John Knight, Co-Chairman, Co-Founder and Director Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary, Published Author
John Knight is the son of a High School Teacher who had a Masters Degree in education, and was also The Dean of Men (Principle), the Football and Track Coach, and went on to become a PGA Golf Professional. His father was also a huge animal lover, so John grew up with a love for animals and a passion for sports and fitness.
After a serious injury while playing football in the USMC, his efforts to get back on the field led him into the Health & Fitness Industry where he spent the better part of the next 30 years. During that time, John was in and out of college, won titles in bodybuilding and went on to write three books in Health/Fitness and Sports Performance. He also had numerous published articles in weight-loss and lower-back health and injury prevention and was a regular health and fitness source for local TV stations.
His first book in 1997 was called “Simply Fat Loss” which was the very first “Expanded Application” of the Glycemic Index and is now the “basic” foundation for the Nutri System Plan and many others.
Next, in 2001, he designed a fitness program for golfers that they could do at home and wrote the scripts for the two video program and infomercial, which appeared on The Golf Channel and Fox Sports Regionals across the country (this was considered the second book).
Then immediately afterwards, John began researching designing and developing the Golf Performance Indexes (Indices), i.e., the standards that measure physical conditioning and athletic ability in terms of “on the course” golf performance. This was an extremely complex (200 page) book that included several (respective) versions of diagnostic software for Golfers, Golf Instructors, “golf specific” Fitness Instructors, High School and College Golf Teams and of course Golf Courses. It was entitled The Playfit® Performance Enhancement System and can still be downloaded (for free) by clicking the link.
In 1995, John and his wife Debra bought two wolf dogs (wolf hybrids) and when the last one died in 2005, they obtained two wolves and acquired their Class II Wildlife License. Once they had the license, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) and The USDA began contacting them to take in wolves they seized from unlicensed owners and abusive situations. John and Debra never intended to have a wolf sanctuary. But as people who can’t bear to see any animal suffer and had ZERO confidence in how others care for these animals, they were unable to say no. This is how Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary began.
John is an extremely intricate and “out of the box” thinker, with a knack for innovation. As with his accomplishments in the Health and Fitness Industry, he cannot help but to “obsessively” address every minor detail, regardless of how small and he is usually on the leading edge of everything he feels led to pursue.
The same innovativeness John displayed throughout his years in the health & fitness industry can be seen in every aspect of the facility here at Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary, right down to the way he and the volunteers interact with the rescued wolves and wolf dogs.
John has been in direct contact with all of the wolves and wolf dogs at Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary, every day for more than a decade now (since 2005) and as a man of Faith, this has allowed him to see the power of Grace in the lives of these animals.
“No matter how negatively they see us or how badly they hurt us when they arrive here (due to their abusive pasts), we emphasize that you can never make them feel as if they’ve done anything wrong. Over time, they learn that they’re free to be exactly who and what they are here, without the fear of retaliation from people. The result is healing, a desire for our presence and finally intimacy with them. This process of extending them all of the Grace each individual wolf or wolf dogs requires has as miraculous of an effect on them as God’s Grace has on us and the proof is in the pudding, as they say.”
Today, John and his wife Debra have made peace with having given up all of their professional hopes and dreams and the pursuit of “the good life” in order to give these most awesome of God’s creatures the best life possible. They are committed to focusing on the mental, physical and emotional needs of each rescued wolf or wolf dog at the sanctuary, one day at a time, and meeting their unique individual needs to the best of their ability.