Peek Into The Pack
Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary’s Exclusive Blog

Ask The Pack – What initially prompted or inspired you to apply to become a part of the WSWS team?

Article by Kendra Kain-Woods

Kendra is Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary’s Animal Care Supervisor and one of the animal caregivers. She is an animal behavior enthusiast, greatly enjoying the impactful relationships possible through training as a means of communication and building trust. Through her love of writing, Kendra hopes to further support the wild rescues of Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary.

May 19, 2020

We like fielding questions about our rescues, and sometimes people want to know more about the people responsible for ensuring they’re well taken care of. If you have a question about our rescues or our mission, please ask them in the comments below, or you can email them to info@wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org.

In this article, our staff and volunteers respond to the question:

What initially prompted or inspired you to apply to become a part of the WSWS team?

Brian Adkins with Kaya

Brian Adkins with Kaya

Building & Maintenance Technician

I really love animals, especially canines. And I thought my skill set would be useful.

[Editor’s note: Brian rarely has much to say, unless you want to discuss the health benefits of bacon.]

Mike Budd with Naia

Mike Budd with Naia

Building & Maintenance Technician

It was due to a fortunate turn of events that I wound up at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. My longtime friend, Dawn, began following Leyton and WSWS on social media and after about a year of being a fan, we left Paige, AZ to visit the sanctuary. We took a Feeding Tour with Rae, and we just fell in love. I was especially amazed at how the staff and volunteers had come from all over the world, how wonderful they all were (and are!) and are OK with living in such a rurul and tight knit community. In all of my professional years, I have never seen a group of people from diverse backgrounds work so well with each other, toward the same mission. It was love at first sight, and we leapt right in to join the pack. After living and working here over six years, I am still marveled by the rescues and feel so fortunate to be working near them.
Karen Burkart Guillén with Bowie

Karen Burkart Guillén with Bowie

Animal Care Specialist

After living in a big and crowded city, I decided I needed to take a break from it all and find a place where I could work with animals in order to give something back to nature. That’s when I came across with Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary and decided to apply as a volunteer for animal care.
Crystal Castellanos with Naia

Crystal Castellanos with Naia

Director of Operations

I was introduced to Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in 2009 and was nudged to meet with Leyton who offered me the opportunity to become a part of the team. Being a transplant to New Mexico after just getting married, I shied away from the opportunity and moving out to such a rural community. However, two years later, after a serendipitous outing to Candy Kitchen, Ramon and I decided that we would take the plunge and move to the area. That night, I messaged Leyton and asked if he and his team would accept me as a part-time volunteer. A month later, Ramon and I moved to a small cabin in the woods and the rest is history.
Leyton Cougar with Cheyenne & Frost

Leyton Cougar with Cheyenne & Frost

Fundraising/Animal Care Specialist

Candy Kitchen Rescue Ranch was Founded in 1991. It became a 501 C 3 non profit in 1994. In 1995 I was tired of looking at all the trash and seeing falling down fences, so I knocked on the door of the founders and said, “you need my help!”.

I have been there ever since. I saw humans and animals that needed help. I grew up on a farm in the wilds of Washington state surrounded by animals wild and domestic. I knew with my skills I could be of service.

In 2000 I prompted the founder to change the name to Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary and here we are today 24 years later.

Stephanie Grenadier with Jaeger

Stephanie Grenadier with Jaeger

Housekeeping/Keeping Tim Under Control

One very random visit to Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary for a group photo trip was all it took to spontaneously decide to pack up and move from Massachusetts to New Mexico. That says it all, I think. I did not know I would work here but did know I wanted to be involved and volunteer or be supportive in whatever way presented itself.

I have always had a love for wolves and had met a couple of them in the wild and was fascinated. Even though I live quite a distance from the sanctuary now, I can still hear the pack howl when the wind blows just right, and it is spectacular.

I have come to love the individual animals and their caretakers, who do much more than could ever be described. The entire staff is dedicated and caring, and it is just such an amazing place to be. I hope never to lose the fresh appreciation for the sights and sounds, and never take for granted the unique and wonderful nuances of being around this animal (and human) pack.

