April 22, 2009
Rescued From: Wisconsin
Given Sanctuary: November 16, 2013
Returned to Spirit: February 17, 2024

Michelle Hesseltine and
Brenda Lewis

Tundra was born in April 2009 at a “mill” type breeding facility in Wisconsin.  It is unknown how many litters of puppies she had. The facility came under the scrutiny of the regulatory agencies in that jurisdiction when it was found to be illegally breeding and selling wolf dogs. Conditions at the facility were not conducive to the welfare and wellbeing of the animals that resided there. The animals were infested with worms, and Tundra may have delivered her last litter of pups outside with only a leaning wooden pallet for shelter. Through the efforts of many compassionate people and their organizations, Tundra’s future would be brighter than her past.

A concerned DNR warden contacted The Grey Wolf Central WI Wolfdog Rescue about the breeding facility. They had previously rescued several animals sold by that breeder, one of them being a beautiful black son of Tundra’s. The Rescue collaborated with the county regulatory agencies to work with the breeder, but by April 2011, it was evident the breeder would ultimately be shut down. They needed to remove Tundra and four remaining animals. An organization that raises funds for spay/neuter, “Save A Dog”, offered to pay for the entire vetting costs including spay/neuter for all five animals. The Grey Wolf Rescue only had room for one animal. Tundra and the other three were taken in by a foster family who had previously helped Tundra’s son. Tundra lived in, and was dearly loved by, the foster home for approximately two years.

In early November 2013, W.O.L.F. experienced the heartbreaking loss of our beloved Renata. Her companion Sigmund was especially distraught, as she was the second companion that he had lost in less than a year. The Grey Wolf Rescue brought Tundra to our attention, and we felt she would be perfect for Siggy.

Tundra seemed to sense W.O.L.F. was her forever home as soon as she arrived. She and Sigmund initially greeted one another with wagging tails through the fence. When the gate was opened, Tundra gave Siggy a human-style hug with her front legs around his neck. She quickly warmed up to the people and animals around her. She was super enthusiastic about getting treats and scent-rubbing on humans. Tundra carried and protected her stuffed toys as though they were her puppies. Sigmund was very protective of her.

Tundra was usually seen lounging on the roof of her doghouse where she watched the Sanctuary activities like a queen gazing over her court.

Tundra’s neighbors Trigger and Spartacus were very interested in Sigmund and Tundra. They decided to take 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 habitat 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 habitat, and resting near one another when the day was done. Spartacus became an ambassador and often left the habitat for educational programs offsite. Tundra and Trigger played together while Spartacus was away.

As Trigger reached full maturity, he was sometimes reluctant to allow Spartacus into the habitat after a program without challenging him. Staff monitored the interactions very carefully to make sure the small skirmishes did not escalate.

As luck would have it, the Sanctuary’s new pup Ashima was finally healthy enough to become a full-time Sanctuary resident. She needed a strong companion who could teach her wolf manners but also keep up with her boundless energy. Spartacus was the wolf for the job. He and Ashima quickly formed a bond, and he moved to a new habitat with the pup. Trigger and Tundra continued as a duo rather than a trio.

Since then, Tundra helped Trigger gain a significant amount of confidence. When she choose to interact with human caretakers, the once shy and reclusive Trigger would sometimes summon the courage to come within reach and allow a few scratches. Tundra and Trigger became a tightly bonded couple.

Tundra was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, an auto immune illness.  She was placed on medications, which ultimately affected her mobility.  Through it all, Trigger was her stalwart protector as she bravely battled this disease.

Trigger and Tundra were moved to their new Red Feather Lakes home and their new habitat in August of 2023.  They were part of the ‘Fab Five’ that were the first animals to be relocated.  It was heartwarming to see Tundra walking all around and exploring every inch of her new home with Trigger accompanying her every step of the way. 

Tundra began to display signs that she was slowing down despite her intensive veterninary care, and her strict regimen for medications and dietary.  On Saturday, February 17th, Tundra was observed walking and then collapsed in her habitat.  Staff and volunteers quickly responded to assist her.  Unfortunately, on her way to the emergency veterinary care, Tundra passed.  

Tundra will always be remembered as a force of nature.  She bravely fought her disease for at least two years and overcame all the obstacles put in her path.  Everyone that knew her and that she allowed into her world will miss her epic scent rubs.   

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