August 2017


As always, thanks for joining us for our collective Monthly Howl! The hot season of summer is hard for both the humans and the wolves, in our Zuni Mountain community. Wolves are built for the winter and seem to prefer the cold weather in just about every circumstance. They naturally run hot with body temperatures that range between 103-104 degrees Fahrenheit; they have a natural snow shoe infused into their paw (long finger-like toes with webbing in between), and two thick layers of fur. Needless to say, we, and the rescues are thrilled that summer is almost over!

This month has not been as eventful as usual, but we are going to share with you what has been noteworthy. In August, we said goodbye to longtime low-content wolfdog rescue, Lakota; we had two animals visit the veterinarian and we did some filming for a short TV focus piece.

21105775_10159610634255221_6389906530486891909_nThe passing of our longtime resident, Lakota, was sad for many of us, but we are happy that we provided him with a lifetime of great care and sanctuary. When Lakota was about a year old, a woman had discovered him at a broken down animal shelter. He was in a deplorable state: he only weighed 40 pounds and was covered in his urine and feces. The woman took him in and slowly nursed him back to health. After 6 months of care for Lakota, she realized that he was better off living as a member of a sanctuary suited for caring for wolfdogs. She found WSWS, brought him to us and we took care of him for 13 years.


Lakota only ever had one companion that really touched his heart and opened him up to the joys of being a canine. After she passed away, he was never able to reconnect with another wolf or wolfdog due to his fragility, so he lived alone for the last year of his life in our geriatric habitat that is located near our common areas, so that staff and volunteers could always keep a close eye on him and his state. Although shy of people, he was one of the gentlest animals we ever encountered. Despite the toll that age took on him, he always seemed to be full of life, and his eyes always displayed the tremendous spirit and strength that he had. His strength manifested itself in his strong will to continue to live. In the end, his journey to cross the Rainbow Bridge was eased by our Assistant Director. We take solace in knowing that although Lakota started his life in a dark place, he left this world surrounded by love and light.


In August, we transported two rescues, Beric Dondarrion and Dakota, into town to visit our Vet partners at TLC Pet Hospital. Both were taken in for very similar reasons: checking tumor like growths. The vet confirmed that Dakota’s growths were only benign fatty tumors, which are common for aging canines. Besides being somewhat arthritic, Dakota was given a clean bill of health and is in great shape for a wolf his age!


Beric Dondarrion’s growths were found to be mild and non-life threatening as well. Beric’s growths are sebaceous cysts, or rather, severely clogged skin pores. While he was at the vet, we drew blood, took x-rays and shaved off some matted fur that hadn’t shed properly during the spring shedding season. All things considering, Beric is doing well for a 10+ year old wolfdog! Although our vet partners help us where they can with our vet costs, we are always appreciative of any donations toward accrued vet bills! If you’d like to donate to either of their vet care, please visit this link. Thank you for generosity!


Last, but not least, our friends from Cliff Dwellers Digital visited us with a small camera crew to record a short TV focus piece called “Who Rocks New Mexico”.  The intent of the piece is to showcase locals in ‘The Land of Enchantment’ (New Mexico) doing work that help and assist those in need. We are extremely grateful for the honor of being showcased in this segment for the work that we do! As always, we love working with Cliff Dwellers as they are professional, caring and have a passion for helping our rescues with their expertise! Check out their work with us in August! Remember, if you’re in New Mexico, stop by and visit the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary!


July 2017

We are so glad you could join us for the news that occurred in July! We have officially passed the first half of the year and are collectively amazed by how fast 2017 is whizzing by. In July, we received a beautiful new wolf-dog rescue, said ‘see ya later’ to Brittany Leigh Chiapetti, welcomed two new volunteers and two returning volunteers, helped out an adorable coyote pup in need of transportation, and continued visiting different locations for the purpose of education and awareness. This mid-summer issue of the Monthly Howl will cover all of that and more, so thanks for tuning in!


In general our sanctuary houses between 60-75 rescues throughout a year and up until just recently, we had our hands comfortably full with 66. However, this month has bumped that number up to 67 with the smooth rescue of a high content wolf-dog, originally named “Koda”. This stunning guy was rescued from a loving home within Colorado suburbia; unfortunately, he had been upsetting the neighbors due to his howling. The reports of howling earned him a few red flags with animal control right off the bat when his neighbors reported this totally natural behavior. This plight completely touched our hearts, as howling is such a fundamental behavior in the emotional well-being of a wolf. This poor guy was being chastised for doing something so innate that we felt strongly about getting him into a more suitable situation, one that catered to his natural behaviors.


