What do you do when you discover that you are really wrong about something? Blog about it, I suppose. Ever since I wrote Dogs Never Lie About Love, and in several books about animals since (including my recent The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving) I have gone on record as saying that wolves are not suitable as companions (known in the past as “pets”). They are not domesticated, animals, I wrote and no matter how tame, one never knew when they might revert to their nature as a wild animal. Would I allow my young children to play with such an animal? Not likely.
Then two days ago, while in LA with my friend Jeff Nelson, I ran into an old acquaintance, Lorin Lindner, a Ph.D. psychologist who many years ago started a parrot sanctuary (www.parrotcare.org) still thriving on 20 acres of garden on the grounds of the VA Hospital in West Los Angeles where returning veterans get to work with therapists with feathers. She told me that she and her husband Matthew now run a wolf sanctuary, in Lockwood, in the hills about an hour north of Los Angeles, off Highway 5, called Lockwood Animal Rescue Center. Manu, 10, and Ilan, 15 were immediately alert: “Dad, please can we go?” So on our way back to Berkeley for a day (before returning to Auckland), we stopped off at the sanctuary. We only had a few hours, but I have to say it was among the most amazing two hours I have ever spent, and my family would concur. As soon as we got out of the car six dogs surrounded us, and without further ado we were ushered into the wolf enclosure (acres of ground) where Manu was immediately the object of affectionate attention. There were wolves licking his face, others rubbing against him like cats, others wanting to play. Ilan and Manu were transported into wolf heaven.
Before I could register a single objection, or even attempt to give voice to my (false) views on how dangerous wolves could be, Lorin and Mathew and the two boys were playing and laughing and running around with wolves of all kinds. “Low content wolves” (the new PC term I learned from Lorin), medium content wolves, high content wolves, and pure wolves, were all as playful, as friendly, as eager to please as any dog I have ever known. We walked over the house, and there, on the balcony, were another 8 wolves. They had two acres to play in, but they were all eagerly awaiting us, tails wagging, chuffing with delighted anticipation. They wanted to be around humans! And these were all wolves who had been rescued. One had even been shot by a human, but found it in her heart to forgive. Others had been abandoned, or had become too wild to keep. But with the love that Lorin gives them constantly, they have become completely reliable animals who would never dream of hurting a human who comes to them with love.
Matthew, or as Ilan calls him, Mr. Macho (he built a fence in an afternoon when Lorin requested it), himself a Desert Storm vet, works with combat veterans suffering from PTSD in a program called “Warriors and Wolves.” They are introduced to the wolves and wolfdogs, and the results have been nothing short of miraculous. I urge you to read for yourself (lockwoodarc.org; or call directly 661.245.3111 or you could email her at email@example.com) and better yet, make the trip there, and plan to spend some hours with the wolves. I can promise you it will be an experience you will not forget.