Photo by Kent Weber
At a young age, a white female wolf-dog cross named Spirit was sold to a breeder and spent much of her life producing pups to sell. Eventually, her owner left Spirit, seven newborn pups, and the male to which she had been bred, in a tennis court. City officials called Mission: Wolf in Silver Cliff, Colorado looking for help, but they didn't have room for all the animals.
A month later, the puppies and the male had found homes, but Spirit was still living in the tennis court. Unfortunately, the people responsible for Spirit set her free. Usually when this happens, the wolf or wolf-dog runs up to the first person it sees looking for food and is shot because people generally fear wolves. When this doesn't happen, the animal stays in the woods and starves to death because it has been kept in captivity and does not know how to hunt for food.
Thankfully, this wasn't the case with Spirit. Some kind people found her running loose and returned her to the tennis court where she had been kept. This time, when Mission: Wolf was contacted, they were able to take Spirit in.
Upon her arrival in May, 2003, Spirit had little confidence and would shy away from anything or anyone unfamiliar. The caretakers at Mission: Wolf decided to play matchmaker with Spirit and a male named Mowgli. Introducing wolves to one another usually takes months because they are so suspicious of new members in their packs. However, after only two weeks, the gate between Spirit and Mowgli was opened, and now, they can always be found side by side.
Since their introduction, Mowgli has taught Spirit to be more outgoing around strangers and not to bark as much when tours approach. After a couple of years of special attention from Mowgli and Mission: Wolf's staff, Spirit's health has greatly improved and she has more spring in her step.
Today, across the United States, wild wolves only occupy about 5% of their original habitat. The majority of people are afraid or nervous when they meet a wolf. Wherever the wolf may be - in the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, or on a chain in a suburban backyard - it is often misunderstood and mistreated. Education is the only way to break the misconceptions about wolves and prompt humans to restore wild wolf packs to existing ecosystems.
More and more people are trying to keep wild animals as pets. This has resulted in an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 privately owned wolves and wolf-dog crosses in the U.S. When these wild "pets" exhibit their natural behavior, Mission: Wolf receives a call to take in yet another homeless animal. Mission: Wolf has turned down over six thousand requests to date and already is stretched thin taking care of 32 permanent residents.
Each year, thousands of visitors come to the refuge to interact with wolves and learn about sustainable living. Hands-on volunteer projects provide invaluable learning experiences. The visitor building gives numerous students and school groups access to information for research projects and papers. Most inspiring are Mission: Wolf's dedicated volunteer staff members who seek to constantly improve the quality of life for both wolves and humans.
If you would like to learn more about educational opportunities at Mission: Wolf or lend your support, please visit the website at www.MissionWolf.com.
Re-printed with kind permission of Mission: Wolf.
Contents © 2006 Peaceful Paws