MEET THE WOLF CONNECTION YOUTH AMBASSADORS
Every member of the Wolf Connection Pack has a story to tell … all of them have been rescued, victims of a wide variety of situations, from abuse and neglect, to owners going through hardship and life changes, to conflict in animal regulations and law. Whatever the case, these magnificent and special beings come to Wolf Connection to find and embody a new purpose … a life of service, changing the lives of countless young men and women from all walks of life. Please take a moment to read their stories and connect with the magical being each of them is. You can also come and meet them in person at our monthly “Community Hike with the Pack” and you can always help with care of that woofie that touches your heart in a special way by adopting them and enjoying special one-on-one time with your special friend.
Maya, an original pack member, is the quintessential alpha female: She is the wise teacher. Maya spent her first few years reared by her mother ensuring that she would learn the way of the wolf. As a result, one of her gifts is to nurture new pack members when they join Wolf Connection. Several of the younger males have been kenneled with Maya who quickly instructs them in proper wolf etiquette. Maya also exhibits true alpha behavior: she simply IS alpha. She does not have to prove it. Her presence is as serene and expansive as one might imagine the silence of the Arctic to be. During the summer of 2012, while visiting the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers in Lame Deer, Montana, her sacred spirit joined the festivities as she was heard to howl, often alone, during times of prayer and ritual. Her howl, and the rest of the pack that joined her is said to have inspired the return of the wild wolf to the Cheyenne people.
Kenai’s story is the prime example of why about 80 percent of wolfdogs in the United States are euthanized by the age of three. A family who owned what they previously thought was a high content wolf dog, but was really a low content wolf dog, requested “another” high content wolf dog from their breeder. Along comes Kenai: a true high content wolf dog who proceeded to eat part of their house and even some of the vacuum cleaner, for example, because he was bored or his bonded human pack member was not with him. Though he was greatly loved, the family decided his life would be better at Wolf Connection. As a high content, Kenai is very shy around new people. It takes time to nurture a relationship with him. What a privilege it is to gaze into his golden eyes once he begins to trust. The journey to bond with Kenai is one of patience and nurturing.
In the summer of 2012 Willow accompanied several Wolf Connection staff and wolves to attend a sacred council of the Thirteen Grandmothers in Lame Deer, Montana. The Cheyenne adored her and felt blessed by her presence. Looking into her eyes, one may be inspired to see pools of honey, dripping with purity and sweetness. Her presence is palpable and though it may require patience before she will allow new people to pet her and directly connect with her, and the
experience is well worth the effort. Evidence of her high wolf content, she is shy and intelligent. Guests who allow the lesson of patience and respect have been rewarded with petting Willow and gazing into her eyes. She has the instinct of a tracker and the understanding of an omega in that she knows how to keep peace – especially when her kennel mate acts up!
Neo was found in a shopping cart by an eighteen year old boy who begged his parents to be allowed to keep him. Neo is shy, curious and full of energy. Mostly, Neo likes to have friends. Neo kept escaping from the young man’s house and yard and would run over to play with the neighbor’s German Shepherds! Finally, tired of the complaints, the parents told their son to get rid of Neo. When they tried to turn him over to the local shelter, luckily for Neo, the woman working at the shelter knew that Neo would soon be euthanized, so she asked the family to keep him until she could locate a sanctuary for him. Wolf Connection is happy to have him! He is beginning his training to become accustomed to working with staff and eventually, perhaps the public. And yes, he already has a few friends with which he plays and snuggles with like a true pup of the pack.
Chance and his brother Koda are high content wolf dogs that joined Wolf Connection after having been rescued from a roadside attraction in Alaska. The State of Alaska condemned the attraction and criminally charged the owner and ordered the twenty-six wolves to be euthanized. Chance suffers with anxiety after enduring years of life literally tied to a post with a chain around his neck so that people could pay money to drive by and throw treats. During winter the chain froze into his fur and eventually grew into the skin of his neck rendering him sentenced to walking in one direction so as not to rip the chain through his skin…..Despite Chance’s fear at the sight of man-made objects and the physical neglect and abuse he endured, he has learned to walk on leash. He is full of love and he shares it. In fact, the very strong-bodied Chance is affectionately known as the Linebacker of Love! He tackles staff with playful kisses and bosses around his younger sibling, Koda, as big brothers do.