“Koda” was located about 11 hours away from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, tucked in Idleville, CO. Crystal, our Assistant Director, and I (Ramon) traveled the distance to rescue him. This was not only our first rescue together but the first rescue in a very long time that our Director, Leyton Cougar, was not a part of. Upon our arrival, it was clear that “Koda’s” owner was (and is) very closely attached to him. The gentleman considered “Koda” to be his “fur kid” and loved him very dearly, making this a hard decision for him to make. Letting his handsome fellow go was an act of love because he knew that “Koda” would be much happier and comfortable surrounded by his own kind at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, but also that his life would no longer be in danger due to the complaints made on his songs.


A few other things immediately stuck out to us when we arrived to “Koda’s” original home. Instantly, we could see that he was indeed a very “wolfy” animal, a high content for sure; sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish the content level of an animal by the photos alone. Surprisingly, the yard “Koda” had been held in was surrounded by 4 foot fencing, with no history of attempted escape! At WSWS, an 8 foot high fence is the bare minimum for our habitats; it was shocking to see that he had decided to stay put all this time. When we entered his yard we immediately noticed a strong curiosity and puppy like playfulness, which makes sense for his age of 2 years old. Wolves and wolf-dogs generally mature slowly and it can actually take up to four years to become a full adult (behaviorally) so it was natural to see this wolf-dog behaving like a young pup. Despite the fact that he was playful and curious, “Koda” was still exceptionally skittish and wary of the new people inside his home.


When the time came to get him into our transportation van we weren’t sure what to expect. Considering his content level, as well as the size of his teeth (which seem to be the biggest at the sanctuary in this moment), we were set up for a number of different outcomes. Thankfully, with coaxing from Crystal and his owner, “Koda” went into the van without much hassle. Throughout our 11 hour drive back to the sanctuary he was surprisingly calm and relaxed. It was a long drive that day, and by the time we arrived it was quite late at night. Since it was too dark to see much of anything, we left our new rescue to “chill” in the van overnight. We wanted his energy calm before transitioning him into his new habitat, and early the next day, Crystal went to the van alone and was able to get a slip lead on him. Together, a few senior staff members created a human wall between the van’s side door and the sub enclosure of his new home. Once we were all ready, Crystal transitioned him from the van into the sub enclosure, proceeding with exquisite skill and a lot of caution to take the slip lead off of him. A few warning bites were thrown out of fear, but he wasn’t committed to hurting anyone, so in the end it all went very well and he was safe in his new home. So far, he shows curiosity toward people, but is still too nervous to come up for interaction. As with all of our rescues, we will provide him with a lifetime of sanctuary, understanding, and care. We will have to change his name as his name sounds too similar to four of our other rescues, making it confusing for radio calls between staff and volunteers. We also hope to introduce rescue, Honey, to him for companionship in the near future!


On top of saying goodbye to our volunteer/Wolf Kitchen Supervisor of 7 months, Brittany Chiapetti, we welcomed two new volunteers, as well as two returning volunteers. Mckenzie Stribling and Tom Neider have come back to commit a year, and we could not be more thrilled to have them back. We are always happy to welcome back hard working people with nothing but positive feedback from everyone around them. We are also saying a happy ‘Hello!’ to Kaity Moody and Tiffany Bock, our two new volunteers that have eagerly passed their training and each additional step along the way. Our excitement to see what they will bring to the table during their stay is palpable, and we are just as grateful that they decided to come and serve the animals here.


With the help of folks like you, Leyton was able to help a lucky coyote pup who came into an unfortunate situation. A gentleman in Deming, New Mexico, encountered a very young coyote that had been abandoned, so he decided to take him home, bottle feed him, and nurse the little guy back to health. Not many people would be willing to do that and not everybody would have the skill set, which is why in these situations it’s always best to call your local Wildlife Center and seek their advice and help. However, once the coyote had regained sufficient strength and vitality, it was time for this young coyote to find a proper home. Since coyotes are quite the acrobats, we did not have the facilities needed to properly house another coyote. We wanted to help find him a solution, so we transported him to a rehab facility in Texas. There, he will be worked with in order to release him back into his natural habitat, which is the ultimate success for a wild animal! The drive was a smooth success and we were thrilled to partake in a situation that helped an animal be re-released into their natural habitat.


This month wasn’t as busy in our education department, but as usual, we did remain active to some degree in educational outreach. During July we visited two different libraries and as would be expected, the wolves were a huge hit. During one of them, our WSWS superstar, Flurry, decided that he was going to pick the most comfortable cushion in a children’s reading room and plop down, so that the program participants he deemed worthy could approach and meet him. Everyone enjoyed themselves and of course, Flurry enjoyed all of the attention! Both programs were a success with over 200 attendees educated about wolves, wolf-dogs, and the need to leave them wild!


