In May of 2006 the owner of a backyard breeding operation in rural Wisconsin died, leaving twenty-two wolf-dogs living on chains in horrendous conditions. The owner had been ill for several weeks until she was found, near death, by a friend. During the owner’s illness, water for the animals had run out, there was no food, and the animals’ condition had deteriorated drastically. The small Wisconsin town closest to the operation was ill-equipped to handle the rescue of so many animals, so the Animal Humane Society in a neighboring town in Minnesota stepped in to help the wolf-dogs.
W.O.L.F. received a call from the AHS asking if we could take the wolf-dogs, and after dehydration and starvation only eighteen animals were alive to begin the rescue, we call Wide Awake. The animals arrived jammed in a horse trailer so tightly they could not even receive water. Shocked at their conditions, W.O.L.F. volunteers immediately unloaded the animals and placed them in newly-built enclosures at their temporary home at Wide Awake. The animals began the slow process of healing physically and emotionally from the trauma of their earlier lives and as space opened at W.O.L.F. they were moved to their forever home and released into ½ acre enclosures. As they learned the daily routines at the main facility, they became very comfortable and began to enjoy life.
We were amazed and humbled by the recovery these animals have made over the years, and we are grateful to have been given the opportunity to provide them with a better life.
JJ was one of the Wide Awake animals. She was small in stature but large in personality. She was often snappy and very wary of her caretakers. She was originally paired with Atlantis who also came from the Wide Awake Rescue. They never seemed to form a strong bond, and as Atlantis aged, he was no longer an appropriate companion for the much younger JJ.
In 2012, JJ was paired with Odin. Odin was rescued from the deplorable tourist attraction Wolf World in Alaska. He adapted quickly to his new environment, and his quiet, calm presence was a very positive influence on JJ. She no longer spent long periods of time pacing at the top of her enclosure and often came to the fence with Odin to share treats. It was amazing to see how much the bond formed between Odin and JJ has healed them both.
On June 8, 2017, Odin returned to spirit. His passing was completely unexpected and left JJ and the staff and volunteers in a state of shock. JJ was lost without her companion and needed time to come to grips with the loss. She no longer wanted to come to the fence for treats and her grief was palpable. When another older wolf named Tonka, lost his companion, staff made the decision to put JJ into a new enclosure with Tonka. JJ has returned to some of her prior reticent behaviors. She has been very shy and spends most of her days at the top of her enclosure. Tonka is also a shy animal, and he keeps her company. They watch the comings and goings at the Sanctuary from their elevated post. They both like to eat so at feeding time they are particularly attentive, and they head down the mountain when their meals are delivered. It is never easy to see senior animals lose their companions. However, W.O.L.F. makes every effort to find appropriate companionship for each animal who has been left behind. Wolves and wolf dogs are pack animals, and they do best when they have the company of another animal. JJ and Tonka have found a quiet comfort with one another, and we often see them side-by-side at the top of their enclosure where they enjoy their days in the sun.