By the magnificent sound of wolf-dogs calling

I was out in California recently and was able to pay a quick visit to the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (LARC) down near LA. I spent a few hours with the LARC staff and the four wolf-dogs that the International Fund for Animal Welfare helped to move from a bankrupt sanctuary in Texas to LARC this last month.

Wolf-dogs are, like the name implies, part wolf and part dog. More and more, people are breeding wolfdogs thinking that they will make good pets and unfortunately soon find out otherwise. Wolfdogs are not able to live in your backyard and require specific care and conditions that are rarely met in a household.

Often, these animals are kept chained up for life and suffer a great deal and that is why sanctuaries like LARC are truly the best option for them.

Dr. Lorin Lindner and Matthew Simmons greeted us warmly but honestly, we were captivated by the sounds of the wolf-dogs 'calling' to each other announcing our approach. Lorin and Matthew introduced us first to a pack of wolf-dogs that have been at LARC for most of their lives. One boy named Rider is famous for jumping up to give kisses to anyone who stops by!

Matthew explained to me how they rate the level of wolf genetics in each wolf-dog. Rider is a low content animal, having a low level of wolf in his bloodline. We moved on to visit several higher content animals who displayed behavior more similar to what I had expected. They kept their heads down to stare right at me while moving between natural foliage and boulders, always trying to hide as much as possible. When they move across the dusty floor of their large enclosures, they appear to dance!

I was pleased to see that several enclosures included more than one wolf-dog since they are pack animals. We knew from our peer Gail A'Brunzo's experience in moving them from Texas that these four were not socialized with humans and three of them could room together with the fourth needing his own enclosure. All four will remain in quarantine for a total of 90 days before moving to their larger enclosures.

I first met Squirt who is slowly warming up to the LARC staff and very curious about the resident coyotes who shamelessly tease him through the fencing! Squirt is very beautiful with a hint of stubbornness in his eyes so maybe it is a good thing he will get his own enclosure. Next were the siblings Lucien, Macabee, and Shiloh. They were quite elusive when we entered their enclosure but the LARC staff say that they are acclimating to their new home well. These three are low content but still cautious of humans so we did not intrude for long.

I have seen images of the original conditions in which these four wolf-dogs lived. After visiting LARC and seeing for myself how well they are treated, I can assure you that it was truly a move of mercy to send them to LARC.

When we were about to leave the sound of wolf-dogs calling to each other across the sanctuary rose and a photographer colleague of mine held up his phone over his head. When I asked him what he was doing he said he wanted to try to record the sound since pictures could never capture its magnificence.

-- SW

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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy