~Living with Wolfdogs~

My partner and I share our house with, amongst other creatures, two very large Wolfdogs and I thought you might like to share in the ups and downs of our lives with them.

I’ll start by telling you a little about the circumstances that lead up to us making the (life changing) decision to share our lives with these beautiful creatures.

We have always had dogs as part of our family, our last one being Murphy, our beautiful border collie, he was such a fantastic dog and he was well and truly entrenched within our hearts, our home, our lives, and our family.

Losing him in the Autumn of 2012 was gut wrenchingly painful and it left both myself and Mark so bereft, heartbroken and deflated that we decided we couldn’t do it again, just simply couldn’t go through the heartbreak of loving a creature so completely, knowing that one day we would have to go through the same grief, the same pain, and the same feelings of loss that we experienced when we lost Murphy.

So that was it really, no more dogs……..Time went on, day after day, week after week, month after month, no dog, no welcoming, wagging, woofing, funny, clever…..dog! Yes I looked at them online, we talked about what breed we would of got if we hadn’t decided not to have any more dogs, we joked about getting a Puli……

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Or a Chinese Crested…….

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But nothing serious………

Until one day Mark came home from work and said he had seen someone in the park with a beautiful dog, he enquired as to what sort of dog it was and was told that it was a Wolfdog, he was quite obviously besotted. I hadn’t heard of the breed before so I started researching and to be quite honest came up with all sorts of different information and a great deal of misinformation regarding the breed, (another blog, another day).

After finding a breeder who I believed was the best and most honest breeder of Wolfdogs in the UK,  I started asking questions and enquiring about them, what their needs were, what their temperaments were, what kind of people make good owners etc. etc. and I got the truth, warts and all. Of course by this time we were both totally in love with the breed and wanted to get a puppy (Yes, I know we had decided against it, but common sense, in this instance, did not prevail and our hearts overuled our heads). I don’t think at that point we were confident that we would be accepted by the breeder as possible candidates as his vetting process was very strict, (as, of course, it should be), but we continued to keep in touch. I got into the habit of searching for pictures of these beautiful creatures online as they really are quite stunning. One day when I was looking I came across a picture of a pup, a smiling happy pup, I said to myself at that point, that’s the pup I want, that’s my pup!….not for one minute thinking that the pup was actually available for sale, just that it was another puppy picture I had come across…….

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Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the picture and got taken to the website of the breeder I had been in contact with, yes it was one of his pups and this one was still available. I couldn’t wait for Mark to come home so that I could show him the picture and I really hoped that he felt the same as I did about this pup……No worries there, he fell in love just as I had done and we let Paul know that we would like to be considered as prospective owners, filled in the vetting forms etc. and held our breath hoping that we would be accepted.

Needless to say we were accepted and we were given a date when our pup would be ready.

On 23rd May 2013 we went and picked our puppy up, what a beautiful little bundle of joy he was…..

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So our life with Wolfdogs begins, they certainly are extraordinary animals and very much more wolf like in their behaviour than the average pooch.

We decided to call our pup Achakiya which is a combination of two native american indian names, Achak which means Spirit and Kiyiya which means Howling Wolf, Achakiyiya was quiet a mouth full so we improvised and it became Achakiya ~ Spirit of Howling Wolf and he certainly lives up to his name.

Well this little pup quickly became the centre of our lives, and we became the centre of his, he looked on us as his pack. I can tell you quite truthfully that there were times when he tried our patience to the limit and there were times I just sat and cried and wondered if we had made the right decision, whether we were actually cut out or even physically able to care for such a strong willed, mouthy, stubborn bundle of energy, and one with very sharp little teeth and claws too.

As Achak grew it became quite obvious that he needed a playmate. Wolfdogs play rough, it’s what they do, we can teach them bite inhbition and appropriate behaviour when they are playing with us but they need the rough and tumble that they can only get from playing with another dog, most normal dogs though are just not equipt to deal with it and will inevitably shun them……Have you guessed where we are going with this yet, of course you have…….We decided we needed another Wolfdog!

