December 14, 2018

Merging Wolf Heart and Human Heart

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WOLF CONNECTION

Merging Wolf Heart and Human Heart

Maya, an alpha female, is at the heart of the Wolf Connection pack.

Nestled in the mountains of Acton California, a space of peace, power and magic exists. One might think that it is the magic of the mountains, the spirit of nature, but there is something more to this place and the feeling is palpable. The space is called Wolf Connection, a youth empowerment program and wolfdog rescue center and sanctuary. It was early afternoon as my mother and I drove through the mountains of Acton. We had no idea what to expect when we arrived; we just wanted to give ourselves over to the experience of Wolf Connection.

Upon pulling up to the gate, we were greeted with a big smile and fist bumps by Cate Salansky, one of Wolf Connection’s original staff. She knows everything there is to know about Wolf Connection.

As she walked us toward the animal enclosures, we were greeted with the most incredible sound: the wolves were howling.

“Is that them? Is that the wolves?” my mother asked, incredulous.

Cate nodded and smiled. “Yep.”

We were enthralled.

Cate explained that Wolf Connection’s main focus and purpose is as an enrichment program for at-risk youth to encourage empowerment and healing by being with the animals. Wolf Connection teaches young people about the importance of nature conservation, of working together and ways to work through difficulties that arise in life.

Over the years, Wolf Connection has broadened their programs to include individual experiences for people who seek wolf healing independently—rehab clients, women and men’s groups, cooperative retreats, and school groups.

Cate ushered us through a gate…and there they were: the wolfdogs.

By definition, a wolfdog is quite simply a hybrid of a wolf and dog. The percentages of wolf to dog is different for each animal. Each enclosure has been designed specifically for each animal’s needs with two or three wolfdogs per enclosure. Cate explained that each animal was carefully matched with their enclosure mates.

The first one we visited had wolfdogs that have the “lowest content of wolf.” This does not mean, however, that these animals look like golden retrievers. On the contrary, they look like wolves, with their longer snouts and liquid amber eyes.

Meeting Wolfee, Jacy and Ranger, I felt calm and collected and amazed. Wolfee and Ranger were immediately ready for pats, while Jacy took his time, observing us as we interacted with his friends.

“Every single one of the animals on the Wolf Connection compound are rescues, and many of those who live here today were adopted from people who didn’t know how to care for them,” Cate explained, adding that numerous people adopt wolfdogs when they are pups but as they mature, it often leads to mistreatment, sometimes euthanization.

Due to mistreatment and the highly sensitive and intelligent nature of the animals, they can become anxious around newcomers. The highly trained staff at Wolf Connection make it a priority to assist them in feeling safe and that, along with other wolfdogs to help, means the timid wolfdogs don’t feel in danger.

We met Ayasha next, who greeted us with nuzzles and licks, while her enclosure mate, Kenai, hung back, choosing to sit in the shade and watch. Cate explained once again that Kenai is a prime example of why wolfdogs should not be kept as pets, but should live free.

“Although Kenai is a higher-content wolfdog then Ayasha, he does not know how to be a wolf, due to being raised as a family pet,” said Cate. It is a case that Wolf Connection sees time and time again and their solution is simple: place the higher-content wolfdog that doesn’t know how to act upon his wolf nature, with a wolfdog that does. Ayasha understands what it means to be a wolf and, by example, she is teaching Kenai how to be one too.”

After our tour, we met CEO and founder, Teo Alfero, who explained that he wanted Wolf Connection to be a rehabilitation space for both wolfdogs and at-risk youth.

“What is beautiful about Wolf Connection is that we don’t ask these children to speak about the difficulties that they have gone through. We explain to them that many of these animals have been abused themselves and we tell them the animal’s history. As the children listen and understand that these animals, too, have been abused, it creates a relatable bond between human and animal.

With this new bond and understanding, the children start feeling more comfortable about opening up about what they have endured in their lives. Wolf heart and human heart merge and the healing process begins.”

Alfero was introduced to wolfdogs when he emmigrated from Argentina to California. He began working at a Pitbull rescue center, which also happened to be housing a pack of 16 wolfdogs. They had a profound effect on him. Eventually, he would adopt them and, in 2009, with the help of an amazing staff and volunteers, Wolf Connection was born.

There is no place like the Wolf Connection, and the people they have touched have benefited from having some wolf medicine in their lives.

SPONSOR A WOLFDOG

With all that Wolf Connection has done, is doing and will continue to do, they need assistance. Monetary donations are always helpful and another great way to help is to sponsor a wolfdog and get involved as they are always looking for volunteers. In addition, donations of old cars, tractors, unwanted lumber, and brush-clearing contributions, also help.

They are also looking for a civil engineer, retired or not, who would be willing to gift their time, to assist Wolf Connection with planning the expansion of their property.

For more information, to sponsor a wolf, donate or arrange a tour: connect@wolfconnection.org

(661) 450-8191; wolfconnection.org, where you can also watch Teo Alfero’s Tedx Talks.