December 20, 2016
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The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary in the heart of the Canadian Rockies is dedicated to fostering a greater understanding of the importance of preserving wild wolves in the natural environment as well as promoting responsible wolfdog ownership. We chat to founder Georgina de Caigny for an insight into this fascinating world.
Tell us a little about the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.
Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is a non-profit organisation that provides a home for displaced wolfdogs. The Sanctuary also offers educational tours to provide the public with knowledge about these very misunderstood animals. In the future, we hope to continue our rescue efforts and eventually expand by building more enclosures in order to have the availability to take on more rescues at a time.
What inspired you to start the sanctuary?
I started Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary when I graduated university in 2011. I had just finished my degree in Civil Engineering but it wasn’t something I was truly passionate about. Throughout my University career I was actively rescuing feral dogs from the nearby reservation and along the way I was introduced to wolfdogs. I very quickly became enthralled by t heir unique se5t of behaviours and how differently wolfdogs choose to interact with humans. This led me to obtain my first wolfdog, Kuna, who was the inspiration for creating the sanctuary. She had been purchased from a nearby breeder by a family who had good intentions but who quickly realised how much more challenging owning a high content wolfdog was compared to a typical dog. I started to become aware of how often this same scenario occurred and what few rescue resources existed for wolfdogs. Once I realised how many wolfdogs end up being euthansed, I became committed to doing something about it and this is how Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary was borne.
How many wolfdogs do you currently have in your care?
Currently we house 15 animals at the Sanctuary. That number often changes as we are taking in new rescues as well as adopting out some low content wolfdogs to suitable owners. Because wolfdogs are intentionally bread and are born in captivity, they would never be released in the wild as they don’t have the skills needed in order to survive. Any animals that are not suitable to be adopted out as pets will live at the Sanctuary.
How have public attitudes towards wolfdogs changed since the Sanctuary opened.
Our educational programs are a big part of what we do. We are constantly trying to spread awareness about wolfdogs and help educate the public about them. Since starting the Sanctuary there has been a decrease in the number wolfdogs surrendered, however it is an ongoing problem that we continue to address. People who visit the Sanctuary leave with a better understanding of wolf and wolfdog behaviour. Many people think these animals will be aggressive but after joining us on a tour they learn they are quire shy and timid towards humans. As wolfdogs are bred by humans, they are not naturally present in the wild. The amount of world content present in the wolfdog determines how closely related their behaviour will be to that of a wolf.
What can guests expect when they come to the Sanctuary?
The Sanctuary offers two different types of tours to the public. We have a general admission which allows visitors to enjoy an interpretive walk around the sanctuary to view the wolfdogs and learn interesting facts. Additionally, we also offer and interactive guided tour where we invite visitors into two of our enclosures to meet our ambassador packs and provide visitors with an up close experience with our wolfdogs. Guests can expect to learn lots about wolves and wolfdogs on their visit and walk away with a new understanding of these amazing animals.
You must have hundreds of fantastic stories about the wolfdogs; can you tell us one of two?
We have many animals at the Sanctuary and each is unique in their own way. Kuna, who is a high content wolfdog and the alpha female of the Yamnuska Pack, is one of our most well-balanced wolfdog that everyone – both two and four legged – adores! She has a very strong personality and is not only the alpha female of our Yamnuska Pack but actually pulls double duty and is the alpha female of the adjacent Cascade Pack. Visitors who embark on the interactive guided tour will have the opportunity to meet Kuna, who can often be seen getting lots of kisses from other members of the pack!
Can you share some tips should guests encounter wolfdogs in the wild?
Wolfdogs are not naturally found in the wild, however if anyone encounters a wolf they will notice their fearful nature as they will not approach humans and will keep their distances. The best tips we could give anyone who sees a wolf in the wild is not to approach the animal, to not run and to stay calm.
What does the future look like for the Sanctuary?
Currently, our focus is on rescuing wolfdogs primarily in Western Canada, with the occasional rescue coming from the USA.
Evergreen guests on the 26 Day Ultimate Canadian Wilderness & Inside Passage Cruise will visit this incredible Sanctuary on day 14.