usually are very friendly and lovable beings. Those people who want to live their lifestyle should have a look at the newsgroup alt.lifestyle.furry. But be careful, you might get hugged spontaniously... ;-) (N.B.: alt.lifestyle.furry is not about furry artwork per se. It is about how furriness influences your everyday life, what aspects make you furry. Hence furry lifestyle.)
At least as fascinating to visualize to be a wolf is to imagine to become one. Everyone fascinated (or obsessed...) with transformations should check out Thomas Hassan's Transformation Story Archives. There is also a site with transformation pictures, TransFur.Com.