Thursday, April 27, 2017

Farewell Friday and Solo

  Heavily the rain came down all week and heavily our hearts sank deeply as two of Speedwell’s own, brother and sister, passed away this April.  Volunteers and wolves alike are still in shock from the passing of Friday and Solo, two amazing wolves who taught us the true meaning of family, of vigilance, of leadership, and of a wolf’s true nature.

 When good bye comes a time of preparedness is hoped for, but this past month there was nothing of that readiness. It was just upon us. Our beloved Friday had been showing his age. His hips where failing but he was still healthy.  But something else took hold of him, something swift and sinister.  A sense of dread descended upon the sanctuary. We sounded the alarm, and our vet came early Sunday morning ready to do battle, but with what? Smokey’s pack was sick. They had all been touched by something. Friday lay motionless, a slight rise and fall to his chest. Solo was hunched over, breathing heavy pain in her eyes, Dusty was salivating heavy. The others hiding. Fear gripped our hearts, but this was not the time to acknowledge the anguish I am sure we all felt.

 Our dearest beautiful Friday could not be revived. He slipped away from us. Solo our golden girl a ray of sunshine was seizing. NOOOOOO, hush now we must remain calm. What happened! We carried Solo out she was critical. Fluids we administered, medication was given. Her vitals steadied, but she remained critical and Monday morning we said goodbye to our second of five. But that would be the end for now. We had caught the bug early enough to save the three.  With broken hearts, we retreated and gave Dusty, Swayze, and Cinderella time to grieve in peace.

 Throughout his life, Friday showed strength and resilience at all times.  He moved with intelligence, choosing his path at each moment, keeping a void between himself and humanity, a void that allowed his heart and soul to remain wild like his ancestors, wild and free.  Ever steadfast with the soul of a true wolf, Friday battled until the end.  We mourn his passing deeply, and yet his spirit is too strong to ever truly leave our hearts.

 Solo was the strength and life of her pack.  She had a quiet perseverance about her, even to the very end.  Calm and steady she took up her burdens and weathered them.  Her strength taught us what it means to be an Alpha – not teeth and muscle and noise, but a still and dignified presence, an experienced leader that knows when to play and laugh and when to rule, a leader that seeks nothing but respect.  She will never truly be gone from Speedwell so long as her howl resounds in our hearts reminding us of that playful golden girl who led her pack with grace.

Be at peace, sweet Solo, dear Friday.  Your strength and grace will always remain in our hearts.

Born: January 10, 2003 – Died: April 2, 2017

Born: January 10, 2004  – Died: April 3, 2017

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Vet Care

The wolves of Speedwell have received excellent veterinary care over the years.  We would like to show our appreciation for our dedicated veterinary professionals and provide an inside look at some of our more recent check-ups.

Passing the torch

For many years, we have relied on the hard work and dedication of our local veterinarian team - Dr. Bill and Dr. Chris.  We now welcome the expertise of Dr. John Bergman, who specializes in veterinary care for exotic animals like wolves.  Thank you to Dr. Bill and Dr. Chris for your many years of dedication to the sanctuary, and thank you also to Dr. Bergman for joining us!

The doctor's office

A traveling veterinarian has to have all the necessities easily accessible on the go.  With an office in the back of his truck, our vet is always ready for any sort of checkup or treatment that might be needed.  

Routine checkups

During routine checkups, our vet takes an observational walk to look at all of the sanctuary's residents, a few of which are given a full exam.  Checkup exams include checking their heart, lungs, and other organs, checking their teeth, and doing x-rays and blood work if needed.

My! What clean teeth you have!

Wolves rely on their teeth for survival.  The quality of a wolf's teeth can tell a lot about their age, their health, and even a little about their history.  For example, in the wild, the best way to age a wolf is by checking the quality of their teeth and a 7-year old wild wolf typically will have broken or missing canines, ground down molars, and could even have some structural damage to their jaw.  Our vet is sure to check the wolves' teeth during checkups.  Many of our wolves have very strong, clean healthy teeth, even our elders who are 17 years old!  Much of this is due to their diet of all raw meat, which is often provided with the bone intact.  Crunching up the bones helps to prevent tartar buildup and is a great source of calcium.


