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