Speaking of that...
If you sense a wolf is becoming aggressive, turning and running away will get you into trouble. You back out, looking it in the eye the entire time. Eye contact is something submissive wolves avoid, and running away is what prey will do.
If a group of wolves surround you, at any distance, and they are all facing you, get the attention of a caretaker right away and back out, maintaining eye contact with each animal. I have seen wolves do this to me in a playful manner, but if I mistook it I'd be in trouble. It is best to leave. (instincts, instincts, instincts!!!)
I struggled with this one a great deal, not to be afraid if and when you are in a pen with a wolf and it shows aggression. You naturally want to be afraid, but it only makes you stink a stink that tells the wolf you are afraid. When you are afraid, the wolf asks itself "why is he afraid?" It came usually come to two conclusions: "He is going to attack me, and is worried about the consequences..." or "He is scared and it is OK to attack him."
What I have discovered is that a wolf doesn't ordinarily want to hurt you, but if you are near a chunk of meat they buried a week ago, and the scent is causing their muzzle to water, and suddenly you are standing on it (essentially laying claim to it), then you might find a wolf that is upset for no apparent reason. Do not panic, do not move suddenly. if you are sitting, slowly rise up, maintaining eye contact with it. Eye contact will NOT piss it off! Do not let anyone tell you this! It is not true. If you don't believe me, watch the omegas... The woman who owns the sanctuary I was at will tell you the same thing, and she has *never* had a visitor bitten, ever. (And she's been doing it for over 50 years...) It's only when people like me get too comfortable around the wolves and ignore out instincts that we get into heaps of trouble...
I don't get on the internets too often so I will try to impart as much knowledge as I can for you.
When I was bitten horribly in my arm, I had been teasing a wolf with food for 30 minutes while he was so sedated he could not react properly. Finally, I shoved my knee into his tail, where it had been freshly amputated as the poor wolf was drinking water. This wolf loved me, he would have given his life for me in a heartbeat.
Now, you are probably asking yourself why I would do those things to a 230LB wolf (what he weighed at the time) while being locked inside a small pen with him.
Let me tell you: That is what the wolf would have told you, if he was interviewed afterward. Certainly, he was justified for burying his 2" canine down to his gum into my arm, and as I jerked back, ripped open the muscle, and scarred the bone horribly, then he bit me again, this time using his near razor sharp back teeth to cut flesh on my wrist, as a warning only.
Want to hear my side of the story?
Ok here goes...
The wolf had been sedated for amputation of his tail. It would be like having your lips amputated, because the tail is used for communication in a great many ways.
Sedating a wolf is different than sedating a canine. Dogs' bodies have adapted over the years to our synthetic medicines. Wolves, who have not come into contact with them, have not. So the same amount of sedative for a 75Lb German Shepherd could actually kill a 200+ lb wolf. So, they are given a little at a time until the animal is completely under. A vet tech told me to get him stirring as SOON as he wakes up to work the sedative out of him, that could still
I loved this wolf more than I loved just about anything else in this world. So when I saw him begin to stir, I immediately went to work trying to coax him to get up with a raw turkey leg. (like a delicious popsicle to a wolf) Thirty minutes later, he finally got to his feet, but acted like he was severely drunk. (He took the turkey leg, but dropped it on the ground as he was in no shape to eat it anyway. He might have been trying to please me. i do not know.) I sort of guided him as he swaggered over to his water trough where he began to drink. I saw his back legs suddenly struggle to keep his rear end straight up, and I moved into him, grabbing his hips to steady him, as my knee went into the 2" of tail he had left.
It is at this point that his head swung around, and he bit me twice with a vocal "ROO ROO!!" which is the wolf word for "Bro, what are you doing? Quit it!" I stood there for a few seconds. it happened faster than a cat mauls you with its claws as you pet it. I knew
something bad had happened. I knew it had happened to me
, and I knew it might concern my arm. i also knew that the wolf I was standing directly behind was the purpetraitor. Slowly, I grabbed my arm, still behind the wolf, and squeezed the wound, as the now rushing flow of blood from the ripped open muscle and skin began to flow out from the wound, I pressed the pocket of air within my arm which caused the air to escape through the now very wet hole, making a sort of a sucking sound.
