~ The story of Flurry and his family (The Arctics) and why they live at Wild Spirit is a long one, but we feel it is important to share it. On May 3rd, 2006, six pups were born to captive-bred parents, Yukon and Sierra, at a breeding facility. The story we heard was that Yukon and Sierra were born to wolves who were taken from the wild. The breeder who owned Yukon and Sierra had been selling their pups to select private owners or for exhibits like zoos. Very sadly, in order for wolves to be socialized to humans at all, they must be taken from their parents before they open their eyes. Even then, they may remain too wild-spirited to be comfortable around people and will never behave like a domestic dog. For eight years, Yukon and Sierra had each of their newborn litters taken and sold.
Before The Arctics became a part of Wild-Spirit, we had rescued a very unique high-content wolf-dog named Raven the day before he was scheduled to be euthanized. High-content wolf-dogs have a bit of dog in their ancestry but look and act predominantly like wolves. Raven surprised us all and proved to be an extremely powerful part of our education efforts. He retained his wild spirit like all our rescues do, but Raven became comfortable in many public situations and enjoyed meeting people.
Education is the key to change, especially among young people. When our sanctuary began, the negative and long-standing myth of the Big Bad Wolf was alive and well. A large part of our mission is to educate people about wolves, their wild natures, loving family structure, and their vital role in the health of our environment. We stress that wolves are not evil creatures eating grandmothers, but they are also not meant to be pets, companions, or included in our human families.
The impact of meeting our rescues in person and hearing our message leaves an ever-lasting impression on people of all kinds. We have met many of our largest supporters at outreach events with one of our wolf or high-content wolf-dog rescues. Over the years, Raven literally changed hundreds of people’s lives in a positive way, and people continued to spread our message after meeting him. Most notably, Raven inspired a change of heart in a wolf-hating rancher who bought us dinner and opened his home to us at any time. The trend continued when Forest, another one of our rescues, inspired a hunter to change his philosophy. After meeting Forest and hearing our message, the man decided to cancel his upcoming wolf-hunting trip. These moments proved to us just how important educational outreach is for wolves and wolf-dogs, both captive and wild.
As Raven got older, we hoped to find a puppy in need who we could help and who could follow in Raven’s very large pawsteps to continue educating the public. The breeder who owned Yukon and Sierra offered to donate two puppies from the litter they were expecting. In our view, we would be giving these pups a safe, secure life, where they would not end up chained or euthanized like so many wolves and wolf-dogs. We would also have the chance to continue our crucial outreach and education programs.
Sierra had a litter of six puppies including Alice, Thunder, Sabine, Sugar, Storm and Powder. Unexpectedly, none of the puppies were sold, and the breeder was left with six puppies who needed to be bottle-fed and cleaned every two hours, constantly with people to maintain socialization, and continually exposed to many different situations. We had volunteers eager to help, so we agreed to take all six puppies (and eventually went back to rescue Sierra, Yukon, and Axel, too). Even with a full staff and many volunteers, raising wolf puppies is exhausting work. Despite being surrounded by people and hand-raised by humans, only two of the six puppies grew up to be comfortable meeting the public – Storm and our late Sabine.
Wild Spirit has grown a great deal since we became an official non-profit back in 1993. We realize we are always evolving, and we work hard to improve and change along the way to ensure we reach our mission statement goals of Rescue, Sanctuary, and Education. In order to ensure that our true message is heard and those most in need are offered help, we have decided not to seek out wolf puppies to socialize in the future. If there is a puppy in need of rescue and we can offer them sanctuary, of course, we will. However, we know that the animals most in need are often older, already poorly socialized, and suffering from serious misunderstanding and mistreatment, so those are the ones that we will pursue most diligently.
After we rescued Sierra and Yukon’s six pups, the breeder decided he was no longer going to breed wolves. Maybe because Sierra and Yukon were getting too old, but most likely because he felt there was more money to be made breeding exotic felines. He called Wild Spirit and let us know that he would like them to retire with us. He also offered to give us Axel, one fo their older pups that he had kept. Accepting new rescues is a very significant responsibility. It requires sufficient space, funds, planning, and help, so we never take this decision lightly. In the process of making arrangements and raising money, the breeder called to let us know if we didn’t hurry, Sierra might be pregnant before we could make the rescue trip from New Mexico to Oregon. We planned to neuter Yukon on the way back, but spaying older females is often too risky for them.
As soon as we could, we made the trip to rescue the older couple and their son. We were thrilled to offer them more room to run and a beautiful place to retire. When we arrived, the breeder told us that he was convinced that Sierra was already pregnant. Although this was not the ideal situation, we were thinking that she would be able to raise her puppies for the first time in her life. We also thought we would have the opportunity to try to socialize another ambassador.
On the way home, Yukon and Sierra stopped by the bet where Yukon was neutered. They settled into their new home nicely, relished one of our most beautiful habitats full of trees and rocks. They also had neighbors, including some of their former pups. They did not show any sense of recognizing them, although we hoped they would. Because they were taken at only 10 days old, it was a long shot.
Sierra and Yukon prepared for their final litter by digging a den in the dirt under a large rock slab. Sierra had five puppies. After 10 days, we removed two for socializing and named them Frost and Flurry. Sierra and Yukon continued to raise two girls and a boy for the first time. We stayed with the mountain theme and named the male Teton and his sisters Shasta and Trinity.
Raising any infant is exhausting for caretakers. Our two 10-day old wolf-pups required constant care from our tireless team. Flurry originally lived with his brother Frost and a spayed female high-content wolf-dog named Sassy. One day, the boys attacked Sassy. Read an article on page 5 about that day in our newsletter. Sassy’s Attack Story – Page 5.
After Leyton came to the rescue, he rushed her to the emergency vet. she had extensive bruising, punctures and gashes, but worst of all, she had a punctured lung! Thankfully, she fully recovered and did not go back to live with the brothers.
Tragically, Frost passed away from the genetic heart condition which left Flurry alone. He moved in with an older female named Shakti. He reverted to his sweet, lovable puppy personality, but then was left alone again after Shakti passed. Flurry finally found his love match with another rescue named Ally.
They get along well to this day, aside from everyday jealousies and spats over food. They still play like puppies.
Flurry has become our best ambassador. He is comfortable meeting people, and will occasionally give a rare kiss to someone he meets. He has traveled to many schools and outreach events and even met some stars! He has been to the premiere parties of the series Game of Thrones and met author George R. R. Martin, actors Mayzie Williams, Taylor Lautner, and comedian Nick Swardson.