Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is a brave endeavor. It is a place where wild captive breed animals are rescued and given a lifetime home after being abused or just not appropriate for pets. But most of all they are not capable of being wild. I met dingos, coyotes, foxes and wolf dogs. Each animal has a story and some very hard; like the coyote that was chained up and left and the chain had to be surgically removed or the wolf dog that someone shot in the face because it was in their neighborhood because someone had abandoned the animal. Angel the coyote now has her own den and coyote neighbors and the lovely blind Shasta has her own roost that she climbs up on and bathes in the sun and both chime in along with the other members of the community when they howl. They open that place in the heart that is wild, sad and tender.
I brought Lupine’s ashes with me to Wild Spirit and took a small bag of them out and carried them to the famous black timber wolf Raven’s pond. He was the first ambassador with the public. He is no longer alive a book about Raven and his Man is a wonderful and touching account of what Raven taught everyone about wolves and the deep and hard won friendship between Leyton Cougar the director of the sanctuary and Raven.
I first met Raven and Leyton when Lupine was a pup and I was impressed with Raven’s size his eyes ,and his straightforward manner of relating to me and the dogs. Now, having lost my own wolf dog I can feel the way the wolf energy is powerful and about what is wild and currently being lost. It is not just Lupine’s death personally that I attribute to this sense of loss but of the wild itself.They are losing ground literally and figuratively in our world.
Driving to and from the sanctuary we pass casinos and fast food stores and trucks carrying goods in large streams along 40, and one wonders what we will do with all this stuff. Once headed down the road to the sanctuary we come into Navajo and Zuni country and some ranching folks and it slows and the momentum of goods being delivered is quieter. There is that odd mix of often poor rural townships that I felt in Gila. I feel it as this teeter tooter of poverty and simplicity.
There was a crisis the morning we arrived at the sanctuary it seems someone may have thrown some poisoned meat over the fence and Brutus, one of the wolves, is waiting for his partner to return after this event. He seemed to have pulled out of of the neurological reactions but she may have not so it is a waiting game. The evening and morning laced into the sky filled howls I am quite sure one resounding voice was Brutus missing his mate, and this feeling of others in the tribe consoling or sharing in the body of feeling this brings to these animals. They are protected and yet they are hated in some of the dogged rural mindsets that demonize these animals.
I think about cows and how much less burger we could do without even if that were the issue, which it is not by a long shot and how much more we could have the breathtaking sound of these animals more alive and present in our mountains and countryside. We want to recreate in the wild but often we do not just want to leave it alone for itself but have to make “use” of everything.
One of the oldest wolves, Contessa ambles and paces while some of the younger wolves with sharp yellow eyes like Rain drift at the back of their enclosure less eager to come up to where I am shooting some pictures. The wolves and wolf dogs and other animals can be adopted for support and the tours educate people about their lives and habits. It is a rough environment with more jobs one can imagine accomplishing but with help, luck and endurance these animals and more to follow with find sanctuary.
I listened to all the voices and howls during the night as when one would begin and the others join in and when dawn arrived it was powerful. I still hear them like the ocean and feel something comforting and in need of protection. I hear Lupine in their voices and feel her there and here now.
As I tossed her ashes into the pond where the wolves walk around each day, I can feel the tiny chards of bone drift into the ancient mud where they return to the land and are there with her brothers and sisters.