A caretaker stood white faced at the airlock gate, blocking my escape. he was actually more afraid than I was. I nearly lost my temper as i told him to let me out, because i was in a pen with a wolf that I was pretty sure had bitten me.
I nearly passed out, and a warm rag administered to my forehead prevented that handily, and felt very good.
I was told many things. "He tasted your blood you can never go in there again!" "He is angry at you, now, you can never go back in." And the owner finally said: "Nothing will change between you. You can go back in." And you know what? She was right. His posture was unquestionably docile and submissive after I finally got the nerve to go back in. I even took a picture of him, after I said "Smile!"http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v237/ ... 061329.jpg
He eventually approached me, slowly...http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v237/ ... 777096.jpg
And stopped, his muzzle against the arm he bit. Slowly, he opened his muzzle, and put my arm in it (I was nearing needing a fresh pair of undies at that point!) bit down hard enough for it to hurt, opened his muzzle, then returned to his platform and sat back down.
I was like whiskey tango foxtrot, and was butt hurt because it felt like he bit me again. Up until that point I had struggled to move my arm at all, the searing, pulsing pain from the bone throbbed deep within my arm whenever I even thought about moving it. After he closed his muzzle on it it no longer hurt. I was tearing down drywall later that day. I am a Christian, and it is difficult for me to quantify how a wolf can heal pain (The wound remained, but the pain was gone) in a human being, but the truth is God can work through animals, too. (He has in the past)
So you can see that from our perspectives, two very different things happened that day. I felt I was trying to save the life of my best friend, and he thought I was teasing him, which hurt even more, because he felt I loved him very much.
It would help you to try and think about it from the wolfs perspective. "If I was the wolf, how would he or she take me doing such and such?" You can only begin to answer that question after years of interaction with them.
Another wolf i was petting one time, he was a good friend of mine as well. we were both laying, face to face, and I was just loving on him, because he had been my friend for some time, and I truly appreciated his company. Suddenly, he just started growling at me, then put my arm in hsi mouth and put pressure on it. Not enough to hurt me, but enough to let me know that he does not want to hurt me, but that if I didn't get out of his pen right now the pressure exerted by hsi jowls woudl likely be much greater.
So i got out.
Previously, a caretaker (250lbs) had been in his pen with a hoody. That particular wolf was housed with two other males in that pen. They each had a 3 foot tall platform that they would jump on. This particular wolf jumped on the platform while the caretaker was directly in front of it, his back turned, and grabbed hold of the hoody, and lifted the caretaker off of the ground, then set him back down. The caretaker will never forget that moment... Or when i watched him chew on a 1" diameter rock, then break it on his back teeth as if it was a snack.
It is so easy to forget that their soft coats, their love of giving kisses, their displays of affection are all done by an animal that is faster than your mind is capable of understanding, stronger than any canine, smarter than any canine, and can turn viciously cunning at a moments notice. For the most part, they respect people if raised or broken properly, and show people a healthy amount of fear, giving them enough distance to keep human and wolf comfortable, only approaching when the person feels at ease enough.
I remember a particular group of people that came to see the wolves. When they had gotten to the pen with the three male wolves, one of the wolves shoved his massive frame against the gate, preventing it from being opened. The owner calmly said, "I am sorry, they are not feeling well, we cannot go in." She later told me one of the guys gave her the creeps, and the wolves sensed it, preventing her from allowing them to enter. It is not too far fetched to say that when a wolf lays eyes on you it instinctively understands more about you than you are probably comfortably admitting.
One final thing...
When i say to ask about the origins of their names... one particular wolf had a name that meant "Naughty girl" because she was mischievous. One day I was laying on her platform (She was alone and segregated because of her aggressiveness to the other female) when she jumped up on it, plopped down in front of me, shoving her weight into my chest. I think i actually said "Awwwww how sweet!" and petted her there as we, well, technically spooned. After I got one or two pets in, she jumped up, faced me, and punched me in the face, giving me a fat lip. (With the tip of her muzzle, the front row of teeth) I was like umm... Okay...
