Last weekend my husband, Lucy, and I took a trip down to Lancaster, PA to visit some family and to spend a nice long weekend away from the hubbub of New York City. Aside from going on numerous hikes through various state parks, we visited The Wolf Sanctuary of PA. The sanctuary sits on 22 acres of natural land situated in Lititz, PA and operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. They currently provide food, shelter, and veterinary care for about 40 wolves.
During our tour of the facility, we got to see a lot of the wolves up close. Some of them were actually wolf-dog hybrids that were rescued from less than ideal situations. One was from a woman who along with her husband got a hybrid as a pet. When they divorced, she moved with the wolf dog into a tiny apartment that he proceeded to destroy. To remedy the situation, she started bringing the dog to work and leaving him in her car… that he also destroyed. Another hybrid ended up in this sanctuary because he was being kept as a pet in an apartment in New York. Some of the wolves were actually rescues from wolf puppy mills. This was quite surprising to me as I’d never heard of anyone factory-farming wolves even though dog puppy mills are highly prevalent in Dutch Country.
My visit to the sanctuary was a lovely experience, as I’d never seen a wolf up close before. Being a dog trainer, I definitely felt like a kid in a candy store seeing that our dogs are descendents of Canis Lupus (the Grey Wolf). * Much to my delight, the sanctuary provided visitors with a handout on wolf body language that was very useful. During the tour, we witnessed a few squabbles between the wolves during instances of resource guarding and it was interesting to watch them resolve conflict.
We plan on another visit during the winter. We hear from the staff that the wolves are way more active during the snowy season. I can’t wait! Also, for those of you interested in checking out some wolves, but who aren’t too keen on driving 4 hours, I hear there’s an awesome place in New Jersey called the Lakota Wolf Preserve.
* I do have to say though that captive wolves behave quite differently from those in the wild and our dogs are quite different than wolves in both looks and behavior. The dangers of treating our domesticated dogs like wolves, especially basing our training methodology around wolf behavior is for another blog post entirely.