Koda is a high content wolf dog and younger brother of Chance, from a different litter. Koda joined Wolf Connection after having been rescued from a roadside attraction in Alaska. The State of Alaska condemned the attraction, criminally charged the owner and ordered that the animals be euthanized. Koda lived life with a chain around his neck, tied to a post as did his brother Chance. Being younger, Koda does not have the same level of anxiety being around man-made objects as Chance does because Koda simply did not endure the abuse and neglect and long as Chance did. Koda is known as “Huggy Bear” because he will easily place his paws on the shoulders of staff members and commune. Like Chance, he has learned to walk on leash and is becoming acquainted with his new surroundings. Koda antagonizes his alpha brother Chance and then submits…..and frolics….providing entertainment very familiar to staff members who recall growing up with a younger sibling…
Shade lived the first year of his life in a college dormitory. Having spent the first months of his life in an undisciplined environment, Shade has trust issues. After destroying the dorm room, he moved from house to house until he was lucky enough to live with a local family who loved him dearly, and gave him a wonderful life. Unfortunately, because the frenzy of the couple’s grandchildren was too much for his sensitive nature, they asked Wolf Connection to receive him. Though Shade does not work directly with guests and clients, he teaches everyone who walks near his kennel about the importance of honoring the early stages of development with patience and calmness. Shade has settled in to his now forever home and is quite happy and grounded. He’s a very loving, loyal pup who loves to run on hikes with an endless supply of energy.
“Little One” in Cheyenne, Ayasha is one of our main program animals and loves to interact with people. She survived the snowy mountains of Northern California for 2 weeks alone before animal control was able to lure her with a piece of pizza! Being the sweetheart that she is, she won the hearts of the shelter employees there who, making every attempt to save her life, found Wolf Connection. Ayasha loves to wrestle with her best friend Beau and pose for pictures at events. She is a star at school presentations when she howls for her audience!
Beau is our gentle giant, who displays behavior of an Omega. He is very intelligent and playful; the clown of the pack, knowing how to win the approval of the more dominant members. Beau belonged to a family that experienced difficulty in giving him what he needed to be a healthy, happy wolf dog. No longer feeling they were able to care for him, they called Wolf Connection. When the team arrived to pick up Beau he was emaciated and had a neck wound as a result of having been tied to a tree with a wire. Needless to say, he was extremely timid, but when the team opened the truck door, he flew in faster than the speed of light. With the love and care from his human pack, Beau has blossomed into the beauty he is now. He is friendly and loves going on adventures as one of our main program animals. He wins the hearts of many guests. He has a wonderful relationship with Ayasha: her presence seems to balance him.
Omak is a gentle giant. He was abandoned by his owner and taken in by a neighbor. Unfortunately, Omak escaped and roamed the neighborhood and hillside for a few months despite animal control’s efforts to catch him. Eventually, Animal Control did confiscate him and wanted to euthanize him because they feared he was too aggressive. Omak was darted, caught, placed in a metal box and driven five hundred miles to reach Wolf Connection. Needless to say he was not very happy when he arrived…..After a few weeks, he began to trust. There seemed to be an overwhelming sense of loneliness about him….Staff soon realized that Omak was not accustomed to receiving loving touch. Slowly and surely, he is giving and receiving loving nuzzles and becoming an amazing member of the pack.
Sissy joined Wolf Connection along with Shadow following the passing of her owner. When she arrived, she was obese and could barely walk. After starting a diet catered to her needs, she released about 90 pounds and is now a vibrant elder over the age of 14 years. She has quite a loving and feisty spirit that keeps her going strong.
An original pack member, Zimba became one of Wolf Connection’s first program animals and wolf ambassadors as he has a strong love of people. However, as he’s gotten a little older, he has been dealing with some health issues that have him “retired” as he recovers. Zimba still loves to go out on walks with staff with whom he is bonded. Show him the leash and he, despite his physical ailments, will run around the kennel with joy! He loves to go down to the creek and splash in the water. With soulful eyes, he is truly to be adored.
Shadow joined Wolf Connection after her owner passed away and her caretaker searched for a home for she and Sissy. Shadow is learning to trust people and is beginning to slowly open up and allow new people to interact with her through the fence. She loves to run and is actively bonding with volunteers, more and more each day.
When Ozzy came to Wolf Connection, he found “home”. Ozzy was rescued from death row at a shelter. Because of his wolf content he was immediately slated for euthanizing. Luckily, someone from the shelter knew one of our volunteers and Ozzy joined Wolf Connection. When he arrived, he was malnourished and suffered from infected skin conditions. He is presently healthy and full of love! He has dreamy green /golden eyes. When out hiking, he has a penchant for stopping and taking in the vista. Often, staff wonders what he may be thinking. He teaches his handler to stop, take in the scenery, and just be.
Ryder joined Wolf Connection at the age of just a year old. A young woman adopted him after seeing a post on Facebook that someone was going to take him to the shelter. Knowing that he would be euthanized, the young woman took him despite warnings that she would not be able to contain him. Ryder escaped many times and walked the neighborhood until the neighbors began complaining. After threats from neighbors and complaints from Animal Control, the woman asked Wolf Connection to take him in. Ryder is young and spunky. He has a very sweet way of gently jumping up and placing his paws on staff…He has a way of doing so without much impact and he gives sweet kisses. When he is not acting that way…he is generally pushing boundaries and inciting mayhem with his kennel mate.
