Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wolf dogs find haven in New Hampshire sanctuary

What happens, finally, is you turn a corner – this one being deep in New Hampshire at the bottom of a frost-heaved dirt road over a Western ridge. There is a sign there, crude letters on simple planks. "Loki Clan Wolf Refuge," it says. And you turn that corner and then you see one. You see a wolf. Her name, you learn later, is Wayah. You're here to meet the man who saved her. In a minute that man, Fred Keating, will watch you watching Wayah, and will begin telling you about her. To begin with, she is not entirely a wolf, despite everything your senses tell you. She's a wolf dog, a mix made by breeding wolves in captivity with dogs. (Wolves won't mate with dogs in the wild.) In most states, Wayah is illegal; in the rest, she's a bad idea for all but a very, very few. "People get them, thinking they'll be pets," Mr. Keating says, "dogs, but cooler. But they're not pets. They're wolves. Doesn't matter if their wolf blood is only 1 percent – that makes them as smart as a 12-year-old human, compared with dogs who are like 3-month-old infants. They're wolves, and that's how they act."