The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, located just northwest of the town of Cochrane, is home to a number of incredible animals and the people who love them.
The name ‘wolfdog’ is pretty self explanatory, they are hybridizations of wolves and dogs, or of other wolfdogs. However, under that name there are lots of different distinctions: there are low-content wolfdogs and high-content wolfdogs as well as a full range in-between. Since you cannot tell how much wolf is in a dog based on a blood test, the dogs are placed on the scale based on looks and behaviour.
Wolfdogs are absolutely beautiful animals; it is easy to see why people want them as pets. They can feel like they own a piece of the wild when their pet looks like a wild wolf. However, for the vast majority of people, these dogs do not make good pets. They are highly intelligent escape artists, always looking for food, territorial and need a lot of space and a lot of exercise. These animals require a lot of work, day in and day out and its easy to see why so many people are not successful owners.
As the popularity of wolfdogs as pets became more popular in Canada, Georgina De Caigny and Andi Scheibenstock identified a need for a knowledgeable and experienced rescue organization that would make the rehabilitation and rehoming of displaced wolfdogs a priority. It was in June of 2011 that Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary opened its doors as not only one of the largest sanctuaries within Canada, but one of the only sanctuaries to balance educational programs with a highly successful adoption program too.
Visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with these beautiful animals. The sanctuary offers a self guided tour as well as an in depth interactive tour.
On the Interactive Tour, you get to enter the enclosures with the wolfdogs as well as one of the sanctuary guides; the guide provides a lot of background info on wolves and wolfdogs in general as well as personal information on each animal that calls the sanctuary home.
You start off by entering the enclosure with the high content wolfdogs, learning about the physiological differences between wolves and dogs, and picking out these characteristics in the individual animals. One of the things I like most about the interactive tours, is that nothing is forced and the interactions feel natural. The wolfdogs are free to come and go as they feel comfortable, retiring to the woods to nap when they tire of the people watching them.
After interacting with the high content wolfdogs, you get to enter the enclosure with the low-content wolfdogs and see the distinctive differences. These animals are more dog-like, less wolf-y. However they are still incredibly high maintenance and require a lot of space, which they are given at the Sanctuary.
The sanctuary does occasionally adopt out some of the low-content wolf dogs, but there is a strenuous screening process to make sure they go to a home that can offer them what they actually need. The Sanctuary also takes in owner-surrenders of animals when people realize they are in over their head. They do all of this with fundraising from donations as well as the proceeds from their tours. To learn more or to make a donation to this great cause, check out their website: http://yamnuskawolfdogsanctuary.com/.