Sunday, July 30, 2006

One Girl's Wolf

I miss my gray wolf, Baby. She was born in captivity in Massachusetts, where I then lived, and severely abused by her first owner, who blinded her. She was about six months old when I got her through the Humane Society after the owner's boyfriend, a member of the Pagans motorcycle club, saved her from certain death.

She weighed only 32 pounds and had been beaten with chains. She was afraid of everything, but after a few weeks of being treated kindly, she house trained herself and moved into my bed. I realized that if I was going to live with a wolf I should be the alpha animal, so I bit her muzzle when necessary, as alpha wolves do their subordinates. She promptly responded by licking me under the chin as befitting every other wolf in the pack. She grew into a magnificent creature who was even smarter and sweeter than any dog I've ever known.

She once disappeared and aware that there was an egg farm nearby, I ran up the hill to avert disaster if the farmer saw her near his free-range chickens. When I arrived, gasping, she was lying at the end of the farmer's driveway with her front paws crossed, grinning like a Walt Disney cartoon while chickens hopped onto her back and slid down her nose, clucking. I led her home by her collar and several of the chickens followed us down the hill, reluctant to lose their furry playground equipment.

Baby went everywhere with me. We moved to Vermont for awhile, then moved again, pulling a horse trailer with my daughter's two ponies all the way to Florida, and finally settling in Western North Carolina. We navigated the entire east coast with Baby's head out the car window, thoroughly enjoying the adventure.

When I put her on a leash and took her to town, she always attracted a crowd. People would exclaim over the gorgeous dog and beam as she licked their children's faces. If I felt mischievous, I confided that she wasn't really a dog... but a wolf. Immediately, the baby she was licking would be snatched away and held over their heads as, stammering, they asked me if "it" would bite, if I wasn't afraid "it" would turn.

Baby disabused many people of their PR-induced fears of wolves. Thousands of years of scary children's stories have given the wolf the image of a rabid, mindless killer. This is anything but true.

Wolves are gentle, even timid, highly intelligent, loyal, loving friends to those who offer them kindness. Wolf packs in the wild kill when necessary to survive and feed their young, but they take only the old and sickly animals from a herd. There are no recorded incidents of wolves ever attacking a human.

One neighbor called the Fish & Wildlife Department to report that I was harboring a vicious wild animal on my property. When the agent came to my door, I told him she was a Husky-Malamute mutt.

"I guess you're right," he said. "A wolf wouldn't be wearing a bandanna. " And he left. They really should train their wildlife officials better.

When I remarried, Baby formed a strong bond with my husband, a musician. We bought a house near Nashville with land for her and my Samoyed, Angel, to roam, and Baby marched around the perimeter daily, protecting us from potential enemies she couldn't see. We staged group howls, Baby on lead with her rich, deep voice. Angel wasn't much of a singer, but enjoyed these performances. Perhaps they stirred her cellular memories of when dogs were wolves.

Baby died of cancer at 13. We buried her in a shady corner of our backyard, near the creek, and a few years later, moved across the country. It doesn't seem to matter where I am, though. Baby still visits me in my sleep, and I get to hug her again.


Anonymous said...

Your Baby is beautiful.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Yes. I was so lucky to have her in my life. She had a beautiful spirit, too.

d~ said...

Oh, thank you for this post!

H? Have you ever read Never Cry Wolf?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Yes. I've probably read most of the books about wolves. That one was great.

d~ said...

I'm glad you're a wolf girl.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Baby was truly a special gift. I would be disappointed to learn that my totem animal is really a jellyfish or something.

Alison Catherine said...

That's awesome that you rescued Baby like that! I have 3 dogs and me and my fiance' rescued all 3 of them! Baby is SO beautiful!

Anonymous said...

If your token animal was a jellyfish you would just say, "I am represented by the magnificent sunsquall" and people would be impressed without knowing exactly what you meant. But you're right-- wolves are better and less likely to sting.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

A.C. Thank you for visiting my blog! I think Baby gave me more than I gave her.

Good luck with your Pit Bulls and your new blog.

Anon. Hmmm... Wolf - Sunsquall. Sunsquall, wolf. Oh, it's just so hard to decide.

jali said...

What a sweet, sweet story.

Now I want a wolf.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jali, welcome back. You were missed!

Stephen said...

I had the great honor of knowing Baby and being accepted by her as a friend. Never have I met a creature (four legged or two legged) with more dignity and good humor. While I heard her admonished occasionally "Baby, stop hunting the cat." Truffle survived.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

"hunting the cat." Stephen, you lie. Unless your definition of hunting consists of sleeping by the door with Truffle leaping back and forth over her prone body. The only hunting Baby ever did was for Come 'N' Get It in a bowl and the occasional bits of meat she could glean from my vegetarian household.

If I could do it over with Baby, there would be more meat. (Not from cats.)

You're right on all other counts, though.

GregWrites said...

My wife, who has worked with the carnivore preservation trust near Raleigh, will love this tale of how you rescued this wolf. I will show it to her. Um, on second thought, maybe not -- she might want to go find one to adopt. I don't think our neighbors her in the urbanhood would like that.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

If I made it sound like Baby was a piece of cake from the beginning, well, no. She was quite unruly, knocked me down often, and ate many couch cushions. Being blind made her frenetic, but she was incredibly bright and so affectionate that she was more than worth the effort. With maturity and security, she became an absolute joy, and I think we made each other very happy.

Nikki said...

What an absolutely beautiful story

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Thank you so much, Nikki!

meno said...

Her owner blinded her????

What the hell is wrong with people?

I started reading this and had to leave and come back. I can't stand it when animals are mistreated.

A beautiful story. Thank you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I can't stand it, either. Most of the animals I've adopted over the years were abused or abandoned by their former owners.

It's really stunning that we could be considered the most highly evolved species by anyone. I have never known an animal that would deliberately inflict harm on another for no reason.

Thank you for reading this very early post. Baby will always own a very large piece of my heart.

Mara said...

I'm being repetitive by thanking you for sharing this piece of your heart with others who take it into their own heart and love animals more day by day.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Lovely thoughts are never repetitive. I'm so glad you came by to read about Baby.