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When Achak was nearly 5 months old we enquired about rehoming a Wolfdog. Unfortunately the breed has become somewhat of a status dog, especially with the popularity of programmes like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Twilight’. Everyone wants to own a wolf, and wolfdogs are the next best thing. They don’t bother researching the breed or asking themselves if they will be able to handle such a large, strong willed dog so inevitably and sadly these dogs find themselves in rehome centres and even sadder being put to sleep because rehome centres are not equipt to deal with this type of dog. So we knew there were dogs out there who needed our help. I got in touch with http://www.wolfdogrescue.co.uk/ which is the only breed specific rescue in the UK. Wolfdog Rescue is run on an enitrely voluntary basis by a small, dedicated group of wolfdog owners and with their guidance and knowledge we ended up with the very lovely Mia, a Wolfdog x Tamaskan girl who came to us in August 2013.

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So that is how we ended up with, not one, but two wolfdogs in our family.

They really are the most extraordinary animals and most definately not pets in the normal sense of the word, you can’t own a wolfdog, you can become a part of their lives and be a companion but not an owner, they will not be owned. Once you have accepted that, and believe me you will have to accept it if you want a happy and contented wolfdog, then you can begin to, shall we say, ‘rearrange’ your lives.

It is important to become pack leader so that they look to you for making the right decisions for the pack as a whole, and you do have to be very consistent with your leadership. Don’t get me wrong though, being leader of the pack does not mean that you are the strongest or the fiercest, and by no means does it give you the right to use force of any sort, in fact doing so will be detrimental to your relationship with your wolfdog. Being the leader means making the best decisions for the whole pack, to keep them safe, well fed, well excersised and well rounded, if you fail at this task your wolfdog or wolfdog’s will think that they have to make the decisions and in a human world these decisions may not be appropriate.

I have to say that most of our family and friends think we are completely mad, and of course they may be right. All of our spare time is spent with our Wolfdogs, all of our spare money is spent on our Wolfdogs, every day is a new challenge (especially with Achak as he hits adolesence),  and we plan our lives around their needs more so than our own. Does that make us mad, maybe it does, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We do plan on getting another Wolfdog at some stage but the timing needs to be right, Achak is still very much the baby of the pack and Mia is ‘she who must be obeyed’ and despite Achak’s size she still rules the roost. We really wouldn’t want to do anything at the present time to upset the balance we have achieved within our pack. I think we will know when the time is right………

~Choosing to be Happy~

~22 Things Happy People Do Differently~

Many people spend their lives waiting to be happy.  You may think, “if only I had more money,” or “could lose weight,” or you fill in the blank, then I would be happy.

Well here’s a secret: you can be happy right now. It’s not always easy, but you can choose to be happy, and in the vast majority of circumstances there’s no one who can stop you except for yourself.

The truth is, happiness doesn’t come from wealth, perfect looks or even a perfect relationship. Happiness comes from within. This is why, if you truly want to be happy, you need to work on yourself, first.

22 Positive Habits of Happy People

What’s the secret to being happy? You can learn how to do it, just as you can learn any other skill. Those who are happy tend to follow a certain set of habits that create peace in their lives; if you learn to apply these habits in your own life, there’s a good chance you’ll be happy too.

The featured article compiled 22 such behaviors that you can use to enhance your life and your happiness:1

1. Let go of grudges

Forgiving and forgetting is necessary for your own happiness, as holding a grudge means you’re also holding onto resentment, anger, hurt and other negative emotions that are standing in the way of your own happiness. Letting go of a grudge frees you from negativity and allows more space for positive emotions to fill in.

2. Treat everyone with kindness

Kindness is not only contagious, it’s also proven to make you happier. When you’re kind to others, your brain produces feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin and you’re able to build strong relationships with others, fostering positive feelings all around.

3. Regard your problems as challenges

Change your internal dialogue so that anytime you have a “problem” you view it as a challenge or a new opportunity to change your life for the better. Eliminate the word “problem” from your mind entirely.

4. Express gratitude for what you have

People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions, and are better able to reach their goals. The best way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or list, where you actively write down exactly what you’re grateful for each day. Doing so has been linked to happier moods, greater optimism and even better physical health.

