by Cameron Lefler
Before mankind set his feet upon North America, wolves were the dominant society, living wild and free upon the land. Now they are a rare species facing extinction, if we do not reverse the damage we humans have done. Wolves live in family groups, well known as packs. Television and ignorance has portrayed the wolf as a cold-blooded killer. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The wolf family is one that is based on love and survival of the pack. The individual lives to serve the pack, and the pack in turn provides for the needs of the individual. What a novel concept, eh? We as humans have tried to accomplish this lofty goal on occasion (all for one and one for all), but have failed to make this a part of our lives. We can learn a lot from the wolf.
Wolves are not dogs. To mistake them for such is to make a dangerous assumption. Wolves do not make good pets. You do not teach a wolf to sit, roll over and fetch. It is not in their nature. Unfortunately there are many across the United States and Canada that don't believe this and illegally raise wolves and wolf hybrids. The results are wolves that are abused, neglected, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Very few find happiness to live as nature intended. The other problem is wolf hybrids. These wolf-dog mixes create an animal that has the predatory instincts of the wolf, yet no fear of man. These hybrids are what cause trouble for man. Any time you hear of a wolf attacking livestock or someone's pet wolf mauling someone, you can bet good money that the culprit was a hybrid. It takes an expert eye to be able to tell the difference between a hybrid and a true wolf. Even most animal control officers can't tell the difference.
What do we have to learn from the wolf? Everything important in life! To study the pack is to learn about compassion, fidelity, unselfishness, humor, love, and family. Each wolf has a unique personality. To be able to sit and watch them go about their daily lives is an education and an honor. The wolf is a beautiful and noble creature, deserving of our protection. We have a duty to fix all of the ignorant acts that we and our ancestors have committed. If not, we are certain to repeat history until our planet and society is destroyed. I do not have the certain answer to how this will be done, but I have a good idea how to get started.
Several years ago I found myself patrolling the streets of south Seattle as a police officer. I had just finished four years in the Marine Corps and being a cop seemed the natural thing to do next. I quickly learned about the criminal element of our society and what a complex world that is. For several years, I dealt with the bad 10% of our society. After a while it consumes you and turns your attitude sour. You start to believe that there is no hope for society. After a particularly bad week, I took off for the mountains for a few days on a solo retreat from civilization. After much soul searching, I realized that I needed to stop living in the negative, and seek out the good that I knew had to be out there. In other words, I needed to not only find the good people of our society, I needed to join them. Law enforcement is a noble and important profession, but I needed more.
I started with my old Boy Scout troop. I was instantly amazed by teenagers that were not packing guns and telling me where to go. Working with these kids gave me hope that there are future citizens and leaders for our country who will make a difference. Then I started volunteering for the Red Cross. I had seen many a family burned out of their home and was always amazed how quickly the Red Cross showed up, often as the Fire Department was still putting out the fire. I recognized the Red Cross as a noble organization that actually spends more time doing something, rather that talking about it.
Then one day while I was patrolling a remote area of Seattle, I discovered Wolftown. Or maybe Wolftown found me, I'll never know. I was instantly home. I have been a fan of Andrew Vachss' books for several years. I long ago decided to do whatever I could to advance his cause. One of the concepts he writes about is how "family is not determined by genetics." You can choose your family, or in this case, it can choose you. I was fortunate growing up in a good family and never needed to choose my family, so I never had to identify with this concept. Until Wolftown adopted me. I found happiness in a world so full of strife.
Wolftown is the life work of T Martino. She started her young adult life as a champion event rider, learning more about horses than most of us will ever know. Eventually her life's path changed and she found herself with a young wolf cub in her hands. This changed her life forever. Her love and compassion for the wilderness, horses, and wolves brought her to founding Wolftown. Wolftown is a USDA licensed 501(c)(3) non-profit wolf and horse sanctuary. But more importantly, Wolftown is a family that is dedicated to making our world better. Wolftown's mission is the preservation of wilderness and to teach compassion and understanding through mentorship. Wolftown has a mentorship program focused but no limited to our youth. Kids learn compassion, respect, loyalty, and honor by doing hard work that provides for the wolves and horses. Unlike most organizations, Wolftown is a family. The all volunteer staff comes from all walks of life. They are a true mix of what makes America great. What they all share is a love and dedication to the positive impact Wolftown has on the community.
T Martino gets a kiss from Huiha (Osage for 'Trout').
Not something just anyone is treated with.
What I found in Wolftown was a family that is dedicated to the values that I believe we desperately need in this day and age. We as humans need to figure out how to fix our society and world. This can only be done through learning about one another. We have to obtain a deeper and universal level of compassion, for the wilderness and each other. I believe we all think about this and wonder if it will ever happen. But what do we actually do about it? The bottom line is that we all, every single one of us, has to get off of our butts and do something. It's not just about voting and donating to our local charity. We have to get out there to learn and teach. We have to be active participants in our community. Identify those organizations that positively affect the community and help them.
Cierra pets Mojo Willy's nose.
Mojo is blind and was rescued from certain death.
Wolftown is an amazing place. Every penny comes from donors and patrons who support the ideals that Wolftown so strongly lives by. Those who can't give money, give their time and expertise. To visit Wolftown and see it operating is amazing and rewarding. I have seen autistic children's faces glow from the love of a wolf kiss. I have seen a troubled teen learn respect from a stallion that didn't care how tough the kid was. Everyone who experiences Wolftown learns something about themselves and society. Wolftown is just that, an experience. Not just a visit to see a bunch of wolves. You can go to the zoo to do that. Wolftown is a beautiful family of wolves, horses, and people, dedicated to the future of our planet and society.
What have you done to make the world a better place? More importantly, are you actively doing something to make a change in our world? Now is the time for all of us to step up and get involved. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in this world, we all need to grab a shovel and start digging!
Times are hard right now, and Wolftown needs help. The patron who donated the land we sit on has recently come under hard times. Wolftown must raise the money to buy the land in order to continue our mission and insure the future of the wolves, horses, and our family. Wolftown is looking for people to get involved and join our family. Everything counts. Many give through hard work or donating what they can. Unfortunately you can't buy land with just hard work (not anymore at least). We need people to give whatever they can. Just get involved! If you are ready for a life changing experience, please contact us. Our website is www.wolftown.org or you can e-mail T Martino at email@example.com. Our phone number is (206) 463-9113. Or if you prefer good old fashioned snail mail:
P.O. Box 13115
Burton, WA 98013
UPDATE May 21, 2003 — Thanks to all you Zero visitors who responded to Sgt. Cameron Lefler's call to action on behalf of Wolftown! With your support, the land for the 501(c)3 USDA Wolf Sanctuary has been purchased and the project is safe. Sgt. Lefler is still overseas with the Marines—in fact, his last communication was sent from one of Saddam's palaces—and he sends his great thanks for your help. If this is the first time you're learning about Wolftown—a wolf rescue operation with a mentorship program for youth—you can find out more by visiting www.wolftown.org.
Cameron Lefler was a police officer with the Kings County (Washington) Sheriff's Department, serving with distinction until September 11, 2001. Immediately after that fateful day, Cameron shifted from one frontline to another, re-enlisting with the United States Marine Corps. He is currently stationed stateside, awaiting overseas assignment. Cameron Lefler doesn't just write about our obligations as citizens; he lives those obligations. The Zero is privileged to provide a showcase for his concerns.