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Wolves and signs of Fall at Wolf Howl Animal Preserve – by Maria Ferguson

Wolf pictureI must admit that it wasn’t a typically horribly hot summer at the Preserve this year.  Hot enough to keep the Wolves and caretakers lying low in the afternoons but I’ve seen worse since we’ve been here, much worse.  The Pack is doing fine.  I’m already seeing signs from the Wolves that we are headed into Fall.  Their capes, the triangle patch of guard hairs on their backs, are returning.  The fur is luxuriously thick and healthy looking.  I’m also seeing signs of courting between Waya and two of our yearlings, Chito and Woha.  I was pretty convinced that he had his heart set on Chito, I know she’s sweet on him but I’ve also noticed that he seems to be teasing Woha, a lot.  Fall is the time of the year when Wolves in the wild who are not a mated pair try and bond with another Wolf in preparation for the winter breeding season.  Us humans call this dating.  Wa-ta-chee and Waya have both put on some weight this summer and I’m hoping that the cooler temps to come will get them both up and moving a bit.  We had some pleasant evenings already.  I took this video of all of the Wolves playing at dusk on September 2, 2008.  I was happy to see both Watach and Waya running around.  Woha is the instigator in most of the scenes.  Waya is the stalker Wolf excelling in sneak attacks to both Woha and Chito.  Poor Mama Wolf, Ohoyo is trying to get a moments peace up on her house but all of the yearlings feel it’s their place to keep her on her paws.  You’ll notice that all of their houses are in a row stuck in between trees.  We did this before Hurricane Gustav’s arrival.  We were hoping that putting them all together and held in by trees would prevent them from blowing around.  The Wolves, though initially upset that I was changing things around in their territory, had fun walking and running across the tops of them.

Wolf pictureChito gave me a scare at mid-month when I discovered that she was choking during their evening meal.  She actually stopped breathing there for a moment.  I was trying to pick her up to administer the Heimlich Maneuver.  She is a very big Wolf, approximately 90-95lbs.  She had fallen down limp against her Mom, Ohoyo.  When I saw time was of the essence, I immediately started pounding on her back while prying her jaws apart to see if I could retrieve whatever it was that was making her choke.  I was also yelling for help from our male Caretaker, Don, who was in the office.  At that point all of the Wolves came running up to us and Wa-ta-chee put his face directly in mine.  I told him I was trying to help her and it was as if he understood my words.  He retreated along with the rest of the Wolves and let me do my job.  Forcing her muzzle open must have allowed enough air pressure in to dislodge whatever was obstructing her airway.  She was shaky and ran off to be by herself.  I was a bit shaky myself.  I left the enclosure to compose myself.  I returned with Don.  I wanted to make sure there were no hard feelings harbored against me for my actions.  They seemed to all understand and I was even able to give every one of them, including Chito some hugs and belly rubs.  I made a post on our Wolf Preserve’s forum regarding this incident.  One of the members posted this link to Animal Emergency First Aid and CPR.  Anyway, our girl, Chito is fully recovered and singing her heart out.  Here’s a fun video I put together highlighting her beautiful voice.  She loves to howl.

Chorus howls especially during the evening hours are starting to increase along with the cooler night air.  We’ve had some fine examples of just how noisy it will be this winter.  I actually don’t consider it noise, in fact I sleep through even the loudest of chorus howls.  I love when it’s a bit foggy down here in the holler.  The preserve becomes a natural surround sound system and the howls are projected as a wonderfully eerie concerto.  You would swear there are a pack of 20 Wolves out there not a mere 7.  Our Siberians also join them in song.  The Dog voices are more like that of a yip yappy Coyote.  Willy hasn’t participated yet, he only solo howls.

I’ve added some new photos of our Wolves to each of their galleries.  You may find a link to the individual galleries on our main Wolf Picture Gallery page.

Wolf pictures, a leg up Picture   Wolf pictures, scnet roll IV Picture   Wolf pictures, on top Picture

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