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1:09 pm1:09 pm

National Microchipping Month

National Microchipping Month is June 2011!
National Microchipping Month is a campaign that encourages and promotes responsible pet ownership through microchipping as the preferred method of permanent pet identification.

The best way to get involved is by getting your pet microchipped and/or going along to a National Microchipping Month event.  For more info visit www.nationalmicrochippingmonth.org.uk.

[…]

 

Update your details for FREE during June

June 2011 is National Microchipping Month and to celebrate, Petlog is offering all owners of Microchipped Pets registered on the Petlog database the opportunity to update their details for FREE online only.

Ensuring your contact details are up to date is important for your pet’s safety. To check if your contact details are up to date simply click on the link below, you will need your pet’s Microchip Number and Petlog Unique ID (this is for security purposes), which you can find on your Petlog paperwork or on the Annual Alert email if you have received one.

 

 

7:30 am7:30 am

Save Lennox

For the best part of a year, Lennox – a 5 year old American Bulldog, Labrador Cross has been taken from his loving family, wrongly locked up by Belfast County Council for looking ‘like’ a pit bull type dog and sentenced to death. to read more about Lennox’s plight  and see how you can help visit www.savelennox.co.uk

His family are putting up a big fight for his freedom and need all the support you and give. Whether signing the petition www.savelennoxpetition.co.uk

Or you would  like to attend a peaceful protest Saturday 9th April, Midday  – Trafalgar Square, London visit http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=151834194881157

[…]

‘On the 19th May 2010, Lennox, a five year old American Bull dog Labrador cross was wrongfully seized by Belfast City Council Dog Wardens from his loving family home where he lives with his owners and his kennel mates. Lennox committed no crime nor did any member of the public complain about him. Three Belfast City Council Dog Wardens came with the PSNI to his home unannounced. The Dog Wardens then told the Police to leave as there was no need for them at the location.  The Belfast City Council Dog Wardens then had tea with his owners, smoked cigarettes, chatted, played with the other family dogs after which the Dog Wardens then measured Lennox’s muzzle and rear legs with a dress maker’s tape measure and decided on those measurements without seeking any professional advice that he was possible “Pit Bull Type Breed” and so he was led from his home to be put to death by the Council. Northern Ireland has yet to fully implement the same dog legislation as mainland UK; if Northern Ireland were to complete the dog legislation here then Lennox could now be at home with his family and they would not now be facing legal prosecution. The USPCA said the law in Northern Ireland could be changed simply and rather quickly by an order in Council.

Lennox’s family have done more than required by the law as responsible dog owners who also foster dogs for various Northern Ireland dog shelters. When Lennox was a puppy his owners had him neutered, licensed, insured, DNA registered, Pet Safe registered and micro chipped and although the Belfast City Council have issued a dog licence for Lennox for the last five years and continue to do so today, the Council now find the need to class him as a Pit Bull type dog and murder him. On the day Lennox was ripped from his family home the

Belfast City Council issued his owner with a warrant of seizure which was incorrectly addressed and was for another location, furthermore the Council used the ADBA Inc (American Dog Breeders Association Incorporated) breed standards guide to help identify Lennox as possible Pit Bull type. It has now become clear that the Council used this ADBA breed standards guide illegally breaking international and Berne copyright laws as Belfast City Council have never been authorised by the ADBA to use the copyrighted breed standards guide in full or derived version. Since Lennox’s seizure the ADBA have issued the Belfast City Council with ‘Cease & Desist’ orders due to the Council’s unauthorised continued use of ADBA material.

Lennox’s owners have only been contacted once by the Belfast City Council and this was two hours after Lennox had been taken. One of the Dog Wardens who seized Lennox telephoned Lennox’s owner to say “If you do not sign him over to us to be destroyed then you will most certainly lose your job as we will force a prosecution upon you through the courts.” On many attempts the family have telephoned the Council’s Dog Control Manager but to date the Manager has never taken the families call or returned any calls. Lennox’s family have never been told where he is being kept, what condition he is in, what type of care, feeding or regular exercise he receives, if any. Lennox’s family have repeatedly requested visitation to see what condition he is in however the Dog Control Manager for Belfast City Council Dog Wardens Department has continually refused all requests through the families Solicitor. Photographs of Lennox have emerged recently and have been passed to the family which clearly show Lennox in a cold inhumane concrete kennel which is visibly too small, there are no visible signs of a constant fresh water supply, heating, toys for stimulation and the photographs show Lennox sitting upright in a box type bed surrounded by his own faeces with only saw dust for bedding which many dog experts have agreed is harmful to dogs and unsuitable for bedding, yet Belfast City Council Dog Wardens Department have stated they practice humane animal welfare as set out by the DARD (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development). After studying the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is clear that none of Lennox’s welfare needs are being met at this undisclosed Council contracted kennel.

