COCHRANE, Alta. — The aptly named Lucky 7 are making their new home at Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.
On June 11, the sanctuary west of Cochrane off of Highway 1A set out on a mission to take in seven wolfdogs from northern Alberta after they were contacted by an acquaintance of the animals’ owner, and shortly after, the owner’s ex-wife.
“We were made aware of this situation where the wolfdogs were living on a property and their owner had fallen on some financial and health difficulties and had moved away,” said founder and executive director Georgina De Caigny. “The animals were basically left there on the property unsupervised and were only being sporadically fed and watered.”
De Caigny says they spent about two days preparing for the trek north for the rescue, which they deemed urgent with the onset of warmer weather.
The Yamnuska team was surprised and relieved to find the animals’ conditions hadn’t yet deteriorated when they arrived.
“We’re very grateful that people were looking out for these animals so that we could step in before there was any kind of detriment to them,” said De Caigny.
The rescue was an unusual one in that most of the missions they undertake involve wolfdogs who are not as well cared for or accustomed to humans.
“They were clearly very loved and valued, and we can see this because compared to what we’re used to with a ‘normal’ rescue, these guys are actually quite social and human-oriented,” said the executive director.
Due to the immediate nature of the situation, the sanctuary did not have time to prepare to build more enclosures prior to the animals’ arrival – which is where the Lucky 7 Rescue Campaign comes in.
The seven wolfdogs are comprised of two packs, one of three and one of four, and two new enclosure spaces are needed to house each pack.
The first enclosure will cost $33,000, and construction is set to get underway in roughly two weeks.
“The second enclosure that we’re building, hopefully later this fall, is going to be $52,000,” said De Caigny.
The second enclosure will be larger in size at about four acres so that an existing cluster of trees – essential to the wolfdogs – can be incorporated into their new home.
There are also veterinary and travel costs associated with the rescue which brings their fundraising campaign to a goal of $90,000.
They’ve raised nearly a third of that already, with $27,560 in donations in less than a week.
“It’s really amazing how much we’ve been able to raise so far,” said De Caigny. “We recognize that we still have a significant way to go.”
While three of the wolfdogs (named Kweeuu, Naqqui and Tuvac) await their new permanent home, they are being housed in an emergency holding pen at the sanctuary.
Meanwhile, the remaining four – Iiqooa, Takao, Kiore and Sylen – have been placed together in one of the existing enclosures after some shuffling around.
The pack of four is a full family unit, which is a first for the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.
“It’s a mom and a dad and their two offspring,” said De Caigny. “It’s really interesting for us to be able to see some of the interactions between them and just how they interact with one another. It’s quite fascinating to see.”
Iiqooa, the mother, is also the sister of the late Kaya, a wolfdog who was part of the Yamnuska pack at the sanctuary before she passed away in 2014.
De Caigny says they aren’t yet familiar enough with any of the wolfdogs’ behaviours to determine whether it’s appropriate to put them in an enclosure open to public viewing. For now, they’ll remain in private spaces.
On Saturday, June 25, the sanctuary will also be hosting a Volunteer Day from 1 to 4:30 p.m. The efforts of volunteers moving big logs and deadfall will help ensure the pack of three wolfdogs can get out of their holding pen and into their new enclosure once it’s built in the coming weeks.
Everyone 14 years of age and older is welcome to attend and bring their own tools such as gloves, wheelbarrows and chainsaws. No registration is necessary.
To donate to the Lucky 7 Rescue Campaign, visit yamnuskawolfdogsanctuary.com/lucky7.