Our Amazing Westeros Pack

The wolf-dogs now known as Wild Spirit’s Westeros Pack were born in a breeding facility in Iowa. Like many wolf and wolf-dog breeding organizations, conditions were horrendous: the animals were kept in packs in 10’ x 20’ cages, complete with cement floors, low-ceilings, and little access to the natural outside world. Unfortunately, this lifestyle is typical for wild canids kept in captivity. These animals are prone to escape, easily capable of digging out of a yard or scaling most fences, and owners and breeders resort to drastic measures to keep them contained.

It’s doubtful that our Westeros rescues ever had much quality of life at that breeding facility, but when their owner died, things quickly got much worse. Suddenly the family of the previous owner found themselves tasked with caring for the 12 high-content wolf-dogs she had left behind, with no idea of how to do so.

When the first owner passed, the new caretakers never went into the enclosures, opting instead to clean them with a hose from the outside, resulting in years of waste collecting in corners and around their cages. The animals were not spayed or neutered and routinely produced litters of pups, none of which ever survived. No veterinary care was provided, nutrition was seriously lacking, and stress was constant. No one even knew the animals’ names, their ages, or how they were related.

Finally, a family friend stepped in to help. He called everyone he could possibly think of, but there was no one willing or able to take on so many animals in such poor shape. Persistence eventually paid off, and he called Wild Spirit. We couldn’t say no, but we needed to know what we were undertaking. As we made our way to Iowa to investigate, the oldest male of the 12 wolf-dogs passed away.

Once on site, we quickly saw how serious the situation was for the remaining 11 wolf-dogs. It was clear they would not make it without our help. Armed with a better understanding of what we needed to do to accept these 11 rescues, we headed back to Wild Spirit to prepare. Unable to leave completely empty-handed, we brought the oldest female wolf-dog home with us. Cassie was brought directly to our veterinarian’s office, where she received the care she so desperately needed. She passed away in the winter of 2012, shortly after the rest of her family members arrived.

In September of 2012, WSWS staff went back to Iowa to rescue the remaining 10 wolf-dogs. At midnight on September 17th, the Iowa 10 stepped foot onto the soil in their new habitats at Wild Spirit. It was the first time they had felt the earth beneath their feet in at least three years!

Vet visits quickly revealed they were malnourished, tested positive for heartworm, and were suffering from 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 lives and become much healthier and far happier.

Our Westeros Pack rescues are steadily getting older, and we know that they are well into their senior years. So far, 3 have joined the Big Pack in The Sky: Cassie, Lady, and Ghost. It’s been 5 years since our Westeros Pack came to Wild Spirit, and we’re not sure just how much time they’ll have left here. But we can know for certain that we’ve given them at least 5 years of happy living that they would not have had in their previous homes, and we’re grateful to be the ones who were able to provide it.

World-famous, award-winning, fantasy writer George R. R. Martin and his wife Parris McBride-Martin are long-time supporters of Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. Parris thought it would be a wonderful gift to her husband to name one of our un-named rescues after one of the characters in her husband’s beloved book series, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” The genius world created in his books has now brilliantly come alive in the HBO series, “Game of Thrones.” Rather than name just one, Parris did us the honor of naming all of our Iowa rescues.

We could not imagine what a blessing it was when the Martins decided to become Pack Mama and Pack Daddy for all of our rescues from Iowa. These rescues went from unknown, unnamed, and unwanted to becoming part of an epic creation, thanks to their Pack Parents. The Martins have come to visit them and continue to support their wolf pack with merchandise fundraisers, donations (including a new walk-in freezer!), and on-going fundraisers like Westeros Certificates. With Mr. Martin’s help, we’ve raised $150,000 to build larger habitats for this deserving family.

Click for a copy of a signed certificate by George R. R. Martin
Rescued Wolf-Dog Arya
Arya Game of Thrones
Arya Stark played by Maisie Williams
Beric Dondarrion played by Richard Dormer
Brienne High-Content Wolf-Dog
Brienne Game of Thrones
Gwendoline Christie is Brienne of Tarth 
Beautiful Nymeria
Nymeria Game of Thrones
Nymeria, Arya Stark’s direwolf 
Beautiful Shae
Shae Game of Thrones
Shae played by Sibel Kekilli
Handsome Shaggydog
Shaggydog Game of Thrones
Shaggydog, Rickon Stark’s direwolf
Handsome Shaggydog
Summer Game of Thrones
Summer, Bran Stark’s direwolf
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