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The Alaska 9

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Summer 2012 update

It has been 1 year since the arrival of the "Alaska 9" at Wolfwood. All the former puppies are now almost completely grown. Ben works with them every day to socialize them and they get along well as a pack and generally with people. Their size and continued high puppy energy, however, mean visits must be restricted and supervised. Oakley's enthusiasm to jump up and lick your face to say hello can be quite an experience as he stands close to 6 feet tall with 120 pounds of weight to back up his large frame. Of course, what Oakley does, the others must follow and it can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. To truly enjoy the interaction of the 9, it is best to be outside the pen. The shy animals then ignore you and come closer and the more curious animals don't jump on you to give you wolfie loves. They also will think your camera is a toy, so watch out!  The best pictures come from outside the enclosure with the lens of your camera between the fencing.

(Click on a picture to get a larger, high-resolution view in a new window)

Oakley is clearly the alpha of the pack. He has gone to two events and did well. But, while he is gone, the other 8 members of the pack are not quite sure what to do without their leader. The others will often display submissive behavior to him looking for his approval. Torq is especially keen on looking for Oakley's favor. But, given that wolf behavior is a learned trait, and the Alaska 9 had no wolf adults to show them how an alpha behaves, Oakley is sometimes at a loss on how to react in certain situations.

Big "O" (Oakley) - The leader of the pack

Falcon has always been one of the shier members of the pack but his behavior has become a bit more outgoing. He will eventually approach a visitor in the pen and poke them with his nose. If you don't try to pet him, he will stay around you but once you raise your arm or hand, he will scamper away. Still, this is quite a change for him. One day, he even took an ambitious role with the pack and stole a treat from Torq. The entire pack tried to get it back from him but he wouldn't give it back. This was completely unexpected. The video camera was rolling during part of the chase so enjoy Falcon playing catch-me-if-you-can with the pack.
Falcon says "catch me" to the pack

Billy-the-Kid, Sita and Ginger are still the shiest around visitors but they are very active in the pack environment. Bruja likes to try to get others to play even when they don't want to.  As Paula says, if there's trouble, Bruja is in the middle of it.  The pack hierarchy is still being established.  Watch as Banshee and Torq assert their place in the pack.

Banshee and Torq take the lead

The size and energy of the 9 means that Wolfwood has embarked on the largest construction project yet, a new pen for them. This pen will be much larger than their current pen and, by far, the largest pen at the Refuge. It is a massive effort that has been ongoing for several months. Over the winter, Keith fabricated the panels for the pen with each 8' wide x 10' tall panel weighting 130 pounds. Simply moving the panels and posts to the Refuge from their staging site is a huge effort in its own right. The outer perimeter of land has been cleared for the panels and access road with many trees remaining in the interior. Engineering work has been completed to survey the ground and lay out the pole placement.

(Click on a picture to get a larger, high-resolution view in a new window)

Dale begins the digging

Which trees can stay?

Pole locations and drainage

The new pen will extend into the pen on the left (Ghost & Rukai's)

Digging will begin shortly for the poles and tons of concrete and poles will have to be hauled to the new location. Then, there are the panels, welding, cow panels on the ground to prevent digging, tons of dirt to cover the cow panels, not to mention the logistics of relocating two large pens during the construction (the pen with Ghost and Rukai and the current puppy pen). There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from volunteers and donors in terms of time, material, engineering support, money and brute force. But more will be needed. Please contact Paula if you would like to help in any way. Scheduling of work is fluid depending on weather, funds, staff and logistics. But, pole digging will begin soon.

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