Keeping nails filed down is very important to the wolves' health as well.  The majority of our wolves and wolf-dogs take good care of their nails on their own, scratching on bark and treading across their natural terrain in their enclosures.  During first-time exams and routine check-ups, our vet is always sure to check the patient's nails and do a little clipping if needed.

Nap time

Routine checkups can sometimes require sedation, especially if blood work or x-rays are needed.  During checkups, the wolves and wolf-dogs here at the sanctuary receive a low dose of sedative mixed with a few other medicines that help to counter any negative side effects.  While they are sedated, we keep an eye on their heartbeat and oxygen levels and cover their eyes to help them have a more restful sleep.  Once the exam is over, they are gently carried back to their territory on a gurney and woken back up.

Spay and Neuter

All of our incoming rescues are spayed or neutered, unless they are past the age of breeding when they arrive.  In the past, we needed to transport any rescues requiring surgery to the local veterinary care facility a few miles away. One of our future projects that we hope to accomplish will be an on-site veterinary care facility where we will be able to perform surgeries and offer a sterile, climate controlled recovery environment for the wolves.  In the meantime, with the help of a portable anesthesia machine, we are able to prepare a temporary indoor area where surgeries can be performed if needed.  

Thanks Doc!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Farewell Sage

  Winter has not yet begun to deepen and sorrow struck the sanctuary this January.  Nestled in the shade of her favorite tree, our Sage passed on to be with her ancestors on the morning of January 22, 2017.  Two dominant females in the Big Pack, Trinity and Sarge, signaled the loss of a sister in spirit, howling to mourn the passing of a fellow strong female.

  Sage had a troubled past but shortly after her arrival she quickly became one of Speedwell’s own and in just one short year she touched the hearts of visitors and volunteers alike.

  Sage transformed into a strong and fearless female wolf during her time here.  Upon first arriving here she was frightened and unsure.  All she had known in her past was a tight collar and a short chain.  Her first step into a new enclosure revealed her true nature, though.  No longer collared or caged, she rejoiced in her new freedom and the years of confinement melted away.  Yet there was still a trace of fear when visitors came by.  She was still uncertain and while alone, she was not yet ready to trust.  Soon, though, that was all to change.  She was introduced to a sociable male wolf named Galahad who had been her neighbor for quite some time.  Too proud to show him any more than a passing glance, and he so set in his lone wolf ways they were not playful like many of the other packs at the sanctuary.  Yet there seemed to be an understanding between the two and they each seemed to derive a sense of comfort from the other’s presence.  Sage was no longer fearful when visitors came for tours.  True, there were some that she would never trust, but Galahad did not show fear and so she did not either.

  Sage developed a rivalry with a neighboring female wolf named Jake.  Both strong and dominant, they each made sure that their presence was known.  The two could be heard howling back and forth toward each other along the fence in challenge during times when all of the wolves would sing together.  Sage’s howl was unique, bold and raspy when she wished to announce her presence, and sometimes deep and solemn when she preferred solitude.

  She was timid with her caretakers, and they were always overjoyed when she would show them her trust by taking a treat through the fence during a tour, or brushing along the fence beside them.  She still was never very social, not like her companion Galahad, and preferred a gentle solitude in the shade of her most favorite tree, out of sight and at peace in a forest territory all her own.

Be at peace, dear Sage.  Your strong and gentle soul will remain in our hearts and you will always truly be one of Speedwell’s own.
Born: March 13, 2007 – Rescued: November 03, 2015 – Died: January 22, 2017

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Farewell Hudson

Our beautiful Hudson was 16 but even 16 years never feels like enough time.   The heat of this year was too much compounded by his age and failing hind quarters.  He laid down where his brother had lain in January of 2015 and prepared to leave this land.  To avoid prolonged suffering our vet came to him and helped him cross over mid-afternoon on August 11, 2016.   Even the skies broke with thunder and a brief respite of rain as our Hudson laid down his burdens and passed on to be with his brothers.

