Archive | March, 2014

My Trip to W.O.L.F Sanctuary and Progress on a New Location

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Want to know how I spent my Saturday last weekend? Driving up Rist Canyon with a gorgeous mountain view, paired with a greeting by a chorus of howling wolves as I pulled into W.O.L.F Sanctuary in Laporte, Colorado. So yea, it was kind of awesome!

Being part of the “animal community” I sometimes get some really fun perks, like getting to visit W.O.L.F for a personal guided tour with my friend, Amelia Wieber, who has lots of experience working with wild animals. Wieber is the head volunteer coordinator for W.O.L.F and she is also a very experienced dog trainer, which makes her a perfect fit for working with wolves at the sanctuary.

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The sanctuary is not currently open to visitors to just drop by, and getting there requires 4-wheel drive vehicle, so I was very grateful to get a “sneak peak”. I’ve been wanting to visit W.O.L.F for quite a while to see these beautiful animals up close, and check-in on their plans to transition the sanctuary to a new location. The terrain is a little worse for wear after the most recent bouts with extreme weather, including fires and flooding, and the organization is currently raising funds for a smooth transition to new land.

Let’s Meet the Stars of the Show – The Wolves

“Most of our wolves are dog hybrids, but there may be about 10 that are actual pure wolf. It’s difficult to determine for sure if a wolf/dog mix is a pure wolf unless we do genetic testing, which can be very expensive and only tracks the heredity on the mom’s side,” says Wieber. “We often try and work with more physical characteristics like behavior, markings and personality to get a sense of their make-up.”

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Well hello there Bella Roux!

Wieber also told me that there may also be some dogs currently in people’s homes that are pretty much pure wolf, but because of the reasons I’ve already mentioned, there is no way to know for sure — even with expensive genetic testing.

A lot of the wolf/dogs at the Sanctuary came through relinquishes or because of behavior challenges, or if their “make-up” is a little too much towards the “wolf side”, which can make them a bit of a wild card (no pun intended). Right now the sanctuary is at max capacity at 30 wolves being cared for on site.

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Sigmund and Tundra. Sigmund is part Collie!

Each pen is designed to leave some open space for the wolves to roam along the mountain terrain, and each enclosure has a dug-in wolf den or little dog house for them to stay in. Some are in pairs and others have their own space.

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I was able to get inside one of the pens, as those wolves were a bit more people-friendly, so most photos were taken from outside the cage for my own safety.

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Sacha relaxing and taking a breather after getting some pets from me and Wieber.

 

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Pax is taking a break before heading for a run up the hill in the back of his enclosure.

All of their food is donated by local businesses, including Poudre Pet and Feed Supply and Walmart, as well as other local organizations that help supply food to non-profits.

A Critical Step Along the Path of the WOLF Sanctuary- Funding for Changing Locations

More than anything else, the sanctuary needs funding to help keep these 30 wolves living there healthy and well-fed, and to raise money for the transition to a safer, more friendly location. Recent fires and floods in northern colorado have damaged the land and posed a risk for the well-being of the animals that reside there, especially if mother nature continues to be so immensely unpredictable.

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They have found a new location that can work, but it’s not finalized at this time and they are still working out the details, including permits and county clearance. Ideally, wherever W.O.L.F. ends up, they will have at least 75 – 100 acres not in a flood plain, with space to provide a half-acre per wolf enclosure, paired with lots of trees and natural vegetation. This will not only offer plenty of space for the wolves currently in their care , but enable them to expand and rescue even more. Their current location has 168 acres, but they are only currently using about five of them.

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Wieber with Odin, having a chat.

There is also a plan to add in an additional profit side to the sanctuary – a gift shop that will allow them to sell merchandise on-site instead of only online. Access to a county road managed by the county and is easy to drive on is critical, and will make it easier for people to visit. However, there is the important balance of “easy access” and making sure the wolves are in a supportive habitat that isn’t too people-friendly.

W.O.L.F. has several ways you can help with the transition effort listed on their website or you can send them donations directly to PO Box 1544 LaPorte CO 80535, and at a special donation page.

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Another one of Odin, just checking us out.

As for me, it was great to finally get some time with the wolves in a more intimate way. They are very comfortable and respond so well to Wieber, it’s easy to forget that that really are “wild”. It’s just a testament to her skills and dedication to getting to know the personality and nuances of each wolf so that they are cared for in the best possible ways.

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Thor showing us he likes to play and be silly, just like any other dog.

And the best treat of all? Getting a group wolf howling send-off, ending the trip as it began.

Fort Collins Critter Events for March 7th – 14th

PrincessLooks like this Saturday is a BIG day for events with lots of fun things to choose from around Northern Colorado. What are you going to do? This week’s adoptable is Princess, a 6 year old female black and tan Dachunnd Mix. She’s definitely got some get up and go, so if you are looking for an active little lady, she may be the one for you. She is seriously adorable! You can see if she is a fit for your family by visiting the Larimer Humane Society.

