National Wolf Awareness Week
An Interview with IndieWolf
facilitated by Lisa of TheAnimalsMagicShop
Photographs by IndieWolf
When did you first become interested in wolves ?
I was working with a spiritual teacher about 13 years ago, and he shared the parable of the two wolves:
An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life...
"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
"One represents anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt,
resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.
The other represents joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
"This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
"Which wolf will win?"
The old chief simply replied,
"The one you feed."
Something in me not only resonated with the story, but also recognized the wolf as my guide, my personal animal totem spirit. From that point on, I have walked with Wolf in my daily life.
How did you come to work with the wolves at W.O.L.F.
(Wolves Offered Life and Friendship) ?
Soon after that realization, I was going through a really difficult ending to a long-term relationship, and felt the need to do some volunteer work to shift my energy. I happened to be going through a stack of old newspapers when I came across an article about W.O.L.F. There was no contact information or address listed, only the town it was near, so I decided to drive up to the area – I don’t know if I thought I would see wolves running around or exactly what I expected, I was just inspired to go!
As fate would have it, I “happened” to run into one of the founders of the rescue, Pat Wendland, when I stopped in at a local store. She and I connected immediately and the rest, as they say, is history. I love synchronicity!
It really depends on what needs to be done, and how many volunteers are there on any given day. I have done everything from filling food and water buckets and passing out raw meat, to mending fences, grooming, helping with medical care, socializing the animals (and with the humans!), and even scooping poop. I have also helped out on many occasions at off-site programs offering information and education about wolves and wolf-dogs, and how people can get involved in supporting the mission of W.O.L.F.
To learn more about W.O.L.F.’s mission and the wonderful work they have done and are continuing to do, please visit this link: http://wolfsanctuary.net/88-special/88-20-InNutshell.htm
Can you tell us a little about the handsome
animal pictured in your avatar ?
Oh yes, Shaman. He was one of two pure wolf cubs rescued from euthanasia at a “wildlife” center that ended up with more cubs one season than they could handle. Shaman came to us when he was just 3 weeks old, and was one of the cutest little guys I have ever met (the other was his 2-week-old buddy Kasha, who accompanied him to their new home at W.O.L.F.).
It was a truly rare honor and pleasure – and a BIG challenge – for us to raise these two cubs, as all of the animals at the sanctuary are spayed or neutered so that we don’t contribute to the rising problem of the outrageous number of captive wolves and wolf-dogs that are abandoned, abused or killed for being exactly what they are meant to be…wild.
Shaman was the best and most challenging that a wolf can be – incredibly loving, often too intelligent, frequently ornery, immensely entertaining and maddeningly stubborn. He was a magnificent being who passed away just over a year ago, and we all miss him deeply…
Days begin fairly early at the sanctuary, though it does vary a bit with the seasons – as it does in nature. Depending on the day of the week, the humans will distribute available meat to the various runs, while checking to be sure the dry food dispensers and water buckets are full (and not iced-over in the winter).
Some of the animals are also on medications or supplements so those are given as appropriate, and the animals are observed for behavior, symptoms and such. The volunteers spend as much time socializing and caring for the animals as possible, and several days a week will inspect the runs for any repair needs while scooping poop.
Frank Wendland, one of the founders, has dedicated his life to the animals at W.O.L.F. He lives on site and provides care in addition to – and in the absence of – the volunteers. He also spends a fair amount of time on the phone and computer communicating with people who have animals that need help, corresponding with other rescues, and generally educating and organizing. Other than all of the necessary activities it is a pretty serene atmosphere, which is intentional – since many of the animals have been traumatized in some way before they find their way to W.O.L.F., we do our best to provide a feeling of calm and safety for them.
Rami & Shaka
The wolves and wolf-dogs are separated into small groups according to which animals get along, so are not all together in one big area. A lot of thought and planning goes into organizing the smaller packs, so that there are no fights that could cause danger to the animals or their human caregivers.