Hudson was born at the sanctuary and helped his brothers as they ruled their pack with strength and understanding.  Leaving the alpha and beta responsibilities to his brothers Murphy and Winston, Hudson focused on strengthening the bonds between his family members and was ever ready to protect and defend them at all costs.

As he aged, Hudson became a respected elder and even after his brothers had passed on, he still retained a high rank during meal times and occasional disputes.  He could be seen right alongside Lincoln, given uncontested preference for the choicest parts of the meal.

His pack always showed him respect.  When the howl would begin, his family would gather around him in a circle, requesting permission to join in with excited wagging tails as they kissed up to his lower jaw.

Hudson’s pack stayed with him until the very end, especially his nephew Lenape who had a particularly strong bond with his older uncle.  Being a lower-ranked member of the pack, Lenape had looked to Hudson for guidance and reassurance.  Lenape and all of the members of the Big Pack will greatly miss their wise and noble elder.

To Hudson:

“Named for the river that flows from Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains to Manhattan New York.  Born here, you grew with your family, never having to be separated from those you love.  You lived your life in the same majestic style of that mighty river.  Calm and serene, even tempered and at times tempest and fierce but never hateful.  You were an elder in your pack.  Always respected.  Hudson of the Big Pack!  In my mind’s eye I remember the first time I saw you.  Beautifully stoic in your stance, yes even as a puppy.  You seamed to look upon your world through a unique and philosophic gaze.  How you cared for all in your pack.  Not the Alpha, you were their sentinel and their elder.  The young would depend upon you to teach them and how you did that with such grace and dignity. How I will miss your bear-like looks and your steadfast way.  Always there when I would walk the grounds and you would listen when I cried.  You were always there for me too.  You would tilt your head and look at me and somehow that made me feel better. I always thought you the most beautiful in the park.  I will miss you, we will all miss you.  I know you are at peace and there is no more pain.  I understand that, I just wish I could explain it to my heart. 
Hudson, all that have met you through the years are better for having known you.  We all love you.  I will listen for your howl in the winds.  Run free with those that have gone before.”

May you have peace now, Hudson, and know that we will all remember your honorable and dignified presence.

February 15, 2000 – August 11, 2016

Farewell Jerico

Tempestuous heat and humidity worthy of the tropics filled the air this August and brought with them an air of sadness.  Jerico passed naturally in early morning August 11, 2016.  We never knew his birthday, but estimated him to be somewhere between 12 to 14 years of age when he arrived here two years ago.

Jerico had tread a difficult path before coming to the sanctuary.  He spent many years in a small concrete area with the sounds and smells of dozens of other animals.  His living conditions affected his health, as tumors grew on his hind quarters and there were problems with his teeth which can be particularly damaging for a wolf.  Our vets worked quickly when he arrived and brought him back to health so that he could move to his own territory and meet his new pack-mate Sophie.

Sophie and Jerico quickly became a well-loved sanctuary pair.  Sophie brightened up his days and gave him over two years of happiness in a beautiful forest home.  The two spent all their days together, in the snow, sun, and shade.  Jerico always held himself with a graceful poise.  If volunteers came to clean his water buckets or brought guests up for a tour, he would politely come to the fence for a brief greeting until retiring again with Sophie into the shade of their woods.

To Jerico:

“You came to us April 2014 from St Clair New York.  There was a sadness in your eyes.  Your health was hindered by several tumors on your rump and rear.  We quickly got you to the vet for surgery and the next day you came home to us. Your new forever home awaited you with trees and flowing grasses and Sophie- a she-wolf also from New York.  You two hit it off immediately, and it wasn’t long before you were acting like an old married couple.  Your sad eyes went away, replaced by a mischievous smile.  You had this somber way about you.  Always quick to kiss a hand if offered.  A beautiful yet quiet howl.  I will miss you Jerico.  I imagine you met Hudson on your way to the hunting grounds.  Now both of you are running free.  Young again and full of wild abandon.  While you did not stay with us for many years, I am happy to have met you and I am happy to have been able to have given you a home free from worries.”  

Rest easy Jerico, your life and character will not be forgotten.