5. Dream big

Go ahead and dream big, as you’ll be more likely to accomplish your goals. Rather than limiting yourself, when you dream big you’re opening your mind to a more optimistic, positive state where you have the power to achieve virtually anything you desire.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff

If the issue you’re mad about will be irrelevant a year, a month, a week or even a day from now, why sweat it? Happy people know how to let life’s daily irritations roll off their back.

7. Speak well of others

It may be tempting to gather around the office water cooler to get and give the daily gossip, but talking negatively about others is like taking a bath in negative emotions; your body soaks them up. Instead, make it a point to only say positive, nice words about other people, and you’ll help foster more positive thinking in your own life as well.

8. Avoid making excuses

It’s easy to blame others for your life’s failures, but doing so means you’re unlikely to rise past them. Happy people take responsibility for their mistakes and missteps, then use the failure as an opportunity to change for the better.

9. Live in the present

Allow yourself to be immersed in whatever it is you’re doing right now, and take time to really be in the present moment. Avoid replaying past negative events in your head or worrying about the future; just savor what’s going on in your life now.

10. Wake up at the same time every morning

Getting up at the same time every day (preferably an early time) is deceptively simple. Doing so will help regulate your circadian rhythm so you’ll have an easier time waking and likely feel more energized. Plus, the habit of rising early every day is one shared by many successful people, as it enhances your productivity and focus.

11. Don’t compare yourself to others

Your life is unique, so don’t measure your own worth by comparing yourself to those around you. Even regarding yourself as better than your peers is detrimental to your happiness, as you’re fostering judgmental feelings and an unhealthy sense of superiority. Measure your own success based on your progress alone, not that of others.

12. Surround yourself with positive people

The saying “misery loves company” is entirely true. That’s why you need to choose friends who are optimistic and happy themselves, as you will be surrounded with positive energy.

13. Realize that you don’t need others’ approval

It’s important to follow your own dreams and desires without letting naysayers stand in your way. It’s fine to seek others’ opinions, but happy people stay true to their own hearts and don’t get bogged down with the need for outside approval.

14. Take time to listen

Listening helps you soak in the wisdom of others and allows you to quiet your own mind at the same time. Intense listening can help you feel content while helping you gain different perspectives.

15. Nurture social relationships

Positive social relationships are a key to happiness, so be sure you make time to visit with friends, family and your significant other.

16. Meditate

Meditation helps you keep your mind focused, calms your nerves and supports inner peace. Research shows it can even lead to physical changes in your brain that make you happier.

17. Eat well

What you eat directly impacts your mood and energy levels in both the short and long term. Whereas eating right can prime your body and brain to be in a focused, happy state, eating processed junk foods will leave you sluggish and prone to chronic disease.

18. Exercise

Exercise boosts levels of health-promoting brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress and also relieve some symptoms of depression. Rather than viewing exercise as a medical tool to lose weight, prevent disease, and live longer – all benefits that occur in the future – try viewing exercise as a daily tool to immediately enhance your frame of mind, reduce stress and feel happier.

19. Live minimally

Clutter has a way of sucking the energy right out of you and replacing it with feelings of chaos. Clutter is an often-unrecognized source of stress that prompts feelings of anxiety, frustration, distraction and even guilt, so give your home and office a clutter makeover, purging it of the excess papers, files, knick knacks and other “stuff” that not only takes up space in your physical environment, but also in your mind.

20. Be honest

Every time you lie, your stress levels are likely to increase and your self-esteem will crumble just a little bit more. Plus, if others find out you’re a liar it will damage your personal and professional relationships. Telling the truth, on the other hand, boosts your mental health and allows others to build trust in you.

21. Establish personal control

Avoid letting other people dictate the way you live. Instead, establish personal control in your life that allows you to fulfill your own goals and dreams, as well as a great sense of personal self-worth.

22. Accept what cannot be changed

Everything in your life is not going to be perfect, and that’s perfectly all right. Happy people learn to accept injustices and setbacks in their life that they cannot change, and instead put their energy on changing what they can control for the better.

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