Friday, August 22, 2014

Ten days with wolves

SOUTH GLENS FALLS >> Spending the day around animals, especially dogs, is nothing new for Tom Davis, 25, of South Glens Falls, but he recently switched up his daily routine a bit. Davis returned from a 10-day excursion to Colorado to assist Mission: Wolf, an wolf sanctuary in southern Colorado that offers hands-on learning and training and cares for 38 wolves and wolf-dogs.

Davis runs Adirondack Animal Services, a pet sitting, dog walking and obedience school that covers between the Lake George and Saratoga regions. He’s also a former Town of Moreau Animal Control officer and a native of Colorado before settling in Saratoga County. “It was such a cool experience, I lived in essentially a visitor’s center and slept right with the wolves and was right next to them when they howled in the mornings,” he said. He documented his experience with some up-close shots, including a few “selfies” with the gentle giants.

Davis is a certified Pet Tech, and teaches pet owners emergency response methods from first-aid and CPR to general “snout-to-tail” wellness assessments. He said his practice with wolves has now officially prepared him for any and all circumstances. “I really soaked up everything I could while I was there. It not only broadened my canine education, but survival techniques as well,” he said.
Davis has built up his business since he left Adirondack Community College at 20 to follow his father’s advice, “Go with what you love.” He began a dog walking service which has grown into what Adirondack Animals Services is today.

His passion stems from a lifetime of pet ownership and a natural connection to dogs, especially, he said. “I’ve always had a good handle and a special bond with dogs. I was the kid in the neighborhood walking two big dogs by myself,” he said. He grew up around mobs of animals from dogs and cats to ferrets and snakes and now has two dogs of his own, Lola, an 11-year-old shepherd mix adopted from a shelter, and Thompson Poe, a 150-pound purebred St. Bernard named for Hunter S. Thompson and Edgar Allan Poe.

He felt studying the top dog, the gray wolf, would not only be a great experience but also a way to add to his knowledge. Mission: Wolf flew him to the site where he volunteered his knowledge of emergency animal care, especially dealing with a potential emergency. Although the wolves in the sanctuary have been raised by humans, learning emergency services and preparations is crucial. He said they are gentle giants, but with bigger heads and are very perceptive with huge paws.

Davis said many people have misconceptions about wolves, and they often are very timid at first.
“Naturally, they’re very scared of humans but they are so intuitive. It took me three days to get some of them to open up to me. You can sense their nerves, they are still predators but it’s all in your body language. They’ll lick your face until you show your teeth and that’s how they say hello,” he said.
Davis said he has been invited to return to Mission: Wolf next year and said this experience has truly changed his life. “I’ve now expanded my knowledge from chihuahuas to wolves. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I’m passionate about everything I do, I’ve always had a knack for animals,” Davis said.