With four days off each week we have plenty of time to explore northeastern Arizona and western New Mexico. Located about forty miles south between Gallup and Grants, NM in the small town of Candy Kitchen is Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. We went there for one of the four regularly scheduled tours given Tuesday-Sunday. On this particular Sunday we were the only people on the tour which was great and made it very personal. Just know that the area is very muddy so boots are recommended.
Before continuing about our visit at Wild Spirit we’ll mention a bit of how the town of Candy Kitchen got it’s name. During Prohibition the government kept a close eye on anyone buying sugar in large quantities. To provide a cover for his bootlegging operation, a local resident started making piñon nut candy. People came to buy candy and often also something to wash it down. The area became known as the Candy Kitchen and the name stuck.
The Sanctuary began in the early 90s when artist Jacque Evans bought a ranch in Candy Kitchen. Hearing about mistreatment of wolves and wolf dogs she decided to turn the property into a rescue facility supported by selling her artwork. Gradually the facility grew and became a non-profit organization. Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is operated solely on donations and the efforts of a very dedicated staff. They care for wolves, wolf-dogs, coyotes, dingos and foxes. Some were trapped in the wild but most were rescued from inappropriate owners or illegal breeding situations. If you read about the wolf that was found recently at the Grand Canyon, he is at Wild Spirit as well. Had they not been able to take him, he would have been euthanized. Whenever possible they keep male/female pairs together because they are very social animals. All of the animals are neutered and no breeding occurs here. The only time they have pups is if a pregnant female is rescued. Why people think they can take a wild animal and turn it into a pet is beyond us. The illegal breeding of wolves with dogs goes on despite law enforcement attempts to prevent such cruelty. The story that got to me the most was about a coyote kept on a chain in the backyard and the collar and chain cut into his skin and became imbedded. When the animal was rescued the chain had to be removed surgically.
All of the animals appeared to be well cared for by their personal caretakers. Our guide talked about the behavioral differences between wolves and dogs. The percentage of wolf to dog determines whether an animal is called a high content wolf dog or a medium content wolf dog. They usually can classify them by behavior. We stopped by one cage with a medium content animal who would alternately howl and bark. We also saw coyotes, dingos and a fox. Ever hear of a New Guinea Singing Dog? Neither had we. They look like small dingos and have a high pitched howl. At one point every animal started to howl or bark. Hearing a pack of wolves and wolf dogs is enchanting. We only wish they could be free and wild.
Taking pictures through single and double wire cages leaves a bit to be desired. The Sanctuary does offer photo tours for one or two people at a time either inside the cages of their “ambassador” animals for $50/hour/pp or in an acre size enclosure for $150/pp. We hope to return sometime for one of these opportunities. Until then here are some pictures from our visit. For more information go to their website at http://www.wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org.