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.
February 22, 2010
From the time he was a small pup, Merlin was extremely outgoing. Whenever a loud noise scared his brothers, Kawh and Druid, into their den, Merlin came running out to see what happened. While still very young Merlin climbed onto the Ambassador Wolf bus and decided he liked being an Ambassador Wolf. He loved being the center of attention so much that his handlers sometimes had a difficult time convincing him to leave at the end of a program.
When he retired from traveling in 1998, Merlin quickly became known as one of the best athletes at the refuge. From a standstill he could jump nearly eight feet in the air… making for quite a show come feeding time.
Through the years, Merlin had three different mates. He was introduced to Sila while still just a pup and immediately adored her. Sila bossed him around and stole his food while Merlin sat back and enjoyed the attention. When Sila passed away in 2000, Merlin was devastated. He howled and howled his loneliness to the refuge.
We finally found a new companion for him in Jazmine, a female wolf who had recently lost her mate as well. When Jazmine was first moved into Merlin’s enclosure, they fought through the fence. Thankfully it didn’t take long for Merlin and Jazmine to overcome their differences and became a team – rushing up and down their enclosure together and howling at their neighbors whenever something exciting happened. However, Jazmine unexpectedly passed away in 2006, leaving Merlin alone once again.
While Merlin was still mourning Jazmine, Mission:Wolf took in two new wolf pups, Amulet and Fenris, in the summer of 2007. Shy little Amulet was introduced to Merlin, in the hopes she would cheer him up and that he could serve as a good role model for her. Merlin’s outgoing personality slowly rubbed off on Amulet, giving her the confidence to occasionally peer over the hill at visitors. The last two years of Merlin’s were possibly his happiest… he had a cute new girlfriend and he got daily visits from his caretakers and refuge visitors. Then, in July of 2009, Merlin passed away at the ripe old age of fourteen. I will always remember him as the most excitable and passionate Ambassador Wolf I’ve ever known.
February 15, 2010
Kawh: A Memorial
February is the month of love for wolves. Their breeding season coincides with our Valentine’s Day perfectly. As pheromones rise in the air, all the wolves seem to lose their heads, going to crazy lengths to impress their mates. Kawh was no exception to the rule. He was so utterly devoted to his mate Tierra that he took on and expelled the three other males from his pack to become her only companion. These two passionate wolves could always be seen lying close together or walking side by side. Kawh often nuzzled Tierra and stood with his head resting on her back for hours. They were the true lovebirds of the refuge.
Even in his old age Kawh had a formidable presence… his huge head and direct gaze could be friendly and inviting one second and completely intimidating the next. Over the years I lived at Mission:Wolf, no resident wolf evoked stronger reactions from volunteers than Kawh. Everyone was either convinced that he was a huge teddy bear that needed a big hug or that he was a menacing shadow ready to pounce if given the chance. In the ten years I knew him, Kawh was always daunting but never completely angelic or evil. At heart he was a sweet and caring wolf who was willing to take on the world to get what he wanted.
However, when Tierra passed away last spring, Kawh was left alone for the first time in his life. The staff tried to introduce him to a new female companion, but Kawh couldn’t forget his Tierra. He spent most of the last year soaking up attention from the staff and watching over the refuge driveway on his own. Then, on Sunday, Valentine’s Day, Kawh passed away while surrounded by his human friends. We can only hope that as the sun set on the day for lovers, Kawh’s spirit was running free over the refuge, and that he was on his way back to Tierra’s side.
(Kawh was the first wolf to be featured on the Weekly Wolf. You can read more about his life on the Oct. 2009 page)
February 8, 2010
Druid was a striking black wolf, who was always outgoing, and even rowdy, around people. As a lifelong omega, Druid remained as playful as a puppy, often acting like a goofy clown, while his pack- mates were forced to grow up quickly and take on the stress of leadership.
As a pup, Druid was raised by an adult female wolf named “Granny” Raven along with two other male pups named Mowgli and Ned. As the boys matured, Mowgli took over the alpha male position in the pack, while Ned became the beta and Druid became the omega. The four wolves lived in relative harmony for years, impressing visitors with their close-knit family structure. However, when “Granny” Raven passed away in 2000, the boys were thrown into turmoil. Mowgli managed to keep his alpha status, but Druid and Ned weren’t quite as content with their roles. During the winter of 2003, Druid and Ned ganged up against Mowgli and challenged him for leadership and kicked him out of the pack.
While Ned established himself as the alpha of their small pack, Druid enjoyed the comparative freedom of Ned’s laid-back leadership style. The two boys’ lives soon changed again with the introduction of a female wolf named Katimik. She immediately started flirting with Druid and quickly bonded with him. While Katimik only lived at Mission:Wolf for a few years before she passed away in 2007, her attention gave Druid an extra boost of confidence. So, when Ned fell ill, Druid picked up on his weakness and began challenging him for the alpha spot. After spending nearly 12 years as a team, Druid and Ned needed to be separated.
A new female arctic wolf, named Keechee, was soon introduced to Druid in an effort to relieve his loneliness. Keechee’s playful attitude matched Druid’s perfectly and they spent two content years together. Druid blossomed into the full-fledged alpha he’s always wanted to be, but Keechee allowed him to also retain his clownish side. They spent a happy year together before Druid passed away in 2009 at the ripe old age of 14.
February 1, 2010
In 1995, one of Mission:Wolf’s resident wolves unexpectedly walked out of her den with five newborn pups. One of these pups, later named Gizmo, resembled a tiny bear cub because of his tawny coloration. At first, he was called Grizzly, but as he grew he came to look more like a gremlin. This led to a gradual name change from Grizzly to Gizzy to Gizmo.
At nine weeks of age Gizmo and his sister, Lily, became weak and lethargic due to a mineral deficiency. They were given vitamin D to help the imbalance, but the treatments left them weak in comparison to their brothers. Despite this setback, Gizmo recovered and spent the whole of his adult life as the alpha male of his pack. He grew up to be an authoritative and striking wolf. Gizmo was well known for his appetite and the rapt attention he paid to the food preparation area on feeding days, watching the staff with great impatience from his hilltop home.
Even though Gizmo was bold around the other wolves, easily keeping them in line, he was terrified of people. He loved getting attention from the people who raised him, but any stranger approaching his fence would send Gizmo into fits of fear barking. Thankfully, Gizmo had Lily to lean on. They formed a close bond while being treated for the mineral deficiency as pups that lasted their entire lives. Whenever Gizmo became too scared of people, he ran over to Lily and looked to her for guidance. She’d then run up to the fence and investigate.
After Lily passed away from old age in October 2007, Gizmo only held on for another month. He didn’t know what to do without his sister, and seemed relieved when he could join her again. We hope that somewhere, somehow, Gizmo and Lily have found a wild countryside where they can run and finally be free.