Monthly Howl – April 2018

Hello & thank you for joining us for the April issue of the Monthly Howl! We hope the spring season is proving fruitful for you. This month has been interesting and productive! A recent rescue from a breeding operation in Minnesota enriched our sanctuary with four new animals. Unfortunately, as we say hello to the new, we also say goodbye to Rayne and Nakota. Students from Navajo Tech have visited us once again and have continued to help us move forward on various projects.  Last, but not least, we hosted a couple of cherished supporters, including famous author, Jane Lindskold, and longtime sanctuary friend, Marie Sikora.

Bear_SteveStaviski (3)

About 4-5 months ago we received reports that a prominent breeder and seller of wild animals in Minnesota was being rezoned and shut down. This was going to create a situation in which many animals would be in need of new homes. This individual bred mountain lions, raccoons, bob cats, foxes, wolves and wolf dogs, amongst others. Even though we had known about this breeding operation for months, we had to wait before rescuing any of the animals due to legal issues the owner was facing. After a long legal battle and much resistance, this breeding operation finally closed down and we were given the go ahead to go rescue four male wolf dogs and four Arctic foxes.

Chiracowa_SteveStaviski (10)


Unfortunately, those exact circumstances did not play out as we did not have the proper license to take in the Arctic foxes. However, we did rescue wolfdogs, Walking Bear, Sioux, Crow and Chiracowa. Director, Leyton, and trusted driver, Steve Staviski, left for Minnesota on a Saturday, but were turned around mid-way due to a massive snow storm that prevented them from reaching their destination.  After a few days of waiting for the weather to clear up, they departed once again for a five day trip.  Fortunately for all involved, the four boys were social enough to make the loading process into our transport vehicle super easy. Since they were never leashed, they were simply picked up and tossed over their caretaker’s shoulders!

Bear_SteveStaviski (11)


All four rescues were taken to Canyon Crossroads Animal Hospital to be neutered and to receive health checks. Bear (5 yrs.), Crow (4 yrs.) and Chiracowa (9 yrs.) underwent the surgery to be neutered while Sioux (14 yrs.) received x-rays on his spine. X-rays revealed Sioux has serious arthritis along his spine and therefore was immediately put on anti-inflammatory supplements and pain medication; he also went on a diet to shed some of the weight that may be aggravating the pain. Thank you to the team at Canyon Crossroads for making an opening for us to be seen!

Crow_SteveStaviski (6)

Because they were extremely social, human-loving animals, some of the new boys had a hard time adjusting to their new home. They were perfectly well taken care of and loved at their former home and being in a new environment was scary for them. After just two days of being here, Crow tried to escape his temporary habitat. It was only due to miraculous timing and quick reactions that a volunteer and staff member were able to prevent the escape by forcing him back into his habitat.  At the time of the attempted escape, our team was working diligently on “Flicker-proofing”Honey’s new habitat. Thankfully, it only needed another hour or two of work, so we moved Chiracowa and Crow into this habitat and continued to work towards completion. After a week of settling into their new homes, we opened the gate to the adjoining habitat so that Chiracowa could walk into his new habitat with new companion, Arya. Later, we took Honey out of her temporary habitat and placed her into her new, much larger, space. Both new couples seem very happy, Honey especially!


On the day of their arrival, Sioux immediately was placed with Savannah. It took him no more than two days to settle into his new environment. He loves his morning meals and he loves having a new companion in his life. He especially loves forehead and butt scratches! We are already watching him begin to build muscle in his back legs which puts a big smile on his face, and ours too! Bear was put into Flicker’s habitat on the same day. He took the smallest amount of time to adjust to being in a new home and was very loving toward his new caretakers. Unfortunately, due to the Crow incident and watching as 10 human beings went into the direction of his buddies, Bear has now convinced himself that seeing more than one human at one time is not a good sign. Due to the location of their habitats, Bear cannot see that Crow and Chiracowa are not harmed, and are in fact doing just fine. Since the incident, he has not come to the caretakers for attention, but we are hopeful that he will calm down soon.


Providing new life does not come without losing a life, or in this case, two. For those who have been following us, you are aware that our low-content wolfdog, Rayne, had been diagnosed with splenic cancer in February of 2018. We understood that we didn’t have much time with Rayne, so we continued to focus on giving him the best life. He enjoyed his new companion, Flicker, for the short time that he had her. When his quality of life began to fade, Animal Care Supervisor, Rae, helped him onto the Rainbow Bridge. Rayne was a spunky, fun loving animal and had a signature bark. We miss him and his daily morning demands (barks).


We also said goodbye to high-content wolfdog, Nakota. Nakota arrived to WSWS with his best friend, Lani, in 2007. After Lani passed away in 2012, we paired him with Silva. The two hit it off without a hitch and spent over 5 good years with each other.  Unfortunately, Silva’s life came to an end in 2017, leaving Nakota lonely and mournful. Arya had recently lost her longtime friend, Ghost, and also needed a mend to her broken heart. The two were introduced, and although it wasn’t true love, both were happy to have companionship once again. In the weeks leading up to his death, it became evident that Nakota was in the beginning stages of organ failure. We always allow the animal to leave this world on their own terms and prefer for them to leave in the comfort of their home, with companions close by. Sometimes, they leave us peacefully and in their sleep. Other times, we standby as the animal goes through their own process. If the animal’s quality of life diminishes, we intervene. This was the case for Nakota. He was such a strong willed animal and we knew that he wanted to go on his own, but in the end, he couldn’t. Nakota was such a strong willed character that we even wanted a second opinion from our veterinarian and had an appointment scheduled for him to have a quality of life discussion. However, the day of the Crow incident (and the day before his scheduled appointment) with so many people around it was abundantly clear that Nakota was not able to help himself along. Assistant Director, Crystal, facilitated his peaceful exit. In the days leading up to his departure, Nakota was visited by a few who had the privilege of being his caretaker in the past and surrounded him with love. We all hold so much admiration for Nakota, the tough, proud and handsome wolfdog.