Yes, many of them do in their small packs. It is amazing to watch the hierarchy of the pack in action when they are playing or eating – you get a real sense of what it is like for a pack in the wild, how they relate to each other, respect each other, and how much loyalty there is between the members. They are such social beings, and have a lot to teach us about companionship, cooperation and working together.
It completely depends on the wolf and the person. Each animal has its own distinct personality, and they can be moody, so some days they are up for a visit with people, other days they act like a wolf in the wild and hide. They are much more likely to play with people who are regular visitors to the sanctuary, who they get to know and trust over time. It also depends a lot on how much they have been socialized, and whether or not they were abused, neglected or abandoned before they came to W.O.L.F.
Indie, Spirit & Cheyenne
They definitely prefer wild game, which is donated by hunters to the sanctuary. Some local restaurants and grocery stores also donate leftover meat, but the wolves love the wild stuff the best. They are also given dry dog-food to augment their meat-diet. We actually had one wolf-dog that liked to steal cheesecake off the dining room table… but that’s a story for another day… :o)
The wolves receive wonderful care, primarily by veterinarian Priscilla Dressen, as well as the VCA Animal Hospital, both in Fort Collins, CO. The veterinary care is paid for out of donations received, or in special cases sponsored by private donors.
For the animals placed at the sanctuary, it depends on how they have been cared for, as so many of them have previously been mistreated in a way that ultimately shortens their lives. In the wild, wolves live an average of 7-9 years. In captivity their life span is about the same as a large canine, which is 8-12 years. And even though they have the possibility of a longer life in captivity, it is the belief of W.O.L.F. and I that wolves belong in the wild, and that to force them into captivity compromises their spirits.
Wow, I have so many favorites, so many stories!
For a couple of years I was spending an average of 3 days and nights per week at the sanctuary, so I spent a lot of time with them. The first story that comes to mind is:
A beautiful high-percentage 7-month-old wolf-dog, Sky, came to live at W.O.L.F. because his people were moving to another state and didn’t want to take him along. In fact, they couldn’t even be bothered to bring him to the sanctuary and were going to have him euthanized until one of our volunteers drove down to rescue him.
He was clearly traumatized and didn’t trust anyone enough to be touched, or even come within 10 feet of a person for quite a while after he arrived. I made it my mission to let him know he was safe and loved, and spent hours just sitting in his run and talking to him. After many days, he began to come closer, but would run away the minute I made any movement. Eventually he began to trust me, and the first time he came close enough for me to touch him he licked my hand…I was in heaven!
Nugget, Sky & Indie
Over the next few months his trust grew, and he was so comfortable with me that he would sit on my leg or lean against me, and became very protective of me when his run-mates would get too close. He also became more comfortable around others, making his life at W.O.L.F. much easier and he seemed really happy to be there. He passed away recently as well. He was such an amazing being who taught me about trust and patience, and my heart still hurts that he is no longer with us.
I have learned so much about what it means to be a conscious human being from spending time with and caring for the wolves and wolf-dogs, profoundly experiencing such qualities as compassion, cooperation, respect, trust and patience. On a more personal level, I feel the most powerful lessons have been to embrace my true nature, listen to my innate wisdom, and to find and use my voice!
What is the inspiration for your Indie Wolf Designs ?
My inspiration comes mostly from Nature – animals, plants, natural gemstones and landscapes. I also have many years of training in holistic health and a variety of spiritual paths, which has inspired my line of Chakra Healing and Spirit-centered jewelry and gifts.
I truly love everything I make, and become a little bit attached to each item - each has a personality, is made with a lot of love and intention, and is something I would be thrilled to receive as a gift !
If I had to pick just one, though, it would be my Animal Totem Medicine Bags. They were born as a way to help raise funds for W.O.L.F., and represent respect for the animal kingdom as vitally important to our surviving and thriving as humans and as a planet. I also have received many stories from people who have used the totems to comfort and support them through difficult physical and emotional challenges. They have a very special place in my heart.