One of the more frequent Emails we get at Kechara's Korner (part of HRCStore's eBay Store) relates to questions about the canine pictured in the title. Is the Wolf real? Is she free or captive? Where is she? Are we nuts, wolves are nasty creatures!
If we start at the beginning it is fair to say that I have been raised in a household of animal lovers. Growing up, I heard stories of my father, as a boy in Wyoming, raising everything from the usual dogs and cats to Raccoons, Bobcats and Red Foxes.
In a big city I was limited to domestic animals and the odd caged critters. The list reads like a pet store inventory. I also sponsored wild horses and wolves through some internet sites that vicariously kept in touch with the wild side.
A vacation to Montana in the summer of 2001 introduced me to an 18 month old Timber Wolf named Dakota. There is something very special about having a wild wolf knock you on your butt and shower you with sloppy wet wolf kisses. At five' eight" I'm not short and Dakota planted his paws on my shoulders and looked me right in the eyes. It was love right then and there.
I spent much of the afternoon playing with Dakota and two 3 month old pups named Apache and Cheyenne. They are very special animals. They acted just like any canine I have ever been around (Ok, even more playful). That day at WildEyesUSA Park (now closed) started my search to get my very own wolf.
I soon found that our state (most states) requires very special permits, reasons and land requirements to own, care-for or house "wild" animals. So the wolf project was put on the backburner.
At the time we had two Greyhounds that were absolutely the nicest "couch potatoes" we have had. They were both over thirteen and we knew that it would soon be time to deal with at least one passing on. Late in the summer of 2002 we lost Misty, our 14 year old female. Our male seemed to be lost. So the search for a companion animal began. Another Greyhound, too soon. A Doberman, that would work. A wolf-Dog??? Hmmm. Well, it wouldn't hurt to look around. Had to be a puppy, as young as possible. Didn't want to have trouble with an animal that wasn't properly socialized.
The Federal government says a wolf-dog is a dog and Arizona seems to have different regulations when you ask different people. Some vets won't vaccinate wolf-dogs for rabies, as the vaccine wasn't certified for them. When you talk with the folks that know, the answer is simple. All dogs have a wolf ancestor (yup, that is true). Some dogs are closer to their wolf cousins than others. Wolf canine DNA and dog DNA is 98% the same. Some claim it is nearly identical.
Hard To Find?
The search was rather short. A local breeder had a recent birth and the pups were almost ready. We met with the breeder and several animals they had. All of their animals were friendly and well cared for. The pups, well like all pups they were just adorable. One little female was curious and into everything. We decided on a cooling off period. While I was waiting I did a lot more research on wolf dogs and found a lot of conflicting info. There seemed to be two camps. Smartest animals to own and Are You Nuts - they eat people!
Having worked in an ER for several years, I was no stranger to adults and children with dog bites, some fairly severe. I have read stories of canines killing their owners, neighbors and strangers. I know from my experience that everything from a Chihuahua to Pit Bulls have been listed as the breed.
In fact Pit Bull was the most common. I know some very sweet Pit Bulls. Socialization is what determines the animals temperament. Sort of "Bad Owner = Bad Dog."
So get a puppy (or better yet, adopt a very well socialized adult) and treat it with love and kindness and gently expose the pup to many - many different situations (and people) as it grows up. Pretty much works with all animals and people too!
Good Dog - Bad Dog
Internet searches and reading, led to many folks that said - Wolf-dogs are Great Animals but NOT for most people. They listed many bad habits, digging, big dogs that get into everything, lots of coat care, barking (howling), problems with vet care and the list went on. As the family read and talked the idea through, we all agreed except for coat care, they sounded like Greyhounds. It wasn't uncommon to find our female Greyhound standing up in the kitchen seeing if she could open the wall cabinets with her nose. Certain dogs need to be in families that match the dog.
Kechara is a mix of Wolf, Husky and Golden Retriever. That seemed to be a good stable mix. Behavior is learned and raising rats (yes, rats) had taught me that diet affected behavior as well. Higher protein levels seemed to lead to mellow animals. Many breeders feel that canines need higher levels of animal proteins than is regularly found in dry dog foods.
The Puppy Comes Home
Once we were home the surprises started. Bad news? No, we were constantly surprised. A six week old puppy that didn't have to be house broken. Somehow Kechara knew to go outside. Cats, were just another playmate. Our thirteen year old greyhound? The puppy spent hours loving and playing with her "big dog". Meeting new people and children was a special treat. She loves children (we don't mean because they are crunchy and go well with milk) At around 3 months old she encountered a little boy of three who was afraid of dogs. Kechara promptly rolled over gave the little boy her tummy and throat. Complete submission. We thought the gesture would be lost. On the contrary, the little one approached her and gently patted her tummy. It was the first time he had ever touched a canine.
Kechara is the smartest canine I have ever been around. At three, her vocabulary reminds me of a dog of 10 years or older. She understands both spoken words and reads moods very well. She stands guard while we eat (no cats allowed in the room). She loves cool dark places to catch her naps. She does have the "Wolf - It is Mine" possession behavior. Since she has been a "rider" since a pup, cars are a fun place and all rides (most) lead to a good adventure. She is also "spayed" and now has two canine companions near her own age. Kechara is fed a mix of fresh animal protien, dry kibble, fruits and her favorite vegetables. She loves fresh blueberries.
Her "big-dog" passed away when she had just turned two. She still stops to speak with every Greyhound she meets.
Today Kechara goes about the world with her pack and is introduced as a mix with wolf heritage left off. To others who know and tell us we have a wolf - we do talk about the wolf-dog life style and answer questions as completely as we can. You never own a wolf - they are a companion rather than a pet.
So she is "real" - she is a Wolf Dog (Some folks incorrectly call them wolf hybrids) - She is well cared for and very much part of "her pack" - she is very loved! - If you want to read more about wolves and wolf-dogs we have some suggested books and the internet has a lot of information - both pro and con.
I have been wearing wolf T-shirts and collecting wolf related items for many years (pre-Kechara) I hope you find your passion in life - I know I have found mine.