Students from Navajo Tech visited us again in April and as always, helped with tremendous progress on a few large projects! They worked on our new perimeter fence project, which is the first step needed before we build two large habitats in the future.  They also worked at one of our rentals, the Retreat Center, where they installed handrails on its massive deck. While they worked on those projects, others assisted our Building & Maintenance department with Honey’s habitat. We are so thankful we had them for this project, as we may not have been ready for the unexpected move of Crow and Chiracowa! For good measure, they also helped with fire prevention by cleaning up downed trees and low hanging brush from the wooded areas surrounding the sanctuary. Thank you to Navajo tech for volunteering your time and to Parris McBride-Martin for paying their expenses for their stay!


Speaking of the Martin’s; a friend of George’s, who is also a famous and successful author, Jane Lindskold, visited the sanctuary with her family in April. They were the first guests to attend one of our Education Presentations and provided us with great feedback on our new format! We were happy to hear that they loved it and considered it to be an excellent presentation. Jane enjoyed her time here so much that she actually wrote a blog post about her visit! Thanks for visiting us Jane! It was wonderful to host you and your family.


Last, but certainly not least, cherished friend of the sanctuary, Marie Sikora, visited from Australia and stayed with us for two weeks. Marie’s first visit to WSWS was in 2009 and her love for our sanctuary grew from that moment on. In the years since her visit, Marie has sponsored several animals and has supported many, if not all, of our fundraisers. She has given so much to our rescues over the years and we are so thankful for her love and support. Many guests and supporters cannot say that they’ve seen the “behind-the-scenes” of WSWS. Not only did Marie get to see what goes on, but she was also able to be a part of it, even helping us during the Crow incident. Marie, it was such a pleasure to have you visit with us!  We look forward to hosting you and your family in the future!

We are incredibly grateful to you, our readers and friends. We could not exist with your support!

Howls of thanks, from the staff, volunteers and rescues of Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary!


March – 2018

Hello all! Woo! Spring has sprung and it’s been busy, busy, busy at Wild Spirit! We sincerely thank you for tuning in with us for our March update. We said goodbye to two of our rescues, Storm and Beric Dondarrion; we had a group of International High School students spend their spring break with us and they utterly transformed several areas of our property; our volunteer pool shifted once again and we made a change with our staff.


It is with deep sorrow that we share the loss of Arctic wolf, Storm. Storm was a quintessential animal and he touched many lives during his time on this earth. Storm arrived here as an infant and was hand raised by Director, Leyton, his family and the staff and volunteers at the time. Storm grew up to be a shining example of the majesty of wolves. He was loving, gentle, powerful, fierce and caring. For many years, Storm was one of our Ambassadors and helped us share with the public the authentic truth about wolves being much more than the vicious monsters that they are often portrayed as. The Educational Rescues at our sanctuary are not just ambassadors for Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary; they also act as representatives for their entire species.

Storm (1)

Although Storm lived to be nearly 12 years old, which is much longer than the average wolf in the wild, the last few years of his life were marred with health problems. Storm suffered from Cushing’s disease, which is an unnaturally high and chronic elevation of the primary stress hormone, cortisol. Even though he had very high quality medical care, the disease took its toll. In the end though, Storm was surrounded by the people he loved, and on his last day, he was even visited by one of his favorite people in the world and got to say goodbye. Storm is deeply missed.


28617119_10214044463244604_4424210171897917007_oIt is with great sadness that we also announce the death of Beric D. aka Rudy of the Westeros Pack. We were more than happy to provide Rudy with the care free environment of WSWS in his final years. Rudy, along with 10 other animals, was rescued from Iowa in 2012. George R.R. Martin and his wife, Parris, sponsored and named the 11 rescues after characters of his A Song of Ice and Fire books shortly after their rescue. Although the beginning of Beric’s life was hard, we gave him the best life possible. He received jaw surgery, heartworm treatment and a special diet catered to his needs during his time with us. Best of all, he spent the rest of his days with the beautiful, Savannah, and reaped the rewards of having companionship. We miss his snaggle-toothed smile, his quirks and his soft howl. We are eternally grateful for the sponsors who made a difference in his life!


Although we had heartbreak in March twice, we were genuinely thrilled to have received some much needed assistance with several projects. Over 20 students from UWC-USA came to the sanctuary for their 2nd year to spend their spring break working with us.  These kids are something else! They were all concerned with doing a good job, there were all great at taking direction and they all seemed to possess a Spartan work ethic!  Suffice it to say, they showed up and transformed various locations of WSWS! After they left, staff jokingly compared them to the Harry Potter world: “they just showed up, waved their wands and magic occurred”. We absolutely love having these students here and hope they return next year, and the year after that!


As we mentioned, our volunteer pool has shifted again. We’re always in need of man power and there are certain roles at the Sanctuary that must be filled to keep things flowing cohesively. In our most recent shift, outstanding, reliable and productive volunteer, Megan Murphy, moved back to Florida. Megan spent three months with us as a volunteer in the summer of 2015 and returned the following year to spend two more years with us.  Megan was an exemplary volunteer and accomplished a lot while she was here. Although we miss her, we know Megan will be successful wherever she goes!


