We were never able to handle Uintah. We couldn’t overcome the hard wiring of fear of humans. Some wolf-dogs have it more than others.
He was afraid. He was afraid of humans; afraid of being touched; afraid of any fast movement, especially afraid of having a leash put on him, and despite all our efforts he remained that way. We asked an animal communicator if perhaps she could find a way to connect with him. She said he got a glimmering that humans might be a source of companionship – that had never occurred to him before. But whether that glimmer was too brief; or that through the unhappy reality of not having enough time to take advantage of that brief opening, I don’t know, but between his reasons and ours there was no change in his behavior.
This went on for several unsatisfactory years. He lived with Cucumber, that determined self-transformed little wolf with a huge spirit. We hoped that her change from fearful, to outgoing (for a wolf) would influence him. It didn’t but he loved her and howled for her whenever she came in the house (her personally earned right, from her perspective). The only other connection that lonely wolf had was Boychuk, our German Shepherd, whom he adored. But Boychuk wasn’t actually that interested in Uintah. Seeing him trying to get Boychuk to come visit always made me sad.
Then one evening Jean called me …Uintah seemed to be colicking. His belly was swollen and he was obviously in severe distress. Colic is a veterinary emergency in any animal. You have only a few hours before it is fatal. How to get him into a crate and drive the 16 miles to Jane, the vet on emergency call? With the help of Boychuk we managed.
Uintah, fresh from the emergency vet visit and into the office. (c) Earthfire.
We were at the vet late into the night as Jane tried to diagnose him without success. She called in a sonogram specialist to help. The specialist kept saying “I’ve never seen anything like this,” until I thought I would scream. His stomach was so distended that it squeezed all the surrounding organs against his ribs, blocking off blood flow to his heart and brain. He began to have violent seizures. Jane finally passed a tube down his throat and instead of gas, out came pints and pints of liquid. That relieved the pressure and later that night we were able to bring him home, though with no answers as to what was caused the problem or if it would happen again.
Because he was so ill we wanted to keep him warm. Our cabin was currently occupied by a shy coyote with a broken leg so the only other option was the office. He entered without much fuss. He was exhausted and the medication against the seizures made him pretty out of it. Boychuk helped babysit him through the night, keeping him calm.
Uintah beginning to relax in the office. (c) Earthfire
In the morning, I called my staff to warn them that there would be a wolf in the office. It was Marie’s first day of work and I felt it only fair to tell her she didn’t have to come in. Then we then brought in Cucumber to help ease him. His whole limited world was now with him – Cucumber and Boychuk. We hoped their being totally relaxed would give him a point of reference about the danger level.
Marie arrived at 9 am, slowly opened the door, went to the desk and quietly started to work. As the morning progressed and Uintah began to feel better, to our utter surprise, he started to tentatively explore the office, with what I can best describe as the feel of a kid in a candy store. His life had been so circumscribed because of his fear that he had been exposed to very little. He explored with a combination of curiosity, fascination with this new world, and caution. He accepted the presence of Marie. When I finally thought about a camera I was able to get a little of his reaction on film. You can see the sense of dawning aliveness.
Something had shifted in him. Perhaps the original message from years ago along with the fact that when he was most vulnerable and helpless we were there for him and he was safe. All I can say is that there was a dramatic shift. Though skittish about it, he actually allowed me to stroke him all over. He clearly enjoyed the contact, though it was a bit much for him and it could only be a few moments at a time. But it was astonishing.
Jill’s first moments with the reluctantly reluctant Uintah. (c) Earthfire
The next evening I had dinner with Jill, the energy healer who had helped Apricot, a wolf with neurological symptoms from having had distemper in her brain. I mentioned the puzzle of Uintah. Jill’s specialty is paralyzed human nervous systems, and her immediate reaction was “it’s the vagus nerve.” She explained that the nerve ennervates the stomach muscles, making them contract. She guessed that for some reason it had apparently stopped sending signals to the stomach, thus it stopped moving and that might be one reason it filled with fluid. She also said that the vagus nerve runs from the brain through the heart to the digestion and in her understanding, is associated with the emotion of feeling connected and cared for.
Because western medicine could give no cause, we didn’t know if or when it could happen again. I asked Jill if she would work on him from her alternative healing framework.
She entered the enclosure with Jean. Cucumber and Boychuk were in there to calm him and Jean did the magic thing he somehow does whenever he takes an animal to the vet – he goes into a state where his presence reassures them.
Uintah finally giving in to Jill’s healing touch. (c) Earthfire
Gradually, Uintah accepted Jill’s hands on him. Slowly, slowly, he began to relax as she gently sent information to calm and connect up the nerve with the stomach, and from her point of view, address the emotional lack of connection as well. He was sitting on top of his box bolt upright as she worked. You could see him fighting the relaxation as his self preservation instincts kicked in – he would not let himself lie down. But you could see also see the relaxation taking him over more and more deeply. Any of you who have had energy work and suddenly startle awake as if not knowing where you were going and coming back for momentary reassurance that you are still embodied, can understand what we saw as he would relax, then jerk awake, relax, then jerk awake. But Jill kept patiently at it and gradually he succumbed to a deep trance. While still sitting! Survival runs deep in a wolf.
For 45 minutes Jill worked on him, moving her hands around his head, neck and stomach as she felt the flow, he allowing her to move her hands wherever they needed to go, obviously enjoying it. It was stunning.
Part Two: So far Uintah’s stomach has been working well and he is alive and vibrant, thriving on the extra care. The next step in his amazing transformation came when we held a retreat the following weekend. But that is another story. Stay tuned!
by Susan Eirich, Ph.D.