Howl-o-ween is one of our most anticipated and celebrated events. For many years, we have gone all out and offered guests spooky night tours and haunted houses, which required weeks to prepare. This year, we’re going to keep it simple and focused on the “heart” of our Howl-o-ween event; our campfire ceremony. This ceremony involves the stories of our recently deceased animals and also the release of their ashes into the flame, as a heartfelt goodbye to their souls. It is one of the most beautiful events we host here and draws out the best memories of each animal we miss dearly. Normally, we hold this event towards the last few days of October, however this year we will be doing it earlier than usual due to a variety of factors. We’ll post details about the event on our website and will share it on our social media soon. In the meantime, plan on joining us on October 21st for our Open House/Howl-o-ween for free standard tours and discounted Ambassador Meet & Greets!


June 2017

       Hello Gang! This year feels like it is flying by now that we’ve hit the midpoint of 2017! In June, we felt the unending circle of life as we said goodbye to two of our very loved rescues, Lucian and Ghost; we traveled to Silver City, New Mexico to help a sister sanctuary capture and vaccinate a total of 34 animals; and throughout it all, together, we all survived the the harshness of the beginning of summer.



Every one looks forward to the summer season, but we weren’t prepared for the force this summer hit us with. While dealing with the brutal heat, this area also packs quite a punch in the form of tiny buzzing insects, all of which are out for, you guessed it, blood! While every volunteer suffers, the animals definitely take the brunt of this attack (especially their vulnerable ears). In response to this, we’ve been researching ways to protect and repel these insects. Whatever solution we do come up with, it’ll have to be safe and non-toxic for the animals and volunteers alike. To everyone who donated natural bug repellents, solar mosquito zappers and fly traps, thank you so much!!! For anyone who has natural suggestions for keeping the no-seeums at bay next year, please email us!




 Losing a beloved rescue is always a painful and difficult process for our team, especially those who formed a special connection with a particular animal. It’s important to remember that in the wild, the average lifespan of the wolf is 7-9 years. In captivity, that average life span sits somewhere between the ages of 12-16 years. Currently, over half of our rescues are over 10 years old! Unfortunately, we will be expecting an increase of losing our senior animals in the coming years. For more information on this particular topic, our Assistant Directer, has written a very thorough article about this subject in particular. It will be featured in our new and improved newsletter, “The Howling Reporter”. Due to unforeseen events, the printing of the updated newsletter has been postponed, but hopefully not for too long! Please bear with us.


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    For those who have been following the monthly news, the beginning of the wave we’re expecting to see of animals passing, has already begun. In June, we said our goodbye’s to Ghost and Lucian. Ghost was rescued from Iowa in 2012, along with his family members Nymeria, Lady, Brienne, Summer, Shae, Shaggydog, Arya, Jon Snow, Beric and Cassie. George R. R. Martin and his wife Parris, chose these names for the rescues who didn’t have names when they first arrived to WSWS. Ghost’s family lived in small cages when they lived in Iowa for a long period of time. We don’t know their full history, but we do know that most of them came to us with many health issues, and some with severe facial abnormalities. After weeks of watching Ghost’s appetite begin to slow down, and caretaker observations stating that he was licking the roof of his mouth consistently, Ghost was taken to our vet for what we thought might be a dental issue, but it turned out that Ghost was suffering from stage III kidney failure. Immediately after his diagnosis, Ghost’s appetite suffered tremendously, but we did our best to get the necessary medications into him and his caretaker had to get creative with the meals she was feeding him. During his last months, Ghost’s caretaker gave him whatever she could get him to eat and was able to pet him. Ghost tried to cross over the Rainbow Bridge on his own, but our Animal Care Supervisor and his caretaker were there for him to assist him along painlessly. Ghost’s life was fraught with difficulty but we were happy to have provided him with a peaceful, loving, and nurturing environment during his last few years.


As if losing one animal wasn’t difficult enough, we also waved a sad goodbye to Lucian. His transition started several months ago when his caretaker noticed Lucian acting not quite like his old self.  Our standard procedure in any situation where an animal displays peculiar behaviors quite unlike their normal routine is that we investigate it further, usually landing us at the Veterinarian’s office. It was discovered that Lucian had two tumors growing in his lungs, as well as arthiritis in his spine. Due to Lucian’s age, we opted not to perform an invasive surgery and with our vet’s assistance, kept him comfortable and pain free over the last months he stayed with us. As time went on, the tumors took their toll on Lucian and it became increasingly difficult for him to expend too much energy. Our Assistant Director and two of Lucian’s human friends helped Lucian along the Rainbow Bridge when his time came. Lucian was an animal bursting with character and personality. He is missed by so many people and previous caretakers. He will always be remembered with an enormous cacophony of stories his soul left with us.


