Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wolves Meant To Live in Wild

Wolves may be among the most polarizing and misunderstood animals, but really they’re just big pups – pups that are meant to live in the wild, Stephanie Kaylan explained as she petted Hokshila, a 125-pound, 10-year-old timber wolf.

Kaylan, founder and president of the Wanagi Wolf Fund and Rescue, has been making the rounds of West Side and Rio Rancho organizations to raise awareness of the plight of domesticated wolves and their brethren in the wild and to raise money for her East Mountains shelter. The shelter houses 12 wolves or wolf-mixed breeds.

She will have several of them at Rio Rancho Pet Food Gone Wild, 2414 Southern Blvd., from 1-5 p.m. Sunday to help the business celebrate its one-year anniversary.

Having the wolves out is a cooperative venture because the store’s owners believe in the Wanagi mission, owner Roberto Holmess said.

Wolves, are a misunderstood breed,” he said. “This is a way of educating people, getting people to see wolves from a different point of view. We try to educate the public about the different things and animals. They’re great animals.”

But, Kaylan pointed out, breeding them domestically just leads to trouble.

“I try to go wherever I can to educate because I want people to understand that wolves and wolf-dogs are wonderful. But we really need to stop the breeding of these animals …”

She said they are deemed exotic so if they are left at the pound, they are the first to be euthanized.

In addition to outings at stores, Kaylan takes Hokshila to schools and Boy and Girl Scout events.

“He is our ambassador. He has proven himself,” she said of the timber wolf that is originally from Oklahoma.

“Somebody was doing terrible things to him in the river,” Kaylan said. “He ran away and ran up to this really angel of a man. This man drove him 10 1/2 hours out to me. He’s just growing and growing. He is an average size timber wolf. I’ve seen them bigger. But he is a big, sweet boy.”

That big, sweet boy hammed it up for photos, submitted to the snuggling of children and endured the yapping of small dogs passing by while visiting Boofy’s Best for Pets on the West Side last weekend.

“He’s as a gentle as a lamb,” Kaylan said. “He loves kids.”

Those who saw him were surprised by that.

“I think it’s a cool experience,” said 14-year-old Taylor Ranch resident Kristi Hagler. “It’s not every day you get to see a real wolf in real life. They’re pretty cool animals. They’re pretty gentle.”

Her mom, Rose Cox, said she appreciated the message Wanagi delivered.

“They kind of have the same beliefs that we do,” she said. “They’re really not meant to be pets. Too many people out there are breeding them because they think it’s a cool idea to have them in the house.”

University of New Mexico students Katie Holloway and Alejandra Colmenero just wanted to see the animals.

“I came here especially to see the wolves,” Holloway said. “We’re big on animals and the rights of animals. We figured it was a good cause and it was a fun little outing on a Sunday afternoon.”

Their demeanor was surprising, given the wolf stereotypes, she said.

“I didn’t know they could be so calm and domestic,” Holloway said. “They’re so beautiful. There’s that saying that goes, ‘They’re better in person,’ they’re definitely better in person.”
— This article appeared on page 29 of the Albuquerque Journal