We first heard about Cree from an animal control officer in Arizona in early March 2013. She was roaming near an Indian reservation in New Mexico. Captured and transported to a veterinary clinic in Arizona, she was held until DNA tests requested by the Arizona Fish and Wildlife Department were completed. For three weeks we waited anxiously to hear about the analysis. We finally received a call, and she was classified as a Northwestern wolf cross. If Cree had been classified as a part Mexican Gray Wolf, she would have been euthanized. Her test results meant Cree could be released to W.O.L.F.
Cree was not comfortable around humans and it was a long, anxious drive back to W.O.L.F. Based on this, our original plan, to bring her to the Sanctuary for a few days before getting her spayed, was changed. Instead she was taken to a veterinary clinic for surgery and an oral check-up. It was then we learned that our two-year-old girl was actually closer to eight and had lived a very rough life.
Cree’s teeth were worn with many dead or broken. She had an umbilical hematoma and the beginnings of ocular sclerosis. When we brought her to the Sanctuary, we placed her in the catch up area of her new permanent home with Matoskah. Cree, despite her initial protest about being at the Sanctuary, turned out to be the perfect girl. She took one look at Matoskah’s grumpy old man persona and saw through to the wonderful animal underneath. She became his constant companion, and in some ways his protector, as Matoskah grew older and more arthritic. When Matoskah passed away in December 2014, we needed to find a new companion for Cree since most wolves and wolf dogs are pack animals who thrive in the companionship of other animals. In January 2015, we rescued Denali who came to W.O.L.F. from Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (LARC) in California. Denali was one of the animals LARC rescued from a deplorable tourist attraction in Alaska where the animals were kept in chains.
We released Denali into Cree’s catch area so he could stretch his legs and meet her through the fence. Denali was anxious to get away from us, and Cree felt the need to defend her territory from the humans so we decided to back off for a bit to let them calm down before we opened the gate. After a half hour, we went back and put them in together.
At first Denali was extremely interested in exploring the amount of space he had in his new, spacious home. Cree seemed uncertain about him, preferring that he respect her 10-foot personal space bubble. But they soon became an inseparable duo. Today, they love to follow humans around their enclosure, and they often are seen sleeping together. They race to the bottom of the enclosure to explore what’s for dinner, and they are now a devoted couple.