Yesterday I went back for a visit to the wolf sanctuary I have worked at the past 2 years over the summer, the drive down went well, this is the first time Ive been there in winter and the views were strikingly different. As we drove the roads got progressively smaller and smaller till we reached the single track road that leads up to the sanctuary, as we rounded the last bend we could see down into wolf valley the herd of deer were up on the hillside and the enclosures looked fantastic, it was the first time Id seen the place with no nettles and thistles! When wed parked up and handed over the hares my friend had shot for the wolves we went up to say hello to Madadh and Kgosi (pronounced Maddy and Kosi) we kept back from the enclosure behind the safety fence (about 15 feet from the fencing) and they prowled the other side looking out at us, as always when Im watching the wolves here I wonder who is studying who. We had a look round the barn, slightly changed from last summer but not excessively, the work that has needed doing for 3 years still needs doing, time just doesnt move the same in that place. We said hello to the new doodle dog a young deerhound that takes the place of Dixie who sadly died last summer just before I arrived to volunteer. Soon enough the other folks arrived for the tour and after the obligatory health and safety talk (which consisted entirely of the amount of people who leave today must equate to the amount of people who arrived) First of all we went into Luna and Nouskas enclosure, they looked stunning in their winter coats and I got some fantastic photos, we did the usual photo opportunity where you sit on a hillock and have a piece of chicken put at your side, look forwards as though youre just enjoying a day in the country, unaware that you have a wolf coming up behind you! When I went up for mine Luna came to pick up the piece of chicken, then as I looked down after the picture had been taken she dropped it right by my leg and came so close she almost brushed up against me. I have never seen her get so close to anyone before. We left their enclosure and walked round the grounds, gave the wolves a howl at the top of the large enclosure and got an answering howl in reply, I used to talk to the wolves that way most mornings when I worked there, its a beautiful thing to communicate with them like that. We made our way slowly back round to Madadh and Kgosis enclosure and after distributing some treats Madadh, the female wolf was brought out, she caught my eye just before the gate was opened and I wondered if there was a flicker of recognition, there was. She came straight over to me, ignored the treats I offered and licked my face thoroughly, it was amazing, I was overjoyed, to be remembered and thought so well of by a wolf is just awesome. We stepped back some and Madadh was brought out from behind the gate to see us all, she went person to person taking the treats but regularly came back to me, at one point even putting her head under mine in a gesture of respect, at that point the owner must have been quite impressed with her reaction to me as he handed me her chain while he went to get some more treats, she took the treats offered and then came back to stand in front of me, I scratched all the places she has trouble reaching, and marvelled at the winter coat, she looked so much more formidable. Of course the fact that she had eaten 3 full chickens the day before helped with her sense of presence, she looked almost pregnant! When Tony took back her chain and asked her to follow him back to the enclosure she stood tight at my side, I would have stayed with her all day if I could have. It was, as Im sure you can imagine, a magical day, nothing I have done or experienced so far can compare to that feeling of connection with Madadh.