Local leading MP’s joined in support of Lennox stating in the Belfast Telegraph and other media they were “Appalled” by the seizure and treatment of Lennox and his family. A global campaign which boasts hundreds of thousands of supporters and petition signatures has begun in support of Lennox’s freedom. The ADBA Inc, various Animal Rights groups, Animal Welfare organisations, Veterinarians, Dog Breed and Behaviourist Experts have all gave their support for Lennox’s freedom and many supporters who are regular tourists to Northern Ireland have went further to state they will not return to Northern Irela

nd until Lennox is returned to his home. The most heartfelt plea of all was heard from Brooke, the owners eleven year old Daughter who is registered disabled. Lennox grew up around Brooke and the two became inseparable. Due to Brooke’s illness she is unable to play each day with other children and so found Lennox to always be there as a playmate and someone to be of comfort to her. Since her best friend was taken Brooke has missed much School due to suffering health and unneeded stress caused by missing her dog. Brooke’s specialist Doctor at Belfast Royal Hospital for Sick Children has also expressed growing concern for the child’s separation from her pet.

We ask for your help to Save Lennox, stop his incarceration and stop him from being put to death by Belfast City Council who wrongfully took him. If you have any compassion you will clearly see that far too many wrongs and errors have been made by the Council in the seizure of this much loved family pet and you will help correct a wrong. Please help this little girl become reunited with her best friend.’

 

 

3:53 pm3:53 pm

Practice!

I was chatting with some clients yesterday about the benefits of practicing handling skills with the dog at home before venturing out into the big wide world; practicing getting Owner and dog to work together, so if need be the owners can show their dogs escape routes if their dog wasn’t coping with a certain situation (in this case other dogs). Whilst chatting it occurred to me, having just read a book with a collation of servicemen’s individual accounts of war in Afghanistan, that’s that what they do- they practice drill after drill until it become second nature, so that their brain kicks in before the panic or nerves has a chance to.

[…]

‘We got penned in for a wee bit – a good ten seconds. Then we ran to a ditch. All the section were in different places by this stage, taking cover. But it (the contact) was all soon over. It lasted about 10 mins. We didn’t take any casualties, but one of the snipers was sure he hit one of the Taliban. It all happened so quickly. You go through the drills – which meant the fear didn’t hit me until it was more or less over and then you can think about it a little bit. I can honestly say I wasn’t scared because it all happened so quickly. You just had to do what you had to do and return fire. I thought, once it had calmed down: If you listen to orders and training, you can get through no problem. So that was our first contact, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be our last.’
Range J Armstrong, The Royal Irish Regiment
‘Spoken From The Front’ edited by Andy McNab

I also ask my client to build up the layers, get it right at home and the take it outside the front of the home and if it’s going well build it from there. Dogs also need to learn things in context, which is why you hear of many people saying ‘Well he does it in class’ but have you practised it outside of class, in a field, on a beach, in a forest, in different contexts?

Practice makes perfect! When I do socialisation work with my own dogs and clients and their dogs, I create a safe environment for everyone to learn and so that the owner can relax knowing that nothing bad will happen, this way they beginning to relax and that feeds to their dog. I also get them to slacken off the lead, of which I have got them to use an 8 metre static line, which gives their dog an element of freedom. It amazes me how much of a difference you see in their dog’s behaviour once the tension has gone and a dog that could actually be labelled aggressive begins to change its normal reaction because we have taken the owner’s stress out of the situation. I take responsibility of the situation and calmly talk everyone through what we are doing, what needs to be done and how the dogs feel about the situation, rather than the usual panic the owner endures they can now relax and begin to learn without fear and panic.