Before Megan left, she helped us welcome Chase and Jessica! Since they completed their training, these two have easily fallen into place with us at WSWS! We are grateful to have them here and are excited to see what they will do and learn during their time here.


Josh McNitt has changed his position from Building & Maintenance Assistant to Guest Services Manager/HR Assistant. Since this change in the beginning of March, Josh has been busy putting new systems into place to help our organization become more effective and efficient. He has already revolutionized a few things, and thanks to his help, you can now book accommodations and tours on our website! Thank you, Josh!


As we usher in the season of spring, we are met with just a few challenges: tropical storm level winds, invasive grasses and animal allergies. It is also the season with many animal birthdays, because spring is the time when wolves are normally born. We will be celebrating a lot this season and will be giving our rescues some fun birthday enrichments! We will also be kicking off our spring fundraising campaign, giving away a cool free gift and sharing some educational material about wolves and their puppies, so stay tuned!

January & February – 2018

Hello everybody! Due to a variety of extraneous circumstances, we are combining the January and February Monthly Howl into one large post. It has been a busy beginning to 2018! There are many changes taking place. If you haven’t already noticed, we are excited to share that we have released our brand new website, which can be found here! A serious medical condition was discovered in one of our rescues, low-content wolfdog, Rayne. The Flicker saga-drama has, at least temporarily, come to an end, because she has finally been moved into her new mega enclosure! We said goodbye to a few long-term volunteers, and have welcomed a new one. Executive Director, Leyton, helped transport a coyote in need to a new shelter. Last, but not least, we have altered the structure of our specialty tours and the nature of what we offer to the public.



Unfortunately, the most pertinent news is of the recent diagnosis of cancer in our low-content wolfdog, Rayne. Rayne was presenting symptoms of extreme lethargy and tiredness, and Animal Care Supervisor, Rae, knew something was wrong immediately.  He was promptly taken into the vet where an abnormality in his red blood cells was discovered. The first veterinarian diagnosed him with an autoimmune, red blood cell disorder, and suggested the therapeutic recommendation of a blood transfusion.  Upon his visit to a specialist that same day, the real cause of his abnormal blood readings was discovered: an erupted splenic mass. The spleen was completely removed and they found that it was riddled with tumors. We later found out that the tumors were malignant and that the prognosis wasn’t great; we would have Rayne for no more than six months.  Our hearts are heavy and were more so after the news, as his partner, the infamous Flicker, was just introduced back into his enclosure with him. At the very least, we take solace in knowing he will have companionship and lots of love from us for the remainder of his life. We will do the best that we can for him for as long as he is with us.


For those of you regularly following our updates, you no doubt have heard some of the issues we had containing the escape artist, our low-content wolfdog, Flicker. Despite all the challenges we have faced keeping her contained, it appears as though we have finally found success! Her new enclosure has been reinforced with fence lines that go out 6 FT horizontally, and are 10 feet high. The photo below this paragraph showcases what we are talking about. Contrary to her initial arrival here, she is a lot less interested in escaping at this point, so the fact that she is not fighting to escape her enclosure also helps.  After many months of feeding, care and safety, it appears that she has at least somewhat learned that we are here to help and not harm. We were thrilled to see her move into this larger space and finally get to watch her zoom around the habitat with her new companion and neighbors! It was such a great sight to see.


The volunteer pool has shifted in the last two months. We said goodbye to three long-term volunteers who worked diligently for the rescues: Madeline Harrington, Molly Shaw and Meghan O’Keefe. We appreciate all they did while they were here and will miss them. We wish them the best on their next chapters of life!


We welcomed Alex D’Amico to the pack! Before coming to WSWS, he volunteered at a Llama sanctuary. He will be here for six months working in both the Animal Care and Building & Maintenance departments. Since his arrival in January, Alex has shown exceptional qualities of the volunteer we love seeing around here! We are excited to see what he will bring to the table throughout the rest of his stay.


We are very happy to report that we launched our new website!  After a whole year in the making, we have done enough work that it is ready for the public. Budgetary restrictions have been a long time issue for us, especially for departments outside of Animal Care. However, with the pro-bono work Felipe Gonzales provided, along with the help of longtime staff member, Georgia Cougar, and volunteers, Madeline Harrington and Paul Koch, we finally have this beautiful website for all to see. We felt that in today’s internet driven world we needed to step up the professionalism and quality of our website as its typically the first thing people see before visiting WSWS. We are entirely grateful for everyone’s help on this important, long overdue task! Although the new website is live, please be aware that we are still working behind the scenes to flush out broken links and unfinished pages. We expect the management of the website will be a full time job! Check it out here!

Encounters capture

We love interacting with the public through our educational programs, standard tours and specialty encounters. Specialty encounters are intimate, onsite experiences with one or several of our social rescues. Specialty encounters have been available for years but are not always easy to provide because it requires significant training to become a Qualified Animal Handler, and animals that actually want to interact with the public are few and far between. Since our Wolf Ambassadors are over 11 years old, we are taking steps to alleviate their workload. Although we have always left it up to the animal to decide if they’d like to do an encounter or presentation, we felt it best to provide other opportunities to our guests. We are now offering Education Presentations that will include three different species: the Australian dingo, the New Guinea singing dog and wolf OR a wolfdog. These presentations will be hands-off and we have been preparing an area of our compound for the sole purpose of the presentations.

