It wasn’t all roses, however. The sanctuary has a mission to educate the public to the dangers and irresponsibility of raising wild animals at home. I was amazed by the number of animals bred and sold to people who thought themselves fit to raise them. I heard horror stories of poor conditions, one animals tail tip cut off to be sold, and another had its leg amputated to stop a genetic condition being spread to its pups. There’s even a reservation dog problem, a side-mission where by Leyton and his team attempt to control the soaring number of stray dogs. I was nervous when first asked to give tours, but soon was a dab hand at leading guests around the enclosures. This was when I really felt I made a difference, as I was able to join in the education part of the mission, and hope at least a few of the guests learnt not to have wolves as pets.
My three months at Wild Spirit were the most rewarding months of my life. I really feel that in some-way I helped to make a difference, and left feeling refreshed and energized. I got to meet some of the most amazing people, some of whom I’m still in touch with today. I had many surprises, road-trips to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and even ventured to Las Vegas on the Greyhound for a short break. I wound up making short films for Leyton and got to visit a high school with Flurry, one of the ambassador wolves. I’ll always remember a night watching stars out the door of The Dome with a blazing log fire and the distant sound of howling wolves as I lay down to sleep. I’d advise anyone considering any volunteering to take the leap and enjoy it, as I’d certainly do it again.