The New Year has brought about many rewards and challenges. We’ve had major fluctuations in our staff & volunteer pool, winter hit us with a force that interfered with many of our plans, we received media coverage from The Dodo and we rescued a coyote from Ohio. Thankfully, we have some hard working people who are accustomed to facing resistance and make perseverance a habit; qualities that were surely needed in the month of January!

For anyone who loves seeing cute videos of animals on social media or for those who are big animal advocates, it is very likely you have heard about or have seen posts from The Dodo. They are quite active in publishing dynamic media on all types of animals from all over the world. This last month, they set their sights on one of our rescues, Cinder, and published a great article about his story.

In my humble opinion, the power of relationships between our rescues is one of the most heartwarming parts of our life here. Our newest rescues typically arrive alone, but after we rescue a potential partner or when a current rescue loses a companion and is need of a new one, we watch in awe as the animal experiences inspiring transformation once the pairing occurs and succeeds.

When Cinder arrived in 2014, he was very skittish and was fearful and weary of most humans. When he was paired with Riot in 2015, he almost instantly became calmer, braver and overall, happier! His relationship with Riot gave him confidence and security that he lacked without a companion. Wolves, like humans, are very social creatures, and most of us want and need another’s company. The idea of being a lone wolf is not glamorous and usually occurs for a short period of time. A lone wolf is a lonely wolf, and is often looking for a mate. Love does not only heal humans, but heals wolves as well.

Speaking of love, two of our staff members, Chadley Kolb and Nicole Schepker, departed from the sanctuary in pursuit of their next adventure in December. We are very happy for them and wish them the best of luck in their new chapter. However, when pack members leave, it seems that more work appears to take their place. The first weeks of the month were tiring, as we not only said goodbye to long term staff members, but also said goodbye to passionate long term volunteers, Mary Kauffman, Jenna Purdie, Tom Neider and Kendra Kain. Thank you all for your hard work! During this time, the Assistant to the Directors, Patricia Pasquin, had to take leave for the month—leaving just a handful of folks back at the Sanctuary. Although most of our pack members left on scheduled departure dates and we had new volunteers arranged to arrive within weeks of their exit, having one person missing

The first week of the month brought us five new volunteers though. Join us in welcoming our newest members, Patricia Callaway, David Fetters, Brittany Chiapetti and Molly Shaw. Madeline Harrington joins us again for her second time and much longer stay! We are a lot like a wolf pack in our communal relations and the arrival of new volunteers can be like the arrival of new puppies: lots of excitement, the challenges of having more mouths to feed and training our new pack members to become contributing allies in our quest to thrive. The process is ultimately a rewarding one but definitely one that consumes quite a bit of energy and resources of the established pack.

We watched as everyone arrived, sniffing out their “new territory” – primitive dwellings assigned to them—greeting the staff and other volunteers, and figuring out where they fit in the vibrant social circle. It seems as though everyone has adjusted well to the family feel of the pack and are fostering a great sense of comradery with one another. Thank you for being here everyone! We could not do what we do for our rescues without you!!

Serving our rescues with more hands on deck was much needed during the wintery month. Living in the high desert, we’re accustomed to having some snow during the winter and a few weeks of frigid temperatures. However, there are times that it feels like we are contending with Mother Nature in order to get things done. No matter the weather, we continue serving the animals in our care. Although a storm system brought us plenty of snow in mid-January, the large snow drifts, slippery ice and impassable roads did not deter us from our responsibilities. The challenge of keeping our toes and fingers warm as we fed our animals and cleared their gates of snow each morning was worth it though, as watching the rescues run around in delight always puts smiles on our frozen faces. Our wolf and wolf-dog rescues love the winter! Although it’s cold outside, it’s the best time to take photos of them!

Aside from walking in the elements to feed and clean our assigned habitats, other duties call and often call for wheels to accomplish them. A recent donation and the best 4×4 truck we have, succumbed to winter and stopped working; it is currently trapped at our Retreat Center. The same day the truck died, our little 4×4, “beater with a heater”, slid of the road and was buried in a 3-foot deep ditch. On the way to rescue the stuck vehicle, the backhoe got a flat. Our trusty ATV was the only capable vehicle left. With the wintery weather, its gear shift was frozen solid, but thankfully, was frozen in the forward position. Thanks to that little ATV and some good ol’ fashioned ingenuity, our team members were able to get back home before the next snow storm entered our mountain village.  The backhoe tire was mended and now that it’s warm, the ATV is thawed and is functioning properly. Unfortunately, our 4×4 vehicles are both out of commission at the moment but we hope to be able to get both back up and running as soon as possible.

The health of our animals is one of our top priorities, and with that, vet visits are common. We believed that Dakota had an abscessed tooth and began to arrange for his vet visit. Both of our vet partners were full and could only see Dakota to examine him but did not have the opening to perform surgery. We put him on a round of antibiotics to hold him over until we were able to get to one of our partners located two or more hours away from us. Leyton and Crystal took Dakota to the vet, but after looking at his mouth, the vets realized that they were going to need to keep him over night in order to perform a full dental the next morning. Dakota lives with Powder and Sugar, and in their social hierarchy, he is what we deem to be the “omega”. Unless absolutely necessary, Dakota should not be separated for far too long from his pack, and since they had to be in town with Flurry  for his eye appointment the day after, they scheduled Dakota’s dental for the same day.

Although it had snowed all night and a foot of snow covered the ground the morning of the vet visits, the snow persisted into the early morning. Leyton, Crystal, Flurry, Dakota and I were loaded up in our large “Box Van” at 5:30am and began our slow and cautious journey towards the city. We traveled four miles on our gravel road and the second the tires hit the pavement, the van was turned a full 180, pointing back toward the gravel road. We took this as a sign and headed back in the direction from which we came. Although it had only rained in Albuquerque, the hour drive before the freeway was far too much of a risk to travel and so we rescheduled our vet visits.

We also rescued one more coyote! His name is Maine, and he’s a ten-month old male from Ohio. Although we do not know his exact origins, it is likely that he was den robbed. The man who had Maine originally, surrendered him to a Rescue Angel with the threat of shooting him if she did not take him. The Rescue Angel tells us that he was shaved when he was surrendered to her because he had fleas. We are thankful for her saving his life and for contacting us to provide a permanent, safe haven for Maine.

Leyton and volunteer, Steve, brought Maine to his new home at the end of the month. We have high hopes that he will become Yuni’s companion with time, but first, we’ll get him to the vet to get neutered and check him for parasites before they are introduced. Maine will stay in a separate habitat until then. We will update everyone as soon as we see how it goes, so stay tuned and thanks for reading this issue of the Monthly Howl!