Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Abundance of Wolves!

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to talk two of my co-workers into going on an adventure and we drove 2 1/2 hours south to walk with wolves at the St Francis Wolf Sanctuary in Montgomery, Texas.

It was hard to get a picture of the carved wolf head beyond the gate, but here is the gate to the estate of the St Francis Wolf Sanctuary.

Wolf Dog Grieving:

Part of the reason I write that my werewolves have long lives is I don't want them to lose their mates at an early age. This is a part wolf, part dog, but looks very much like a wolf and acted like one, who lost his mate, Spirit, three weeks earlier. This was the first time he came out of his home to sit on top of it after losing her.

He actually came to the fence and howled a couple of times, but it was hard to get a picture of them howling. They'd howl, then pace and with their long legs, moved very quickly.

One thing that can distinguish a wolf from a wolf dog is the narrow chest, longer legs, and many constantly paced around their pens. Arctic wolves do have shorter legs and ears though. Arctic wolves are gray wolves also.

But he really did come out of his grief somewhat to finally come to the fence and participate a little in the excitement caused by visitors and volunteers who were there to see them and that was good to see. He was very alpha--his ears always perked up. I'll show a very beta wolf also--and how different the posture.

When the wolves howl, it was pretty quick, so capturing a picture of them with their head tilted back and giving off a howl was hard to do. The volunteers said that they normally didn't howl much during the day, and one of the wolves was doing all of the howling at first. Then several began howling. Which for here was also really unusual. I wonder if they knew they had a werewolf writer in their midst. :)

Here is a wolf and a wolf dog--the wolf howling. She howled constantly, then later some of the others howled. But she was the first. She was very alpha, scent marking and scratching the ground with her paws.

Here is the beta wolf.

This was one of the wolves that was walked when we were at the St Francis Wolf Sanctuary. She's a beta, as you can see from the way she stands. She was thrilled to go for a walk, yet she kept her ears back, her tail tucked between her legs, her body slightly bowed.

She has always lived alone, so she stays alone in her pen, while all the other wolves or wolf dogs had companions. But those who managed the sanctuary felt she wouldn't allow anyone in her pen to share it. She's the only one of the full blooded wolves that they walk. She loves the man who walked her here, but some women, she doesn't like he told us!

When you see the wolf like this, it reminded me so much of one of my standard poodles, how she would do this on occasion.

I'm wondering, though, if she found the right male, would she be happy to share her pen with him?

Of course, she would. :)

Whether a beta wolf or alpha, everyone deserves a delectable mate!

This is the beta Arctic Wolf scent rolling. Dogs will do this also, and bring back the "delightful" smells they've picked up--the scent of dead animals, etc, to their pack. Our yellow Labrador Retriever would love to do this after we gave her a sweet smelling bath. Not to her taste. :) She would prance around, telling us how she was dying to go outside right after her bath and once we let her out, she'd scent roll to gather something nicer smelling to bring back inside with us--to share her good fortune.

Here, the she-wolf looks like she's just taking a nice nap in the open field. Her nose is buried in the grass--taking in all the delightful aromas. :) Her pen was just as grassy and comfy, but she wouldn't have the fun of smelling all the little animal fragrances that collect in the surrounding area--rabbits, mice, all those tasty treats.

Yummy. What did they eat? One of the volunteers showed us chicken bones. Haven't you always heard how dangerous bones are for dogs? Particularly splintering kinds of bones? Well, not for wolves. They can exert 1500 pounds per pressure per square inch, twice as much as a German Shepherd can.

And here I am with a wolf dog. She loves people, but also loves to jump. Wolves can jump 35 feet, and she managed to jump on top of the tarp shading her den, then leapt over the double fencing, that's angled in to prevent them from jumping over it, and took off. One of their neighbors called them and said they thought one of their wolves was loose. Yep. And she did it again. So even though she's really very sweet with people, trying to keep her confined in a regular yard would never work.

When I was doing research for To Tempt the Wolf, I had read about an Arctic wolf sanctuary in Oregon and the trouble they'd had with people not wanting their sanctuary situated in the area. So I asked one of the men giving the tour about St Francis. He said they don't mind. Now, I have to say many of the neighbors had extremely fancy homes, and it looked like race horses.

He finally said that one of the neighbors said if he saw a wolf loose, he'd shoot and ask questions later.

In my posting in October, I'll share another couple of stories and one has to do with the Arctic wolf sanctuary I researched for To Tempt the Wolf.

I know Linda has lovingly owned and raised a wolf dog, and that Judi was fortunate enough to see wolves as she drove through a preserve. Anyone else have the fortune to see them up close?

Have a super last day of September, and hope October is filled with abundant joy for everyone!

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male."