Our capture team, which is arguably one of the best in the southwest, traveled down to Silver City, New Mexico to donate our skill-set to the Wolf Song Rescue. Over the years, we’ve assisted them multiple times; for some of our team members, the trip was a very familiar and exciting routine. Wolf Song is run by a loving and tough 60+year old woman who, unfortunately, doesn’t have the resources to perform coordinated captures on her unsocial animals. Eight of our members took the 4+ hour drive to Silver City on a Sunday, and teamed up with a local veterinarian bright and early the next morning in order to inoculate a total of 34 canids. After just three hours, the animals were inoculated and examined and our team welcomed the idea of a nap on the way home! We are so grateful for our volunteers and staff for coming together on their day off to help Wolf Song with their inoculation day. We believe everyone had a “Howling Good Time!”

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Last, but certainly not least, sweat was poured by several gentlemen in June! Our Westeros Habitat Project is moving along thanks to the help of George R.R. Martin, his wife, Parris McBride-Martin, and the team from Navajo Tech! In order for the fences of the habitat to be erected, a new perimeter fence must be put into place first. These gentlemen worked all week long welding parts and putting up new fencing out in the hot New Mexico sun. Thanks guys!! This project has been a huge undertaking from many weekend warriors over the last couple of years, but it’s slowly coming along. Thanks so much George and Parris! Your generosity continuously astounds us!


May 2017

Thank you for tuning in for the May edition of the Monthly Howl! Last month brought heartwarming altruism from various groups of people who came here to donate their valuable time; however, it also brought some heartache with it as well. Our beloved rescue Nazareth crossed over the Rainbow Bridge this month; Agana, Kota’s companion, wanted a puppy so badly that she actually induced a false pregnancy on herself; we welcomed Quinn and Leia’s sister, Lyca, to the pack; and more!


Early in May, we said farewell to our handsome, high-content wolfdog, Nazareth. We had been noticing various signs of weakness in him for days, and due to his age, there was an immediate concern. One morning however, it was clear that whatever was going on was too serious to leave unattended. He gently walked himself into a crate and he was loaded into a vehicle to be transported to the vet. Crystal and Patricia took on the responsibility of taking him to the veterinarian, as they knew that it would be easier on him to have those he loved there with him. Unfortunately, in transit from the sanctuary to the vet, Nazareth left us and joined the Big Pack in the Sky. It was very difficult for the two caretakers who were with him, but they continued their trip to the vet office and consulted with the vet on arrival. It is highly likely that he experienced some sort of organ failure in his old age. We were fortunate to know Nazareth and miss him very much. We hope to pair his longtime companion, Angel, with someone soon. For everyone who supported Nazareth during his time with us, we collectively howl a huge thank you! Because of you, we were able to make Nazareth’s last year safe and full of love.

High-content wolfdog, Agana, apparently wanted puppies with every single ounce of her soul this spring. One morning, her caretaker noticed that Agana was paying particular attention to her abdomen. She would lick her abdomen profusely, and if she was lying next to the fence, she’d growl at those passing by her to leave her alone. Needless to say, the behavior was concerning, especially since there was no physical evidence as to what was causing her discomfort. So, as is customary for us when we notice any odd behavior, we took her to vet to get examined.  Once sedated, the vet began his exam on Agana.


Leyton and Crystal were in shock when he palpated a nipple and saw milk ooze out! The vets at TLC Pet Hospital  consulted with one another and all took a look at her x-rays of her abdomen and chest. Everything looked normal and so it was in agreement when they told us she likely had a false pregnancy; the solution: spay her. Spaying was put off upon her arrival because of a heartworm diagnosis. When rescuing a large and older female canid, we generally opt to not spay her because of the risk of losing her in surgery. On top of that, Agana having heartworm made our decision pretty simple. However, during the vet visit, we found that she is now heartworm negative and after analyzing her blood test, we trusted our vets with the surgery. Agana healed wonderfully and is back to being herself. The most wonderful part of this story for us is Agana has allowed Leyton and Crystal to walk her on multiple occasions…a very different animal than she was when she was rescued in 2014. We are so grateful for our partners at TLC Pet Hospital and for YOU for enabling us to give Agana the life she deserves! See Kota and Agana meet for the first time. 