Born: est. 2000 – Rescued: May 10, 2014 -- Died: August 11, 2016

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Meet Kuzco!

Here at Wolf Sanctuary of PA we rescue wolves and wolf-dogs of all shapes and sizes - even the floppy-eared ones!  At first glance, the newest member of the Speedwell family may not look like a wolf, but he has all the behavioral traits and strength that you might expect from a young male wolf-dog.

Despite his lab-like looks, Kuzco's genetics contain wolf DNA, giving him extreme jaw pressure, a thick double coat of fur, and a strong pack mentality, which caused him to exhibit severe separation anxiety at his former home.  While he was well-loved growing up, Kuzco, like many other wolf-dogs we have seen, eventually outgrew his human household.  Now, he has his very own pack-mates, Shawnee and Princess, and he is taking in all of the wonderful sights, scents, and sounds of his new surroundings.

Schedule a Private Tour to see how Kuzco is faring in his new hillside forest territory with pack mates Shawnee and Princess!  You can also support Kuzco through our Adopt a Wolf program by symbolically adopting him.

As always, thank you for your support and interest!  Come visit us soon!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Farewell Hope

With heavy hearts, we bid our Hope farewell two weeks ago.  She had suffered from a genetic spinal defect.  Too young to pass from us so soon, we were heartbroken to lose her, but we know that she had moved on to a better place, free from any further suffering.

Hope was born at the sanctuary with her brother Aries.  The two of them had met and bonded with our young Lazarus at a very early age and the three had been a pack ever since.  Their very social, friendly demeanor made all three of them very popular among guests and volunteers alike.  Hope was known as our "Fainting Wolf" throughout the sanctuary because of her habit of rushing to greet any caretaker who came to visit  her enclosure and immediately flopping at their feet for a belly rub.  She was the alpha leader of her pack, always sure to keep Aries and Lazarus in line, and she ruled her pack with discipline, love, and lots of fun, though she did not hesitate to ensure that she receive the most attention of the three.  Hope's presence will be deeply missed throughout the sanctuary and we will always keep her memory close to our hearts.   

"Dear Hope, my brain isn’t quite wrapped around your death. So young, we never expected your journey would begin so soon.  We knew you were not feeling well.  Only two months ago, the vet examined you.  You laid beside us so calm, your demeanor a tad embarrassed as the vet checked around and beneath your tail and your hind legs.  We sedated you lightly for the x-rays and were worried by the vet’s expression.  He said that your spine was compacted (a genetic defect) and the nerves were being restricted in your lower back, the prognoses was not good.  He explained that there was no way to know how long you would be with us, but that many have lived for years with this condition.  We are all stunned by how quick you left.  I grasp at memories.  My hand reaches into thin air, a feeble attempt to pull you back.  Just one more moment to capture some glimpse of your sweet face, and hear your gentle melodic howl.  You had a way of always making me smile.  Miss Hope, I will miss rubbing your belly, how you would pin my feet to the ground so I could not escape.  Rub! you commanded, and all of us that had the blessing to occupy your space obeyed.  We all miss you Hope, our Hope.  Thank you for blessing us and choosing us to care for you and give you a happy home.  You are and will always be one of our babes born here.  You knew nothing but love all your life.  Don’t fret as you move to higher hills and cross the bridge on your new adventure with the sun and moon at your heals.   We will care for your brother Aries and your pack mate Lazarus.  You lead your pack with dignity and strength, a true leader until the end.  I am gladdened in heart to know that your family was close by your side in your final hours and could grieve in true wolf form, to help ease your passing with whispers in your own language, and tales from your own nation.  Safe journey my friend, my sister.   Nature blessed your final day with sun, warm and welcoming you to wonder beyond our borders. No more pain.  I wonder did it lift your spirits to have a sunny day with birds singing as you left this plain.  A sunny day was always your favorite time.  I see you running and playing.  Stretching your legs and throwing your head back.  Until we meet again, all my love, all our love…"
Dawn Darlington - President, Wolf Sanctuary of PA

born: 12-14-2008 / died 05-17-2016