She is also one of the wolves that loved me enough to prevent me from leaving with a growl as she slinked over to the exit gate when she saw me approach it, popping in between it and I, then setting her butt down and giving me the "You're not done petting me until I say you're done" look. I usually complied, and did not call attention to it, (By screaming) though I probably should have.
For all I have been through, I can say without hesitation, that there is nothing like having that same female wolf, as I am sitting indian legged in her pen, distracted by something, walk up to me, sit in my lap, and push her body against my chest, as she looked at me with eyes that betrayed a sorrow, as I wrapped my arms around her and held her there, feeling in my very soul the love that she had for me, and her appreciation of me for holding her. It is a regrettable thing for me, as I felt I should have loved on her a little longer, instead of remembering a trivial chore that could have waited, and going to do it, leaving her. As I said before, a wolf owes you nothing, so when it loves you like that, it is purely because of its own free will. My two dogs have a special place in my heart, but the love of a wolf takes up another area entirely, because they have choice
, as a dog instinctively grows to love you if you feed it and treat it well.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. Being nipped terribly (Which my baby boy did whenever he had an opening to my soft, tender flesh just above my wastline, or on my shoulders, when eh felt I was too comfortable around him probably) some of them taking weeks to heal, having pee snake down from the hospital pens and pooling while soaking into my clothes, having feces spread everywhere by an excited wolf, who felt the joy of transfering it also to me, being bitten, growled at, stolen from (A lesson I learned early on, NEVER have food items of any kind in your pockets!), dominance mounted once in front of people, and the wonder of watching a wolf mark her food with her urine then eat it.
I learned not to have anything dangling from me, nothing with a strap, and that the presence of a guitar has different reactions from different wolves. I wrote a song once that I played for the wolves, and the reactions went from going into a peaceful sleep, to continually trying to eat the neck of the guitar even as I played, which eventually got the the point where the wolf was so curious I sensed that he was just going to take
the guitar from me, and I got out after that.
You might not like hearing this, but going there part time will probably leave you with more misconceptions that you are sure are facts. If you really want to get to know the animals, to show them you are willing to spend the time and take the effort to get to know them (They can tell when you aren't/won't, as they are very used to it) and put up with them, then they will honor you by showing you sides of them that people rarely get to see. wolves are exceptionally proud creatures, and they indeed to hide things from people. I have seen it: "Oh yes, we are cuddly, sweet, fluffy wolves, and I just love licking people!" when first time visitors are there, and when I go in right after they are like "Dude, what do you want? Go get me some coffee or I'll pee on your leg." (No, they don't actually drink coffee, though anything other than water excites them to the point of rubbing in it, which is entertaining to the nth degree, as after they get done rubbing in it, they look up at you with excited child- like eyes and smile, as if to say "Thanks for the new scent broheem!" while the liquid has saturated their fur.)
Oh, something else, one particular wolf had a foot/ sock fetish, but not as in "its hot", but as in "I would very much like to eat it". Whenever one of the regulars would take his shoes off, the wolfs eyes would dilate and he became a different creature, doing everything he could just shy of hurting him to get his foot. In at least one of the terrifying instances with one of the wolves where he was actively threatening me, I did indeed notice that his pupils were dilated- no doubt a subconscious mechanism used to gather in as much light as he could to execute the plan of aggression he had in his mind. When the one foot fetish wolf did this, there was absolutely no reasoning with him. He was drawn to the foot like a magnet, and the only way to get him to stop, was sometimes putting the shoe back on, and usually having to leave the enclosure until he cooled off. It was as if his primal instincts kicked in and shoved everything he knew about humans out of the way. I will tell you it is not good to be in the pen with a wolf who is this way, as you are no longer a superior human to be feared, you are an equal, or prey, and only the tiniest of strands of reality penetrate the wolfs mind who is in this mode, which can be bad news for you. I saw this so that if you are ever unsure about a wolfs behavior, looking at the pupils may tell you for sure, maybe. As I said, this is only a casual observation that I found to occur in only a handful of experiences.