19205128_10211754952288261_30820653_oAs a non-profit, we rely on our volunteers to help us maintain our daily operations, and we are deeply grateful when large groups or Weekend Warriors come out to assist us in other projects. We were fortunate enough to have three different groups visit us in May and they helped us with an unassuming, invasive, grass-like weed that can be dangerous to our rescues. Foxtail grass has barbed seed heads that can embed themselves in the eyes, nasal passage, and more, of a furry, four-legged animal. Sometimes, if left unattended, an embedded foxtail can lead to an infection; some animals need foxtails surgically removed; and others may have more fatal outcomes. We have been battling this nasty weed for a few years after the weed made its way to our grounds, and it seems that 2017 has been their most successful year yet of taking over Wild Spirit. We have not yet found the solution to our foxtail problem, but so far, our best bet is to pull the weed from the root and throw the nasty buggers into a plastic bag. Girl Scout Troop 10073, Boy Scout Troop 505 and the students of Jimmy Carter Middle School helped us tackle our foxtail invasion by doing just that and made a noticeable dent! We thank you all for your assistance in this important matter! Due to the sensitive nature of our rescues, we do not use weed killers or other harmful chemicals in our soil, though, weed killing the foxtail is not a solution as they are most dangerous when dead. If any of our readers have any other suggestions for us, please feel free to let us know!


Last year, we welcomed Kabbalah, Mystique and puppies, Quinn and Leia. Less than a year later, their sister, Lyca, has joined us for lifetime sanctuary as well. Leyton did his best to warn the owner against keeping Lyca as a “pet” but he digressed and focused his attention on bringing Quinn and Leia home. At the end of May, Lyca was flown in by helicopter from her previous home in California.  Lyca is smaller and a little more timid than her siblings and she seems to be a bit wary of men at this time, but she is a cutie and we can see why she wasn’t fit to be in a home as a “pet”. With all of the socialization and routine that Quinn and Leia have encountered in their 9 months of being with us, we can certainly say that these two were not meant to be in a home leading a domestic life. In her short time of being present at WSWS, Lyca shows similar behaviors that her siblings have displayed over months; she is right at home with her brother and sister here! Lyca is living with Quinn and Storm is currently enjoying companionship with Leia.


Wolf Kitchen Supervisor, Brittany Chiapetti, organized a charity event in Gallup for WSWS. Brittany displayed ingenuity and ambition by suggesting we reach out to a different audience in the nearby city of Gallup, NM. Being an experienced, competition shooter herself, Brittany was able to help us hold “Aim High for Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary” at the Gallup Shooting Range. With virtually no cost to us, we were able to raise over $500 and believe it to have been a successful event. We are very proud of Brittany’s efforts and thank her for setting up this fun family event for the benefit of our rescues!


Last, but not least, Dr. Gonzales from TLC Pet Hospital made a house call! Bringing our vet on-site can be a bit pricey, but we made it worth his while. Dr. Gonzales and his Vet Tech saw Storm, Bono, Princess, Kota and Leia. Leia and Storm’s bloodwork were great and we are continuing Storm on his current regimen (Vetoryl) for his Cushings treatment. Princess had an allergen test performed and other than being sensitive to dust mites, she seems to be in great condition. However, Bono has arthritis, adding to an already diagnosed joint collapse in his right shoulder. Bono has been receiving Adequan injections but now has been placed on an anti-inflammatory for long term pain management.


Due to abnormal feces being found in the Singer Habitat containing Bono, Reba and Princess, we changed their diet, gave them filtered water only and saw no difference in the feces. We ruled out parasites, among other things, and so we began to set our eyes on changing and/or cleaning the soil in their habitat to see if what we were seeing was due to an environmental issue. We have recently discovered though, through folks at the New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society, that many of the Singers from this particular rescue have passed away or are suffering from GI upset. Why this family is having these issues, is a mystery, but we will do everything we can to keep our Singers as healthy as possible. As of now, Bono, Reba and Princess are on a new diet and have been showing signs of feeling better in their tummies. Foxy and Bowie’s diet has changed as well, since it seems that the diet change has helped the others thus far. We’ll keep you updated on that!

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It was most helpful to have Dr.Gonzales visit and exam Kota rather than us attempting to take him to the vet for the very first time in all of the years that Kota has lived with us. Kota received x-rays on his face, his spine and back legs. Kota is our largest canine resident, and with his size, we are certain he feels his age sooner than his companion, Agana. Our assumptions were correct as the x-rays revealed that he has arthritis in both hind legs, he has local inflammation in his right knee which could be due to an ACL compromise and his spine has a slight amount of bridging spondylosis in his lumbar region. He’s now getting Adequan injections like Bono is and until we see that Kota needs it, he’ll also begin an anti-inflammatory regimen.


We had another busy month, but we’re happy to be of service to our deserving rescues! Thank you for supporting them and for helping us give them a high quality life at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary!








April 2017

Things are moving along at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary!  Although this month was busy and productive, it offered a small reprieve for staff and volunteers compared to previous months. In April, low-content wolfdog, Angel, had a tumor removed from her back leg; mid-content wolfdog, Rain, also visited the vet; with the help of Parris McBride-Martin, members from Navajo Tech/Work Skills USA volunteered with us for a weekend; we had visitors from the Lineberry Foundation; a long-term volunteer heads back to her home; and we are working on new things with friends, Cathy and Gerard Vachez!

