January brought about its challenges in the high desert and February kept up the momentum of busy-ness. A fight between two of our rescue girls required an emergency capture and relocation. January’s coyote rescue has culminated with us introducing Maine to Yuni. Three animals went to the vet and one of the reports came back with some concerning news. A potential low-content wolf-dog rescue hangs in the balance and last, but not least, our Building & Maintenance department has gained a new Manager.
With the winter season upon us, paying close attention to our rescues is crucial! Even though most wildlife tend to slow down in these months, wolves’ energies tend to ramp up due to the fact that this season brings breeding season for them. During mating season, wolves experience a surge of (steroid) hormone and begin to burn more calories in order to better regulate their body temperature. Although our rescues are mostly paired up with spayed or neutered companions, the rescues still experience the surge of reproductive hormones. Pair their increased hormones with the cold weather that they’re made for and we get ourselves some frisky and/or naughty behaviors from our wolf rescues. They become a little mischievous and readily test their boundaries with their caretakers and/or pack members. As if the Westeros Pack hasn’t already had enough disruption, Arya and Brienne went into heat and became restless with where they stand in their already small pack.
To back track for a minute, the Westeros Packs were rescued from Iowa in 2012. A year later, George R.R. Martin and his wife, Parris, came out to name all 10 animals after characters of his books, A Song of Ice and Fire. The Westeros Packs were born; Ghost Pack consisted of Ghost (neutered male), Lady, Nymeria, Arya and Brienne. Shaggydog Pack consisted of Shaggydog, Jon Snow, Summer (all neutered) and Shae. Beric Dondarrion was alone at first, but then was paired with Savannah after she and Storm had a break up. After Lady had recovered from a tumor removal on her shoulder, she was re-introduced to her pack. Shortly after, during the early morning hours, Lady was killed by her pack members. Lady was the “alpha female” of the pack, and after her loss, the other girls tried to stake claim to the title. Not too long after this tragic event, Nymeria suffered a lip injury from a fight; again during the early morning hours. Nymeria was separated and was finally paired with rescue wolf-dog, Lucian, leaving Ghost with Brienne and Arya.
Fast forward to a year later, winter wolf syndrome in full swing again and a call on the radio from a caretaker alerts the team that the two girls are fighting – both on hind legs, grabbing each other’s necks. Thankfully, with the quick response from our Animal Care Supervisor, Rae, and two of our caretakers, the fight was broken up rather rapidly. Arya and Brienne only had minor injuries. After assessing the situation, Leyton and Crystal determined it best to remove Brienne from the pack. The team considered spaying both females, but unfortunately, there would be a 50/50 chance of one of them not waking up from the anesthesia. It’s much harder for an older, larger, female canine to undergo such a procedure requiring the need to go under. If we had left the two girls together, we would have another repeat from the previous winter’s brawling. For safety’s sake, Brienne was captured and relocated to another habitat.
Captures are one of the most dangerous things we do at WSWS because it puts the humans and animals at risk for injury; we only capture when it is absolutely necessary. Some of our rescues are social and can easily be confined in a smaller space or leashed up for medical emergencies, vet exams or vaccinations. However, the rest of our captive population, who are not social, must be captured. Captures are high tension, high stress situations with many moving parts and the possibility for things to go wrong. For several of our volunteers, it was their first capture and thus anxieties were high on top of the demands already present. Our core capture team is very efficient with years of experience; often times, we are able to net the animal on the first attempt. Brienne’s capture presented itself in the backdrop of an emergency situation and caught us by surprise with little time for preparation. Aside from a few netting attempts, this capture went smoothly and we were in and out in less than ten minutes. Arya and Brienne are in good health and we are considering our options for pairing Brienne with a male companion.
Last month, we rescued a male coyote named Maine, from Ohio. This month he and Yuni were introduced to one another and so far it has been working out as well as could be expected. Maine’s life changed dramatically, and having to move across the country and settle into a new environment teeming with new people and animals was very unsettling for the little guy. We do not believe that Maine has interacted with other coyotes in his short life. Yuni does seem to be helping him adjust to his new life at WSWS and we will continue to watch these two build their relationship with each other.
In February, we had three rescues visit the veterinarian’s office. Our long time rescue, Lucian, had been showing some subtle signs that something was not quite right. We monitor our animals very closely and our caretakers are asked to report the slightest changes in behavior as they can be signs of something going astray in health. After a thorough examination and a couple radiographs, it appears that Lucian has two lung tumors. His blood work did not show any systemic bio markers, and we opted not to take him to a specialist to get his tumors biopsied as it would have been an invasive procedure. Lucian is being made as comfortable as physically possible, is on an antibiotic to fight off a secondary infection, receives pain medication to relieve the discomfort he is experiencing from the tumor pressure, as well as arthritis that was spotted on the x-rays, and is being showered with love and adoration by his caretakers.
Dakota, one of our on-site ambassadors, had swelling on his left side of his muzzle. Upon examination, the vet discovered a broken tooth that had developed an infection. The team at TLC Pet Hospital cleaned his teeth and removed the broken tooth. Since then, Dakota has made a full recovery and is back to his food-loving self again.
Lastly, Flurry visited Dr. Pheiffer at Eye Care for Animals in Albuquerque due to redness in his left eye. Over a year ago, a small benign tumor was removed from that eye. We were relieved that he was only suffering from a little conjunctivitis and only required a flushing of the eye and a prescription eye drop for 7 days.
One of the most exciting news of this last month was that of a potential rescue of a low-content wolf-dog named Flicker. Our plan is to pair her with Rayne, who recently lost his companion, Shasta II. At this time however, her rescue is uncertain as she has escaped from her owner and is running loose in her neighborhood in California. Leyton will be heading out to assist in her capture very soon. We will keep you updated!
As mentioned in last month’s blog post, 2017 has started with quite a few staff changes. Our Building & Maintenance Manager, Casey Kellogg, has taken a lucrative position in Colorado. Upon receiving this offer, Casey lined up a couple of qualified candidates that are local to Candy Kitchen. We welcome and introduce to you, our newest member to the Pack and now our B&M Manager, Michael Francis! We will miss Casey and appreciate all of the hard work he has put into WSWS over the course of his year as B&M Manager. We wish him the best in his newest endeavor! Michael Francis officially begins his tenure in March and we are excited to see how his presence effects such an important department to WSWS. We are always in need of volunteers, but volunteers for Building & Maintenance specifically are hard to come by. If you or someone you know have skills pertaining to Building & Maintenance and would like to experience a never dull, working environment, please contact us!We have volunteer opportunities available beginning in April!
One of the first tasks that Michael will oversee is that of our freezer situation in our Wolf Kitchen. Thanks to wonderful folks like you, we have received donations toward fixing our first freezer. Without working freezers, we would not be able to properly store and preserve the meat donations we pick up each week to feed out to our 67 rescues. We require two large walk-in freezers to contain all of our meat storage and prepared frozen meals. Our first freezer is old and needs over $2k in repairs to function properly. Thanks to a grand donation, our second freezer arrived and was installed over a year ago. Unfortunately, we later discovered that it was installed incorrectly and has mismatched parts. Due to this, the freezer temperatures do not remain stable and it experiences drastic temperature fluctuations resulting in unsafe ice spots. Our quote to rebuild and repair the second freezer is over $5k. We will begin working on the first freezer with the ear-marked donations for the repair. If you would like to assist us with these repair costs, you can donate here. Feeding the animals is arguably the most important thing we do, and without the freezers, it will become very difficult to accomplish this vital task.