Riley's spirit continues in our hearts

Our friend Riley photo courtesy of Julie Lawrence/Wolf Haven

Our friend Riley
photo by Julie Lawrence/Wolf Haven International

It is with a heavy heart that Wolf Haven writes that our friend Riley passed away earlier this month. Riley was only seven years old and was healthy and happy. His passing was very sudden and unexpected and left us all in a state of great sadness.

During a routine morning walk through the sanctuary by animal care staff on Friday December 12, Riley was found lying on his side not moving. It was apparent that he had passed away during the night. The day before he died, Riley was his usual happy, playful self. Two weeks earlier he had been introduced to a new companion, a female wolf named Ukiah, whose brother had died. The two of them were forming a fast friendship and could be seen nose to nose wagging their tails, playing a little and lying quietly next to each other in the middle of their enclosure.

The day he passed he had been given a special treat, a small sheep carcass donated to Wolf Haven by a local farmer. Riley did not want to share the carcass with Ukiah at first. He kept chasing her off until he ate his fill and then he moved away to allow Ukiah to enjoy as well.

When Riley was found the following morning, his abdomen was acutely distended; an indication of gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. We consulted our veterinarian about performing a necropsy in order to determine the cause of his death. The veterinarian felt that given all of the symptoms and the large amount of food Riley had quickly ingested the day before, a necropsy was not necessary. She explained that GDV, also known as torsion, evolves extremely quickly, making it nearly impossible to prevent and very difficult to treat successfully, especially in wild canids. Riley (as well as our other wolves) received carcasses on a regular basis without any ill-effects, so we are not sure why on this particular day it turned out to have fatal consequences.

Riley at rest

Riley at rest

It has been an honor to care for Riley and watch him blossom with his first companion Siri and his burgeoning new friendship with Ukiah. He was a little shy and was also playful and mischievous. He will be greatly missed.

Thank you for your generosity, care and support of Riley while he was with us at Wolf Haven. His spirit will continue on in our hearts.

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