This is when the home practice comes in and really shows because without thinking the dog responds beautifully to the owner in a high adrenalin situation and the dog sees their owner calm and making great canine decisions, so now they are working as a team.

2:46 pm2:46 pm

Indian Stray Dogs

I have just returned from Kerala, southern India from a wonderful surfing and yoga retreat. Whilst I had the most amazing holiday, I was also really pleased to observe dog behaviour of which was a daily occurrence as there are many street/beach/stray dogs co-existing amongst the humans, I just had to share with you.

[…]

The most common thing I heard said from fellow travellers was that seeing the dogs was so sad, so many of them with out homes etc. However I beg to differ….. What I saw was packs/families of dogs living as nature intended, adapting to their environment, surviving and clearly thriving as there were lots of them with puppies and living in groups. None of them were displaying any stress symptoms as do many of our domestic dogs who are deemed naughty or disobedient. They were relaxed and chilled out, watching life go by, conserving their energy for finding their next meal or when the need arose to protect their young. Sometimes they would sunbathe or find some shade to rest during the hottest part of the day.

I saw a male who would use our garden wall to get around between the houses, as you would see a cat do here in the UK. Interestingly Ed & Sofie our hosts inherited a dog when they took on their house. Initially there were 5 dogs in all and luckily some moved on, Trevor on the other hand, chose to stay and spend most of her time sunbathing on the roof! (I did say her, after naming her they then discovered she was a girl). Ed & Sofie were glad they other moved on, otherwise the only other option would have been to call the dog catcher in!!

Some local people also had dogs and we could only tell that they had owners as they would be wearing collars. Other than that they had the same generic look as all the other dogs, a bit like miniature dingo’s, long legged, big eared, long nose, long tail – all the essential elements needed for survival. Stray dogs all over the world have this same generic look and breed with each other for these reasons, so that their offspring have the best possible chance of surviving.  Some of the owned dogs of Kerala have the same amount of freedom as the street dogs and the ones that didn’t were often heard barking as we walked past their houses or barking at the street dogs.

There were so many great dog stories unfolding that I won’t bore you with them all so I have picked one:

We were sat on a veranda sipping our drinks while over looking the beach. A western lady had fallen asleep under her parasol and lying next to her was her dog, a smaller version of a golden retriever with some white patches. We saw her dog wander over to meet one of the beach dogs who was white, it was the classic meet and greet we all see with our own dogs, a gentle curved approached, come in sideways then very still, ears pricked and tail wagging. They mirrored each other beautifully and it was all going very well, until the lady woke and realised her dog had wandered off. She ran over grabbed his trailing lead, pulled it tightly and marched him away. This startled both dogs and the one being dragged away felt vulnerable so let out a warning bark. This in turn made the street dog bark back. To the left of us we saw a good sized tanned female beach dog come running over and joined in the barking at the lady and the retriever. This tanned female had a litter of 4 puppies approx 12-14 weeks old sleeping under some sun beds. It was clear that the tanned Mummy thought that this situation presented a danger to her family, upon her barking another 2 dogs came from nowhere to back them up and the puppies woke and were alerted, ready to run away.

By now the lady is panicking and picks her dog up as she has now 4 dogs barking at her, it didn’t make a difference so she carries her dog into the water, that didn’t help much either. She then took refuge on a fishing boat with her back to the street dogs and finally allowed her dog to stand and he barked a few times in his own defence and then popped his head down, totally stressed. At this point a large dark male beach dog came over and walked between the barking beach dogs and the lady and her dog, a classic splitting manoeuvre and calming signal, the barking dogs back down and the male lets out a couple of barks, he makes sure the others have retreated and then stalks away from the lady, casually cocking his leg at strategic places, as if to make a point!!! Beautiful.

I truly think had the golden retriever been left to his own devices, he could have handled the situation much better and this is a classic example of when humans interfere and mess things up for their dogs. I’m pleased she eventually made a good decision to rectify the situation.

