Things have not dramatically changed in recent times and most spiritual therianthropes (many call themselves "weres" as a generic term) have kept to themselves and kept their beliefs hidden. Until the 'net. Nearly every were I've ever chatted with at one time thought they were the only one of their kind, and at one time wondered if maybe they really were crazy. Until the 'net.
The 'net gave us alt.horror.werewolves and for the first time we were able to share our thoughts and experiences with others like ourselves. For the first time we were not alone. Alt.horror.werewolves is now pretty much a wasteland but it spawned numerous web page collections, private lists, and friendships before it devolved in to chaos and unhappiness.
I have known that I was canine since I was a little girl. We didn't have a dog then, and none of our neighbors had dogs, but I still felt my canine self very keenly. Long before my teens, though, I had learned to hide these feelings and by the time I was 20 I had buried it all very deeply. But I was very unhappy. I kept a journal and in my writings I used metaphors and analogies to try to describe my feelings. These attempts always framed things from a canine point of view, yet it wasn't 'til my late 20's that I began to wonder about that.
By then, in the late 80's, the New Age preoccupation with all things Native American allowed me to consider the concept of an animal totem. I had vivid dreams that associated me closely with Wolf and for a while I worked with a concept of a Wolf totem.
But that wasn't enough, it wasn't quite right. Wolf might well be my totem (certainly Wolf acts as a guide for me in my dreams) but I was not wolf. Over the years I have explored my personality, my dreams, my points of view, my old journal entries and discovered some sort of collie-dog as my twin self. Not some sort of well bred animal like Lassie but something along those lines. My devotion to English Shepherds stems in part to this connection.
How does this affect my life? In many ways, not much at all. I am still human, I am still a Christian, I am still a part of the society that surrounds me. But my instinctive actions and reactions remain canine, as does my spirit.
To those who have read this far hoping from some titilating revelations, I am sorry to disappoint you. I do not think I am a dog, I do not wish I was a dog (except at those times when I'd rather sleep in), I do not want to be treated like a dog, or have sex with a dog. I don't even like dogs better than people (although there are some dogs I like better than some people...). Part of me is a dog, or is closer to Dog than to Man, but it is only part of me, albeit a big part. I am the sum of all my parts and I would not deny either side, human or canine.
And, for those to whom this all sounds crazy. Maybe. A hundred years ago people who were born one sex but felt like they should have been the other either repressed it, passed themselves off as the other (sometimes quite successfully), or were treated as insane. The medical profession is more enlightened now, and many such people can receive treatment to allow them to become the sex that matches their "self". Sexuality is accepted to be more than just the exterior differences between male and female; perhaps, in the future, personality will be accepted to be more than just the exterior differences between human and animal.
I certainly hope so, anyway.