Jared Kain-Woods with Quinn

Jared Kain-Woods with Quinn

Animal Care Specialist

While the primary reason was my wife got a job here as the grant coordinator, I also wanted to have a once in a lifetime experience. I have always wanted to learn as much as I can, and I feel like this place has taught me more than anything I could have ever imagined.
Rae McCue with Leia

Rae McCue with Leia

Animal Care Supervisor

Initially, I wanted to fulfill a lifelong ambition to work for wolves and volunteer my time after college. I wanted to get my hands dirty, experience something different, and help promote a cause I was passionate about.
Kendra Kain-Woods with Bono

Kendra Kain-Woods with Bono

Grant Coordinator/Animal Care Specialist/Animal Care Supervisor In-Training/Resident Professor of Verbosity

Throughout my life, I have held many passions; my brain is insatiably thirsty, and my inquisition has lead me to tread many roads. In 2016, I discovered Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary online through a YouTube video featuring Leyton J. Cougar, and he was discussing his experiences with the rescues of the sanctuary. As he spoke, he not only acknowledged them as sentient wild animals, but celebrated them for it. Appreciating the bluntness of, “Yes, wild animals can bite, but we would never euthanize an animal due to its natural reactions,” and the respect given to the animals, I sought and obtained a temporary volunteer position later that autumn.

Roughly three years later, the opportunity presented itself to become the Grant Coordinator for Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, and I knew this road was mine to take. With the dear support of my newly wed husband, Jared Kain-Woods, we packed up our lives and drove across the country from Massachusetts with our two cats, Orin and Emmi. Life has not been the same, but we are both incredibly grateful to the new Wild Spirit Family and for all of the lessons being thrown our way.

As corny and cliche a statement as it is: I am living the dream right now, and Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary has become a home.

Stephanie Leitch with Princess

Stephanie Leitch with Princess

Gift Shop Attendant

I came into the sanctuary and applied to be a part of the team without really any knowledge about wild canids nor have any idea of what will work life be working at WSWS. I was given a chance to work at the Gift Shop. Though I am not a part of the animal care department team, I have learnt a lot about wild canids.

The whole team is awesome that I am inspired to go to work everyday to hear the enchanting howls of the wolves, to get random hugs from my workmates and just being around these beautiful humans that makes you feel appreciated has been an amazing experience for me so far. Thank you WSWS! ❤️💚💜

Josh McNitt with Kaya

Josh McNitt with Kaya

Guest Services & Human Resources Assistant

Having grown up just down the road from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary (at the time it was the Candy Kitchen Wolf Rescue), coming to work at Wild Spirit seemed like a no-brainer when I moved back into the area.
After years of working in the Big City leading team, honing my building and maintenance skill set and possessing a comical love for rules, I knew I had a lot to share with Wild Spirit.

Lisa McNitt with Romeo

Lisa McNitt with Romeo

Bookkeeper/Enforcer

I was working for a small non-profit in the area when I heard that the sanctuary was looking for a bookkeeper, I interviewed and got the job, and have spent the last 5 and half years bringing light and joy to the office!

Megan Murphy with Jaeger

Megan Murphy with Jaeger

Social Media and Outreach Coordinator/Animal Care Specialist

I’ve always known I wanted to work with animals, I just could never decide what kind! While in college and trying to figure out what I really wanted to do, I was looking for an internship type opportunity and stumbled across Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. I applied, got accepted and just absolutely fell in love with it here. I spent 3 months volunteering in the Summer of 2015 and after finishing my degree I decided I needed to come back. I am so glad that I happened to apply back then and so grateful to be a part of this amazing team and family.

Jessica Schmidt with Cinder

Jessica Schmidt with Cinder

Administrative Assistant/Animal Care Specialist

I found Wild Spirit on a whim. I was looking for a big change when a friend mentioned this wolf sanctuary in the middle of nowhere. Having always been an animal lover, I jumped at the opportunity. Two years later, I couldn’t imagine my life had I never met these beautiful animals and people.

Tim Waite with Dakota

Tim Waite with Dakota

Multimedia and Outreach Coordinator

In 2016 my wife and I came out with 10 students from our photography education studio near Boston. We fell in love with the sanctuary, the people working here, and the general area. When we returned home, it took a couple of days for us to realize we wanted to live in New Mexico. We returned in 2017 with another group of students, and at the end of 2017 we closed two successful businesses, sold our house, and moved here. In 2018 I started volunteering in Building and Maintenance, and in 2020 I was hired as the Multimedia and Outreach Developer.

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