Educational presentation capture

These presentations will also allow us to educate multiple families in one day as we are leaving these opportunities open for 20 slots to be filled on Fridays and Saturdays. We are now providing the opportunity for guests to meet a dingo or a singing dog with our Singer/Dingo Encounters! Most of our dingoes and singers are social critters and love to meet people – therefore these encounters will be hands-on. We will still continue to offer Feeding Tours, Photo Tours (hands-off), K9 Encounters (hands-on) and Wolf Walks, however Wolf Walks may be done with a wolf OR a wolfdog, and we will NOT guarantee interactions. Along with these changes, we have also made some adjustments to scheduling formats. For more information, please give us a call or visit our website! At the moment, we are not scheduling off-site Education Programs. We are working toward programs that will no longer need the presence of a live wolf; however, this will be flushed out before the end of the year.


Director, Leyton, and volunteer, Steve, helped a coyote in January. Remington, the coyote from Georgia, was found in a family’s garden. They believed he was no more than two days old as his umbilical cord was still intact and his eyes were still closed. They also saw that the poor pup had several puncture wounds and that his tail had been chewed on by an animal. It can only be speculated that he was taken from his den/birth site by an animal, and for some reason, the animal wasn’t able to finish the job. Thankfully, the family took him into their home, believing him to be a dog. Within a few weeks, they quickly realized that he was in fact a coyote! Remington lived with this family for about two years, but they knew they couldn’t keep him forever as it’s illegal to own a coyote in the state of GA. They decided to find him a permanent and safe home and sought out help for placement. Having our hands full with our own coyotes and not having an extra space for a new one, we could not take him in, but we offered our assistance with transportation once we learned that placement had been found in Arizona. Leyton and Steve drove to Georgia to pick up Remington and drove him out to AZ where he now happily resides!




December 2017 – Year End Wrap-Up

Thank you for joining us for the closing issue of 2017! Collectively, 2017 was a challenging year and we so appreciate you all for sticking around to follow our adventures at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. In this issue of the Monthly Howl we will touch on some of the animal stories that we released throughout the year and update you on their current status. Updates will be given on Yuni & Maine, Flicker, Honey, Flurry, Draco, Lyca, Bono and Angel. Before we go into those, we’d like to present a few numbers to fill you in on some of the things we have been able to accomplish in the year 2017.


Year-End Accomplishments 

  1. We served over 17,440 meals to our rescues.
  2. We educated over 5,000 people (this includes tours, encounters and Education Presentations).
  3. We provided sanctuary to over 65 wild spirited canines.
  4. We performed over 35 critical medical procedures.
  5. We rescued 5 new rescues.
  6. We drove over 8,284 miles in order rescue animals in need.
  7. We drove over 15,088 miles in order to acquire meat for our rescues.
  8. We were donated 3 gently used vehicles.
  9. With a grant, we were able to gravel 1 mile of dirt road to our Retreat Center.
  10. We significantly upgraded 8 animal habitats.

We are so incredibly thankful for everyone who donated funds and time to our rescues’ care and wellbeing! We could not have done any of it without your help!

Yuni & Maine

coyote couple

In the fall, coyotes Yuni and Maine began experiencing tension leading up to the coyote’s breeding season. Although we pride ourselves in the care of wolves and wolf-dogs, we found that we had some learning to do when it came to captive coyotes! We learned that coyotes need to be able to engage with one another during mating season in order to bond with each other. Our friends at the Indiana Coyote Rescue Center suggested that the female coyote remain intact and the male coyote be given a vasectomy to allow for their normal courting behaviors during the season. However, both of our coyotes were already spayed and neutered and due to his age, Maine had no experience with courting. Unfortunately, the tension rose to unacceptable levels, leaving Maine with small injuries, and we made the decision to separate them before he became seriously injured.

At the moment, Yuni is living in a temporary 20×10 enclosure that was constructed inside their habitat, allowing them to interact with one another through the fence. It is unclear whether we will be able to work towards re-introducing them, but in the meantime, Yuni enjoys leashed walks and play time with Maine. After months of being apart, the interactions between the two seem to be playful again. We will be talking to the experts at the ICRC to see if they have any suggestions for us. Although at this time they are living somewhat separate lives, we are hopeful that we will be able to find an arrangement that suits them both. It’s possible that they might be able to live together the majority of year and be separated during breeding season – however, we’re not certain yet. Either way, we will continue to give them the best care we can provide!



Earlier in the year, we rescued a frightened, low-content wolf dog, named Flicker. We hoped she’d be a great match for resident, Rayne, but within an hour, she climbed out of their shared habitat! With the help of some students, we were able to capture her and placed her into a smaller enclosure with a roof as a temporary measure. Less than a week later, she climbed out of that enclosure, bending steel bars during this second escape. Once again, we captured her, but it became painfully clear that Flicker would not be contained by any traditional habitat! (explain traditional habitat briefly?) We immediately created a plan to modify Rayne’s existing habitat and began to put it into action.

We had hoped that the project would have been finished shortly after we initiated it, but unfortunately, we faced limited resources and a few challenges to get it done swiftly. It has been difficult for all of us to witness Flicker contained in a temporary habitat while Rayne lives alone where she’s meant to frolic with him. Rayne’s caretakers frequently take him to visit Flicker throughout the week to establish and maintain their friendship in preparation for her release into his habitat. Staff met with each other and deemed Flicker’s habitat the number 1 priority over any other project, barring emergencies. Since that meeting, we are much closer to the day that Flicker gets to run around in her large space!