Angel underwent surgery in order to remove a tumor from 18718277_726895594178163_1371406102_nher leg. It had grown rapidly and was nearing a point that it would cause issues with her mobility. Biopsy revealed that it was a soft tissue sarcoma. Unfortunately, due the location and size of the tumor, the vet did not have a “clean” removal, which means that it’s very likely the growth will reappear. Thankfully, these types of tumors typically do not spread. For the first few days, Angel had to wear an e-collar to ensure she would not chew or lick at the incision site, but due to the stress it caused her, she was able to open the stitches by banging against the fence. We kept it as clean as possible, but took her back in for a second opinion. They cleaned the wound and prescribed her two sprays, one an equine wound care spray and the other a type of collagen spray for fast wound healing. During her second visit, we also had them remove another growth that was found on her spine, but thankfully that was just an apocrine cyst – she has a great prognosis.

Rain was takeimage_rain_01n to the vet because it was thought she could be developing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. However, her test results showed that she was in perfect health other than having arthritis in her back legs. She was prescribed a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug which turned out to be the thing she needed to get her back to her happy and alert self!

A few years ago, George R. R. Martin held a campaign to fundraise for two non-profits, one for the Food Depot in Santa Fe and the other, WSWS. The funds raised for our rescues helped purchase fencing to build two large habitats for the Westeros Packs. Production has been slow due to the deep cleanup that was required of the space that will become the Westeros habitats AND the lack of skilled volunteers to erect the perimeter first required to get the habitats built. Thanks to Parris though, she coordinated with Work Skills USA to get skilled laborers to come and install the poles needed to attach the fencing for our new perimeter! Parris and George, we are so incredibly thankful for your generosity! 18685469_10158684047750103_749782705_n

In 2016, we were awarded a grant from the Lineberry Foundation for our on-site education improvement project. The grant helped us purchase gravel for our tour path to make it ADA accessible and to complete our on-site Education Center. Members from the foundation visited us to see the progress of the tour path and of the Ed & Novella Lineberry Wolf Education Center. 18685458_10158688967230103_89367112_nThanks to their support, we are closer to our goal of using the Ed. Center for on-site educational events, as well as an opportunity for our local community to present in a space for workshops, seminars, classes and community planning efforts.

Our amazing friends in Santa Fe, who own an advertising business, have been looking for new ways to support our rescues and our efforts. They have offered to donate their incredible skills to help us refine our image branding and have volunteered to revamp our brochures and newsletters! logo_1 (1)In July, we’ll be releasing our new and improved Howling Reporter. It will be longer than it used to be, so we will be sending out the newsletter twice a year for cost purposes. They have been working diligently with us and are also working on two other fundraisers of their own, all for the benefit of our rescues. Howls of appreciation to you, Cathy and Gerard!

Education and Outreach is important to us, as it helps to spread awareness about the detriments of the exotic pet trade and empowers us to broaden our reach to the public. We appeared at the Poppy Festival in El Paso, Texas on the 1st and at the University of New Mexico’s annual Wolf Fest on the 14th. Both were great venues to offer in depth information about wolves, wolfdogs and our mission. Thank you for hosting us and allowing us the opportunity to educate the public!

Our volunteers are fundamental to the success of the sanctuary. Many who come start out as strangers and become family members. 16508470_10212070237297572_7823791551901027571_nWhen it’s time for them to turn a new chapter in their life though, it’s always hard to say, “Farewell”. Meghan O’ Keefe left in April to return to home and occupy her important position at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Bellingham, WA. Although we know she’s needed there, especially when one is needed to perform emergency surgery on a bald eagle, we can’t help but miss her. Thank you for your devotion to helping “wild spirits”, Meg!

Last, but not leabelo-200x200-4d851c5b28f61931bf1df28dd15e60efst, after a few hurdles, we have been able to officially list our three rentals on AirBNB! Due to the unique nature of Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, it required research and ingenuity to work out the details smoothly. We hope listing these homes pays off and ultimately betters the lives of the rescues in our care, because in the end, everything we do here is for them.

Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s update!

March 2017


Thank you for tuning in for our 3rd issue of 2017! March has been the busiest month of the year so far; it was filled with new developments, adventures, challenges and rewards. We rescued wolfdogs, Sloane and Flicker; our sweet girl, Maki, crossed the Rainbow Bridge; Weekend Warriors from Arizona, New Mexico and Illinois came out and assisted in some of our projects; and last but not least, one of our vets came out for an on-site visit and we received results on Westeros member, Ghost.

