The Weekly Wolf
I spent six years living with the wolves of
Each Monday, this page will feature a new photograph and story of these wolves.
December 28, 2009
Guinness was born at Mission:Wolf on April 11,1995. Mission:Wolf does not intentionally breed wolves because they do not want any more wolves to live in cages than absolutely necessary. In order to prevent pups from being born, all of the refuge’s male wolves and wolf-dogs are given vasectomies. Image our surprise when Jasmine gave birth to Guinness, his three brothers - Ned, Porini and Mowgli – and his sister named Kestrel.
Guinness was spotted immediately as an Ambassador because of his outgoing personality. He quickly made a name for himself by fearlessly charging out into the audience looking for attention. Guinness loved people so much that he wanted to curl up in everyone’s lap and lick them. While traveling, he made an appearance on the “Today Show,” where he jumped on Bryant Gumble’s shoulders, knocking him backwards. In his time as an Ambassador wolf, Guinness met nearly 100,000 people in programs across 20 states. However, Guinness was so outgoing that he only traveled a year before he began to challenge his male handlers.
After returning to the refuge, Guinness moved in with a female wolf named Passion and quickly fell in love. He jealously guarded her from any and all men at the refuge, afraid that they’d steal her affection. Sadly, Passion developed terminal cancer in then summer of 2002; she passed away shortly after it appeared.
After years of trying to find a new companion for Guinness, we took in two adult female wolves from the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center in Montana named Katimik and Selway. With high hopes, we paired Selway with Guinness and waited for true love to bloom. After only a couple of weeks of living fence-to-fence, the two wolves were let in together. Usually these match making schemes don’t work, but fortunately, Selway and Guinness took to each other right away. Now, visitors and staff alike are amazed at the resemblance between Guinness and Selway’s markings... so much so that we sometimes can’t tell them apart from a distance!
December 21, 2009
Rami was one of the gentlest wolves Mission:Wolf has ever known. Her traveling adventures as an Ambassador Wolf took her from coast to coast, meeting over a quarter of a million people along the way. Rami was unique in her ability to interact with children, meet visitors, and touch the lives of the people around her.
For nine years, little Rami traveled across the country, making appearances on all of the major television networks, being featured in National Geographic’s World magazine and Outside Kid’s magazine, as well as staring in a program on National Geographic Television. From 1998 to 2001 she was the sole Ambassador Wolf, facing the challenges of the road and huge audiences alone. In 2002, Rami adopted two wolf pups, Maggie and Raven, and a wolf-dog pup named Luna. She acted as their surrogate mother and taught them how to be Ambassadors.
In 2004, Rami retired from traveling with dignity, leaving the work to Maggie and Raven. Rami finally got to relax at the refuge and, for the first time in her life, find a boyfriend. Skinwalker was a perfect match for Rami – he had never had a mate either. Rami happily flaunted her new beau to the other wolves at the refuge.
On the evening of May 20, 2008, visitors, volunteers and staff gathered in Rami’s enclosure for a greeting. Members of a music group called Patio sang “The Rami Song” (a song inspired by and written about Rami) while she slept under the pine trees. After a little while everyone said goodnight and headed to bed. In the morning, we found Rami had passed away in the night. Though she’s no longer with us, Rami will forever be remembered as the smallest, gentlest wolf with the largest territory of any wolf. She claimed territory from the shores of Oregon to the skyline of New York, from the forests of the Smokies to the rolling hills of Montana, and from the Gulf Coast shoreline to the heart of every person she met.
December 14, 2009
Spirit is a white female wolf-dog cross who came to Mission:Wolf in 2003. Her previous owners used Spirit as a puppy mill, breeding her with a malamute and selling the puppies to the highest bidder. Eventually her owners abandoned Spirit and her latest litter of pups in a hotel tennis court. The hotel managers did their best to find homes for all of the animals, but Spirit looked and acted far too wolfy to fit into someone’s home. The hotel managers could only see one solution – they set her free.
A recently freed wolf or wolf-dog will usually run up to the first person they see looking for food and get shot out of fear. When this doesn’t happen, the animal stays in the woods and starves to death because it doesn’t know how to hunt. Thankfully, a couple of kind people found Spirit running loose, recaptured her and called Mission:Wolf for help.
When she first arrived at the refuge Spirit had little confidence and shied away from everyone. We hoped that introducing her to Mowgli, a strong alpha male wolf, would help her calm down. Introducing wolves to each other usually takes months to work because wolves are so suspicious of new members in their pack. However, after only two weeks, Spirit and Mowgli were the best of friends. In the years they spent together Mowgli taught Spirit to be more outgoing around strangers and showered her with affection. They became the sweethearts of the refuge and could always be found laying in the sunshine close together.
December 7, 2009
Beorn was a large and majestic male wolf with a very impressive presence. He was hand-raised by volunteers and grew up to be the strong yet gentle leader of a high-energy pack of wolves known as the “Driveway Five”. Beorn lived for many years in an enclosure with his mate Tierra, and three male wolves named Skinwalker, Kawh, and Porini. As the alpha male, Beorn led his pack with a dignified respect, growling at Kawh (the beta wolf) when he got too carried away while chasing Skinwalker (the omega) around.
At the end of December 2001, Beorn's pack surprised everyone. When Beorn got a stick accidentally wedged in his mouth, they ganged up on their leader, beating him up so badly that we had to intervene and place him in a vacant enclosure so he could recuperate. Power-hungry Kawh had, at long last, taken over leadership of the driveway pack and claimed Tierra as his mate. Beorn’s strength slowly returned, but he could not return to his former home.
For over four years Beorn lived on his own. We tried several times to introduce him to female companions, but he rejected all of them. None of the new females measured up to his long-lost Tierra. Then, in 2005, another one of our resident wolves lost her mate. We hoped that tiny, little, three-legged Nyati would be a good match for Beorn. They moved fence-to-fence with each other and within days were flirting, wagging their tails and howling at each other. The gate was opened between Beorn and Nyati and they ran off up the hill together to look out over the refuge from a rocky outcrop. Over the years they were together, Beorn and Nyati spent many days perched atop the Mission:Wolf ridge, showing off to visitors and the other wolves. Beorn forgot all about Tierra and seemed to truly enjoy being bossed around by little Nyati.
In his later days, Beorn became known as “Mr. B” and “the Squeak-Grrrr” for the funny noises he’d let out whenever the staff stopped by to give him some one-on-one attention. This picture was taken on my last morning at Mission:Wolf before a two-year sabbatical – little did I know it would be the last time I ever got to see Beorn. Sadly, Mr. B let out his last squeak-grrr on November 13, 2007. I will always miss Beorn and remember his compassionate way of walking through life.