Although Flicker has been with us for a while, she has not become very social to humans, but loves it when our rescues visit the one acre enrichment habitat that she lives next to. Thankfully, she’s become used to our routine and seems to understand that no one here wants to hurt her. She loves feeding time and enjoys singing along with the other rescues! As Flicker’s story continues to unfold, we will keep you all updated.



Flicker has helped us better understand how to contain animals that are really good at escaping our traditional habitats. It seems that our low-content wolf dog rescues that have more dog in them than wolf, and potentially more husky than anything, are the master escape artists! The goal of improving Flicker’s habitat not only benefits her, but it will also benefit Honey. If our habitat improvements prove to be sufficient to contain Flicker, then we will modify a habitat close to Flicker’s with the exact adjustments.

Honey, a low-content wolf dog, was rescued around the same time Flicker arrived. Originally named Sloane, her name was changed after staff spent some time with her and felt Honey would be a perfect fit. Originally, the intent was to rescue Honey until we could find the proper placement for her, so she was moved into a 20×20 enclosure until that placement came through. However, Honey proved instantly that no habitat of ours would even contain her. Thankfully, the temporary enclosure she was placed into had a roof!

There isn’t much known about Honey’s history other than she was running loose in a neighborhood for over 7 months. When we rescued her, it was guessed that she wasn’t more than a year and a half old. It’s clear that Honey had very little socialization to humans, if any. She’s been with us for as long as Flicker has, and where Flicker has learned that we’re not out to get her, Honey’s anxiety is palpable when anyone walks past her habitat. It’s not uncommon for us to rescue shy, non-socialized animals, but within a few months, they all seem to calm a bit and become accustomed to our strict routine. Some animals take months to open up to us, others take years and some never come around, and that’s ok!

As soon as Flicker proves to us that our work can indeed contain her, we will immediately get to work on Honey’s new habitat. We hope that with a large space and potentially a male companion, she too will learn that we’re not the bad guys. We are crossing our fingers and hope for the day that Honey will begin to trust us.



10 year old wolf ambassador, Flurry, experienced a rough ending to the year 2017, but he was also immensely lucky. Flurry suffered from and survived bloat, or gastric torsion. Gastric torsion is a major killer of barrel chested canines and most often than not, takes their life. While at an Outreach event in Arizona, Flurry’s survival depended on a combination of the keen eye and quick decisions made by our Assistant Director. We are ever so grateful to the emergency team at the Blue Ridge Pet Clinic in AZ who helped save Flurry’s life that day! Although he lost some of his characteristic youthful, “happy-go-lucky” vitality since the event, he recovered quite well from the surgery. Due to this and the difference in his mood as of late, Flurry’s ambassador duties will slow down drastically.



Wolf dog, Lyca, arrived almost a year after her siblings Quinn and Leia were rescued from CA. When she arrived via helicopter, Lyca was very unsure of her new surroundings and the people who walked around her new home. She was very shy, especially towards men, but in the first two weeks, most women spooked her too. In less than a year, Lyca has blossomed into a social, very playful and easily excitable rescue. It has been a great transformation to bear witness to! She is still a bit weary to strangers, but when given the opportunity to warm up, she becomes a “flying” wolf dog, wanting to dive into anyone’s face that may not be giving her as much attention as she’d prefer! She has been living with her brother, Quinn, and the two seem to have a blast with one another’s company.



In the summer of 2017, Bono began limping heavily on one of his front legs. Not only were we concerned for Bono, we were concerned about the feces we were finding in his habitat that he shares with Reba and Princess. New Guinea Singing Dogs have sensitive digestive tracts and through further research, we found that many of the NGSDs that were rescued from the same place the Trio had been rescued had passed away from EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) or other digestive complications. Our vet partners at TLC Pet Hospital continuously worked with us ruling out any other causes to the unhealthy feces we were finding. We tried different diets to accommodate them when everything else turned up negative and oddly enough, found that a basic kibble diet was what they were in need of. So long as this new diet continues to work for them, we will continue to monitor their health on this front.

X-rays revealed that Bono was suffering from severe osteoarthritis. Bono is only 7 years old and the vet found it odd how unwell he was aging, but considered his bloodline as a factor. Since his diagnosis, Bono has been receiving anti-inflammatory supplements and medications to relieve the pain, monthly injections of Adequan and goes out on at least two leashed walks a week. The combination seems to be doing the trick for Bono as he’s not limping as heavily as he was last summer and the leashed walks forces him to use his leg to build up muscle around the joints. We’re incredibly thankful for our vet team and for their input on how to manage Bono’s pain!



High-content wolf dog, Draco, was rescued from Colorado in the summer of 2017. He’s settled in but has not come out of his shell just yet. As mentioned before, we’re used to rescuing shy animals and some take longer than others. Draco seems to be in his curious phase at the moment. Although he doesn’t seem to want human interaction just yet, he will often be seen watching the other rescues interact with their caretakers. Now that he’s used to our routine, his unique character is beginning to shine through and he has begun to initiate play with our Assistant Director – play bowing and then running around his habitat – which she deems a positive sign.

Our thoughts are to pair him with Honey as soon as his habitat is modified to contain her, but we have some planning to do if we’re going to begin construction in his habitat. Since he’s not social and doesn’t appear to becoming so just yet, we don’t want to stress him out during the construction and have his positive steps toward socialness backslide. Plans are still in the works, but we hope to reach a solution for his partnership soon.





