I know you are busy, so you can give me a one word answer to my question, which is: when you were writing about the direwolves, did you intend for them to be like our grey wolves (but larger)? I ask because Shaggydog has a black coat, which would mean he is an alpha male if he were a grey wolf in North America.
Direwolves were an actual species of prehistoric wolf. They have long been extinct, of course, so there is much we can't know about them... but I have used much of what we =do= know for my own direwolves. Of course, I have also claimed a fantasist's prerogative to make everything bigger and more spectacular. Direwolves were larger than modern wolves, but not as large as my versions.