Oct. 10, 2014 – Both these pups will be 6 months old this weekend & there has been a world of change from when I got them at 5 weeks old. That may sound like a stupid statement but obviously true.
When I picked them up from the airport, where they were flown to by the breeder, they were very traumatized. They were unsure where they were, who was I, & why am I not with my other packmates? Two reasons stand out for me as to why they were so traumatized. One is the above reason & this frightening flight but another more important reason was that the breeder released them to me too late. Both pups were 5 weeks old but you should get these animals with such high wolf content no later than 4 weeks old for bonding purposes. Particularly Nahanni who was cognitively much more advanced than his physical age. This little character was operating at a 10-12 week old pup! Most vets will tell you a 5 week old pup is pretty slow cognitively but not Nahanni. Mahikan was not as advanced as Nahanni but she fed off of his wariness, so therefore I had 2 pups who did not want to bond immediately with me or Sally.
They comforted each other by becoming very close. They slept curled up together, played together, made sure that each other was safe & secure. I slept with them for the first week & for the first 3 weeks that they were here, I spent 15 hours each day being with them to gain their trust. This trust is not given but you earn every aspect of that trust.
This was very discouraging as they would flee from you when you came out to greet them. Despite laying on the ground & crawling to them to alleviate my extreme height advantage, they did not want to get very close. Except for feeding when I could feed them from my hand but let them mainly eat from the bowl. By the first week of June, the pups were wanting affection & Mahikan loved to wash my face. Then some incident would occur such as a loud noise or something that spooked them & then there was no contact until they felt safer.
On June 8th, I had closed off most of the underneath part of the deck & allowed Nahanni & Mahikan full access to Tundra & Meshach. Tundra loved to play with Nahanni & lick him but was not as engaging with Mahikan. Nahanni really enjoyed & sought out Tundra for affection & reassurance. Meshach generally ignored the pups but was tolerant with them. If I played with the older wolves, then the 2 pups wanted contact with me. On June 14th, they howled with Tundra for the first time. Really neat to hear. They liked the early morning contact with me in the trailer but once I brought them to the run, they generally avoided me.
On June 19th, it was raining hard & I wanted to get them into the covered kennel. Naturally they did not want me to pick them up & carry them there nor would they come into the kennel when I invited them in. They were wet & shivering & finally they allowed me to pick them up & take them to the kennel. I shut the gate & dried them off with the towel & then I rubbed & petted them with my hands & they really enjoyed that. Our bonding started to happen from that point. In the evening when it cleared we took all 4 wolfdogs for a nice walk & the pups really enjoyed this activity. In my journal I see noted that after this event, they would trust me more & start to come up to me more. On June 21st, they slept outside for the first time rather than in the trailer. On July 11th, I let them sleep outside at nite not in the kennel but where they wanted to sleep. This was a big development because there had been a cougar in the vicinity but they had the deck to hide under. It seemed to improve my interaction with them because I did not need to corral them into the kennel & shut gate. Both pups are very active throughout the nite with them running & playing together.
In late July, we stopped taking them for walks because they did not want to get their harnesses on. Both pups would run from us & eventually we would capture them & take them for walks. They would chew thru their nylon harnesses in under 60 seconds. They liked the exercise but not the process of getting them hooked up. We found that they would start avoiding us as they thought they would be put in their harnesses. When we stopped doing this, they came up to us much more. They love being in their yard because this is where they are free & safe & secure. In early August, I would greet them at 5AM & they got their treats of pieces of European weiner. Then they would lay down beside me & I would pet them, give them tummy rubs & back rubs. Mahikan would stay still for a couple of minutes & then wander off & come back. Nahanni would just lay there & let me rub him for 10 minutes & now it is more like 20 minutes. Nahanni always loved getting his chest rubbed as a little puppy but he revels in it now. Mahikan will wash my face constantly & lays with me longer to get her back & tummy rubbed.
Howling is a daily exercise but some days we miss. The neighbors really enjoy hearing them howling & Tundra sometimes will join us. They can be heard more them 1KM away. I get Mahikan excited by whining & quipping & then she starts to howl always follwed by Nahanni.
This is a brief summary of their first 6 months of their life. It has taken a great deal of time & real patience to work thru their fright & wariness but the relationship I have with them now is very rewarding. I have left them to be wolves, to be independent, to trust in themselves first & me & Sally last. I would not have it any other way. They are beautiful!