November 2017

Hello everybody and welcome back to the November 2017 edition of the Monthly Howl! For those of you who consistently follow us, it comes as no surprise that the health and well-being of our many rescues is our top priority. This month was spent practicing that philosophy and ensuring that the animals here were well cared for. This November the many veterinary visits to Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary were the defining element of this month. While it was time for our routine annual vet visit, both Powder and Kota also had their own veterinary adventures as they each went into Albuquerque for different types of oral surgery. November 2017 has gone down in the books as not only the month of veterinary visits, but our most successful “Giving Tuesday” campaign to date. We received over $7,500.00 in generous donations, and are still grateful to this day.



Our animals are no strangers to veterinary visits, and that is because whenever someone seems to be experiencing any form of distress they promptly receive medical attention. Aside from providing care on an individual basis, there is also our annual sanctuary wide vet visit that is the allocated time for vaccine boosters and general physicals. The vet sees not everyone on this day, but generally the number of animals getting vaccinated or looked at in some form or another ranges in the dozens. Wolves are naturally wary, shy and timid animals and so having a medical team enter an enclosure and easily work with our animals is generally unheard of. The caretakers and staff members at the sanctuary are relied upon to leverage their relationships with animals, or to perform as a part of a capture team in order to make any vet visit successful.


During these visits we do our best to minimize the number of captures performed due to the fact they are so stressful to both the humans and the rescues of Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. As a rule of thumb, we only perform them when absolutely necessary. The original plan for this day included a mere two captures performed on our coyote pair Jasa and Lyla.  Due to setbacks, unseen resistances and uncooperative wolf-dogs, two captures turned into four. Besides performing captures on the two coyotes we also had to capture two high-content wolf-dogs — Argo and Ally. Both were difficult, but thankfully both were short.


Ally’s was by far one of the most unique captures in the past decade, because unlike most of our rescues that will speed up to about 15-20 miles per hour and enter the capture net at that speed, ally actually hit the capture net at her full blast speed! She was easily sprinting 30 plus miles an hour when she hit the net and literally ripped it out the netters hands. Thankfully, the netter was able to quickly respond to this situation and ran over to Ally as she was tossing and turning in an unmanned net. They grabbed the pole, flipped the net, and secured the capture. Capturing during a full sprint is dangerous and a less than optimal situation because of the risk to injury to both the netter and animal. During the high speed, high-stress circumstances present during an animal captures, accounting for every variable is sometimes just not possible, so Ally caught us by surprise. Thankfully, neither the netter nor Ally experienced any type of injury.


Some of the more pertinent findings during the veterinaries exams were that both Tia and Juan, our senior singing dogs, who were originally rescued from Mexico, have been confirmed blind. This is amazing considering that they have adapted so well to this that looking at how they move and act, we had never even guessed that Tia and Jaun might both be completely blind. We were all in shock at this diagnosis! Thankfully, their blindness is not interfering with their quality of life. It was also discovered that Foxy, another New Guinea singing dog, is suffering from hypothyroidism, which is easily manageable with the correct medication. (A sidenote for those of you who have been following us for w while is that Storms Cushing’s Disease treatment is apparently working very well! Our beloved arctic wolf did not need his medication adjusted and is doing awesome.) Beyond all these results, many of our animals received various vaccinations which will keep them protected and healthy for the next 3 years!


There’s never a dull week here at the Sanctuary and only few weeks after the vet visit it was discovered that our Artic Wolf Powder, who also suffers from hypothyroidism, had a large growth on the roof of his mouth. This was of course concerning, because anytime we encounter a growth, especially in older animals, the possibility of it being malignant and cancerous is present. Thankfully this was not the case, as his growth was benign. It was promptly removed and we were given the instruction of watching him very closely because the possibility of it growing back was, and still is, high. All in all, Powder is well and we are monitoring him daily, to make sure that the roof of his mouth stays growth free.



One of our more charismatic rescues Kota, who is actually the biggest and perhaps strongest animal on property, had to go into dental surgery for a long-standing tooth problem. Kota is a hard animal to handle and only the director and assistant director of the sanctuary are allowed to do this due to his massive size, strong will and playful nature. He had to be sedated before they even attempted to get him into the transport van, and it is a good thing that they did, because as soon as he had muzzle put on him at the veterinary office, all hell broke loose. The two directors were able, through their skill and experience in handling uncooperative animals, to get a handle on the situation. If he were not sedated, they are not sure that they would have left this encounter unscathed the way that they did. All in all, Kota had a tooth removed completely, which required drilling and splitting the tooth in order to remove it. During the procedure one vet even remarked that he is going to feel like he got “hit by a truck”. Kota, has fully recovered and even though his initial few days were likely painful, his surgery has improved his ongoing day to day life.




Finally, this month during the internationally recognized altruistic event known as Giving Tuesday, which is held on the Tuesday after thanksgiving, we had a very successful campaign which brought in over $7,500 to help us support our rescues. In celebration of this awesome yearly event we released three new videos titled: The Need for Recue, The Gift of Sanctuary, and The Importance of Education. Each of these video showcases our accomplishments in the three arenas, which form the backbone of our overall mission, which is Rescue, Sanctuary and Education. These videos can be found on our YouTube channel, which you can see here. It has been a successful year, and there are many new changes coming for Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary Soon, so as always, stay tuned.


