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I noticed that Waya was spending what I considered to be too much time in the den. I know and understand that he hates bees and this is the season for them but this seemed extreme. Then I noticed that he seemed to be having trouble getting up and walking. I contacted our Vet and told him about Waya’s strange behavior. Waya was however, still eating and drinking. At that point he thought because of his age, 10, that perhaps he was getting some arthritis in his back or legs. He ordered an anti-inflammatory and we hoped we could get him to take it. Then on the 13th of September when I went to check on him in the morning, he was unresponsive. I cancelled the tours for the day and we truly expected the worse for him. Later that day, much to our amazement, he was up and walking. However, the walking was not normal. He was walking in circles always to the right and would occasionally press his head against the den. I contacted our Vet and we decided to put him out and do a physical with a complete blood panel.
I was encouraged with this news even though I felt bad for Waya. Imagine how afraid he must have been when this happened. I also watched him walk between two trees and have to figure out how to proceed, get stuck in the handle of the water bucket, etc. I knew this wouldn’t be easy. The Wolves didn’t know what to make of it. Niko missed his rival and would go into the den and paw at him while making a moaning sound. He wanted him to get up and be Waya again. I could tell that Wa-ta-chee felt bad for Waya and would go up and nuzzle him from time to time. The girls wanted him to stop walking on them and they would growl and snap at him. There was going to be a lot to overcome for Waya. They seem to be accepting this behavior now but are grieving the loss of the Waya they knew. They were barely eating.
I started going in with him in the mornings to show him around and things are getting better by the day. I read about dogs with sudden blindness and owners said to get ready for a heartbreaking 6 weeks or so until the animal adjusted. With Waya being in a pack of Wolves and outside it may be more of a challenge. Waya is a strong willed Wolf. I couldn’t believe how brave he was already. I believed we could all make this work. I was just thrilled that we weren’t going to lose him. I wasn’t ready for that and neither was he.
Then there was the heartbreak that those dog owners described. One morning this past weekend on my arrival into the enclosure, I saw that he was lying in a weird spot. One side of him was completely covered in mud. He struggled to get up and I saw that he was favoring his back leg. I’m thinking he must have either got caught on something or tripped and fell into a hole. The Wolves dig constantly and cache their food. There are hundreds of little holes all over the enclosure. I look down when I walk; he no longer has that luxury. I got a rake and started evening the ground out but this will be a daily chore. The next day, he seemed defeated and I noticed that his back leg was very swollen. He took it easy for several days after that. I’m happy to report that his leg is 100% better. A few days later he got stuck between trees and tried to push past it but scraped up his belly on the side. It actually took the fur right off. When something like this happens, it’s like he has to start again at square one. He practices walking about 6 hours a day. They are broken up into at least 2 sessions afterwards he is spent and sleeps so soundly you can’t wake him up. I’ve now seen him walk the entire enclosure these last few days. When he walks along the fence he doesn’t walk in circles and it’s encouraging to see. You can see Waya in this video from 10/2/15 early in the morning outside the den.
Please keep Waya in your thoughts and make them positive ones. I know he likes us to cheer him on. I’ve been posting updates on our facebook page. If you would like to adopt Waya, one of the other Wolves or the entire Pack, you may do so here. Howls!