I also heard many people comment about the state/condition of these street/beach/ stray dogs and true, many of them have battle scars and I would imagine that illness and disease would be claiming a fair few lives. Without a doubt the chaotic traffic in India will definitely be hazardous for these dogs, although they seem to be pretty savvy. Without human intervention their life span is much shorter than our domestic dogs; however this is the same for all wild animals across the planet. The average life span of a wolf is 4-7 years. I think this is what Mother Nature intended and this means that when in their prime they are most able to survive and raise their young.

www.soulandsurf.com

8:48 pm8:48 pm

Natural Feeding

BARF – Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet

Pet Food Manufacturers would have you believe that their products is the best food you could possibly give your animal, however studies have shown that it is most likely the pet food and the repeated vaccination that are shortening you pets life span.Commercial pet food has only been available in the Uk since the 1930’s; reason dictate that this is not long enough time for our carnivorous pets to have ‘evolved’ into being healthy from this diets lack of meat content. My pet’s breaths, wind and waste alone would tell us they were sick, if human had that problem.

[…]

There are many alternatives out there; all stating that they are ‘natural diets’ from the herbal diet, to home cooked recipes. I cannot bring myself to believe that these are necessarily the ‘right’ diet for our dogs, but I do believe that they are better if only for the fact that they contain real meat and no added chemicals.

I personally feed BARF (Bones and Raw Food), I find that my pets no longer have bad breath problems, have whiter teeth, sleeker softer coats and I have proved to myself that it saves money on weekly pet food spend and Vet fees simply because the animals heal twice as fast as the vets initial estimate and they are ill less frequently. Food also impacts our pets behaviour as does processed high sugar food in children, many of my clients noticed a marked improvement in their dogs after changing their food.

Traditional Vets do not generally promote feeding BARF and if fact I have had several disagreements with Vets about what they anticipate are the ‘dangers’ of BARF feeding. They quote ‘salmonella’, ‘bone splintering’ and ‘increased worms’, I have never had an occurrence of splintering and have been assured that in fact healthy raw meat feed animals have higher immunity to salmonella and worms anyway.

            I have even been asked by someone why didn’t I at least boil the meat, I asked him if he had ever seen a wolf with a kettle!

            For a study on the difference between feeding raw and cooked meats, please visit www.price-pottenger.org/Articles/PottsCats.html

 Surely if there was such a huge ‘danger’ to our animals eating fresh meat and bones then their races would have died out millennia ago.

 People against this feeding method will also tell you that it is ‘very complicated’, ‘a lot of hard work’, ‘difficult to get the balance right’. The truth is that Vets make a profit from selling food on their shelves. If you can cook a balanced meal for yourself and your family, why can’t you put on together for you pet?

           I am often asked what the cost of this feeding method is, as most people assume that it is more expensive that the pre-packaged foods, quite the contrary. My pet food bills are drastically reduced compared to when I fed commercial, as are my vet bills, My animals are healthier, have reduced odour and waste problems and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

 Commercial Pet Food

 In the UK Pet food regulation is much better that the United State and Canada, in that the UK at least euthanised dogs, cats and horses are not allowed to be put back into the food.

             Adherence to the Animal by-product code of practise is however strictly voluntary.

 Meat

This code of practise (*which applies to 95% of the UK Pet food market) allows the following to be used in commercial pet food: –

Animal carcases, parts of animal carcases, which are not intended to be used for human consumption.

Non- ruminant blood, hides, skins, hooves, horns, prig bristles, and feathers.

Chicken heads and feet.

All waste food from restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens, including cooking oils.

The above will be labelled meat and animal derivatives or animal by –products on your pet food. The code states that these animals must of passed a post mortem inspection and be free of disease communicable to man or animals.

 Industrial Waste

Basically the pet food you are buying be it wet or dry is made up from Industrial waste, this includes: –

Burnt chocolate unfit for human consumption (Chocolate is poisonous to dogs).

Feathers, which increases the protein levels, but are undigestable.

Anti-oxidants have to be added to the mix because of the fact that this food is rancid.

Extra vitamins and minerals are added, but before cooking at 200 degrees, which of course breaks down most of the vitamins and minerals that were present.

Large skips are filled with meat left over from the docks or our supermarkets, this all goes into our pet’s food still in its polystyrene containers, along with the fag butts and coffee cups of the people filling the containers.

WOULD YOU EAT THIS?

