Thank you to each and every one of you! Although you can’t see our gratitude, we feel as exuberant as our “Fresno Four” family of red wolves.
Today we pay tribute to Rocco, a male gray wolf who passed away in December. With his tawny coat and amber eyes, Rocco was stunning. Rocco and his sister, Natasha, came to live at Wolf Haven in 2005, after spending their first two years of life in private ownership.
Aside from a recurring skin issue during the rainy season, Rocco appeared to be a healthy and well-adjusted wolf, and celebrated his 14th birthday last spring. By then, he was living with his fourth companion, a female gray wolf named Sitka Rose, (having outlived his previous three enclosure mates).
When animal care staff conducted the walk-through on Friday December 8, Rocco didn’t come to the fence for treats like he normally did. Instead, he paced, seemed disoriented and had a noticeable head tilt. All symptoms were consistent with either post seizure or stroke. Animal care tried to offer him a meatball with medication, but he was not interested in food (very atypical for him). Given his condition and age, a seizure or stroke is not uncommon and we have observed it many times before in our senior residents. Because it would have been severely detrimental to catch him up (he is not tractable so it would have been stressful for him), the decision was made to let him be and monitor him closely. Even had we brought him into the clinic, there would not have been anything we could have done other than just wait and see- either he was going to rebound or he wasn’t. Whatever the outcome, we wanted it to be as peaceful and as least stressful as possible for him and his long-time friend, Sitka.
After spending the remaining morning and part of the afternoon pacing his enclosure, Rocco finally settled and lay down. When we checked on him just before dusk, Rocco was sleeping in the back of his enclosure. When he couldn’t be seen during the following morning walk-through, animal care staff went into the enclosure to search for him. Rocco was found in his den, tucked into a very deep chamber; he had passed sometime during the night. He looked very peaceful in that private space he had chosen as his last refuge.
Rocco is survived by his beautiful and playful friend Sitka who will surely miss him, as will all of us at Wolf Haven. We thank you for your support in providing a lifetime, loving home for Rocco and his three companions through all these years.
May your journey continue in peace, sweet Rocco.
Through the month of October, Wolf Haven will participate in several activities commemorating Wolf Awareness Week. You can find us in WA, OR and even CA. At the Portland Zoo, there will be craft tables where youth are encouraged to participate and earn awards like a paw print pendant or wolf poster.
“I do have a favorite. His name is London, and he is considered a victim of the film industry. People tried training him to be vicious, but he wasn’t a very good actor.”
The closest thing he’s had to a hometown gig in recent years has been serving as auctioneer for Wolf Haven International’s annual Wolves & Wine, set for Sept. 30.
The million dollar question: how did the wolves react to the eclipse? Wolf Haven was open for sanctuary visits that day, and animal care staff reported that the wolves didn’t even bat an eye. Despite having 94% coverage at the sanctuary it was actually fairly light out, so they may not have even realized it was going on.
It is often said that helping others is a reward in itself and many of those who volunteer at Wolf Haven International would strongly agree. Still, the staff at Wolf Haven never misses an opportunity to thank those who spend their time and energy trying to aid in their efforts to increase understanding, appreciation and conservation of wolves.
One way Wolf Haven expresses its appreciation is by hosting a yearly Volunteer Appreciation event. The event varies from year to year; however, this summer volunteers and their guests were invited to a barbecue at the sanctuary. The festivities began with viewings of a special video made honoring the wolves who have passed away in the previous year, giving volunteers a chance to say goodbye to the animals they have cherished, many since their first days at the Haven. The video also introduced newly added residents, such as the four Mexican gray and eight red wolf pups born this Spring.
Afterwards, guests donned disposable gloves and dug deep into buckets of hot dog bits, venison biscuits, and clam chunks. Don’t be too alarmed by the spread – these delicacies were layered into cups and frozen into popsicles to be given out to the wolves as a delicious summer treat. The real feast came after, when everyone (the humans, that is), gathered for an outdoor picnic, enjoying a light summer breeze and each other’s company.
The event ended with stories from volunteers depicting their experiences at Wolf Haven, and heartfelt expressions of gratitude from staff. During the speeches, the wolves added their own voices as they collectively sang out, reminding each of us of the cause that continues to bring us all together.
Could you be a Wolf Haven volunteer? Want to learn more? Send an email to Wolf Haven’s Director of Volunteer Services, Cindy Irwin, at email@example.com.
by Faye Peebles
Education Coordinator, Wolf Haven International
As we set up our table, very much as if we are at a booth event or our own docent table back at Wolf Haven, people start coming down the gravel path from the parking lot. We are in one corner of the large opening. In the center is a round fire pit with benches four deep on all sides. In the corner opposite are two tables end to end with the makings of Campfire Cones on them.
You may be asking what is a Campfire Cone? It is a common Girl Scout campfire treat. How do I know this (aside from being a Girl Scout myself)? Chris, Pam, and I are at Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s (GSWW) center in Dupont, Washington. We are guest speakers at the second Fireside Friday of this summer. GSWW-Dupont began Fireside Fridays as a way to bring environment-related learning to Girl Scout families in a fun way and get some use out of their fire pit. The purpose of Wolf Haven’s presence is to talk about being safe while recreating in carnivore country and briefly talk about what to do in the event of an encounter with wildlife.
As families, GSWW volunteers and staff come in, they greet those they know and then the kids get excited. They see our table full of skulls, the life-size coyote and gray wolf standees, and our Camping with Carnivores sign.
Before we know it, the group’s attention is being called for and the campfire is starting. After a welcome from the lead volunteer and a couple of campfire songs, (yes, Chris, Pam, and I participated to the best of our ability), we get started.
Moving among our guests, we ask the group to be skull detectives with us. An animal’s skull can tell us what types of food it eats, which sense is most important for survival, and roughly its size. Paw prints, along with the skull information, help the group identify the animals, all of which are native to Washington.
With a general understanding of the carnivores in our state, we take the group through a lesson in responsible hiking/camping/recreating and then demonstrate the good vs. bad ways to react if a person comes upon wildlife.
Finally, we are able to enjoy the Campfire Cones as more questions are asked and answered (incidentally, a campfire cone is a waffle cone filled with marshmallows, chocolate, sprinkles, peanuts, etc., wrapped in foil and heated over a fire for a short time. Everything melts together and you enjoy like an ice cream cone.) Overall, a great time is had by all, including these three Wolf Haven staff.
Editor’s Note: Faye is too modest to mention this in her blog post, but she was recently selected as a Girl Scout Woman of Distinction. She received the award from two ambassador Girl Scouts at a May 4 ceremony in Tacoma, WA.
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.