The frantic call came to W.O.L.F. headquarters on a hectic Monday morning in September 2014. A wolf dog named Spartacus was in danger of being shot. Amazingly, the call was from one of the owners. Spartacus had attacked one of their goats and the husband was threatening to shoot the wolf dog if he was not immediately removed.
Spartacus, only 20 months old, had already been through two homes. As incredible as it may seem, the first home was with the owner of a day care facility who purchased him from a breeder as a pup. Spartacus lived his life at the end of a chain. After Spartacus accidentally scratched the arm of one of the day care children he was rehomed.
When family #2 took Spartacus, life became much worse for him. He was once again chained to a tree in a dirt yard with no house or shelter and had a chain collar around his neck. The family could not afford to adequately feed Spartacus, and he grew very, very thin and malnourished. The tips of his ears were eaten away by fly strikes and his family, not knowing any better, used motor oil on his ears to repel the flies. Spartacus spent a summer rubbing his ears raw and growing thinner by the day. The heat was unrelenting, and he dug a hole in the ground to try to stay cool and find a bit of shade. His owners could not afford any veterinary care so he did not receive shots, heartworm tests, or medical attention of any kind.
W.O.L.F. quickly jumped into action and posted the wolf dog on our Rescue Network. No other sanctuary or private placement in his vicinity was able to take Spartacus. W.O.L.F. spent a day analyzing the situation and potential placements for him, and then made the decision to go and get Spartacus and bring him home to W.O.L.F.
Spartacus arrived at the Sanctuary late on a Friday night, four days after the initial call for help. He was finally safe and would never be chained again.
Spartacus is an insatiably social individual, both with humans and wolf dogs, and did not handle his initial isolation at the Sanctuary well. While we had him quarantined to make sure he had no diseases and was healthy enough to put in with our animals, he would howl continuously when people weren’t there to pepper him with love and attention. Much to the dismay of the overnight caretakers, his foghorn-like howl would often echo through the canyon at odd hours throughout the night, usually just about the time they had finally gotten back to sleep (earning him the nickname “Tugboat”).
It was shortly after we determined that he was healthy enough for a companion that we found ourselves dealing with Trigger being alone after a failed attempt to pair him with Pax. Staff decided to put Trigger and Spartacus together, and they immediately began to play and romp around their enclosure. They spent all their time together, often sleeping in the same dog house. It was truly wonderful to see them forming such a strong bond.
Both Spartacus and Trigger were very interested in their neighbors, Tundra and Sigmund. They took matters into their own paws and found a way to climb the fence and become a foursome. Tundra was overjoyed to have younger companions who could keep up with her energy and love of play. Sigmund was frequently the odd man out, and W.O.L.F. made the decision to move him to another enclosure where he would be less stressed by the high-energy trio. He was placed with Pride after she lost her companion Lance.
Spartacus, Tundra and Trigger became the best of friends. They spent their days playing, exploring their large mountain enclosure, and resting near one another when the day was done. Spartacus became a Sanctuary ambassador, and he often left the enclosure to attend educational programs. As Trigger began to reach full maturity, he was sometimes reluctant to allow Spartacus to return to the enclosure after a program without challenging him. Staff watched the interactions carefully to make sure the small skirmishes did not escalate.
As luck would have it, the Sanctuary’s new wolf pup Ashima was finally healthy enough to become a full-time Sanctuary resident. She was very high energy and affectionately known as the “wild child.” She needed a more mature companion who could teach her some wolf manners but also keep up with her energy. Spartacus was just the wolf for the job. Ashima and Spartacus were introduced slowly, and they hit it off. Spartacus has been able to keep up with the “wild child” and has taught her some manners. He was a wonderful ambassador and taught Ashima the ropes. They went together to educational programs, where Ashima followed Spartacus’ lead and moderated her boundless energy. However, there came a day when Ashima decided she was no longer interested in going for car rides, which forced staff to retire them both as ambassadors since Ashima also did not want Spartacus attending programs without her.
Now remaining at the Sanctuary and enjoying retirement, Spartacus and Ashima play constantly. While now a mature adult, Ashima continues to act like the crazy puppy that we fell in love with right from the start. Spartacus often welcomes the presence of staff to help distract his playmate and give him a few moments of reprieve from her craziness. Spartacus and Ashima have formed a very strong bond, and we hope they will continue to live and play together for many years to come.