Last Sunday, a friend posted a link on Facebook that caught my eye and immediately made me think of Annalise, who, at 7, is a passionate lover of wild animals.
A group called Mission: Wolf would be bringing wolves to a park an hour and a quarter from our home. The ticket price was affordable, and there was a 7pm show that wouldn't interfere with any other plans.
So I told Annalise that she and I would be going on a mother-daughter adventure, and, on a full-moon Monday night, I got to witness Annalise meeting her first live wolves, Magpie and Zeab, as well as Magpie's wolf-dog hybrid mate, Abraham.
We learned about the many differences between wolves and dogs - differences in character, anatomy, body language, and reactions, and the number of wolf-dog crosses and wolves that die shortly after being adopted as pets.
We learned about the effects of wolves or the lack of wolves on an ecosystem, and how the animals who once ran for a living because of wolves (deer, elk, moose), are now standing still, and, as a result, overgrazing their feeding grounds, with dire results to the overall health of their species.
We learned about Mission:Wolf, located in Colorado, where wolves and wolf crosses habituated to humans and unable to fend for themselves in the true wild, can still live a free wolf life on protected acreage.
And we witnessed the beauty and grace of the three goodwill ambassadors as they relaxed, surrounded by humans, yet unconcerned and unaffected by us.
They did not behave like dogs, looking to the humans around them before acting. Magpie scent-marked a rag to announce herself as alpha female; Abraham followed and marked exactly where she had, claiming alpha male status. Zeab, the large, rangy 18 month old pup (wolves mature at around 3 years), climbed onto a table to get face to face with some of his Mission:Wolf human companions.
Humans held their leashes, but not their minds, nor their hearts.
May we always live in a world where the wild things are!