Howling with Wolves

My mentor was a wise Cherokee woman, who taught me about sacred spirit animals. She made me my first medicine pouch, which held the medicine of a wolf tooth. One of her wolves had lost one, and she thought it would bring me much needed strength. I proudly wore it to Catholic school, hoping it would shield me from the mean girls. In retrospect, wearing a large medicine pouch visible to such mean girls probably did not help my cause.

Regardless, I grew to understand that wolves possessed the incredible power of family, loyalty, strength, and leadership. The people at the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary obviously felt the same way, as I heard an hour of inspirational stories. Some involved humans saving these majestic creatures and most involved wolves saving us. Wolves here were incredibly wise, pointing out when people were sick, and had even diagnosed cancer twice.

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Upon our arrival, we checked in and noticed their collection of wolf hair bracelets. Some jewelry was completely made of hair and others had small bottles containing a bundle, further demonstrating the belief in wolf medicine.

 

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Some might find wolves terrifying, but I actually felt safe, being in the presence of a strong powerful community. Our tour guide explained that wolves were not dangerous to humans, wrongly getting a bad reputation. You would be more likely to get attacked by a snake, buffalo, or bear. However, if you were to see a husky or a wolf in the forest, would you be able to tell the difference? Overall, wolves are larger beings. They have black nails, black noses, large curved teeth, slanted eyes, rounded furry ears, and rarely will ever be seen with blue eyes. Their tales are kept down when they walk, and of course you will never hear a wolf bark. Features aside, they left us star struck until we realized that they were just lovable beings looking to score some treats and get their armpits scratched.

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A wolf just trying to get his armpit scratched
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Holan loves to give kisses
My friend brought some unapproved dog biscuits for the wolves. A worker ate one and said, “There’s salt in these but the Brewer’s yeast would be great for them. If it doesn’t make me sick, they can have them.” I guessed we really should’ve looked at the website, so this poor woman didn’t have to taste test dog treats. In any case, the wolves loved our questionable goodies. Although they found a two-armed hug aggressive, snuggling was perfectly fine with them. These pictures might look scary but I really just caught them at a bad time eating treats, not really their fault.

 

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Wolves were known as incredibly emotional creatures. They might howl for various reasons, like warnings, hunting strategy, mating, separation, and happiness.  Wolves howl most to the wolves they spend the most time with, including their mate picked for life. If separated by space or death, a wolf howls their heartbreak or maybe the mourning howl, which they do if one of their brothers has fallen. Two of the wolves used for the movie Twilight reside here, or used to. One of them, Istas, unfortunately passed a few months ago, which caused the rest of his pack tremendous grief. These wolves were a true family, and waited until the wolf closest was ready to mourn their family member. The employees at the sanctuary had been grieving along with them, saying it’s one of the saddest sounds they had ever heard and hoped to never hear it again. This day however, I got to join what I thought was a bonding howl among the entire pack. Their song was beautiful, echoing through the mountains. I felt genuine strength among them, as I hoped they would have more happy celebrations to come.

 

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Howling with the pack
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Some Yelpers who journeyed to the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary said that they found it disturbing the pens were too small for animals built to run long distances. However, these wolves were literally rescued from slaughter or the humans who had no idea what they were doing, raising them on a Kibbles ‘n Bits diet. The average wolf trophy was worth $600 and pups without desirable traits were often discarded. While their running space wasn’t preferable, the organization was fighting for change, raising their voices to make a difference for their kind, and spreading awareness to keep their species from going extinct. Want to help? The organization is raising money for running space, freezers, and other equipment. Until then the rescues are getting lots of love – salmon, treats, and hugs.

 

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Wolf Mountain Sanctuary
 7520 Fairlane Rd, Lucerne Valley, CA 92356
(760) 248-7818

 

© Faith’s True Tales 2015. All original words and images by Faith Brady.

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