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Personal Encounters


I was living in Colorado. My boyfriend was out of town a lot, I was bored, I saw a sign for a wolf educational event with a live pure wolf. I went and saw my first black timber wolf, an ambassador for a non-profit sanctuary. There were many children in the audience. I took their contact information and soon made my first visit to the sanctuary, not to be my last. My relationship came to an end soon after, and if you look up wolf medicine, or wolf totems, it’s significant when a lone wolf enters your world, or a pack. It all started with the lone wolf but I soon became a member of the pack, the Black Action pack as they were called. The sanctuary was appropriately out in the middle of nowhere, near the mountains. I started volunteering there, sometimes even put dead road kill deer in the back of my pickup to help feed the wolves. The road into the sanctuary is rough, when it rains, it is a slick deep mud. I clearly remember sitting in one of the vehicles with the sanctuary owner and volunteer friends, driving down this road one wet day. The black timber wolf was in the car with us, he was free, it was bumpy. I’d only seen him in the classroom educational events. It’s a good time for bonding the owner said, as we dug and dove over the mud ruts and slop. And it was. The wolf came to sit on my lap, he weighed as much as me almost I’m sure. He wasn’t so much sitting, as occupying me body and soul, we clung on to each other as the vehicle bounced violently. My hands dug into his double fur, buried to the knuckles in the first layer, he just looked out the front window as we clung together and bounced along. His fur smelled of cedar. I will never forget it. He was still young, not yet two.


My next encounter was in the large pen for visitors, where you sit on a bench, and watch the wolves. Sometimes they will come up and sniff or lick you. One wolf you had to be aware of because he was capable of the tiniest nip behind your back, he was sneaky, and not related to the others. I often wished they didn’t put him in with the Action pack. The owner and volunteer staff were always present with you. One evening the owner and I went alone into the enclosure of the Action Pack. He said it was the easiest way to be accepted by the pack. The night was black and the stars white, snow on the ground. Some wolves sniffed around but I was not “accepted,” which I didn’t even know what that truly meant. The next bright snowy morning we went back into the pen alone, and this time the lowest ranking female came around me and I mimicked her body language, and before long we were touching. She capered around me like a kid, delighted to make acquaintance, full of joy. Soon all the wolves were on me. They all came around and put their front paws on my shoulders, surrounding me so light and respectful with all five of them, they did not knock me down, and licked my face enthusiastically. I was told if I wanted to reciprocate – keep my lips closed. Ha ha. I did, but I might have reciprocated too much because my lips wore a small blue mark of so many wolf kisses.

The most meaningful encounter was with the alpha female. She was old and had distinguished white on her muzzle. I spent many times out there with her. Whether it’s true or not I will never know, but he had no reason to embellish, the owner said one of her greatest compliments, or displays of affection, was to put her mouth, her whole entire jaw around both sides of your head. Sounds like a puppy carrying thing to me. Anyways, one day, I was out there with her and the owner. She was behind me when I felt the light feather, like the touch of a butterfly if you could imagine it, on my head. It was so light I didn’t have time to even think of it, but the owner told me what she had just done. Never have I felt so honored to have the jaws of a wolf around my head. A crown. My life is forever changed by wolves. I wish I didn’t love them as much as I do because they break my heart. My heart breaks for them. And I cannot explain my connection with any amount of words.

I was scared witless once by the sneaky wolf. I went into the pen alone, they said I could. He started pulling on the ends of my shirt and dancing around me. Then growling a little. He was such a trickster, but scary, and I knew enough to be careful. When one of the other wolves started to growl, I decided it was high time to leave the pen. I wasn’t sure if the other was growling to protect me, or to join in, not going to find out! So I carefully, mindfully, with my heart in my throat, made my way back to the gate, with sneaky wolf swirling all around me. My eyes were like saucers they said when I rejoined them in the cabin. They’d seen that look before. Wolves are wolves, they may be gentle, and they are, but they are also powerful and wonderful predators. I’ve watched them eat. I don’t want to romanticize them, but they are much more than a killing machine. I learned here that wolves should remain in the wild, not as pets. They turn away hundreds of “ex-pets” at the sanctuary each year because they simply can’t take them all. The hybrids were the worst, in turns of unpredictable behavior. The wolves followed a strict code, and once you learned to speak it, all was well, but almost all the sanctuary dwellers were high content hybrids. I’m sure the Black Action pack has all passed away now. Every time I visited they all would swarm around me with wolf hugs and kisses, ecstatic to see a member of their fold, that’s what it means to be accepted. They never forget you, and me never them.



It was the middle of winter , the year 1954, in Sudbury Ontario, I was 3 years old at the time. I lived with my mom and grandparents in their house. It was a cold snowy day and I was passing the time playing with my dolls in the front sitting room of the house. The wooden front door was nearby, with its diamond shaped window. As I sat there playing I remember hearing a noise at the door. I was too small to see out the window in the door so I pushed a foot stool over to the door and climbed onto it. I stood up and looked out the window into the face and eyes of a very large wolf. He looked back. He was standing on his hind legs with his front paws against the door. We stayed that way for a couple of minutes, looking at each other with equal curiosity. I connected with him while looking into his eyes, and I feel he with me. Then one of the adults at the other end of the house made a noise and the spell was broken. He got back down to all four feet and turned and walked off into the snow. He did turn around and he looked one last time at me. That was my first wolf.

Wolf Paw Print
National Wolfwatcher Coalition