On Braving Wildness
Do a Google search on veterans and recovery from War, and, without doubt, you’ll find more than your fair share of dog stories. I’ve mentioned a few myself, in fact. But wolves? Check out this piece from the British 24-hour news channel, Sky News, entitled, “Wolves Helping to Heal Veterans with Stress.”
Although from a European source, this story is actually out of the US, with an interesting take on the cool of California meeting the cool of Alaska, with (pardon the cheesy metaphor) heartwarming results.
The Lockwood Animal Rescue Center is a private organization dedicated to rescuing wolves and wolf-dogs, located in Frazier Park, a mountain community in south central California. Since 2011, they have sponsored a program entitled “Warriors and Wolves,” pairing combat veterans with rescued wolves to help both adjust to lives of “being in-between.”
The Center cares for the wolves in an environment that is not quite wild, yet not quite domestic. And seeing a good metaphor there, they turned the metaphor into a reality for combat veterans who themselves often feel as if they are stuck somewhere between war and peace.
I have to say: kudos go to retired seaman Matthew Simmons and psychologist Dr. Lorin Lindner for their having come up with this idea. I myself have met many a combat veteran who more than has the energy and even the “wildness” to be willing to face a fellow creature with similar attributes, approach it respectfully, yet strongly, and find a way toward a common ground that could be mutually beneficial. Dogs are for us all. Wolves, anything but pets, need special handlers.
And clearly there have been men and women who have served who still have what it takes not only to handle, but also to accompany the canines the wild has to offer.
While I often talk about connections that calm quietly, there are some connections that calm quite vigorously. Man and wolf may not be the usual pair, but in the mountains of southern California, they are a pair who are clearly fitting into a land that most would find vigorously challenging, and human and animal are finding there, if not quiet moments, at least warmhearted ones.
Beats Alaskan winters any day. Even for a wolf, I suspect.
Good luck to all.
Until tomorrow, be well,
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