The weekend began with salty ocean air tickling our lungs..
The excitement was clear as Kyro and his malamute friend, Valley, whined for freedom. The moment their paws touched the sandy coastline their minds were lost to the many scents of the sea. Once off-leash the boys took off down the coastline. Smelling each log and eyeing seagulls in the distance.
Kyro padded right to the water and waded up to his chest, panting with delight at the lovely day. Valley on the other hand avoided the water. Each wave that neared his paws he leapt from with a startled expression. Michael (Valley's owner) and I chuckled over his behavior. Who would have thought such a large dog would be so frightened by something so simple?
An old friend arrives..
Sarah, one of my dearest friends, came down to join us for a sunset playdate on the coast. Accompanying her was her lovely companion Ivar. Ivar is a Upper-Mid content Wolfdog who is an ambassador for an incredible organization called "Pack West Wolfdog Rescue". Sarah and I met through Instagram. We formed a friendship through our mutual desire to provide education on Wolfdogs and the topic of misrepresentation. Wolfdog misrepresentation is currently a rampant issue due to skewed social media, TV/movies and backyard breeders trying to make a quick dime using a "cool" label.
Sarah and I first met after agreeing to meet up for a playdate with Kyro and Ivar while Ivar was still a young pup. The hope was that by showing a off-standard husky with a true Wolfdog- people would have a good visual of the differences. Kyro and Ivar were instant friends. They bonded quickly and ended up cuddling at the end of our day. Meeting up with them once again was truly a joyful experience. It was wonderful to see how much Ivar had grown since we last saw them!
Time passed but their bond had remained..
It was obvious the moment that Kyro and Ivar saw each other they remembered one another. While Kyro and Valley approached Ivar in the typical pushy Northern breed greeting- Ivar displayed a different behavior entirely. Whereas Northern breeds tend to be pushy greeters, Ivar was submissive. Head bent to the side, soft whines and teeth shown he displayed in his wolf-y way that "I want to be friends." Seeing the difference between their interactions was interesting. It was a obvious difference that clearly showcased the separation of behavior from the Northern breeds and the Wolfdog.
Despite their interaction differences, the pups were all thrilled to be released onto the beach. Ivar remained on a long lead to start as Wolfdogs tend to be rather skittish and can startle with new experiences. They ran up and down together, playing in the receding tide. The joyous three musketeers. Absolutely clueless of their humans making fun of the goofy faces being made while they played.
A full moon and extremely low tides..
We crossed to a less populated side of the beach and ventured a good mile or two to a hidden spot. A spot Sarah and I had visited once before while Ivar was still a pup. Climbing up into this unique cove we met another photographer who showed us an amazing find. He had discovered a glass bottle covered in Russian writing and mussels in the tide pool. Placing the bottle in the water we watched curiously as the mussels began to feed.
This rocky spot made for a great place to take a break and relax while we waited for the sun to dip lower on the horizon. We shared laughs and discussed photography while the pups explored the new area.
Discussing Wolfdog education..
Having two breeds (husky and malamute) who are commonly mistaken/claimed as wolfdogs in the presence of an actual Wolfdog spurred nonstop chatter between Sarah and I. We attempted to capture some photographs that clearly showed the physical differences between these breeds in a hope that this would be useful education material. Sarah's entire Instagram page (@Ivar_the_real_wolfdog) is dedicated to help curb myths on Wolfdogs, provide education and to help eliminate misrepresentation.
For those who are not familiar with misrepresentation I will break it down lightly here. Misrepresentation (misrep, mislabeling, etc) is false claims of a dog being a 'Wolfdog, Wolf hybrid, Wolf mix'. Why is this an issue? The problem with mislabeling a dog as a Wolfdog is that Wolfdogs and dogs are not the same thing and different laws are applied to them. Wolfdog's behaviors are much different than dogs and do not tend to make for good 'pets'. They do not have the desire to please like dogs do and tend to be very timid.
In many states the ownership is not legal. In some legal states there are counties within them that the ownership is not legal. States also have requirements for ownership: permits, enclosures. This creates danger for falsely claimed animals as it actually can put their lives at risk. They could be killed due to the false label. Many shelters are not able to adopt out Wolfdogs (even if it's just some mix of dog, no wolf) and the animal will be euthanized if a Wolfdog sanctuary or rescue is unable to take them. The dangers go far beyond this. For more detailed information (which I highly suggest checking out because the topic is fascinating!) check out: Wolves & Wolfdog Education, Texas Wolfdog Project and Pack West
Colors begin to fill the sky..
We collectively started to notice pastels filling the sky. At this, our little group left our spot in search of the perfect place to watch the sunset. We carried on down the beach, discovering the extreme low tide had allowed us access to a previously hidden place. This area was surrounded by a tall sandstone cliff-face and made for a perfect cove for the pups to play. With Ivar being comfortable with his 'pack' and Sarah feeling the area was suitable for him to be off-leash she let him loose from his lead.
With that.. the pups erupted into ecstatic play. Galloping along the edge of the water, wrestling and running large loops around us they gleefully played. It is hard to describe the happiness that was shared in this moment. Ivar did incredibly well off his lead and it was an amazing testament to all of the time Sarah has dedicated to socializing and working with him. We laughed and watched as Valley went between Kyro and Ivar licking their ears in an attempt to get them to chase him.
Two unexpected surprises..
Kyro has enjoyed water ever since he was young. He gladly waded and stood in the waves. No doubt enjoying the cool water against his skin. As I was snapping photos of him I heard an exclaim of surprise. Whipping around I discovered Valley had leapt into channel of water, thinking it was land. He jumped fully in and was clearly shocked to discover that what he thought was more beach.. was not. Once Valley reached shore he gave us a perturbed look before racing off to shake out his coat. The cool dip refueled him and he immediately began pestering Kyro and Ivar to wrestle and play with him.
We noticed the pups were beginning to slow down. We had spent most of the day at the beach and by this point they were finally losing their steam. A yell echoed that caught our attention and to our surprise we saw aquarium staff racing down the beach to a cove we had just been at. A woman emerged through the small tunnel holding a sea turtle. Yes, you read correctly, a sea turtle. A sea turtle in Oregon. My disbelief in what I was seeing was clear in my expression.
Michael and I held the pups as Sarah ran over to investigate. Sure enough, it was indeed a sea turtle. A turtle that was a long, long way from home. To our surprise, the turtle was still alive but barely. The cold Oregon coast was no place for a turtle to be. Despite the aquariums attempt at saving the turtle, we found out later the poor creature did not survive (Loggerhead Sea Turtle).
The day draws to an end..
The cold began to creep it's way into our bones as the sun disappeared below the horizon. A cool breeze starting to come off of the water. We took this as a sign that it was, sadly, time to leave. The entire walk back down the beach the pups continued to play and wander together. Their day spent exploring the coast creating lasting bonds between them.
While our trip came to an end, the memories remain fresh in our minds and we look forward to our next adventure with our friends. Inspiring company, beautiful scenery and incredible animals makes for one incredible adventure.