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Longlease Bernese Mountain Dogs Gallery of Friends

Timber Wolf Willow's Story!

Some of you may recall that back the first of November I wrote to berner-l list about Wolle's contribution to finding Willow. She ran off when her collar broke when she spooked while out for a walk. Thankfully, after 3 days of wandering she was found safe & sound. Willow has been at our clinic since being seized back in July. She decided early on that I was her special human and Wolle is her idol. Well, she's still at the clinic, but not for long! All the legal hurdles have been cleared and I am thrilled to report that on Saturday afternoon she will be coming home with me!!!! I'm now in a position to share more of Willow's story.

She was smuggled into Canada as a young puppy (rumour is that she came from an Oklahoma broker/breeder). Her erstwhile owners fed her a diet of raw hamburger, exclusively. Not surprisingly she developed metabollic bone disease and ended up with a fractured front leg. The leg was inappropriately treated (kind of splinted occasionally .....). That's how she came to be seized & brought to the clinic I work at. She was only 5 mos. old at the time, skin & bones, crooked limbs, had babesia & erhlichia, and had been living with a fractured leg for at least 2 mos. You can imagine what we'd all like to do to these people!!! After a month of careful diet and treatment she finally was healthy enough and showed enough bone on x-ray to allow proper fracture repair, although even then it was difficult placing the screws as the bones were still spongey in places ...... Thankfully, the repair held and has healed very well, her leg will always be crooked but it's sound and strong. Around the end of October she developed hind limb lameness and x-rays showed some microfractures of her vertebrae. Again, this lovely girl has healed!! Since being spayed just before Christmas she has sprouted up a good 4 inches and gained 20 lbs.

Since being lost and found, Willow's personality has really blossumed. Before she would only really interact with me and one other staff member -- now she is very outgoing and happy to play with anybody willing to join her games. She retrieves toys better than Devyn the spaniel! You get the sense that she was very happy to have come "home". But she still saves her best greetings and sillies for me!!

My boss had said right from the get-go that he would adopt Willow as soon as it was allowed. He was there when lost Willow was captured and witnessed her raptures of joy when she saw me ...... It was a week later that we were talking and a staff member was telling him how Willow had been playing with Wolle & me the night before. He looked pained for a moment and then said in a very soft voice "well maybe she should go home with Sue ....." WHEW! I'd been trying to figure out a way to broach the subject myself and now it was out in the open!! We set the wheels in motion and it was just yesterday that the official permit arrived.

The twist here (have I kept you guessing?!) is that Willow is not an ordinary dog -- she's exceptionally special as she's a full-fledged Timber Wolf!! It is my greatest joy and yet regret that Willow is coming to live with me -- sadly, she is not a candidate for rehabilitation and release so is destined for a life of captivity. She is FAR too socialized to even interact with other captive wolves. So I will do the best with our makeshift pack to provide her with the best life possible ....... She also isn't really a candidate for house wolf status either -- she's a one-wolf wrecking crew! although she will be able to come in under strict supervision (and likely a tether to me!). For the rest of her time I have constructed a large compound for her complete with 3 separate den areas and 3 shade trees; plus she'll have supervised access to both my 40x70' and 1 acre fenced dog yards. I can't wait to see her running relatively free!!! She races the length of the clinic hallways now, but that's woefully inadequate for her and poor footing besides (Wolle tries to play tag with her but is cautious on the tiled floor, so he usually lies down and wrestles & plays tug). And smart!! one 10 min. session with the clicker and I have a wolf sitting in heel position and offering me downs -- both of which she figured out all by herself to see what would get her more liver treats. A few times I've had her loose in the clinic at lunchtime and a client has come in, remarked on the polite sits and been blissfully unaware of the true identity of the marvelous creature licking their hands!!! Although a couple have commented on her lonnnnng legs and nose!

Wolves have always been a large part of my life. Even in grade school I studied them, wrote essays on them, drew them etc. I took the one wolf book out of the library so many times that they finally let me buy it off of them. My 2 career goals coming out of high school were either to become a veterinarian or be a wildlife biologist studying wolves. It took awhile, but now I've managed both!

So the menagerie is about to expand again ......... what a journey life is!!

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