Rob sent me a link today for a news story about a wolf hybrid that saved its elderly owners. The link is here: Wolf story. Rob and I both hold wolves in high regard, but this story is close to my heart because I had a wolf hybrid for 10 years, and she save me at least twice.
Maia was about 40 percent timber wolf (hybrids are so described by the amount of wolf blood/genes they carry) and German shepherd.
Maia was one of two in the litter that was a solid, rust color. The others were sables, and although they were gorgeous too, the redhead with yellow eyes got my attention at first sight. As she matured, you could see the wolf in her expression, in her gait, in her mannerisms, and in her indifferent attitude toward what she thought was hers.
I got her when she was seven weeks old, and she was my constant companion until she died of a spinal cord degenerative disease, when she was nearly 11 years old. I never left her with anyone else, and never put her in a kennel. She was with me, or I didn’t go.
The first time she ‘saved’ me was in the mountains of Vermont. She and I went on a little road trip with a pop-up camper. As I stopped to register at a campground for the evening, I noticed three young men who’d had a little too much to drink standing near by. When we reached our campsite, I put Maia on her chain and secured her to a tree while I went about setting up the camper. This process included the part where you had to crawl under the back part of it and set the levelers. I was finishing that up when I heard Maia’s chain running out along the ground, followed by a very panicked male voice saying rapidly “it’s Ok it’s Ok it’s OK it’s OK!”
One of the drunks was standing behind me, a beer bottle in one hand and a piece of firewood, held up next to his shoulder, in the other. Maia now stood between the intruder and me, with perhaps another foot of available chain left. She stood squarely and silently, with her head down low, and her yellow eyes fixed on the young man. The hairs on her shoulder and back were standing on end, and she was clearly ready to kill – or worse.
I took advantage of the situation by slowly walking over to stand next to my dog. The young man began to blabber “I just came to see if you needed help. Thought you could put this log under the wheels.”
I explained to him that I didn’t need help. I also told him that I wasn’t quite sure how long Maia’s chain actually was, if she could reach him, or if it would hold her should she decide to lunge. I suggested he put the log down, and back away. He did. We had no more visitors during our stay that night. I know from Maia’s reaction that the man had more on his mind than bringing me a chuck for the wheel.
The second time wasn’t as clear, but very effective nonetheless. We were hiking in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area – alone, going down to the abandoned 1800s ferry house to take some photographs for an article I was writing on the area. We left the Jeep on the Mine Road and hiked down toward the house, that sits near the river. It has been abandoned since the Tocks Island project in the 60s. Maia was walking quietly in front of me as she always did, and we were about 150 yards from the house, when she suddenly stopped. Her nose went in the air, the hackles came up, and she turned squarely in front of me, stopping me in my tracks. She pushed against me, as if to tell me “not a step further!” I looked around but could see nothing unusual – but I’d long since learned to trust my wolfy guide. Maybe it was a bear – maybe someone was in the house – maybe it was spooks, but there was no doubt that Maia didn’t want me to go any further. We turned around and went back the way we had come – quickly.
As beautiful as our relationship was, I would not recommend a hybrid to anyone. It takes a special mind-set, and a willingness to alter your entire life, to live with a wolf. I am thankful I had the experience, and I know that Maia is still around sometimes. I can feel her in the wind…