I spent last week visiting my best friend in the Seattle area. We did many cool things like visiting the Space Needle, searching for spirits on the Market Ghost Tour at Pike’s Place Market, wandering around Mount Rainier National Park, getting up close and personal with a Red-tailed Hawk the Woodland Park Zoo, and almost charged by moose at Northwest Trek. My favorite place we went was Wolf Haven International.
Wolf Haven is a wolf sanctuary in Tenino, Washington. They are a shelter for Gray Wolves, wolf-dog hybrids, and coyotes that were part of the pet trade or injured and unable to be released into the wild. They are also involved in breeding programs for endangered Mexican Wolves and Red Wolves. They offer an educational tour featuring the animals who are comfortable with people looking at them. Each wolf on tour shares a one-third acre enclosure with another wolf of the opposite sex, forming a pack. The tour never comes closer than ten feet to the fence forming the perimeter of the pen. Wolf Haven’s utmost concern is the comfort of the animals and to give them as natural a life as possible.
I have long had an affection for wolves. They are fascinating creatures, long maligned unfairly because they remind us of the best and worst of ourselves. While they can be fierce, merciless predators, they are also loving, nurturing family members. I love to study them, and look forward to any chance I have to observe or interact, even if it is from a distance.
This was my third visit to Wolf Haven. I looked forward to going since I bought my plane tickets. I hoped to get some inspiration for the werewolves I am writing. Mostly I looked forward to the fact that I was going to be within twenty feet of wolves. My friend and I arrived just in time to make the last tour of the day. I could feel my grin grow wider as our group passed through the gate and walked to the first enclosure. There, less than fifteen feet away, sat two gorgeous animals, studying us as intently as we studied them.
During the lecture on how to tell the difference between the wolf-dog hybrids and pure wolves, a long howl sounded. As a second call rang out, she that it was rare for a single wolf to howl during a tour, and rarer for a response to be made. Then, to everyone’s surprise, the entire park joined in. They sang for five minutes, both those on-tour and the wolves in the off-tour pens. Even the coyotes got in on the act. We stood there listening in complete awe.
If I can create one-tenth of that feeling in my readers, I will consider that a wonderful success.