Dancing with Wolves – Not.
I am afraid of dogs. Big, little, fluffy, noisy or quiet, they are pretty much all the same to me. You might be surprised to find out I grew up in a home with German Shepherds, nice ones at that.
You can imagine how enthused I was when my brother’s family announced they had the perfect gift for him – a visit to a wolf sanctuary. Located in Naples, Florida of all places. But I have to admit – it was the most perfect experience gift for my brother – ever.
So, my husband and I went. I admit I was nervous.
It was actually much more interesting than I ever could imagine. The Shy Wolf Sanctuary is located in a residential, rural area near Naples and houses 69+ animals including an amazing number of wolves, wolf-dogs and other wildlife in large, well-maintained shelters. The setting is lush, even after losing canopy from a recent hurricane, and staff works hard to provide stimulation and enrichment for the animals. It’s an all-volunteer operation and they depend on contributions. My brother’s wife and kids had donated so we could have a private tour and some one-on-one time with a few of the animals.
First off, who knew wolf-dogs were legal in Florida? How crazy is that? Naïve pet-owners can end up in a real pickle since there is no way of knowing how the animal will eventually react. Some with a higher percentage of wolf can be more dog-like in temperament, others quite the opposite.
As we learned more and saw more of the animals I could feel my anxiety level dropping.
We had our special time with the very large wolf-dogs Mohan and Dancer, and I did touch one of them – lol. Otherwise, I was content to watch the rest of my family cavort, get licked, and nuzzle with them.
I loved seeing the bobcat, Bob Leo, and the beautiful, majestic Florida panther, Cimarron. I do love cats, of any size.
These are all rescued animals (since 1993!) and I was so impressed with the volunteers. Our expert guide Jeremy is a tech wizard during the week and rescue-maven on the weekends. He was amazing.
My favorite part was definitely when all the wolves started howling; then the five resident coyotes joined in. BTW, coyotes do everything they can to stay away from wolves.
You can’t just walk into the Sanctuary, visits are limited. If you are interested you need to set-up an appointment (and make a contribution) well in advance, but it’s worth it. It’s a great cause and a great service to South Florida. You can contribute at many levels and ways, including $49 to feed a wolf for a month or $588 for a year. It’s a Florida 501c3, is licensed and has high ratings. Check out their website and read more about their mission and details about each animal: https://shywolfsanctuary.org/
Wolf trivia: Real wolves don’t have blue eyes – only amber.