~Wolfdogs in the snow~

Some photos of my two wolfdogs Achak and Mia enjoying the snow…

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~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………

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