  1. Some friends of mine had a wolf dog who had to meet everybody face to face, that is, he had to put his paws in your lap and sniff over your facial features. Such a friendly guy (with all those teeth)! When I was a kid, we camped in Tetons National Park, and for much of the night heard a call and response chorus of wolves--the howl is different from coyotes--and I've never forgotten it.

  2. The only wolves I've ever seen are in the zoo, in pictures or on the front of your books. Sorry to say that is my limited exposure to a beautiful animal who has gotten a bad rap through out history. They are a much needed part of our ecosystem. Too bad too many people put money first.

  3. I saw a wolf when I was in Idaho. My husband and I were driving down a logging road in the middle of the Boise National Forest. We hadn't seen another car in over an hour. We were going up a switchback and on the edge of the road, we saw the most beautiful wolf I've ever seen (even in pictures). He had the most intelligent eyes I've ever seen in an animal.

    My husband stopped the car, and this wolf looked at us, as if he was daring us to come closer. Then he turned and walked into the forest, he didn't run, he just moseyed on.

  4. Thanks for sharing your research with us, Terry. I love animals. I've seen plenty of coyotes in the wild, but don't think I've ever seen a wolf. I have seen them in zoos. I had a friend in college who had a full wolf as a pet. She acted like a regular dog most of the time (domesticated - both parents were also domesticated), though she was a bit timid.

  5. Great pics, Terry! Gotta love those wolves!

  6. That's really neat, Grace! Too bad you couldn't have captured the howling on a recording! :)A fan sent me a recording, and I enjoy listening to it when I'm writing specific scenes.

    Hi, Jessica! I really enjoyed seeing the wolves and hope to visit some other places too. :) I so agree about them getting a bad rap! I hope my stories help somewhat to show them in a better light!

    Robin, sounds like an alpha! They're so curious, wary too, but really intelligent also. :) From what I've read about wolf biologists who study them, they seem to read a person's thoughts, see clear through them. :)

    That's so neat, Olivia! I used to see coyotes in the wild when I lived out of Amarillo, Texas! :) Too bad you don't have any pictures of the pet wolf!

    Thanks, Cheryl! :) They're fun to study!

  7. I grew up in northern Minnesota, where it wasn't at all unusual to fall asleep to the sounds of timberwolves howling. One memorable winter, when food was apparently difficult for the wolves to find, several small dogs disappeared off their ropes.

  8. Oh man! Terry you look awesome next to the wolf! OK, wolf-dog, but still!! I loved these images and your explanations are fabulous. Wow! And how great that they were out and about so much. I have been to many zoos where the wolves are absent or distantly lying and not seen well.

    Thanks for sharing these with us. Loved it!

  9. I've known several wolf-dog pets. Beautiful creatures and well-behaved, but one could feel that they were NOT dogs.

    The best description of the feeling was that they weren't tuned to people the way dogs are. Dogs might be a different species, but they are from the same world and take many of their emotional cues from the humans around them.

    The wolf-dogs--one could feel that they lived, in contentment, with humans, but though their worlds might touch, it was not the same world as humans.

    I've never had the chance to observe any wolves at close range. A visit to a wolf sanctuary would be interesting.

  10. Beautiful pictures! Maybe I should go sometime. How far is it from Houston?

  11. That's the problem we have with alligators in Florida, Tamara!

    Thanks so much, Sharon! Yes, they were really active. One was a wolf-dog pounded against the "wall" fence connecting to another, wanting to get into the other pen. Nobody else seemed to notice, but I watching the different animals' behavior was fascinating. :)

    MM, it was fun going there on the picturesque drive. Even though they were in pens, they were surrounded by woods and it was really a nice place.

    Hi Shana! You should! I think it was only about an hour from Houston. 2 1/2 hours from us, but I thought I saw a sign that said only about 60 miles. I asked the ladies if they wanted to go to Houston we were so close. LOL They declined. Seeing the wolves was enough of an adventure for them! :)

  12. Thanks so much for sharing your trip and the pictures. I've never seen a real wolf, other than a part wolf, part dog. Ironically, his name was Skyler. My daugher's name is Skylar. She thought that was very cool.

    Great picture of you with the wolf!

  13. What gorgeous animals. Thanks for sharing those pictures!


  14. Okay, my drive through experience was nothing like this. I'm so jealous you got to pet her. They're gorgeous animals. Our local zoo has a few arctic wolves and they are just gorgeous. I've never noticed a beta who was quite so beta as this girl here.

    Great shots, Terry!

  15. Thanks, Anita!! I'm surprised to see how many have known people who have owned wolf-dogs. Some have written to me about having raised wolves and loved my werewolf series because it fondly reminds them of their wolves. :) That's cute about your daughter and the wolf-dog being named the same!

