For a number of years a woman near Guffey, Colorado quietly rescued wolfdogs that many felt were not adoptable due to poor socialization and shyness. Each animal that came to Timber's Pack was provided with a loving home. It was supposed to be a permanent, loving home, but in 2008 everything went horribly wrong.
On December 17, 2008 we received an email asking for urgent help. Timber's Pack was in a dire situation. Raquel, the owner of Timber's Pack said she had reached the most dreadful point in her life. Her husband had left her with a young baby; she had no money and was on the verge of loosing everything. She had also been cited by her county for exceeding the limit of canines allowed on the property without a special use permit and she couldn't afford the permit. We were given a deadline of December 28th to find homes for 10 wolfdogs and one Newfoundland.
Throughout 2008 we saw an increase in surrenders of all sorts of animals. Many animals were being abandoned or surrendered to shelters and sanctuaries as people were forced to choose what bills they could pay. Some simply could not afford food for their animals. Some were losing their homes or downsizing from the rural home to a smaller home or apartment in the city. Breeders were unloading their surplus, and in many cases shutting down the kennels because breeding puppies or kittens was no longer making money. At the same time rescuers were having more difficulties finding responsible, qualified homes and donations were way down.
So when we received the email we weren't sure what we could do. December in Colorado means harsh weather, frozen ground and great difficulty constructing new habitats. We were far from immune to the slumping economy and had already been forced to turn away a number of animals until we saw a rebound in donations to help pay for food, construction and medical expenses. December is also a time when we see very few volunteers at the sanctuary so we were also stretched to our max in caring for our own animals and didn’t have any extra time to spend on a rescue of this magnitude.
We searched high and low for homes locally, but ran into brick walls almost everywhere we turned. The only other Colorado sanctuary willing to help was Mission:Wolf and they could only handle one male if he could be walked into the sanctuary as the roads were snowed in.
Fortunately, Raquel had also contacted Karen Cooper and Sue Bowers as well as other rescuers across the country and by the deadline they were successful in finding homes for everyone. We just had to help figure out how to get them to their new homes, and how to pay for it. Six of them found refuge in TN and NC, three were placed in CO and two more were initially going to NM for fostering. The logistics of transporting these skittish wolfdogs halfway across the country in such a short time gave us all gray hair, but everything fell into place just before the New Year.
It took the better part of 3 days to corral the animals. Raquel's initial plans for capture and crating horribly backfired when the first of the animals became so spooked that she leaped out of the lockdown Raquel had her in and into an adjacent pen. After that fiasco the move was put on hold and Raquel had to go back to square one. She had to plead for the transport driver's patience and had to locate a veterinarian willing to come on site with the chemical immobilization drugs needed to dart the animals. After a day of phone calls Lisa Eskridge of the Eskridge Veterinary Clinic was finally willing to clear her afternoon schedule and drive out to Timber's Pack. We discussed drugs and dosages and quickly went to work. One by one each of the animals were darted with the immobilization cocktail Lisa had provided. One by one they each lay down, but as we started towards them they each stood up, shook off the drug and ran. Lisa quickly re-evaluated and increased the dosage and we tried again. But they were on to the sight of the gun that made a second round of darting very difficult. Then the sun began to set behind the mountain and the temperatures plummeted. Below freezing temperatures wreaked havoc with the plastic darts and we were concerned for the animal's health if immobilized in the frigid temperatures. So we had to once again postpone the transport for the next day.
The following morning Lisa arrived early and with the help of David Roos and Shane Eskridge we were finally able to collect each of the animals that needed to be transported that day.
In the end all of the animals were safely transported to their new homes in NC and TN and CO.
Wahya and Heart were initially brought to Indigo Mountain for a brief stay before being transported to a foster home. Then we learned that the foster was not in a legal area. Since the two had been legally signed over to Indigo Mountain we refused to ship them to the foster.
By this time we had determined that Wahya was far from your typical “adoptable” dog. We found Wahya to be so shy and fearful that he in all likelihood would never have found a permanent, private home. He clearly has trust issues with humans. Wahya was heavily bonded to Heart, a sweet lovable Newfoundland. So it is very clear that the two had to remain together if there was any hope in teaching Wahya to trust again.
So we shuffled some animals around and made the new accommodations work for Wahya and Heart. Then we went to work trying to build trust with the shy boy.
Two weeks later we got yet another distress call from Raquel. She had left her mountain home and relocated to a small house in town with Suye'ta, a high content male and a low content female. Suye’ta was not happy in his new environment and Raquel was having difficulties with him. He was tearing apart the kennel and she just wasn’t sure she could keep him contained. At that point we had only one option for Suye'ta. We had one older female high content wolfdog living alone in a large habitat. If Suye'ta could co-exist with Ouray we could house him at the sanctuary. Otherwise, Raquel would have to transport Suye'ta back to Texas to his breeder. So Raquel brought Suye'ta to Indigo Mountain the next day to see if the pairing would work. Ouray wasn't thrilled at first, but they warmed up to one another over the next two days and eventually became very bonded to one another.
Today Wahya and Heart are still together and doing great. Wahya has dropped many of his walls and is approaching people so long as his guardian Heart is alongside. Suye’ta is also doing amazingly well. He lost his mate Ouray a few years ago, but has found happiness with Shastina.