Saturday, March 8th 

Dog Friendly Colorado Ice Game 

When: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Where: Budweiser Events Center

For the first time at a Colorado Ice game, fans can bring their dog to the game! Colorado Ice will be hosting a dog-friendly game against the Wyoming Calvary. Bring your pooch and come out to support homeless animals. Proceeds will go to benefit Larimer Humane Society, Animal House Rescue and Grooming, and the Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic.

A special seating area will be reserved for dog owners and their pets, and we’ll have fun opportunities for dog owners and pet lovers alike. Call 970-472-0128 and mention the organization you want to support when reserving your ticket, and a portion of your proceeds will go toward helping the animals in our care! Tickets are $18. You can also check other event details here.

During the event the Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay/Neuter Clinic will be collecting pet food donations.

Low Cost Vaccine Clinic hosted by the Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic

When: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: FCCRSNC Clinic, 2321 E. Mulberry St., Unit 9, Fort Collins

Walk-in, low-cost vaccination clinic; no appointment needed. Dogs must be on a leash, cats must be in a carrier. Please keep pets outside until it is their turn to be seen.

Foster Home Training for Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic 

When: 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Where: FCCRSNC Clinic, 2321 E. Mulberry St., Unit 9, Fort Collins

We’re recruiting volunteers to open their hearts and homes to abandoned cats and kittens in need! You can apply online here.

This one is out of town on Saturday, but sounds really cool!

Frozen Dead Guys through the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program 

When: 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and on on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where: Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center, 20 Lakeview Drive, Roosevelt National Forest,Nederland,CO 80466

The Rocky Mountain Raptor Program will be on display during this great Colorado Mountain Tradition. Frozen Dead Guy Days is held in Nederland Colorado.  We will  have raptors on display in the Wild Bear Nature Center. Formal presentation times will be 2pm on Saturday and 11 am on Sunday. Take this beautiful drive into the Colorado mountains and visit us!

Sunday, March 9th 

Animal Afternoon at the Council Tree Library

When: 3 – 4 p.m.

Where: Community room at the Council Tree Library on 2733 Council Tree Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80525

Join Larimer Animal People Partnership volunteers and their special story-loving critters. Enjoy good books and the opportunity to read to friendly animals. For children in grades K-5. 40-60 minutes.

Tuesday, March 11th

Low Cost Vaccination Clinic hosted by Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic  

When: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where: FCCRSNC Clinic, 2321 E. Mulberry St., Unit 9, Fort Collins

Wednesday, March 12th 

Hawks of the Raptor World: Soar and Spirit, courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program 

When: 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Where: Old Town Library 201 Peterson St, Fort Collins, CO 80524

Join Carin Availa from the Rocky Mountain Raptor Center as she tells us about the Hawks of the Raptor World. Carin will bring several hawks to visit for the talk. Contact 970-221-6380 for more information.

Thursday, March 13th 

Talk sponsored by the Fort Collins Audubon Society titled: “Carnivore Conservation in Colorado: A Look Back and a (potential) Look Forward” 

Eric Odell will describe past and potential future conservation programs that the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks and Wildlife) have embarked on to restore native carnivore populations to Colorado. River otters, canada lynx and wolverine will be discussed. An insight to the biological, social and political challenges in achieving success will be presented.

Please visit the site for more information on time and location.

Save the Date!

Saturday March 15th, Cat Caravan Adoption Fair with the Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic

When: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: Farm at Lee Martinez Park, 600 Sherwood Street, Fort Collins CO

Come celebrate St. Cat-rick’s Day! Off-site adoption event for kittens and cats. $10 adoption fees for adult cats 6-months or older. They are also sending kittens home with starter kits.

If you have any upcoming events you want to tell me about, shoot me an email at katrina@tailsoffortcollins.com. Have an event that missed the post, shoot me an email anyway and I will share it on social media. Thanks for reading!

Surprising Insights on Good First-Time Pets for Kids

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There comes a time in every family when you have the pet discussion. Should you or shouldn’t you? What type of pet is best for your home and kids? Is a pet going to be more work than it’s worth?

Getting a pet is an important choice for any family, especially when you have a young child who wants a specific type of pet desperately. But before you give in, it’s important to cover a few basics to ensure the health of the pet you purchase or adopt, as well as your own sanity.

Having “The Talk” About a First-Time Pet

Any time you are bringing a new animal into your home, it’s important to think about key things, including:

  • Do we have the right space and environment to care for a pet, especially this type?
  • Will there be a dedicated schedule for feeding, cleaning, walking etc.?
  • Is your child mature and dependable enough to take care of this animal for the long-term and consistently, even with social distractions?
  • How expensive will it be to care for the animal, and what type of equipment/habitat would we need to purchase to house it properly?
  • Can your child be calm and gentle around the animal consistently?

If you can get clear on where you stand with these basic requirements, it saves a lot of time, energy and effort in the long-run in choosing the right pet, not to mention preserving the quality of life for the animal.

Internet Sources vs a Vet: What is a Good First-Time Pet for Kids?

I did some online research into recommended pets for kids that were sourced by pet sitting businesses and animal organizations. Then I talked to local veterinarian Brenda McClelland, owner of the Pet Wellness Clinic in Fort Collins. I was expecting her to corroborate most of my findings, but I was surprised to hear what McClelland had to say about some of common recommended child-friendly pets.

