huskies, wolves, us

Imagine being left in a forest, chained to a tree, without regular access to proper food, clean water or adequate shelter. Imagine growing more and more desperate as the days and weeks go by, your cries unanswered.

That's how the email from the Human Society International of Canada began.

Who of us who lives with rescued animals hasn't wondered about their lives before we adopted them? Of our five dogs so far, we found two on the street, one was on death row in a high-kill shelter, one had been rescued from the street and was in a foster home, and one had been rescued from a shelter and was in her second foster home. With each, I wondered, what had they endured? Had they ever been loved? Did they trust, and were betrayed, then abandoned? Had they waited for their person to return for them, waited and waited, in vain? It's too painful to consider for too long.

About 100 neglected sled dogs in Qu├ębec were waiting, and waiting, until HSI and the SPCA Laurentide-Labelle arrived on the scene. From HSI's email:
As we walked onto the property, my heart broke. The huskies had been chained to plywood structures over barren stretches of frozen mud. Hungry and dehydrated, they were unable to move more than the two-meter radius their chains permitted.

I am always amazed by the power of dogs to forgive. It was as if they realized we were there to help them, and slowly the miserable, emaciated huskies began to wag their tails as we approached. The dogs began to bark in excitement, but one remained quiet, waiting as his friends were rescued. I went to him and, as I grew closer, I realized he was blind because of cataracts—another casualty of the neglect these dogs endured. Carefully, we walked him to freedom, and the promise of a better life.

We arrived just in time. Winter is coming, and many of these dogs may not have survived without our intervention. With extreme cold temperatures approaching, these dogs — including a number of puppies — could have faced a horrific death.

Thankfully, our rescue operation was a complete success. One by one, we led or carried the dogs into our Emergency Services vehicle, and transported them to our emergency shelter an hour away—space generously donated by a local businessperson. There, dedicated volunteers from United Animal Nations will provide round-the-clock care, while SPCA LL veterinarians will treat and vaccinate the dogs. Once healthy, these deserving dogs will be adopted out to loving homes in Canada and the United States.

More information and how you can help here.

From the US, a story about these dogs' wild ancestors. This happened in mid-October; I read about it through the NRDC Save BioGems project, but this is a post from OnEarth.
527 is gone.

It is with a heavy heart that I write yet another obituary for a wolf that was part of our lives for 7 years. 527 was one of nine wolves that have been shot in a backcountry wolf hunt district in Montana just north of Yellowstone National Park. She was on the Buffalo Plateau but outside of the boundary. She was a one-of-a-kind wolf.

Born the daughter of 21 and 42, she came by way of greatness. She left the Druids as a yearling and joined her Druid female sibling, 217 (alpha female), in the Slough Creek pack. She spent the next 4 years with the uncollared black alpha that came after 217 and 380 and the crew with Slough. She was the beta female for a time and bred one year with beta Slough male 377 (one of the Mollie boys) as we watched from Picnic. She, too, suffered all of the hardships and challenges that 716 went through with the exception of being driven out by 380.

527 was a wolf that marched to the beat of a very different drummer. She was the most cautious wolf I have ever watched. There was no road stuff for her. She always took action and asked questions later. I would always notice her making her way to her secret spot. We used to think that she had some sort of secret hole near the east end of Jasper Bench near the row of trees. She would eat on a carcass and then disappear there. I always thought that she went to feed the pups in the dark of night. After she left Slough she spent a lot of time in some rocks east of the Slough den area. Her signal was always in the same spot, but we could not find her.

I knew that when she moved to Hellroaring she would be the one if any would make it there. The fate of other packs who inhabited that area was dismal. I thought that she could make a go of it. She has been successful there for two years. She spent a lot of that time out of sight from the road. She liked the upper drainage of Hellroaring and spent a lot of time there out of the way of other packs. She did not roam out of that area much, and when she did, it was to the north and out of the way of other packs.

We were so hopeful that she and her beta female, 716, would go back to the traditional Slough area. It was our hope, but I am not sure she thought it was such a good idea. Their past history there had been such a nightmare, I am not sure she wanted to test fate again.

We will never know. It is such a pity that we have watched her all her life and she has added so much to the history of the wolves of Yellowstone and now she is gone. These two females recently shot in the hunt (527 and 716) were two of the most interesting wolves I have ever watched in the last 5 years. What behavior we have seen. When Rick writes his book, all of their lives will contribute to knowing and understanding wolves in the wild and these girls will be standouts. I am a better person for knowing them and as Rick often says about 21 and 42, I feel, I, too, have walked in the footsteps of giants for knowing these two brave, intelligent wolves.

I am hoping that a buffer zone will be formed around the park. If it is to be, loss of life in 527's pack, the Cottonwoods, will be a large contributing factor. May their deaths help to save the lives of other wolves from the park. May their deaths not be in vain.

Laurie Lyman, October 5, 2009

I envy Laurie's interaction with these magnificent creatures! But not her heartache. I feel the death of these wolves, but I didn't know them as individuals the way she did.

It doesn't have to be that way. Take action.

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