Blue Ridge Country November/December 2020 - 26

7

8

7

14 WEEKS OLD
Naturalist and "wolf lady," Rhonda
Goins, gives some affection to Ela.

8

15 WEEKS OLD
At five days till introduction to the
adult wolves, they weigh from between
55 and 70 pounds now as they
approach four months old (with writer
Jay Huron visiting).

9

16 WEEKS OLD
Everyone grab the stick!

9

"one of the pack" in those two years, as
a total of seven wolves were introduced.
Even all these years later, the now-adult
wolves still recognize us and return the
howls we established with them as pups.
They arrived at the park in mid-May,
when they were about four weeks old
and weighed four to five pounds each.
Volunteers and staff welcomed them to
what would be their new home for the
next three months-the Puppy Palace.
The Puppy Palace is a 25-foot square
pen with a mesh roof to keep the puppies safe from birds of prey that might
otherwise swoop down and snatch

26

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

them up under cover of darkness. Starting that first night, we wolf puppy "parents" rotated shifts, with one or more of
us staying in the pen 24/7 for the next
three months.
We didn't change or wash the clothes
we wore in the pen, to assure we presented the same familiar smell each time
we entered. And one of the first things
we did with the pups was howl, to help
bond everyone, of both species.
The only rules for the puppies were to
not chew on the humans or the fence.
We used a stick or other natural toy to
deflect any attempt to chew shoestrings

or the fence. Other than that, the pups
ran, played and wrestled with each other
as they would in the wild. Sometimes
that happened right in your lap.
We "parents" were also there for reassurance and comfort if the pups got
scared of strange noises like strollers
or children, or were unsure of visitors
outside of the fence. This allowed the
wolves to live a calm and stress-free life
at the park, and taught them to ignore
the people outside the fence.
We also cleaned up, did feedings
and took copious notes on everything
from behaviors and personality to bow-


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Blue Ridge Country November/December 2020

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