October 2017

Hello everyone, thanks for joining us for the October issue of the Monthly Howl. This is usually an incredibly busy month that leaves many of us burnt out and exhausted. However, this year we decided to take it a little easy on ourselves and simplify our yearly October process somewhat.  Nevertheless, that does not mean that we were not busy! Wolfdog Quinn made an appearance at the locally hosted yearly event called the Fall Festival. This month we hosted our yearly Howl-o-ween event which had a great turn out. We have been dealing with some intense conflict with two of our coyote’s rescues as their breeding season approaches. We also had members of Navajo Tech University visit us once again to work on Flickers enclosure.


This month we presented ourselves at a very interesting and fun yearly event, which takes place locally and his hosted by the Ancient Way restaurant. It is called the “Fall Festival” and whoever goes on behalf of the sanctuary usually has nothing but positive things to say about the experience. Like the name implies, it is a celebration and honoring of the coming season. It is a lively event with hundreds of people and dozens of vendors in participation.  There is everything from local produce, to artisan soap and even native jewelry for sale. This event usually calls for us to take an ambassador with us, and this year our wolfdog puppy Quinn took on the responsibility. There is usually food for sale at these events, a fact which was apparently not lost on Quinn at all! In turns out that his whole day was fueled by the desire to get a hold of Ancient Way’s signature pulled pork and brisket, which I can personally attest to being absolutely delicious. The sanctuaries participation in this event was shorter than usual because Leyton and Quinn had a scheduled encounter with a guest on property that same day. Quinn performed amazingly at both the jobs we asked him to do and at the moment he proving himself to be an excellent ambassador.


Halloween is usually our biggest event, showcasing a broad range of activities, ranging from pumpkin carving contest to massive haunted houses. Preparation for this event is often excruciatingly demanding, and so this year, due to a variety of factors we decided to keep it simple. Even though we did a lot less  in terms of the overall scheme of things, the response was excellent and we actually had lots of newcomers who had never been here before join us. It was inspiring and motivating to see so many novel faces coming out this far into the wilderness to share the Howl-o-ween experience with us. Those who join us on that day get to experience our night time “fire ceremony” where the executive director himself performs a beautiful ritual saying goodbye to all the animals that have departed us that year. As usual, the ceremony was thoroughly touching and a tear jerker. Every animal is remembered and celebrated with stories about their life and how they came to be with us. There is something majestic and elemental about giving the ashes of our rescues back to the earth with reverence and appreciation for the time they spent with us.


Just like last month, Paris Martin contracted students from Navajo Tech University to come out and stay at the sanctuary in order to assist us with some big and important projects. This time around their focus was on helping us prep the Flicker enclosure. If you have been following us for any length of time, chances are you have caught a whiff of the Flicker ordeal and the challenges we have been facing in actually keeping her contained in one of our regular sized enclosures. Ideas had to be brainstormed, and plans manufactured first, and now we are one the last stage of executing our solution. NTU has actually been instrumental to this process and has taken on the bulk of the work, and we could not be more grateful for their assistance because many of us are tired of seeing flicker live alone in the little habitat that she is in. Hopefully, by next month this long multi-thousand dollar project will be complete and flicker will be content living with her companion Rayne.


Even though Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary puts a large premium on rescuing wolves and wolf dogs, we by no means restrict our open spaces to only those two species, and actually give sanctuary to a variety of wild canines, including dingoes, New Guinea singing dogs, foxes and coyotes. We are experts in what it takes to care for wolves and wolf dogs, but are still learning when it comes to coyotes. We have aquired some important lessons in the last few months. Currently the sanctuary houses four coyotes separated into two pairs of two, and each pair contains one male and female. One of the pairs, which consist of Yuni and Maine has unfortunately suffered a break up and will now have to be permanently separated. The break up has occurred because tensions between these coyotes had been steadily increasing to the point of injury and attack over the last two months.

Upon seeing these dynamics we started consulting coyote experts and sanctuaries; our research paid off and we now understand why their dynamic ultimately shifted from peaceful to hostel in such a short amount of time. It is apparently related to the coyote social structure and how that impacts their behaviors and needs during mating season. Unlike wolves which live in large packs, where only the alpha pair are allowed to mate during breeding season, coyotes appear to live in pairs, or small family units. They generally only enter into pack structures for short amounts of time.


Hence, during mating season most eligible adults get to breed, and more importantly they bond with one another through breeding. Without the ability to mate with one another, the effect is that tensions rise and there is nowhere to ease or discharge them other than in conflict. In captivity this issue is remedied by the proper use of reproductive surgical methods, which in the coyote means giving the male a vasectomy, but leaving both animals sexually intact so that they can mate without breeding. In this situation the male has been neutered and the female has been spayed. It is an unfortunate circumstance, but measures are currently underway to set up a situation for them that can accommodate their need for separation, but without isolation. For an update, check out the up and coming issues of the Monthly Howl!

We thank you so much for joining us and wanting to stay on top of the current happenings. If you already support us, thank howls of gratitude to your generous spirit and if you would like to start, consider supporting us in our mission in one way or another!







September 2017

Hi guys! Again welcome to another release of our Monthly Howl, this time featuring the wonderful and weary events of September 2017. Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is, for all of our first timers, a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit organization and although we are regulated with the U.S.D.A, everything you will see on a tour is most likely a donation. As a Non-Profit we are not funded by the government and rely solely on our donors and guests to keep our facility open to the public and our animals properly cared for, and this month those donations were greatly needed and appreciated. While in one moment we were receiving voluntary help from our returning Navajo Tech students, in the next, we were fretting over our much-loved arctic wolf, Flurry, as he was rushed into emergency surgery. Our readers, just like you, keep this place going and our sponsors help our animals in emergency situations like Flurry’s. Everyday we are so grateful and look forward to giving back in the form of this newsletter aimed at giving you the details on each month’s ups and downs!