Other Ingredients

 There are of course other ingredients than meat and meat derivatives in commercially available pet food. These are mostly grain but also include: –

 Preservatives

These include but are not restricted to BHA and BHT both suspected to be carcinogens, research shows that they also can initiate birth defects and damage to liver and kidneys.

Ethoxyquin also used as a preservative and has been associated with: –

            Immune deficiency syndrome, leukaemia, blindness, skin/stomach/spleen and liver cancer.

Vitamins and Minerals

This content has been tested at up to 20 times higher than the recommended daily amount (toxic levels).

Food Colouring

Food colouring is added to this mix in order for it to look good for the consumer (i.e. Pet Owner) these and the way that the label show meat as the uppermost ingredient on the list (but is usually only between 4% and 30% of the content) convince us that this is a healthy meal for our beloved carnivorous pet.

 Canine Health Concern (http://www.canine-health-concern.org.uk/) did a survey in which they found switching to a raw diet brought an 85% drop in visits to the vets, so it also saves you a lot of money.

 N.B. Please be aware that there is no governing body for the regulation of the contents of Pet Food, it is all done by the individual manufacturers. The Pet Food Industry are not obliged to list all ingredients, nor are they obliged to list contents in any sort of order, therefore they list the tiny ‘meat and animal derivatives’ content at the top to make you think it’s the most used ingredient.

 Some Pet Food Manufacturers are now proud to state that they have not tested their food on animals. Where as experimenting to detrimental effect is something I do not agree with, how do they know if its any good for the animal, if the animal hasn’t been fed it for a while?

 Please read following article by Tom Lonsdale from the Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeons.

_____________________________

 Needless to say, I do not feed any commercially available complete pet foods to my dogs. Nor do I feed commercial available pet treats; I feed BARF (Bones and Raw Food). For treat they are given dried liver, fruit, veg, cheese, pig ears etc. I advise everyone to do their own research and make your decision what to feed you dogs based on your findings. I also appreciate that not everyone wants or has the inclination to feed BARF and in recent years there have been a number of companys now catering for this, whether its a more natural convenient food or pre-packaged raw. Locally we are blessed to have Nurturing by Nature – a natural feeding shop for pets based in West Moors, Dorset  run by Nettie Platt .  Nettie and her team are all on had to help and advise and answer any questions you may have, or visit www.nurturingbynature.co.uk

 ______________________________

 For Further information: Please read an article on the study of joint problems in dogs cause by dried food: FOOD NOT FIT FOR A PET By Dr Wendall O Belfield.

_____________________________

 Sources:

FOOD PETS DIE FOR Shocking Facts about Pet Food – by Ann N Martin

www.pfma.com – Pet Food Manufacturers Association

www.scotland.gov.uk

SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM – By Catherine O’Driscoll  www.canine-health-concern.org.uk

Suggested reading

 Give your dog a bone By Dr Ian Billinghurst.

Grow you Pups with bones by Dr Ian Billinghurst.

Useful websites

 www.ukbarfclub.co.uk

www.ukrmb.co.uk

www.naturesmenu.co.uk

www.prizechoice.co.uk

www.barfworld.com

 

4:29 pm4:29 pm

Spaying and Castration

Over the recent years spaying/neutering is a subject that is often discussed among our field of work – Behaviour and Training. It is seen by the public and some medical professionals as a quick fix to solve behavioural issues. Unfortunately in a high percentage of cases it makes matters much worse and we are called in by desperate owners to help them overcome the behavioural issues, such as increased aggression and increased fearfulness to name a few.

[…]

The unnecessary or negative behaviour that the animal was initially demonstrating is a stress manifestation of trying to make all the decisions to ensure survival in a man-made environment that it does not understand and depending on its personality or character is how it handles this responsibility.

Unfortunately what is left after neutering in this instance is an animal that feels he/she has to over compensate for the lack of the chemical that helps them do this role. This adds to the stress hence why behaviour becomes exaggerated. It is advisable to work using a calm, consistent positive training method with the dog before neutering to establish his/hers trust that you will provide, protect and make all the decisions to ensure its survival, so that he/she no longer feels the need to do this role.

