Last fall, I was having happy hour with a few teachers after school. One of their husbands, who is a professional musician, showed up and someone asked him, “What’s an interesting show you’ve played lately?” I’ll admit I wasn’t fully paying attention, until he replied, “Oh man – we played a gig for some wolves…” He went on to explain how his band drove up to Tenino, Washington to a wolf sanctuary to play music for the wolves, as part of some research study. His story was super interesting, and being a big time wolf lover, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. His wife later told me where I could find the video and more information about it:(Read about it here)
The part that really hooked me was when he said they were told to howl at the end, and all the wolves howled back. How badass is that?
Three months later, I was still thinking about those wolves, and I knew I had to hear them howl with my own ears.
Today I was joined by my two friends, Jim and Courtney, to drive up to Tenino (a little more than two hours north of Portland) and get a tour of Wolf Haven International. We learned that they house approximately 50 wolves, all rescued from some form of neglect or abuse, and that because people raised them, they cannot be returned to the wild so they live out their days at the sanctuary. Some of the wolves are also approved for breeding, as part of an endangered species repopulation effort.
The tour itself was about an hour, and led by an extremely knowledgeable tour guide. Although we didn’t get to see all the wolves (some were in more private areas), we did get to view several pairs of wolves, coyotes, and a wolf-dog hybrid. Basically what I took away from the tour was that humans (as usual) are ignorant assholes who think they can raise wolves as pets, keep them in tiny cages for entertainment, or accidentally kill wolves by mistaking them for coyotes.
While it was pretty cool to get up close and personal to the enclosures, the best part was when they suddenly went into a group howl:
Of course, the tour guide seemed pretty protective of the wolves (as he should be) but my whole goal was to howl myself. As the tour was ending, I did a quiet howl under my breath and I saw two wolves’ ears perk up, but I wasn’t brave enough to outright howl in front of a bunch of strangers. After we had purchased our souvenirs from the gift shop, we rolled down the car windows and belted out our own group howl in the parking lot. Sadly, I didn’t hear any of the wolves howl back, but maybe they were just afraid of how tough we were in our new fingerless knitted wolf gloves.