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!


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!