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Imagine the scenario. I am standing in my kitchen at the farm, when I suddenly here a voice booming, “NO, WILLOW!” As I look out the window, I see a white wolf running down the field, followed by my dog in hot pursuit, followed by my husband in his birthday suit. I am able to scramble outside and join Brad in shouting bloody murder at our dog, who miraculously obeys us and turns back, leaving an incredibly confused wolf to run into the bushes. After the shock of what just happened wore off, we all stood laughing at the ridiculousness of Brad standing soaking wet and naked in the field. Just so you know, he was at the outdoor shower having a good scrub when this occurred. Willow was sitting on the deck beside him, and when she saw the wolf, she went into guard dog mode. She jumped off the deck and chased after the wolf which led to this story.
Wolves; everyone has a wolf story, am I right? Mine is connected to my time living in Pickle Lake as a child. At the time, the wolves were rampant in the community; so much so, that people were given the go-ahead to shoot the timber wolves in town, like a bounty hunt. Living in Pickle Lake in the late 70’s was seriously like living in the Wild West. It was a crazy, crazy, super fun place.
We didn’t have much for deer in the area, so it cannot be said that people were feeding the deer bird seed causing a widespread influx of wolf sightings. As a community, we all had many first hand experiences with wolves. In our yard alone, the wolves were literally beating down paths through our front yard. We could see them zip past our living room window. Our next door neighbour’s German Shepherd lost a battle quite abruptly to a pack of wolves while being tied to a tree one night. I don’t think I will ever lose that memory of the bloodstained snow and the pile of fur and bones that were the only reminder and remainder of “Prince”. Apparently, my dad couldn’t forget it either, as he got a group of friends together to make “Fort Bobinski”. Trees were split in half vertically and made to surround the whole back yard. We all know wolves can easily jump fences, but not 10-foot fences. We were protected.
That is, we were protected when we decided to stay in the yard, which wasn’t very often. We were bush kids, and freely roamed through the woods that flanked our property. We had forts to build, trees to climb, adventures to be has. We were just smart enough to be like the wolves and walk in packs. We stuck together and had grandiose plans of what we’d do if we did come across a wolf or two. One idea was to climb a tree and wait it out. In retrospect, that could have been a very cold situation. Another was to carry a stick and poke said attacking wolf with the stick in the eyes so it would be blinded and unable to see us to devour us. Remember, we were very, very young kids and these ideas seems very credible in our minds. It truly would have been a miracle to have that kind of accuracy and ability with a stick if the situation did unfold. But I have heard stories of kids punching bears in the nose to ward off an attack, so you just never know what could happen, eh?
And when the actual situation did arise, and my sister, her friend and I were confronted by a wolf, it was actually nothing like we imagined. First of all, there were no trees around for us to climb. Second of all, this wolf just kind of came out of nowhere. We didn’t even have a stick. My sister and her friend Darlene also missed the opportunity to pick me up by the arms, like they said they would do, to drag me to safety. That idea was a flop. Instead, I did what my dad told me to do if I saw a dog I didn’t like; stomp my foot and say “Get!” Miraculously, it worked that day. This wolf, who in my collective memory, was at my eye level, growled and kept walking. It could be hyperbole, but that is genuinely how I remembered the situation unfolding that dark night when my sister and Darlene were walking me home from Brownies. I scared off a big bad wolf with the stomp of my foot and commanding voice.
I wouldn’t count on that tactic to get me through another confrontation with a wolf. Sometimes at night, when the wolf activity seemed to be excessive, we would run up to the top floor of our town house. My sister’s bedroom faced the woods which you could see just passed “Fort Bobinski”. We would shut off all the lights and shine a flashlight out into the trees and could see the reflection of yellow eyes peering back at us. I am not just talking about a pair of eyes. I am talking about a whole pack of eyes, just outside our window….just beyond Fort Bobinski. It’s like the stuff of old fashioned Big Bad Wolf fairy tales and it turns my blood cold to this day just thinking about it.
When Alexander was a boy and would have friends over for bonfires, one of my favourite stories was the one about the wolves eyes that could be seen from our bedroom window. It’s even scarier than the wolf dressed in Grandma’s clothing because it really did happen. Once folklore gets transported into reality, it makes for a much more hair-raising experience. (On a side note, years ago I wrote and illustrated a children’s book and included a drawing of my son and his buddy Linden, sitting by the fire being told the “wolf eyes in the wilderness” story. I have a copy of that picture in my resource library for you. You are welcome to print it off for yourself. It makes for a great colouring page. The children’s book, “Sometimes” is now available as well for sale.
It was during and after my experience of living in Pickle Lake that I knew how important it was to respect these animals, and that we truly were on their territory. We knew to come in at night, considering they are nocturnal animals. We knew to stick together. We knew that we had to continue to enjoy what nature had to offer us because wolves are notoriously shy animals that do not find humans to be tasty in the least (but I think we’ll do in a pinch. Haha) . As a matter of fact, most wolf attacks (which are incredibly low in numbers) happen when their food source is so low that they start taking the risk of coming in to town to scavenge through garbage for food. It is then, that you will notice your family pet mysteriously missing. It is then that a person may also encounter a wolf and may even be attacked. If someone is saying a wolf is roaming around town, take heed. Yes, sometimes wolves are just passing through from point A to point B, but if they’re staying, they’re hungry or rabid, or hungry and rabid (which would make them “hangry”, I guess.)