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Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig , Gerbil, Mice and Hamsters

Several online sources said that a guinea pig would be a nice option as a cage pet for young children. They are small, children can handle them easily and a cage is easy enough to place in the child’s room, allowing them to bond with the pet.

McClelland completely disagrees. “Guinea pigs and gerbils are often viewed as disposable pets. They are easily injured and often suffer from broken backs and degloved tails, which is what happens when a gerbil’s tail is pulled and the skin comes off. Kids may do it by accident, but it happens often,” she said. McClelland added that mice are a bit heartier, but also run the same risks with injury to the back and tail, although not as easily. Rodents can also be a bit bitey when provoked, which can be a bit of a wild card around curious kids.

It’s important to give them a good cage with lots physical activity options, as well as things to chew to keep their teeth under control. Rodents are also small (and can get away quickly) so it’s important to have a secure cage and calm handling techniques that you review with your children.

Parakeets

Parakeets

Small or medium Sized Birds: Parakeets, Parrots, Cockatiels (A type of parrot)

Many sites suggested birds, which was really surprising to me. They rated birds as good companion animals that are easy to care for, train, live a long time and are good for people who live in an apartment.

I’ve pet sat for birds. They are messy, loud and not particularly cuddly (which is what I assume that a kid would want, honestly). McClelland also thought birds would be a poor choice as a pet for kids. She added that birds are really hard to take care of and they are very susceptible to stress. Over time, that can have a huge impact on the bird’s overall health. They are best for older kids, if at all.

Gecko

Gecko

Reptiles: Lizards, Geckos, Bearded Dragon

Online sites suggest that a leopard gecko, for example, is one of the easiest reptiles to care for and are “somewhat” easy to tame. However, they are nocturnal, so cages in the bedroom might create a problem. McClelland also pointed out that there is a there is a salmonella risk with reptiles, so it’s super important that kids are good about washing their hands frequently before touching food or other things in the home.

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Bunny

Small Breed or Mini Rabbits

Rabbits are lovely to look at and ohh so cuddly, but they also can pack a punch with their back legs. Just be sure you choose a breed that is more social, including the Dutch, Mini Rex Mini Lop or Netherland Dwarf, especially if they are going to be handled by kids regularly. They also need a dedicated space indoors and out for proper care.

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Hermit Crab

Fish, Hermit Crabs, Ants, Hissing Cockroach

These pets are smaller, live in a tank or cage and can be easily enjoyed by kids of all ages. Feeding can even be done by young children with supervision. It would require some adult assistance to manage the cleaning and feeding, but at least there is no need to take the animal outdoors and the waste cleanup is minimal. McClelland agrees that beyond the special food or cages for these types of critters, there is a nice opportunity for kids to get used to contributing to animal care and pet ownership.

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Cats and Dogs, Especially Seniors

As for the top pet McClelland recommends… it’s a cat. She admits she’s a bit partial since she is a cat owner as well as a vet, but she feels cats are easy because they “go” indoors, have simple food needs and there is minimal clean-up. In terms of allergies, A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Dennis R. Ownby, MD; Christine Cole Johnson, PhD; and Edward L. Peterson, PhD, concluded that “Exposure to two or more dogs or cats in the first year of life may reduce subsequent risk of allergic sensitization to multiple allergens during childhood.”  http://jama.ama-assn.org,Volume 288 No. 8, August 28, 2002). According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs are the most popular companion animal.

What is your experience? What types of pets are good with your kiddos? Did you do a lot of research ahead of time?

Sponsored Post – A Great Way to Help Animals

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One of the best things about writing for the blog Tails of Fort Collins is that I get to interview lots of very talented, passionate animal lovers including vets and veterinary assistants, animal trainers, local business owners and folks from non-profit organizations. I learn so much by connecting with them. They are the reason I’m able to provide pet owners and animal fans with quick access to expert insights and know-how through the Tails blog.

To help fund the effort to provide valuable, quality information for the community that benefits both pet owners and fellow Colorado businesses, The Scoop Blogs (and Tails) uses advertising dollars. It’s a great way for quality local businesses to support each other and connect with people that actually want to learn more about animals and related interests.

This month I’m excited to have my very first ad sponsor on Tails from U.S. Career Institute. They offer a range of career options for non-traditional students, but the best part is that they have a quality online learning methodology that works. Their online Veterinary Assistant School is a great option for people who really want to work with animals and have a natural gift they would like to share in a vet clinic or shelter environment. In fact, when I was working as a pet sitter and at WildKind, I considered going to school to become a vet assistant myself!

What I thought was really cool about the program is that you can do it online while you are working at another job and they help you find a position after you have completed the training. Based on my blog post about curbing the unplanned pet population and the demand it puts on vets, shelters and the community, it’s a great way to provide a much-needed service for animals and people.

So if a career working with animals sounds interesting, or if you decide to check out the USCI site or program because you saw them on Tails of Fort Collins, let them know!