Big and Medium on Release DayPhoto by: Dawn Harrison

— by Dawn Harrison —

The weather was perfect and the girls were ready, so we knew it was the right day for releasing our rehabilitation raccoons. We found the ideal spot with a small stream and ample natural food in a location where we can provide supplementation if they need it to thrive through their first winter. The girls, dubbed Big and Medium, were loaded into a crate for the short trip to their new home.

Upon arriving, Big and Medium were very inquisitive yet reluctant. After all, they didn’t know exactly what was going on. They peeked out of the kennel, took a few steps out, and then went back in. When we took the top off, they finally got a good look at the welcoming meadow and surrounding shrubbery. As they left the safety of their kennel, it was so quick that we couldn’t even get a picture. They were through the grass and into the greenery within the blink of an eye.

Ann Loyola releasing the raccoons | Dawn Harrison

As we packed up the kennel and got ready to head back, I looked over my shoulder and saw Big in the meadow. It seemed as though she came to say goodbye, telling me she approved and was thankful. She made eye contact and only ran away when I reached for the camera – yet again denying me a picture of the release. It was somehow right, not being able to capture her moment of freedom.

It’s a wonderful thing when we release our rehabilitation animals back into the wild. To know that we made a difference—not only for the animals directly in our care, but also their future offspring—makes all the hours and effort worthwhile. And the little nod of appreciation from Big made it that much more meaningful.

The Passing of a Friend

We buried a dear friend today. Patch, our elderly arctic wolf, passed away this weekend. We were expecting it, but that didn’t make it any easier. Knowing that he was loved during his time among us and that he passed away comfortably in the arms of his friends helped ease our grief. As we gathered in the cemetery to lay him to rest among our beloveds who passed before him, I quietly thanked him for being a part of my life. Although I have only been here for a short while, Patch was able to impress upon me a sweet connection, and his strong yet tender personality will be greatly missed.

Patch | Earthfire Institute

Dawn Harrison is the Office and Ranch Manager at Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. With a diverse background ranging from accounting and customer service to animal caretaking, her true passion is to help enrich the lives of animals, one being at a time.

Tender Goes Outside

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. —

Tender, our timid little girl coyote, finally dared to take a few steps out of her enclosure into the Animal Garden. It was incredibly moving, that delicate, tender creature showing courage. We have had a filmmaker here all week, so we filmed it. As we go through the footage, we will share videos with you all. But for now, it is wonderful to know that Tender dared to go out!!!!!

Sept 29

It is snowing.

Piney’s New Name

Renowned animal communicator Penelope Smith came for a visit. Apparently, we are going to have to rename some of our animals—we didn’t tune deeply enough to their essence. One of the more remarkable changes: Piney, our sweet porcupine, wanted to be called something soft and cuddly—yes, it is true. He didn’t feel his essence was prickly at all, and thanks to other porcupines I have known, I would agree that they are gentle creatures. The image that came through to Penelope was of a teddy bear, and so he shall be called. As most people don’t know that porcupines are sweet and gentle, changing Piney’s name to Teddy Bear will be a good opportunity for education. He has given us a fresh talking point to help us teach people about his kind.

Teddy Bear the Porcupine | Michael Stillwater

Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.

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