Wolves may not be the heartless killers that farmers make them out to be, but we still had to keep our distance when I toured the sanctuary with my family.
Wolves may not be the heartless killers that farmers make them out to be, but we still had to keep our distance when I toured the sanctuary with my family. Many of the wolves were timid, only gazing at us from far back in their tree-lined enclosures. Others ran toward the fence separating then from us upon our approach. These wolves provided a good opportunity for me to study them up close. Some looked more like dogs than wolves, while others looked wild and wolf-like. In fact, some of the animals there were more dog than wolf. Often, people buy wolf-dogs (the offspring of a wolf and a domestic dog) because of their physical strength and stamina. What they don't count on, however, is the fact that wolf-dogs often act more like wolves than pets. They can be aggressive and skittish, causing their owners to have too much on their hands.
Here is where the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary steps in. Their goal is to rescue wolves and wolf-dogs from abusive or neglectful owners, or just take them off the hands of people who can't handle their unpredictable temperaments. That is why many of the wolves and wolf dogs cannot be approached by humans. It takes years of dedication from the staff members and volunteers to help the wolves stop fearing and adjust to humans. Eventually, though, they can become as sociable as Rajan, a wolf at the sanctuary that I got to meet in person.
Rajan is a 7-year-old male wolf-dog who, as I discovered personally, is very social and loves people despite his history. In 2006, it was discovered that Rajan was living illegally in Illinois and was in need of a rescue. W.O.L.F. rushed to the rescue, finding a malnourished but affectionate addition to the sanctuary. His companion is Kiki, a nearly 13-year-old female who prefers to keep her distance from people, a good match for the spotlight-loving Rajan. They both have charming personalities and love playing together "like puppies," as their biography of the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary website calls it.
The W.O.L.F. Sanctuary is made up largely of volunteers who help out purely for the love of it. It is made up of about 180 acres, which requires a lot of upkeep. There are enclosures that have to be built as well as wolves and wolf-dogs that have to be cared for and fed. Then there are incoming residents to deal with, too. If you want to learn more about the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary, go to www.wolfsanctuary.net and learn about the history, the residents, the staff, and what you can do to help.