Brienne joined the Big Pack in the Sky on September 6th, 2023.
She was assisted at 18 years old due to quality of life concerns.
Brienne’s exact date of birth was unknown, but was estimated to be born in May of 2005. She arrived at Wild Spirit in September of 2012, and like the rest of her family, was born into horrible conditions at a breeding facility in Iowa. The original owner/breeder had passed away after a lengthy illness, and her surviving family was having a difficult time caring for the 12 high-content wolfdogs that she had left behind. Before passing, the breeder had kept her animals in 10′ x 20′ cages, some with up to three animals inside. The cages had cement or plywood floors and only 6-foot-high wire ceilings. Sadly, these are the typical conditions for wolves or high-content wolfdogs kept in captivity, since these animals can easily dig or climb out of the average yard or enclosure.
After the breeder died, no one ever went into the cages and the poor wolfdogs never went outside. The small enclosures were cleaned with a hose from outside, and years of waste had collected in piles around the edges. No one remembered their names or how they were related. They were not spayed and neutered, so each year more puppies were born. Few of them ever survived.
Eventually, a family friend stepped in to try to help take care of the animals and called everyone he thought might be able to assist. Unfortunately, no one was able or willing to take on so many animals. Luckily, he didn’t give up and finally called Wild Spirit. We immediately prepared to make our first trip to Iowa to assess the situation, but before we arrived, the oldest male of the Iowa 12 had passed away.
During the assessment trip, we quickly saw how serious the situation was for the 11 remaining wolfdogs. Wanting to help any way they could, the family generously offered all of their chain link fencing and hardware to help with the building of the Iowa Rescue habitats. Before leaving to return home, our staff loaded Cassie, the oldest female wolfdog, into the van and took her to Canyon Crossroad Vet Hospital. She received an extensive exam and the immediate care she needed, and then she came home to rest safely at the sanctuary. She passed away in the winter of 2012.
In September of 2012, Wild Spirit staff went back to Iowa to rescue the remaining 10 wolfdogs. At midnight on September 17th, the Iowa 10 stepped foot onto the soil of their new habitats. It was the first time they had felt the earth beneath their feet in at least three years! Vet visits revealed they were malnourished, heartworm positive, and had brittle bones and teeth. Due to their age and poor health, we chose not to have some of the Iowa girls spayed, but the boys were all neutered (neutering is often an easier, less invasive procedure with significantly lower risk for the animal). All of the Iowa 10 were given proper medication for their many health issues, put on a healthy diet, and finally received the care they needed. After 3 years with no space to run, they all ran a bit oddly at first, but with time they’ve adjusted to their new life and home. They have all become much stronger and healthier, although they have had some drama due to shifting pack dynamics and further health issues.
In the summer of 2013, George R. R. Martin’s wife, Parris McBride-Martin, named all of the Iowa kids after GRRM’s characters from his well-known book series, Game of Thrones. The Iowa 10 were then known as The Westeros Pack, which includes: Shae, Shaggydog, Jon Snow, Summer, Beric Dondarrion, Ghost, Brienne, Arya, Nymeria and Lady. The Martins have come to visit them and Mr. Martin even loaned his star powers to a fund-raiser to build the pack a brand new habitat! With Mr. Martin’s help, we raised $150,000 to build larger habitats for this deserving family.
Brienne was an aloof gal from beginning to end. She was bold when she wanted to be, sometimes walking right up to our Caretakers, but never quite close enough to touch (at least, not in a way that was safe for our fingers). She had a fire in her soul and a zest for life that allowed her to live a long life, far beyond what we could have hoped for her.
Brienne was the last of the Iowa 10, and of the Westeros Pack. In her time with us, she first lived with Ghost, Arya, Nymeria and Lady. Having out-lived them all, she found companionship with Bear, and then upon his passing, she moved in with Teton. When Teton joined the Big Pack in the Sky, Brienne spent her final year with a shy rescue named Sitka, who absolutely adored her.
Likes & Dislikes
Brienne loved to relax, whether it was in her splash tub, in a cool pit of dirt she dug herself, or resting in a shade structure. When she wasn’t relaxing, she thoroughly enjoyed harassing her neighbors.