Many of you know, I have been working at Wolf Connection for a couple years now. Perhaps it deserves its own post at some point, this place is one of the most incredible I have ever known. Wolf Connection, the humans and canines there - feel more like home than anything has since, well - since I left home.
When I first arrived at Wolf Connection for my interview, I was greeted by two creatures who were very unmistakably wolves. One of them was confident, intimidating, and incredibly beautiful. The other, while equally as beautiful, had a much more puplike demeanor, as well as quite a bit more hesitance to come see me. He stayed back, standing behind the other, looking to him often.
I found the wolf in front to be Chance, and his reluctant counterpart was Koda. They were brothers, and hailed from Alaska. Unfortunately, their past is one of great abuse.
Chance and Koda were rescued from a roadside attraction, where tourists paid money to throw treats at them as they drove by, while the boys were chained to a pole. The chains froze into their necks, and had to be surgically removed upon their rescue. Thankfully, the attraction was condemned and the owners criminally charged, however the twenty-six wolves who lived there were sentenced to be put to sleep.
Wolf Connection, along with other rescues, stepped up to save these animals. Not without good reason, Chance and Koda were very fearful of man-made objects. After much patient and loving work, they both learned to walk on a leash, and began to enjoy long hikes and became irreplaceable figures in our Wolf Therapy™ programs.
I, having been a victim of great trauma, related deeply to these two. I saw my relationship between myself and my mother (who passed away from cancer in 2009) in them. Chance was always there for Koda, to tell him it was okay, to tell him to stop, or give him confidence to come up to people and interact. Koda was necessarily codependent upon Chance, as I was upon on my mother. The world is a big, scary, dark place sometimes - and there are strong rays of light that come into your life and show you the way. She and Chance are shining examples of these.
Last year, Chance was diagnosed with cancer. Despite a valiant battle, he passed on right before Christmas. Since I had come to Wolf Connection, animals had passed on, and it is always tragic - but this was the first with whom I had such a personal connection. We celebrated his life with an incredible ceremony, that I will never forget.
Koda was lost. We introduced him to some new wolf friends, who helped greatly with his grief, but I saw the darkness surrounding him. When I was with him or watching him with others, I would catch him drifting off into the distance, often toward where his brother was buried. I can't tell you how familiar that feeling is.
Koda has rallied, and learned to be himself without Chance. He's changed, he's stronger, he's more independent. But I can see that it hurt to get there. He has had to ask for help a lot on the way. What do you do when the one you always turned to goes away? It's impossible to walk this path without stumbling, without having to ask for help - or to take it reluctantly.
Koda's and my relationship has blossomed. We have both overcome a lot of fear, mostly fear of independence and fear of being alone. Neither of us used to be able to go out on our own without someone or something to help us. Clearly, neither of us are alone - but until I met him, I wasn't sure there was another soul on this planet who would feel the type of loss that I did. No, I am not terminally unique, but it felt hard to relate to most.
I have always wanted to share some of our story. I am endlessly grateful for Koda, for the love and strength he has shown me and countless others. He will always be, my best friend, my soulmate.