For The Love Of Sled Dogs
I have been asked by many people to share what life is like with three huskies and two wolf dogs. First I must share that in the summer of 2018 we only had three huskies. That summer I was tagged in a post about a very large rescue effort happening in Lassen county Ca at HDW. It was an out of control over breeding situation and they were all wolf dogs. At the time I started following there was 125 dogs and puppies the the county was going to start taking 25 dogs & puppies per day and putting them down.
There was several small rescue groups assisting in the effort the get them off the property. They put a online petition together and started sending it out. They were able to get enough signatures the get the court to give them a 30’s stay to get them off the property. https://www.planb.foundation/News/121/179-lives-saved
The many of the dogs were feral and even some of the puppies. They lived in dirty outdoor kennels. The mammas and puppies lived in underground dens. Some of the puppies also had parvo. It was so sad to watch. They were reaching out for fosters and adopters and I wanted to do something to help.
I reached out and said I could foster but I needed a submissive dog because I have an alpha male. I was asked if I could take a bonded pair of puppies that were shy. I talked to my husband and he said yes. We always wanted pack of five. We filled out the application and did the home check and we passed. My pair was taken off the property and moved to a rescue in Southern Ca to get healthy enough to adopt out.
On October 13, 2018 our pups were transferred up to our house. All we knew is that they were boys, 4.5 months old and shy and we had a bad picture of each of them.
They were supposed to be to our house by 5:oo but the transporter’s car broke down and they did not get here until after 9:00 so those poor pups spent almost tem hour in a crate in the car.
We were so excited to meet them as all we had a two bad pictures of them and when the transporter got here we rushed meet them. She shared that when she got to the rescue to pick them up it took over an hour to get them because they are so shy and the bigger one bit her. The bigger one is our River now.
We brought their crates to our backyard kennel and let them out. They both had to pee so bad and needed water. We watched them for a few minutes and them I went in to try and approach them. They were not having it. At that point I knew these guys were not just shy but feral. I thought what did we get ourselves into.
at about 10:00 that night our power went out and we live in the country so there was not light. Thank goodness our power was only out for about 20 minutes.
We had set up crates for them to sleep in in the bedroom directly across from our room with a gate so our dogs could not go in and bother them. We thought ok it’s time for bed. So we slip leashes and went into their kennel to leash them and bring them in the house. Well that did not go so well. My husband grabbed the big one and I grabbed the smaller one. The big one bit my husband and the little one had diarrhea. We did get them in their crates but decided not to do that again for a while because it was so traumatic for them.
The next day we bought 5×15 enclosure for our back patio so they could sleep outside in a safe place. We also added a fenced area off of the enclosure so they had room to play.
After a couple of days we discovered we did not get to males we got a male and female. We named them River and Willow.
For the next month I would bring my older dogs into their play area so they could get to know each other. Come to find out my older dogs were my to begin to build trust. They loved my Dakota. Dakota was only a year old when they came to us so he was still very much like a puppy still. Meeko on the other hand was not a fan of River. River lacked understanding of language and was not respecting the alpha male.
We had a few instances where Meeko kicked River’s butt. It was really hard on me because Meeko is my lead dog and I have always been able to count on him to listen to me no matter what the situation is. If I would push River he would lunge and bark at me. It was hard and I thought about rehoming River but where would he go. The average dog owner could not handle these dogs. The challenge with wolf dogs is that you don’t always know if they are in dog world or wolf and it’s even harder if they don’t trust you.
I was very lucky to have much support in overcoming feral wolf dogs most importantly was Kim Khal of Wolf Angel Rescue she put me in touch with Nicole Wilde an internationally known wolf dog expert. She really help remind me that even though these guys are very fearful and don’t trust me yet I still needed to be a pack leader.
I had to really dig deep into myself to overcome my fear of River for him and me. As soon as I was able to do that River began to respect me and before long I started to get some trust.
Over the last several months I have been able to gain a lot of trust of both dogs. Willow I can touch anywhere but she is still very terrified of new people and would prefer to be in her crate when they are around. River is becoming more and more of a dog everyday. He comes to me and my husband for affection everyday.
They just turned a year old and are the sweetest dogs. They both sit for their food and treats. They both know “leave it”, and recall is getting very good. Can’t image life without them.