Last Tuesday morning, the Peck family was going about their normal routine. They let the dogs out on their rural property in Charlie Lake, then got ready for work. Clay went outside and started his truck, but noticed something was very wrong with Wyatt, one of their dogs. Wyatt was at the end of their driveway, shaking and bleeding. Clay hurriedly picked him up and brought him inside to his wife, Katy.
Katy had five years of experience managing a veterinary clinic in Anchorage, Alaska, before moving to the Peace with her husband. The two of them have been homesteading there for about a year and a half, and this is the first time they’d seen something like this.
She looked over Wyatt’s wounds, noting that there was a gash in his shoulder, and puncture wounds in his neck, but he wasn’t actively bleeding. She wrapped him in a towel and gave him to her husband to take to the vet in town.
Katy called ahead to alert them of their arrival, then she took a walk around the property to see if she could piece together what had happened to Wyatt.
She didn’t think it was a dog fight, because Wyatt was familiar with all the neighborhood dogs. She considered the horses — one of them might have bitten him — or even coyotes. He had only been out for 15 or 20 minutes, and Katy didn’t think anything else would have come that close to the house.
“I followed the blood trail and lost it a little bit,” she said. “Then I walked over to the corrals to see if I could find any footprints down there, and then that’s when I heard wolves howling all around me.”
That was around 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning, and the sun had already come up. It was unusual to hear that sound outside of dawn or dusk.
The wolves were nearby.
That sent her back to the house right away, where she contacted an old friend who’s a retired conservation officer.
In the meantime, Clay and Wyatt came home from the vet. He had been shaved off, stitched up and the wounds cleaned.
The vet thought it was multiple assailants — probably coyotes. The conservation officer agreed. If it had been wolves, they thought, Wyatt wouldn’t have made it back.
They followed the blood trail further, and the conservation officer discovered a fresh kill, a mule deer about 100 yards from the Peck residence.
There were tracks, big ones, that could only belong to wolves.
The tracks told a story that could have ended much worse for Wyatt.
It seemed there were at least three wolves that had been hunting deer close to the home, disregarding their usual caution that keeps them at a distance from humans. Wyatt, who probably smelled the intruders when he went out for his morning patrol, interrupted the hunting party.
A fight ensued, and Wyatt got the worst of it, though not without giving some back.
Katy noted some abrasions on his teeth that indicate the fight wasn’t completely one-sided. He managed to get away from the wolves, and perhaps frightened off by the sound of Clay’s truck starting, they didn’t pursue Wyatt all the way back.
What shocked the Pecks most was how close the wolves came.
“I think for right now we’re kind of on guard. The wolves have such a huge territory, I’m sure they’ve moved on down to the river,” she said.
“All we can do is be aware, our neighbors are aware, we keep our eyes out, but for the most part we’re so active on the property, I’ve never once felt afraid. I think it was just wrong place, wrong time. Hopefully Wyatt is more aware about not going too far off by himself. I don’t think we can live our lives in fear.”
As for the hero, he’s recovering slowly.
“He walked downstairs by himself today and went back up them, and he barked at the horses yesterday, so he’s gotten back to his old self,” said Katy. “We’ve got him on antibiotics, he’s on pain medications. He’s pretty much sucking it up and milking mom for all she’s worth. We think he’s going to make it.”
— Katy's blog, Canadian Acres, can be found at www.canadian-acres.com.