Patience and Hope (The Wolfdog)

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 him—at which point, we got the call. As Susan says, Jean worked his magic and experience and was able to capture him and bring him home without trouble or trauma.

Similar to my initial bumbling with Teddy the porcupine, I thought that Hope would immediately love belly rubs, pats on the head, and some training on how to walk on a leash, incentivized by yummy treats.

Nope. Hope needs time and patience. We don’t know his back story. We don’t know how long he had to fend for himself. His behavior is more wolf-like: fearful of humans and totally focused on survival. I sit or lie down in his enclosure and pretend he’s not there. Then he’ll come up to me quietly and sniff the back of my neck, my boots, my back. Slowly, I’ve been able to reach out a hand and pet his glorious ruff and the top of his head. I’ve stopped trying to get him to heel, sit, and stay. Instead, I’ll simply hold the leash and amble along dirt roads with him.

Getting to know Hope has been humbling and joyous, and I’ve learned to let go of my preconceived notions of how he should behave. I wonder who is really being trained?

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