Guide Dog Owners and Wolves
Guide dog owners went to meet wolves to better understand their dogs. Interesting how strong, hard and determined the wolves’ energy is compared to that of Labradors. Bartáthegyi Guide Dog School’s partner was the Bear Farm in Veresegyház which provided five visually impaired young people an opportunity to go to wolves and make contacts with them.
Wolves cannot be tamed: they remain beasts living close to people, so it is a rare experience to go close to them and touch them. ‘We could step into the yard of Lobo and Mira. Fidzsi and the other guide dogs could accompany us only for a while; they were not allowed to come in with us to the wolves’, said a participant, Dóra Sápi. Before entering the wolves’ yard, caretaker István Szilágyi said that wolves should never be confused with dogs. Dogs are beneath wolves in the food chain: they are prey for wolves.
Dóra Dömötör and István Szilágyi have raised the two wolves to which the friends of Barathegyi Guide Dog School entered one by one with careful steps since puppyhood. Wolves do not depend on people; they cannot really be trained, so you should be careful with them and the following rules must be observed: there cannot be food in your pockets, not even Kleenex and when you enter their yard your palms should be open, so that wolves know that there is nothing at you.
Standing in front of the door of the yard, Milan Tóth said that he was a bit afraid. István Szilágyi replied that it is natural and he is surprised if someone is not.
„Bypassing puddles and splashes we got to a platform, which was quite similar to a small table. First Mira jumped up on the platform. Then her brother, Lobo also arrived and bumped his sister. At the end of the visit Lobo found me so appealing that gave me wolf kisses on my cheeks, in fact, he even put his paws up on my shoulders twice” , said Dóra Sápi after the visit.
After the initial contact, wolves could be touched cautiously. Dóra Dömötör and István Szilágyi were within reach all the while and taught that you should never caress wolves’ head, from where attack can come in other cases; however, the bottom of their belly and their back can be touched. Leaning close over them it was a surprise that their fur has no smell. István Szilágyi said that it is important when hunting.
„ It is fantastic to pet and feed from hand such a beast and they even give a kiss”, said Tóthné dr. Kiss Orosz Mária.
After the wolf adventure, Milan was relieved and said smiling, „At first I was afraid, but then when I went in I thought that it did not matter anymore. I was glad that I had not become lunch or dinner.”
Absorbed in this intimacy, someone sighted ‘oh, how cute’, on which Istvan Szilagyi immediately pounced, saying that ‘they are not cute, they are beasts. Your guide dog is cute.’
„Interesting how strong, tough and determined wolves’ energy is compared to that of the cute Labradors. Quite a different experience, but fantastic”, said Zsuzsanna Vincze.
István Szilágyi summed up the main point similarly, ‘There are different energies if you go to the wolves. Energy is condensed in many people: even the gloomiest person could withstand for one day before writing us what a wonderful experience it was.”
It was the fort time in the Bear Farm that visually impaired people have been taken to the wolves’ yard. They already have experience with work-dogs and wolves are said to behave differently with them. It was observed that wolves relate to a well disciplined dog differently than to a cute pet.
It was the same with Debora Szabó’s dog as well, with whom she was exceptionally allowed to walk in front of one of the yards, under the supervision of the caretakers. It was an exceptional case, because dogs are not allowed to go so close to the wolves; this scene took place at the request of the caretakers. Everyone was anxiously waiting for how the wolves and the guide dog would react:
„I thought that when we walk along the wolves’ yard, Emi will be more interested in them, but she guided me confidently even in this particular situation. In the meantime, the wolves were walking beside us behind the fence, barked a bit as if indicating that they were there, for me as well, who would not have seen if they had followed me in silence.”, said Debora Szabó.
The guide dogs welcomed with joy their owners returning from the adventure, felt the wolves’ smell on them, but behaved as usual when they are happy about their owners.