It is also advisable to look at every case as an individual and take into account breed, age, temperament, family set up/lifestyle and the reasons for getting it neutered. This is to ensure we get that timing right for that particular dog. Neutering too early can have extremely devastating consequences, during adolescence growth hormones are stimulated to promote the closure of growing bones and increase bone density. Therefore dogs neutered before puberty tend to be much taller, disproportioned and prone to leg, cruciate problems and it’s been noted a higher increase in hip dysplasia. It can also increase the risk of bone cancer and hemangiosarcoma by up to 5 times. I have seen many dogs never mature and are always puppy like in behaviour, general boisterousness and unruliness. In dogs that are nervous or fearful it can make matters worse and result in aggression and being very highly strung, when ideally what they need is a training programme that works on de-stressing them and works on building their confidence so that they can learn to make good appropriate choices on their own with an owner who they can trust.

I do fully endorse responsible spaying and neutering in dogs to stop un-wanted pregnancies, however suggested age would be from 18 months onwards so that the dog has been given a chance to mature both physically and mentally. Again each case should be looked at as an individual and sometimes there maybe different circumstances that need to be taken into account, however it should be known and made known that castration/spaying is NOT a quick fix or the answer to many problems. It should be a decision that needs to be carefully considered by dog owners and they should take into account all of the above and then talk it over with different types of professionals, Vets and Behaviourists etc so that you come to the right decision for your dog and do not have to live or suffer with the consequences.

If you any questions regarding this article or your dog please do not hesitate to contact me: Natalie Finch – natalie@purechaos2calm.com

This article was written for The Labrador Rescue Trust Magazine and was published is the winter 2010 issue.

3:47 pm3:47 pm

Romanian Zoo Dogs

NEW LIFE FOR ROMANIAN ZOO DOGS

2 dogs from a Romanian Zoo will now have a second chance thanks to a joint project between ‘Born Free Foundation’ and Jan Fennell, international author and Dog Listener.

Jan was approached by Virginia McKenna, Founder of the ‘Born Free Foundation’ about two dogs currently living in a zoo in Romania that was due to close, as Miss McKenna appreciated that these dogs would inevitably have adjustment issues […]and knew that the method adopted by Dog Listeners would give these dogs the very best chance of settling into domestic homes. Jan and her team of International Dog Listeners were pleased to be able to help. 

Mollie is 6-7 years old and has been at the zoo nearly all her life.  Nobody knows why she was put in the zoo, but she arrived as a puppy.  She used to live with her son, but he died last year.  Nobody knows why, as he was just found dead in their cage.

Dina is approximately 3 years old and is very human friendly so it is thought that at some stage she has had a home.  It looks as if she has had puppies in the past but nobody knows what happened to them.

Foster homes have been found for the dogs, Dina in Watford and Mollie with our Bournemouth Based Dog Listener Natalie Finch, as their transition to life here begins.  Steph Drake, one of Jan’s Dog Listeners, is delighted to be co-ordinating the project with ‘Born Free Foundation’. Steph and Natalie will use Jan’s ‘Amichien® Bonding’ method, which is based on communication and positive reinforcement without any use of force, gadgets or aggression.

Once the dogs have been assessed and have recovered from their long journey, they will have been rehabilitated to help them adjust to a very different life than they have previously experienced and then they will be looking for permanent homes.

As Dog Listeners, the team take their responsibilities very seriously and the organization is unique in that there is strict quality control in place to ensure that each consultation is carried out to the highest possible standard.

The support & care begun by the Dog Listeners in the foster homes will continue once the dogs are placed in permanent homes.

Steph says ‘it is great to see Britain’s reputation as a dog-loving nation once again being demonstrated by this project and to see so many different people working together to help these dogs.  It will be lovely to finally see them settled in loving, permanent homes after all they have been through.’

Natalie would also like to thank Dave of Healthy Pets In Blandford for his advice on feeding Mollie and sponsoring her with a food supply www.healthypetsblandfordltd.co.uk

The Born Free Foundation is an international wildlife charity working throughout the world to stop individual wild animal suffering and protect threatened species in the wild. Romania joined the European Union on the 1st Jan 2007, and it is now required to adhere to the terms of the EU Zoo Directive. The Directive requires all zoos to meet minimum standards in animal welfare and husbandry and to demonstrate a commitment to conservation of biodiversity and public education. Most of the 36 zoos in Romania fall way below these standards. The Born Free Foundation is working with the Romanian Association for the Protection of Animals (APAR) to help draw up feasible solutions for the closure of zoos to minimize suffering, while at the same time reducing the number of zoos.