It’s no secret that our volunteers spend most of their days caring for, and worrying about, our animals. They focus their attention on reading body language and interpreting behaviors that may be an animal’s cry of ‘something is wrong with me’. In the event that something comes to someone’s attention we turn to our much loved (and very used) radios to call out these signs and signals so that the proper person is immediately notified. It takes years of knowledge, practice, and talent to be able to read these animals as our experienced staff members do, but there are always the occasional haphazard situations that arise when even the most experienced person is reminded how quickly the cards can turn against an animal. This happened during a routine outreach event at the Woodland Wildlife Festival in Pinetop, AZ.


It wasn’t long into the event that Assistant Director, Crystal’s attention was peaked by subtle signals that Flurry was expressing; he was drinking a lot of water, his stomach seemed to be a little bit bigger than normal, and his back was arching in ways that suggested discomfort and he continually paced. Using her experience and gut instinct, Crystal knew immediately that Flurry needed to be seen by a veterinarian, and luckily for him there was a Vet Hospital less than 10 minutes away. The kind staff of Blue Ridge Pet Clinic kept their doors open and escorted Flurry into emergency surgery when his situation was quickly identified as Gastric Torsion (otherwise known as ‘Bloat’) even though they were only a few clock turns away from closing for the day. Crystals fast acting knowledge and Blue Ridge Pet Clinic’s dedicated staff worked quickly and efficiently to get him into surgery and un-flip his stomach, relieve the pressure being caused by trapped gas, and tacking his stomach to the lining of his abdominal wall in an effort to try and prevent this from happening in the future. Flurry was brought home that night, rolling onto property at around 10pm, and was watched closely as his stitches healed for the next long, worry filled week. We are forever grateful to the hardworking staff of Blue Ridge Pet Clinic whom is directly responsible for Flurry’s successful surgery, and for his entire list of sponsor’s out there that alleviated a bit of the stress that comes along with a vet bill. Please know that everybody who donated towards Flurry’s sponsorships had a direct impact on his recovery. Surgery can cost anywhere from $2,000-$6,000 for a case of bloat, and our duty to these animals is to come through on our promise of lifelong sanctuary which can sometimes mean extensive vet bills.



On a more positive note, one that involves the Volunteer work of a wonderful group of people from Navajo Tech, we made a lot of incredible progress towards getting our rescues Honey and Flicker into their permanent habitats! This past month a group of 6 students and their instructor came out to help us weld brackets that could support extra tall top-wire fencing and they’ve committed to coming out later this month to finish the project. This wonderful group of people have shown incredible dedication, arriving as early as 8am and staying out in the middle of nowhere with us until sundown, and our appreciation for them is unwavering! These guys worked hard all day and our Building and Maintenance team sends them special thanks and a job well done! We look forward to them coming out and helping us mount these brackets because their voluntary work will give two of our rescues an impressive homing upgrade for them to frolic and play around in as two young, female wolf-dogs. Our girls, Flicker and Honey, are very lucky to have such a wonderful group of people helping them into their own forever sanctuaries.


Many of you on our mailing list may have received invites to a fundraiser that we held in Santa Fe, New Mexico this month, and we are thrilled to report that after the 65 tickets sold out within two weeks it raised almost $6,000.00! Our successful Santa Fe fundraiser was beautifully pieced together by Natalie Agraz with the help of Cathy and Gerard Vachez (whom donated several beautiful pieces of artwork) and their donated time and efforts helped spread our name and our mission. We hope to have another fundraiser soon so that those who called inquiring about tickets and being put on a waiting list can all have a chance to attend. We owe so many great people a lot of thanks for making this fundraiser such a success, and we hope to thank many more in the future. Stay tuned into our Facebook page, our monthly howl, and get yourselves on our email list so you can be one of the first to receive the word of when our next fundraising event will take place!

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Flurry wasn’t the only rescue to have a month unlike the rest; in fact, four others underwent significant changes that make September a month to remember. Remember in our last couple editions and how we spoke of our unnamed, male, high-content wolf dog from Colorado? Well, this month, he was finally given his own unique and fitting name — everybody, meet Draco! Although the Harry Potter fan base here is quite impressive, we really did feel that the name fit him in a way that just seemed right.


On a more somber note we did lose another member of our pack to the Great Pack in the Sky, Silva. Our wonderful girl, who led a peaceful life in with Nakota,  had suffered from a few hard spells of her previously diagnosed Vestibular Disease and in her old age it really took a toll on her. Watching her surge forward through this long, hard summer was a testimony for her stubborn, headstrong nature, but that tough girl had had enough hard winters. Rae McCue (our Animal Care Supervisor) helped Silva along on her next journey with the assistance of our Assistant Director, Crystal, and we honor Silva’s memory each day.


Not every day is a happy one at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. Some are riddled with laborious meat separation, weed pulling, and enclosure maintenance while others can be bright with sunshine and rich with rain, but each one is precious. If there’s anything to be learned at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary it’s to appreciate the little moments in life that are often overlooked, and to treat each life with the respect and admiration it deserves. Losing a rescue but naming another is a perfect example of the balance always naturally kept in place, and our staff and volunteers are all honored to bear witnesses to each aspect of life in Candy Kitchen, New Mexico. Thanks for tuning in and being an audience we can share these day-to-day events with, and as always, your time and care means the world to our rescues!