by Wendy Spencer, director of Animal Care
It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our long-time resident and friend, Sequra.
Over the course of the last year we saw a slow decline in Sequra’s overall well-being. She had some generalized stiffness, muscle atrophy, weakness in her backend, and other issues that come with old age (loss of visual and auditory acuity, lethargy, change in appetite). One of the most notable changes in Sequra was the gradual onset of what we can only assume was a canine form of dementia. In the early stages, she would present with what seemed to be disorientation or confusion, and towards the end of her life, she spent countless hours “patrolling” the perimeter of her enclosure at a leisurely walk.
For months we closely monitored her behavior and given the fact that she engaged regularly with her enclosure mate, Lakota, and was excited for food and enrichment, we determined that she was still experiencing good quality of life. However, during the week of July 24, we noticed a significant change. Mobility was becoming more of an issue for her, and despite pain management, she seemed to be in discomfort. It became increasingly difficult for her to lie down and once she did, she struggled to get herself upright again. Her once voracious appetite began to wane and her overall zest for life seemed to be fading.
During the morning walk-through on July 29, animal care staff found Sequra lying in her deckpen, unable to stand. She tried numerous times and when she finally did manage to get herself upright, she was weak and her breath was labored. She stood only a moment before slumping back into a prone position. In consultation with our veterinarian, we talked through our options and sadly, they were limited. Anytime we are faced with a difficult end of life decision, we weigh our options very carefully and we agonize over whether or not it is the right thing to do. In Sequra’s case we determined that the kindest thing we could do for her was to help her pass on.
As I watched her take her last breath, I thought back to the day we brought Sequra to Wolf Haven. She was just two years old at the time and had been rescued from a difficult situation. She was skinny and afraid and spent the first few weeks with her tail tucked as she hid behind the snowberry bushes in her enclosure whenever staff was present. In time, she regained her sense of self and it made our hearts happy to see her thrive in her new home. Over the years, Sequra was paired with three different males and she was kind, affectionate and a steadfast friend to each. Generosity of spirit and kindness of heart is the legacy she leaves (as well as her unique food caching skills).
Rest in peace, beautiful Sequra.
by Pamel Maciel, Mexican Wolf SSP/Hispanic Outreach Specialist, Wolf Haven International
This article was originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of Wolf Tracks, Wolf Haven’s quarterly magazine for Members.
Our recount of these last few months is a bittersweet one. In late March, we lost our dear friend Spruce. He was a sweet 13-year old male gray wolf who passed after a year and a half period of health decline. For some of us, Spruce’s passing hasn’t been easy to assimilate. He was a big white wolf with a conspicuous presence. Every time Animal Care staff was feeding in the area, Spruce “followed” us along the fence line, observing each of our movements. He stared at us with intense focus, as if hoping that every meatloaf, chicken, salmon or treat in the truck was for him and only him. Farewell, beautiful Spruce, you will always be part of the sanctuary.
While some go, others come and this spring we warmly received Tecumseh, a high-content wolfdog born to the pet trade. “T” is of shy temperament and has a gorgeous expressive face. He is currently housed with hyperactive wolfdog sisters Willow and Senna, who are making sure his life here is anything but boring. Welcome handsome “T”!
In a humbling expression of the cycle of life, Wolf Haven’s red wolf community experienced a couple of changes. In June we said goodbye to both Jacob (M1405) and Tamaska (F1485). For several days prior to his passing, Jacob wasn’t his usual self. When we took him to the clinic, his blood profile revealed chronic renal failure -a common disease in older canines (Jacob was 11 years old, an advanced age for a wolf.) As his kidneys weren’t functional, the best we could do was help him peacefully move on from this life. Tamaska had a really hard time losing her friend. Usually the remaining companion will grieve for several days, so we allow them time and space to adjust before making any changes or bringing a new mate. After two weeks, she still had no appetite and was very lethargic. We decided to take her to the vet and, unfortunately, tests results were consistent with Addison’s decease.
The most likely scenario is that she had this underlying condition for a while but the stress of Jacob’s passing was the tipping point. They were very bonded and it’s difficult to say what her quality of life would have been moving forward. We could have tried to manage it (the condition is fairly common in certain breeds of dogs) but it would have required catching her up every 20 days for the rest of her life for injections, which is ok perhaps for a domestic dog, but not for a red wolf.
The kindest thing we could do was to help her pass on and join her beloved friend. Jacob and Tamaska lived and died as a tightly bonded pair. We will always have them in our hearts.
On the uplifting side of news, we have red wolf pups! In June, they started crawling out of the den and exploring all the surroundings. Nash (F1945) is being a wonderful mom, taking the best possible care of her kids, nursing them and keeping them safe.
She initially gave dad Tala (M1482) a hard time when he tried to approach the pups, but eventually she welcomed him to the group, keeping an eye on him and making sure he is delicate and careful at all times. Watching the family dynamics via remote camera is such a delight; we are lucky to be able to learn from them! This litter is a result of the red wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) efforts. Every single one of these little beings is an invaluable contribution to the conservation of the extremely endangered red wolf, the only wolf species endemic to the United States.
Jacob and Tamaska were part of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan program, a federally managed program designed to maintain the genetic health and viability of this incredibly endangered species.
Jacob had recently turned 11, and though not considered old by Wolf Haven standards, he was approaching old age. We began to notice some changes in him; most notably, he seemed a little slower than usual. One morning, instead of eagerly waiting at the fence for food and dancing from foot to foot as usual, he hung back. Despite this change in behavior, Jacob continued to eat and move well, but on June 3, he was found lying in his daybed next to the large oak tree in his enclosure. Animal care staff brought Jacob to the clinic where blood work revealed advanced kidney failure. Sadly, there was nothing that could be done but help our friend pass peacefully. Jacob was humanely euthanized at the clinic without ever waking up.
Jacob’s passing took a toll on his enclosure mate, Tamaska. Often when a wolf loses his or her mate, we see what we would call grief manifest in myriad ways, just as we do with humans. Sometimes it is general lethargy, or lack of appetite, or some other change in behavior. For Tamaska, it was all of these things.
Initially we attributed these changes to her adjusting to life without Jacob, but when her behavior didn’t improve, we took her to the veterinary clinic. Bloodwork revealed that Tamaska had Addison’s disease, a disorder of the adrenal gland that is often exacerbated by stress. The most likely scenario is that she had this underlying condition for a while but the stress of Jacob’s passing was the tipping point. They were very bonded and it’s difficult to say what her quality of life would have been moving forward. We could have tried to manage it – the condition is fairly common in certain breeds of dogs – but it would have required us catching her up every 20 days for the rest of her life for injections. This might be ok with a domestic dog, but not a red wolf.
The kindest thing we could do was to help her pass on. Tamaska passed away on June 15, less than two weeks after Jacob died.
Tamaska and Jacob had been very bonded while they lived together at Wolf Haven. In death, we plan to put them together in our memorial garden – just as they should be. Rest in peace beautiful Tamaska and handsome Jacob.