On March 10th, Leyton and Crystal headed to Las Vegas, NM to pick up low-content wolfdog, Sloane (Low-content refers to the possibility of her having some wolf in her, but she is mostly dog). The Shelter Director in Las Vegas had seen many so-called “wolfdogs” come into her shelter. When an ACO captured a wolfdog and brought her to the facility, the Director immediately knew that this one was indeed a wolfdog and that she’d need placement with experienced professionals immediately. Thanks to our friends, Sloane’s information and story was shared repeatedly until someone was willing or able to take her in. From what the shelter told us, Sloane was running loose in Las Vegas for about seven months. It is anyone’s guess what her life was like before being captured, but it is apparent that Sloane has no desire to be in “containment”. When Leyton and Crystal first saw her in the shelter, she instantly showed off her climbing skills. Originally, Leyton’s agreement was to transport her and house Sloane until another placement could be found, but Sloane has proven to be a “special case” and may end up being one of our many, wild-spirited rescues. For now, she is alone in a temporary, 6-sided habitat. Sloane’s placement future is uncertain at the moment, as we are acutely aware that she needs a habitat that is 100% escape proof.

Almost one week after Sloane’s arrival, Leyton and Steve brought home, newest rescue, Flicker. In February’s edition of the Monthly Howl, we wrote that Flicker had escaped the home of her previous owner. Flicker’s story is very long, but we will try to give you all of the highlights in a condensed story here, and we hope to give you the full scoop in our next Howling Reporter due in July 2017. You may also watch this video: (video link)


Flicker was purchased from a horrible place in Ravensdale, CA, at five months old. The woman who bought her was looking for a companion animal for her 6 month old dog. She was not prepared for what she encountered when she arrived to the place that had Flicker: 130+ animals, many of them newborns and pups up to 6 months and older; many of the animals completely un-socialized, if not feral; dry water bowls everywhere; an overwhelming amount of animals injured, riddled with worms, paralyzed and so on; and all of them in small enclosures or under old cars, out in the hot desert sun. Even though this was not what the woman had in mind, she could not leave this place without rescuing at least one of those souls. Flicker is now over 2 years old, and although the woman provided a safe space and loving home to Flicker for more than a year, she is still very untrusting of humans. Flicker is extremely “flighty” around humans to the extent that a vet had to prescribe her Prozac! Although the woman loved Flicker and did her best to give Flicker what she needed, she started to look for sanctuaries that could help her and Flicker. Our hope was that she’d be partnered with Rayne, who recently lost his companion, Shasta II.

After Leyton received word that Flicker had escaped her home in CA, he regrouped, kept in touch with the owner, and coordinated with her vet to ensure that sedation was available to him for safe capture when he arrived. On March 14th, Leyton and Steve met with the vet, located Flicker and with the vet’s assistance, were able to dart her and contain her in less than two hours.


The trio arrived back home on March 16th and Flicker was immediately placed into Rayne’s habitat at about 3:30pm. At around 5pm, Building & Maintenance Manager, Mike Francis, went into the habitat to do some maintenance that would prevent her from climbing out. He heard a noise, turned around, and watched Flicker climb out of the habitat as if she were climbing a ladder. With the help of our Weekend Warriors from Armand Hammer United World College and our team, we ensured she could not get out of our perimeter. Long story short, we are grateful that Crystal was able to display non-threatening and submissive body language to Flicker in order to get her hand on her collar and leash Flicker safely. She was placed back into the kennel that she arrived in until she was moved into a large 6-sided habitat on the 21st.

On March 29th, we had an appointment for wolfdogs, Angel and Rain. Being shy, we had to capture Angel in order to get her kenneled and loaded into the transport van. It was the easiest capture any of us had seen, as Angel must have read our minds and literally ran into the kennel on her own. Unfortunately, we overlooked how much stress this would cause Flicker, being that her habitat is adjacent to Angel’s. During our “easy” capture, Flicker bent steel pipes, pulled apart chain link panels and snapped steel wire in order to break out. Thankfully, her temporary habitat is attached to our enclosed one acre habitat, so she was still contained. Thanks to great team effort, we were able to once again, capture her and leash her and kennel her until the temporary habitat was reinforced in ways that we had not thought was necessary.

Flicker has taught us an important lesson and expanded our perception of what an animal that has experienced trauma like Flicker is capable of when wrapped in fear. Because of Flicker, we have a new standard of what a secure habitat truly looks like and from now on, we will ensure new rescues are in “Flicker Proof Habitats”.  We are still waiting on materials to arrive before we can reinforce Rayne’s habitat to ensure it is secure enough for Ms. Flicker. Stay tuned for more on Flicker’s story!

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On March 17th, our dear old Maki joined the Big Pack in the Sky. Maki slipped away peacefully in her sleep at age 15. A wolf’s lifespan in the wild is 7-9 years old on average; Maki would have turned 16 in May. We mourn with her longtime companion, Nikki, but take solace in the fact that she was loved and supported by so many wonderful people over the years. We thank you all for helping us give her a beautiful place to live, with great care and good food.