Wolf Connection received information that an “enormous mystery dog” was held at a shelter in Sacramento, CA, and that they were searching for the owner. Despite the press and outreach, no one stepped forward as the owner of this gentle giant. Pictures of this guy lit up excited debates about what kind of dog he could possibly be with the final consensus being that this 120 pounder must have jumped right out of Game of Thrones. After seeing the pictures, Wolf Connection knew right off the bat that the “mystery dog” was not the average dog! After researching our website and talking with us about our purpose and programs, the shelter’s manager decided that Wolf Connection was the best place for Ranger to have a well-balanced life. After a good bath and cleaning out the mats in his long fur, he made it home to Wolf Connection. Ranger loves everyone and he seems to understand how regal he looks with his luscious locks of fur that makes him stand out from the rest. He has become a highly regarded program animal.
Arriving with his name and loving spirit, Wolfee joined Wolf Connection as a result of being confiscated during a sting operation: he had been traded for drugs. Ironically, his very first program hike participation was helping people overcoming substance abuse. Wolfee freely gives kisses and snuggles and loves being with people, especially kids.
Jacy is rambunctious, full of energy, and is in training to become a great program animal. Having escaped a shelter twice, Jacy changed the course of his life by buying time and giving Wolf Connection a chance to find out that he was in need of rescue. On the very same day he was rescued, one of our packs elders named Moonshadow passed away. Staff decided that in honor of Moonshadow, the new wolf dog would be named Jacy, which means “moon” in Native American. Jacy is working through his anxious personality. He teaches guests to honor the healing process by watching Jacy accept support from the staff who handle him as he works through his fears of meeting new people and braving the hike despite the anxiety.
Tala is the co-founder of Wolf Connection! She is a well-trained and beloved ambassador and warms the hearts of all who she meets. Before Wolf Connection started, Teo Alfero, the founder, was searching for a playmate for her and discovered 16 wolfdogs in need of a home from a dire situation. Tala then inherited an entire pack, who then became the 16 original pack members, and Wolf Connection was born! That event changed Teo and Tala’s lives.
Wyoh, an original pack member, became the second wolf dog of Teo’s and the playmate of Tala. Today Wyoh is one of the best-trained ambassadors, a main program animal and one of the most loving beings. He is sure to get endless belly rubs from anyone and sneak in a kiss whenever he can. He came from severe stress of a shelter and the loss of his sister to now, he has overcome tremendous anxiety and has found a great place among the pack as his family.
Nova is gentle, shy and skittish, and yet warmly sweet and playful as you get to know her through patience and bonding. She lives with Tala and Wyoh and is also a well-trained and beloved ambassador of Wolf Connection. Nova teaches guests to respect boundaries because though she is well trained, her shyness warrants allowing her the space that she needs. When she is ready, she will approach to interact with such curiosity, and even some silly wiggling and play pounces…..Usually when one least expects it.
Malo is an energetic pack member. At the owner’s dying request, a hospice worker agreed to adopt him. Though well loved, Malo challenged the neighborhood with his howling and escapades. After Malo escaped to chase a few chickens and threats came in from the local community, the owners feared for his safety and found Wolf Connection. When he first arrived, Malo assisted with the training of new volunteers. He liked to block new volunteers from leaving his kennel. Because his previous owner had encouraged him to wrestle, it was a challenge to new volunteers to assert themselves and sufficiently ignore his poor behavior so he would lose interest and they could easily exit the kennel. Malo is well loved and presently pushes the boundaries with his kennel mate Willow, who puts him in his place.
Bandit, an original pack member, is high energy, good-natured and very playful.
Packed with attitude and known as the James Dean of the pack, given the opportunity, he will run around and rile up the rest of the pack! Often when teenagers come to Wolf Connection, they really enjoy Bandit because he is outspoken and spunky. When training new volunteers to feed the wolves, Bandit is the first lesson – because he will generally challenge new volunteers by refusing to sit when asked…. He inspires tons of smiles.
Max was a gift from a father to his nineteen year old son who had begged for a wolf dog. Unfortunately, the family was not prepared for the amount of training and attention required. Max is very shy, skittish and intelligent…..Without enough attention, he did some creative landscaping of the yard and remodeled the back wall of the house. After jumping through a glass window to get inside the house, the owners reached out to Wolf Connection for assistance. Max became a pack member and the son became a volunteer! Max continues to work through his shy personality while continuing to be his playful, mischievous self.
Mikey is a rather shy wolf dog whose owner surrendered him due to failing health and finances. When he first arrived, Mikey was visibly frightened. He is slowly developing relationships with staff through one on one snuggling and hikes, which he loves! Mikey has a very gentle side to him. As we continue to get to know him, we are excited to see how he behaves as he relaxes more and begins to reveal more of his personality.