3:39 pm3:39 pm

Yellowstone Wolves

Yellowstone 2008 by Natalie Finch

We took trains, planes and funny automobiles to see Yellowstone Park, we crossed time zones and continents to get there. What we found was  2 million odd acres of dramatic mountains, valleys & forests caked in 190 inches of snow! It’s the most they have had in 30 years, which we were told will assist the land as the last few years there have been droughts.

Wolf watching takes dedication, patience and flexibility. Early starts are a must as the animals are most active at dawn and dusk. As a group we felt blessed because everyday we were out in the field, we saw wolves. […]

On our first journey into the Lamar Valley we had a young lone black female cross our path on the road and walk right past us, sadly she had mange and it is though that her parents were killed in a territorial skirmish. Unfortunately mange is on the increase and there is not a lot The Wolf Project can do about it. It has come in from outside the park and treatment has to be issues in two doses, which make it impossible to catch the same wolf again to administer the medicine. 

We went on to see the saga unfold before our very eyes, with an unknown gray male and 2 black druid females. For the first few days, we would just see them chilling out on  a hillside, the 3rd day we saw them we had just endured a white out, where the snow fall is so thick and fast that you cannot see a thing, it cleared as quick as it came. Behind a herd of bison, we saw the gray male courting the black female, lots of parallel walking but the female was reluctant and would just lay down. He would act very cool, walk off for a bit and call her bluff by looking disinterested, which would have her coming after him, circling him and flirting outrageously, but there was something holding her back. She would often look back toward druids peak, which was off to our left in the distance. She would howl too, we could hear a response but could not see who it was coming from. After a few hours of watching the love birds, the group decided to split. On mini bus – Loo Stop (not for the faint hearted) and Linda’s bus to Druid Peak.

As we came round a bend we saw Bob Landis filming at the side of the road and then, on our right up a steep hill (pretty close too) was the other Black female howling and slightly distressed. We could not stop there, so Linda pulled into the ranger station we jumped out, I’ve never seen the scopes go up so quick, Then suddenly we heard howling from behind us and there they were, The Druid Pack in all their glory on druids peak visible by naked eye. We were speechless, breathless and excited by the story that was unfolding.

It was great to see the faces of the rest of the group when we told them and they saw for themselves the magnificent Druid’s. 

We found out that the 2 black females had become separated when crossing the road to hook up with the gray. We stayed with the Druids for considerable time, they were howling and calling the black females, obviously unhappy about the females off fraternizing with the gray. Bob Landis told us later the gray male has been trying to join the Druids since last November, but the Druid alpha male, was not having any of it! Maybe, we were privileged to see the forming of a new pack.

We also saw the Leopold pack, chilling and playing in the snow. On our last day in the Lamar, we saw the Slough Creek Pack, 12 black and one gray taking their time zigzagging up the hill, walking in each others footsteps to conserve energy. We saw 2 of this pack tie, under a tree. I’m struggling to find words to summarize how I felt, there is so much magic that touches you when watching these beautiful animals, in such a vast and scenic location.

I learned so much about them from all the wonderful people we met, who were so kind and generous in their knowledge, I felt like I was a sponge absorbing as much as I could, I feel now that I have a deeper understanding for all canines and utmost respect for how adaptable they are at survival in any given situation, I now know the importance of a complete eco-system and the impact every species has, on and within their environment.

If you love animals, history, geology and ecology, you’ll love Yellowstone as much as I did. There is so much more I could tell you and feel like I have only scratched the surface and maybe one day I will. I do recommend a trip in a snow coach, a coach with ski’s and tracks, that took us to see the Old Faithful Geyser in the interior of the park.

I can not believe we have been back 4 weeks already, time is flying past and the best things is, that most holiday memories fade fast, but not Yellowstone, its embeds something in your heart and mind, something that, when you close your eyes you can touch and send your spirits soaring with inspiration again……. Now that IS MAGIC!!!!

Yellowstone Wolf & Bear Adventure with Linda Thurston & Nathan Varley     www.wolftracker.com