saving the wolfdogs of Canada

Saving the wolfdogs of Canada

Wolfdogs – a hybrid of a wolf and a domestic dog – rarely occur naturally in the wild. Most are deliberately bred to be sold as pets. However, due to their intrinsic wolf genes, wolfdogs do not fit the mould of an ideal house pet. Their wild nature often proves to be a challenge to most pet owners and often wolfdogs are abandoned or euthanised. Fortunately, wolfdog sanctuaries like Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary in Canada have come to the aid of these majestic, misunderstood creatures. 
A non-profit organisation, Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary was set up by Georgina de Caigny in the heart of the Canadian Rockies with the aim of fostering a greater understanding of the importance of preserving wild wolves as well as promoting responsible wolfdog ownership. Though a civil engineer by education, Georgina quickly became enthralled by the unique set of behaviours of wolfdogs and how differently they choose to interact with humans. After she obtained her first wolfdog Kuna, Georgina started to become aware how much more challenging owning a wolfdog was compared to a typical dog. Once she realised how many wolfdogs end up being euthanised, Georgina became committed to doing something about it. 

Currently, Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary houses 15 animals, a number that keeps changing depending on the number of new rescues or adoptions. The percentage of wolf present in the wolfdog determines how closely related their behaviour will be to that of a wolf. Because wolfdogs are born in captivity, they lack the skills to survive outside and hence cannot be released into the wild.

Georgina’s organisation spends a significant amount of time trying to spread awareness about wolfdogs and educating the public about them. Since the start of the sanctuary, there has been a decrease in the number of wolfdogs surrendered. People who visit the sanctuary leave with a better understanding of wolf and wolfdog behaviour. They walk in with the assumption that the animals will be aggressive but after taking a tour, they realise that they are quite shy and timid towards humans. 

At the sanctuary, guests can choose one of two tours. They can either choose general admission which allows visitors to enjoy an interpretive walk around the sanctuary to view the wolfdogs and learn interesting facts, or they can choose to take an interactive guided tour where they get to go into the enclosures and meet the ambassador packs and gain an up close experience with the wolfdogs. 

Kuna, the alpha female of the Yamnuska pack, is one such personality that guests will have the pleasure of meeting. Always being showered with kisses from her pack members, Kuna pulls double duty and is the alpha female of the adjacent Cascade pack as well. 

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is currently focussed on rescuing wolfdogs primarily in Western Canada, with the occasional rescue coming from the USA. As for the guests, a visit to the sanctuary helps them learn a lot about wolves and wolfdogs and walk away with a new understanding of the amazing animals. 

An optional tour to the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is included in most of Evergreen’s Canada itineraries. 

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