Westeros pack member, Ghost, headed to vet in March, as it seemed he was having trouble eating his meals. We assumed he’d need a dental, but unfortunately, it was discovered that he has stage 3 kidney disease. For human patients with this diagnosis, it’s typical that they are placed on dialysis, however, due to Ghost’s shy nature, this is not feasible. He was sent home with three different medications and suggestions on how to entice him to eat. Although we know Ghost will not survive for years to come, the day-to-day well being of our rescues is a top priority; we will combine our knowledge and resources with our partners at TLC Pet Hospital, in order to make his last days as comfortable and pain free as possible.


In addition to Ghost’s visit, Dr. Gonzales and tech, Michelle, made their way out to the sanctuary for an onsite vet visit. Westeros pack member, Summer, was showing signs of a potential spinal issue and/or digestive issue. If Summer had a degenerative spinal problem, we did not want to risk injury during a capture, so Dr. Gonzales met us with his portable x-ray machine. Since our vet was driving out two and a half hours from the office, we tacked Storm, Flurry and Angel to the onsite vet visit as well.

It turns out Summer does not have any joint problems; in fact, his spine, hips and joints look GREAT! Instead he was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, anemia and decreased lymphocytes. He was prescribed medication and nutritional supplements for his deficiency in certain nutrients and the prognosis is positive. Summer originally lived with Shaggydog, Jon Snow and Shae, but to better treat him and provide him the medications without fail, we separated him and placed him with Brienne, who had been separated from her pack containing Ghost and Arya. The two seem to be faring well with each other and he has been doing much better with his new regimen.

Flurry received bloodwork and his results came back with no discernable issues. Storm also received bloodwork and the current regimen he’s been on to treat Cushings seems to be working well for him, and thus requires no change. Angel had a lump checked and it was noted to be removed as soon as possible. Originally, Angel was scheduled to get it removed in March, but will have it removed in April.

Whew, t18035611_10211239721767820_242361945_nhis is turning out to be a novel for this month! We won’t be able to cram everything that happened into this post, but we’ll give you some other highlights:

We welcome our new member to the human pack, Josh McNitt. Josh lives in our community and has come on board to help our Building & Maintenance team with the ever-growing list of things to maintain. We are very happy to have him join us!

We presented at three Santa Fe Libraries, a Senior Center in Albuquerque and at Mountain View Middle School last month. We are incredibly thankful that we have brave rescues like Flurry and Quinn who are willing to go out to the public and help us educate people on wolves, wolfdogs and other matters related to their importance in our ecosystem, as well as the tragedies of the exotic pet trade. Thank you all for allowing us to present at your facility!

We send out a huge howling thank you to the  group that came out for a week and helped us prepare Rayne’s habitat for Flicker’s arrival and also helped us begin building smoke and fire proof houses for Lucian/Nymeria and Nakota/Silva. You guys rocked and we truly appreciate your helping us with getting Flicker the first time!

A collectivejj0lom782qddqy505r6r_400x400 howl of thanks goes to the University Of Illinois Spring Break Group for helping us secure Flicker’s temporary habitat, as well as helping us organize our maintenance yard and doing some fire prevention at the Retreat!  We think it’s awesome that you all choose to spend your spring break with us! Thanks!

To the 10+ boy scouts from the “Adventure Crew”, thank you for painting our shower rooms!! There are few things better than a fresh coat of paint to liven things up. J

Thank you, Amy and Gabriel, for coming out again and sprucing up a couple of our picnic tables! We are so thankful to you and love your return trips to the sanctuary!

Last, but most definitely not least, thanks to your support, we were able todrontal pic purchase $1,600 worth of Drontal Plus to cover our 1st deworming of 2017. Drontal Plus is the most efficient dewormer available; however, it is one of the most expensive dewormers on the market. Spring typically marks the end of the hunting season, and since our rescues are fed raw, wild game meat during the winter, it is important for us to ensure our rescues are parasite free. In April, all of the rescues will receive their required dose needed to eliminate parasites such as whipworm, roundworm, tapeworm and other nasty parasites that can be found in the donated game meats we receive. We will make the same purchase again in September to stay true to our bi-annual deworming schedule. If you would like to help us with our next purchase, feel free to email us at or donate here!

February 2017

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.

16938703_10158659651495221_5549041949837991340_nWith 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 Westeimage_01ros 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 brawlimage_06ing. 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.17191164_10212293280193505_5306802224573437842_n

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.

I16711742_10158586557020221_6265677855524462440_nn 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, oIMG_20170202_143643601_HDRne 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.image_15


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 kee16804438_10211627757030437_297394491025416554_op 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 gra20170307_120621nd 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.