Shadowland Foundation Wolf Ranch
The Shadowland Foundation is devoted to the preservation and education about wolves. The Shadowland Foundation homes a functioning “wolf” pack that as happy to smell new faces and absolutely adores toddlers. An hour-long educational presentation is followed by a trip to the fenced enclosure where you are able to meet, touch, feed, and experience the animals up-close. Despite the Foundations claims, these are not actually “wolves” as pointed out by a helpful reader in the comment section of this post.
It was a long drive, but we put our trust in mapquest and managed to find our way to Freedom Ranch about 15 minutes late. Unbeknownst to me, we weren’t the only attendees so our tardiness was noticed, and we were quickly directed towards the guesthouse for the presentation. We were greeted at the door by a 4.5 foot wolf, which was unexpected, but he was very friendly and we took our seats for the presentation.
The presentation was full of (what I found) fascinating information on the history of wolves, their vital position in the ecosystem, and they habits and mannerisms. The presentation was accompanied by nice visuals on a large flat screen. The wolves were well behaved during the presentation…I can’t say the same for my boys. It was a long car trip and sitting quietly to listen to somebody talk was more than they could take. I think Peter even took K outside for a chunk of it.
After the presentation, we were led out to the coral behind the main residence. This isn’t Wolf World, or some major theme park attraction, it’s a bunch of “wolves” in a fenced backyard (they’ve got acres to run on but they just bring them into the coral for visitors). But this is different than just playing with dogs at home…because the pack mentality is intact, and they behaved according to pack hierarchy.
The time in the coral was well organized; they knew what people would want to see and do, and made sure everyone got the opportunity. Everyone who wanted the chance, could feed a wolf, get photos, ask a question…there was no need to rush to the front of the line.
One of the big things I learned is that wolves love babies. I’ve heard of wolves adopting lost children…I totally believe it now. K was the youngest thing on two legs, and the wolves went nuts for him. Rubbing, kissing, licking, nipping, and of course sniffing (wolves sniff everything). K was loving the attention. J, who is much more reserved when it comes to animals, zipped up his hoodie and patted an omega on occasion.
The main attraction for our boys was the doggie-door. At first the boys just had fun crawling through a hold in the wall, but then they noticed the wolves’ reaction. The wolves didn’t know what to think about two little humans using their door and were too polite to say anything about it..so they just went sniff crazy. At this point J started making faces at them and truly interacting to increase the wolves’ curiosity and puzzlement.
We stayed as long as we could, listening to stories and asking questions of our own, but eventually our fingers went numb. It was COLD. REALLY COLD. It was hot down in the valley, but a vicious wind was tearing through the mountainous territory and dropping the temperature by about 30 degrees. We grabbed hot cocoa, let the boys swing on the hammock, and headed home.
Wolves vs Dogs
Someone who actually found this blog, pointed out that the “wolves” at Shadowland are really more dog than wolf based on a number of visual cues. Breeding aside, it was still an enjoyable to observe the pack behavior and I still count this as an educational afternoon…we just obviously weren’t educated on the differences between wolves and dogs. A link pointing out the differences between dogs and wolves is found below in the visitor comments section.
The visit starts with a 45 minute presentation. It was fascinating and very educational, but it’s a lot to expect from little boys that have been in the car for over an hour. If you’re going with little kids, arrive early so they can run around and get their wiggles out before the presentation starts.
The dogs LOVE babies. If you have a small child who’s afraid of dogs, don’t come hoping they won’t notice. The dogs will be kissing, sniffing, rubbing, mobbing the little ones and ignore virtually everyone else.