Sad news and a heartfelt howl to all wolf lovers around the world. London, my dear adopted wolf, has died. He reached the fine old age of 16 before slipping away on September 4 at Wolf Haven International in Washington State. Despite living on the other side of the ocean (not far from another London), I’m in mourning. I’m going to miss the connection I had with this majestic creature who touched many lives and became an ambassador for all wolf kind.
Originally destined for the movie industry, London lived at Wolf Haven’s 80-acre sanctuary for more than a decade. He had been struggling with his mobility in recent months. And following the death of his companion, Sadie, in July, he had also been living alone.
But as his health got worse, the sanctuary made it possible for another wolf to join him. ‘’We opened the connecting corridor to Caedus and Nina’s neighboring enclosure and let Nina go to London’s side,’ said Sanctuary Manager, Pam Maciel, in her letter. ‘The two of them seemed to like each other immediately, especially Nina, who seemed quite smitten with London’s handsome appearance. All these past days she remained very close to him. The two were often seen on remote camera lying side by side during their afternoon naps.’
And who wouldn’t be smitten with London? With his snowy white coat and striking amber-yellow eyes, he was stunningly handsome – a ‘presence’ that was ‘powerful and tranquil at the same time,’ says Pam.
Purchased as a pup from the pet trade, London spent his early years in California and was originally intended for the film world. But he was having none of it. Although fairly comfortable around people, he refused to be trained. He didn’t want to be an actor! And so, he was left at the nearest animal rescue centre. A sad moment for an animal who was just being himself – a wolf who could never forget his own wild nature.
I’m sorry he couldn’t be completely wild and free. However, when he reached Wolf Haven at the age of four, he was in the best place he could possibly be. It’s a wonderful sanctuary that has provided a home to more than 300 displaced and captive-born animals since 1982. It’s also a place where the word ‘wild’ is honoured. The philosophy is a hands-off, animal-centred approach. Staff do not socialise with the animals and while wolves can be seen on guided walks, there’s no physical contact with visitors. London was a lucky wolf, living sociably with a succession of enclosure mates – first Kiawatha, then Lexi (pictured above jostling for London’s stick) and last of all, Sadie.
As a children’s author, it was a matter of great delight when I discovered that London wasn’t actually named after our capital city, but the American novelist Jack London. His story The Call of the Wild was a childhood favourite of mine and remains a classic today. So London was a literary wolf! If you haven’t read the novel yet, then it’s time to head to the book store. Just listen to this line:
‘… a great, gloriously coated wolf, like, and yet unlike all other wolves … may be seen running at the head of the pack through the pale moonlight or glimmering borealis, leaping gigantic above his fellows …’
This is how I picture you now, dear London. Farewell old friend. I promise to channel some of your majesty and spirit into my own wolf character, Alpha, as I write my second children’s novel. May you run wild and free through all our memories and imaginations.