    Thanks, Ash! I really enjoyed it. I'd love to go to more if I could find them not too far away. :)

    Thanks, Judi! I still LOVE your drive through! They were great pictures! I want to go to the wolf center in Ely, Minnesota. One of my fans lives near there, and has sent me all kinds of literature on it. :)

    On the beta wolf, I was surprised to see such a happy wolf acting so cowed. But it has nothing to do with being unhappy, she's just very beta. :) She was very excited about going on her walk.

    It was really interesting to see the different personalities of the wolves and wolf dogs. So many had stories, but I was trying to take a bunch of pictures and so I missed some of them, I'm sure. But I have a couple more I'll share in October. :)

    I wish our zoo had wolves, but it doesn't have any. :(

  16. Great pictures! I never met a real wolf but I had a malamute mix once that I think was part wolf. She'd be very laid back, but evry once in a while she would escape and go for an adventure - once she was found with a duck in her mouth!

  17. LOL, Amanda, that sounds like one of my werewolves in To Tempt the Wolf! :)

    My Labrador Retriever was a mothering dog and not a hunter, but even so, she really surprised us one day when she gently brought us a baby bird that had fallen out of the nest and wanted us to take care of it. They're supposed to retrieve ducks on a hunt, not rescue baby birds! :)

  18. Loved the pictures Terry. I've owned a wolf dog, actually more than one. I wouldn't recommend having wolf dog, or even a full wolf without a good knowledge base. Not all are same. Some have special quirks that must be addressed if they're to live in a family setting or around people at all, because of the nature of the beast, so to speak.

    My Micah was a wonderful and loving companion. Very well mannered but I never forgot he was also a wolf. Also very alpha. Alphas come with their own training issues. I started a rigorous training program for him starting at 6 weeks. I also had a wonderful trainer who trained security dogs and had wolves of her own. She taught me so much about training an alpha and aggressive breeds in a loving but firm manner. Invaluable.

    Teaching him manners, not marking (yes, I could tell him NO marking and that leg would stop), training him, sitting when greeting someone, gave him lots of trips to see different things, people, and situations so he wouldn't fear bite. We walked everyday on a wilderness track made when they pulled up the tracks. Lots of additional trails off the beaten track too on about 100 acres. He didn't like bikes but he learned to stand quietly at my side and knew we gave bikes and horses the right of way. Horses were pretty skittish around him.

    I had to teach him that food was something I provided and therefore could touch it at any time. He was protective of his food as a pup, but I quickly broke him of that by hand feeding him right from the bowl and if he fussed, he didn't get it. Even when Jake, as a toddler came near his food dish, or even one of the cats, he would never growl. (unlike my silly Cocker who has been known to roll cats that come to close)

    When Micah was two, I had my son. First time Jake cried, Micah didn't know whether to mark him or lick him. Seriously. Micah was very distressed and he knew Jake was a *pup*. I included him with most everything I did with Jake. I will not gross you out about the time Micah tried to *feed* him. This happened a few times, lol! He was very protective of Jake but, there was special training for him with regard to the baby. I don't care how loving a canine or feline is, my rule is you never leave them alone with a baby in beginning.

    About chicken. It's only COOKED bones that are dangerous. I raise Great Danes, and they have a certain amount of fresh meat regularly. A Raw chicken or even turkey, bones and all are fine. But NEVER cooked.

  19. Thanks for the cool information, Sia. Yes, the chicken bones they were feeding to the wolves were raw. I didn't know you could feed any kind of raw bone to dogs. Our vet always said no. My standard poodle became really ill when my dad fed her turkey bones! But of course they were cooked.

    Lol on Micah trying to feed your son. :) I've never talked about how wolves regurgitate their food for their young because I thought it was too gross. LOL :) But natural. They've got to puree it somehow!

  20. Wow, Terry! I'm chiming in late, but this is a fantastic post. I just love the pretty beta wolf - I always feel bad for animals that have to live alone! At least she has her "walker." It makes you wonder if she's a "were" herself and prefers humans...hmm... that would be your department. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your trip. I want to pet a wolf!

  21. You always give such fascinating insights into wolves, and such wonderful pics, Terry. It's obvious you do your homework, which is why your books are so believable. Thank you for sharing!

  22. What amazing photos!!! Fascinating blog!!!

  23. LOL, Joanne, that should have been my line! Yes, a were. That's probably what she is. :) It was interesting to see how much she loved to go for a walk. :)

    Thanks so much, Kathryne! Doing the research is truly half the fun!!!

    Hi, Catherine! Thanks! I really enjoyed the trip to the wolf reserve. I felt like a photographer...or a tourist more like because my camera is more tourist like--but with all the picture taking I was doing. :)

  24. I don't have any experience with wolves, but those are beautiful. Just like the ones in your books!

  25. Thanks so much, Abigail! I'm thrilled you think so! :) Thanks!

  26. I know where they can find some more wolves. They're killing our elk herds in Idaho. Why they brought the wolves back, I'll never understand. A sanctuary is a great place for them!