Let me share another wolf story with you. Brad also had an incredibly close encounter with a wolf as well, and surprise, surprise, he was naked when this scenario unfolded. Take a look at the video included to see how Brad dealt with his wolf encounter of the closest kind.
And here’s yet another incredible story of unknowingly interacting with a wolf, kindly shared with me from Jane Malchesky;
“About 10 years ago I was walking on our walking path on the outskirts of town, with my tunes on and headphones in… a truck coming the opposite direction was slowing down and the lady in the passenger seat was waving and yelling at me so I took my headphones out and she was pointing behind me and yelling but I couldn’t hear what she was saying… I looked behind me and a huge wolf was running down the path at me!!! I ran and jumped into the bed of the strangers truck lol I called a CO and they later confirmed there was a litter of wolves in the area that I was walking by and this was Mama protecting them. They put up signs to not disturb them after that, they didn’t want to move them until they were older.. Sure got my heart racing and I didn’t even catch the names of the people in the truck but appreciated them that day!”
If you’re reading this and you happen to know who it was that helped Jane out of this predicament that day, by all means, send me a message and let me know! I know Jane and I also know she’d love to thank the person that helped her out!
Last winter, the subject in the Red Lake district was about wolves; wolves limping down back roads, wolves in people’s driveways, wolves attacking pets and more. It is definitely a huge subject that should never be taken lightly, ever. A woman claimed to have been attacked by a wolf while walking her dogs one evening and the whole town was in a hullaballoo. People had been reporting sightings of a large black wolf wandering on the frozen lake in the area, and perhaps getting a bit too close to town. It was never confirmed whether the attack was a wolf or a dog, and going back to the area to search for tracks resulted in nothing as the snowfall was so heavy, that all tracks were covered.
As northerners, we all know the importance of having a healthy respect for the wild animals that we co-habituate with, and to take every single story that is being told seriously. There is that fine line between giving a wild animal the room it needs to carry out its existence, and the opportunity for us to protect ourselves from encounters with said wild animals. It comes down to point blank, being smart about how you decide to interact with nature. Check out the links provided on how to maintain a healthy distance from wolves and how to protect yourself in the event of an inevitable encounter.
Now that we have the farm, we find bits and pieces of deer fur here and there. Willow quite enjoys the globs of frozen deer hide that she can gnaw on in the comfort of her largely penned in space that keeps the wolves out. Last winter, our friend Gabe sent us an audio recording of a pack of wolves that had just successfully killed an animal and were yipping in rejoice. Take a listen for yourself. The sound makes my hair stand up just thinking about the eeriness.
We definitely have a real respect for the wolf pack and what they are capable of in numbers. But it is what it is; wolves kill other animals to survive, just like we do. We are the ones that need to be pro-active to lessen our encounters with Willow’s ancestors for both ours and Willow’s safety. We keep our Willow girl close by. We leash her when we need to, especially if going into unknown territory. We don’t walk her at night. She does not get to roam around alone. If she doesn’t come to our call, we leash her for a while until she earns the ability to be leash free again. If I am by myself, I always leash her. We keep an eye on her even here in the yard knowing that she could easily have an encounter with a wolf again. We also make sure there isn’t any food stuff that could be an attractant for a wolf or a deer. We just try to use common sense, just like we do with bears and other wildlife that we have to deal with living here in North-West Ontario. And we definitely do not want to have another situation where Brad has to track through the wilderness at night to find Willow (whose leash was keeping her closely attached to a juniper bush. You can read that whole story in detail by going over to my resource library and checking it out). If Rocky was not around to keep a close eye on her, we are almost certain she may have met up with a pack of wolves.
We do not want you to meet up with a pack of wolves. It wouldn’t hurt to review tactics with your family on how you can protect yourself and your pets from wolves. Out here at the farm, we don’t even have any livestock yet, but when we do, we are going to have to ensure that they are all incredibly protected from the wolves, coyotes, bears, and foxes that are in the hood. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to also remember that we are living in the wilderness, and we are definitely going to have encounters with wildlife. Those furry creatures were here way before we were. We just have to be smart about our interaction with these animals, and appreciate them from a healthy distance; a very, very healthy distance. If you have concerns regarding a siting that seems out of the ordinary or seems a bit too close to home, by all means, contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources to get some advice and assistance.
I would love to hear your wolf story. Feel free to post in the comments below this blog, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org If it’s a fantastic story, with your permission, I will embed it into this blog!
I have a lot of wildlife artwork up on my Redbubble portfolio. Check out the link provided if you’re interested in getting your own NWO wildlife art piece. And don’t forget to go to the resource library where I share the wolf image with you as a blank notecard, to print off for yourself.