A brown daschund and gray cat snuggle together on a bed

I was raised with cats. Growing up, there was always a family cat roaming the house, moving from lap to lap and bed to bed. Throughout adulthood, I’ve been catless for a total of 7 years, with felines, canines, and the occasional horse sharing my heart for the rest of my 61 years. I woke up this morning with a dog under the covers and two cats at opposite ends of the mattress. Another dog and two more cats awaited my arrival at their breakfast bowls. All of this furry familiarity took on a new meaning when I researched DNA comparisons after being told that 50% of the building blocks for trees are similar to human DNA. Learning that chimpanzees match us at 98.8% wasn’t a huge...

Woman sits at a table surrounded by chickens

You’d think there’d be peace on a lovely early summer morning at a wildlife sanctuary as the first rays of sun appear over the mountains. But no. It’s true that the bears are sound asleep in their hammocks. The horses and bison and burros are standing stock still, soaking in the early morning sun. The wolves are curled up, enjoying the warming rays in the cool of the dawn. But at 5:30 a.m., I hear the chickens’ impatient squawking and feel this imperious energy calling all the way across to where I sleep—let us out, da….it! (There is no pretense of politeness there.) Unable to resist the sheer power of their outrage, I drag myself out of my blankets, open the little door at...

Wolf dog sniffs a man's hand

Hope is an extravagantly handsome dog who has wolf ancestry, although we aren’t sure what percentage of wolf. He lives with us at Earthfire---which is a good thing, because otherwise, he would have been euthanized by a bullet. Several years ago, Jean and Susan got a call from a woman in a subdivision with a story. What appeared to be a wolf was hanging around her subdivision and had made friends with her two dogs. She liked him. She saw that he was lonely. But other residents were naturally alarmed to see this large creature trotting through yards and calling out to their dogs. The sheriff tried to trap him several times, but was unsuccessful . The next solution was to shoot...

Woman and two small children next to a creek

— By Ann Loyola — The trail to the pebbly beach was a short distance, maybe 400 yards at most. It was a skinny dirt path weaving flatly through pines and aspens, perceived by serious hikers as an uneventful start to greater adventures that awaited miles and miles into the mountains. Cole was four and Hanna was almost three, and it wasn’t unusual for the three of us---mom and kids---to spend time in the woods. But it was the first time we each donned backpacks and planned a destination hike for a creekside picnic. Twenty feet into the start, we had already stopped several times. Cole: “Mom, what’s that?” “Water skeeters.” Cole: “How do they stay on top of the...

Woman holding a black and white fox

— By Dawn Harrison — In a recent team meeting, we talked about the connections that each of us have with the animals. It struck me just how similar humans and animals are when it comes to making friends and connections, and that those connections don’t need to be textbook definitions. As each of us talked about the different animals who seemed to most enjoy our company, I had to think of how the personalities of humans and animals came out. In some ways, it took me back to high school. Loki the fox is like the kid who everyone knows, everyone likes, and who is kind to everyone. Always willing to stop and chat. Truly enjoying every interaction, whether it be with underclassmen,...

Porcupine sleeping on a branch

— By Ann Loyola — Teddy is a porcupine. He’s about five years old and came to Earthfire Institute as a private rescue four years ago. About a month after I began working here, Susan suggested I choose some animals for mutual mentoring and my first choice was Teddy. Now, three months later, I spend a part of every workday with him, usually in the morning. Sometimes we just chat about the weather and other times the topics are more complex. Before my regular visits, Teddy had become withdrawn and his appetite was off; sometimes he stayed in the back of his den and refused to eat. He was very quiet. I didn’t know that porcupines could make any kind of sounds other than the gnawing...

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