Sunday, August 17, 2008


Wolves are amazing animals. I thought that they were just big dogs – and boy was I wrong. Wolves are a whole 'nother beast altogether. They look cute as anything – but they're not really. They are handsome in a real wild beast sort of way.

It seems that there are some folks who think that they can keep wolves as pets, or that they can cross breed them with a dog and get a wolf who behaves like a dog. And that doesn't happen.

Eventually, the wolf/wolf-dog stops being a cute little wolf cub and gets dangerous. Maybe he mauls someone. Maybe she just keeps scaring the crap out of her keepers. Either way, it becomes apparent that the wolf can't stay at home anymore, and that's where the Wolf Sanctuary in New Mexico comes in.

The wolves can't be rehabilitated to the wild because so much of their life has been spent with folks who've tried to domesticate them. Unsuccessfully. And they can't remain as pets. The Wolf Sanctuary is a kind of half way house for half way wolves.

They live in pairs in big enclosures. Wolves mate for life, so most of the adult wolves are in pairs. There's the older female wolf who is in an enclosure on her own – her mate died, and she's not taken to any other males who have joined her – she seems happiest on her own.

Some of the wolves have roles, or tasks. There's Raven – he's the really handsome black wolf. Most wolves are scared of people and don't want anything to do with them, becoming aggressive. Not Raven – he quite enjoys people and has a nature that doesn't get too stressed by it all. So Raven's become the ambassador wolf for the Sanctuary. He goes to schools for education programs, and has marched in local parades. he's getting on in years now, and so the folks at the Sanctuary are looking for another wolf who could take on some of Raven's load.

Oh – and there's a confused boarder collie. The story goes that she was brought to the sanctuary as a young dog, and the owner claimed that she was a wolf/dog cross, and tat if th sanctuary didn't take her, he was going to shoot her. The sanctuary had some misgivings, but they took her anyway. She bonded with a grumpy male wolf.....and grew into an adult boarder collie.

The folks at the Sanctuary tried to get her out of her enclosure. You see, dogs and wolves are more different than most folks expect. A dog coming towards me with a wagging tale = happy friendly dog. A wolf coming towards me with a wagging tale = scared wolf. Dogs play with each other. Wolves don't. The sanctuary folks figured that in the same way that wolves are unhappy when treated as dogs, then this dog shouldn't be treated as wolf.

But she doesn't know that. As far as she's concerned, she's a wolf, she has her mate and neither she nor her mate are letting her out of the enclosure. She seems happy enough – even if she does look out of place.

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