As indicated in our Mission Statement, our vision for the Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary includes the developmentally disabled.
First of all, wolves are generally fearful of man - either displaying their typical suspicious behavior towards them or avoiding them altogether. But captive owned wolves, rescued from neglectful and/or abusive situations that live at a wolf sanctuary, don't have as many options when it comes to avoiding humans.
Wolves seem to scrutinize people on an entirely different level than other animals. Regardless of how much social game someone has, wolves can see right though it. The best poker face, or sales act can't fool them into thinking you're someone you're not. They see you for what you really are and they can "measure you up" from 100 feet away. What we've learned here about how wolves evaluate and see people is about "what" they see in people and "how" they interpret what they see.
Regardless of how relaxed an unfamiliar person (to the wolf) may be or may feel when around a wolf, the wolf is still able to pick up on the deeper things inside a person. People dealing with the normal stresses of life, such as stressful job situations, financial concerns, personal relationship issues and just the general concerns in life are often seen by wolves as a potential threat. It doesn't matter that the person may be happy to see the wolf and really isn't a threat at all. The wolf often "interprets" these suppressed emotions/concerns as "bad motives" thus causing them stress and prompting them to keep their distance.
There's no one on the planet with these day to day responsibilities (and pressures) of life that doesn't have some level of this subtle stress in them. And unfortunately, the wolf deems this is an "impure heart" if you will. But there is a category of people who, according to the wolf, do have pure hearts: the developmentally disabled.
What we've discovered here with the wolves and the developmentally disabled is as miraculous as it is heart warming! You see, these typically meek and gentle people do not have the same stresses of life others have, so there's a "purity of heart" they seem to have that we just can't duplicate. So the excitement the wolves see in them is deemed genuine.
We believe that the wolves also see their vulnerability which further distinguishes them from the "threat" category of humans. And from our many observations, the developmentally disabled have a rather dramatic calming effect on the wolves; one that is truly something to behold!
One of the wolves here, "Spirit", quite literally singles out and rips the clothes off of overly arrogant, prideful people (often the self-appointed "wolf experts"). Yet look at how sensitive, loving and gentle she (a 140 lb, 1/2 Alaskan Interior 1/2 Arctic Wolf) is with Kyle. The following video validates what we're trying to birth here with the rescued Wolves and The Developmentally Disabled.
With so many "human" needs in the world today that need to be met, many people simply aren't comfortable contributing to animal organizations. This is understandable and no animal organization should be offended by one's personal decision on this.
However, when an animal rescue/sanctuary can meet the needs of hurting animals and meet an important "human" need as well; and do so through an activity that "allows" the specific needs of each to "quite literally" be the answer to the specific needs of the other, then you have a philanthropic paradigm capable of fulfilling the lives of a broad spectrum of people as well.
The power in this unique philanthropic paradigm is not only in that it serves both the wolves and the developmentally disabled. It's that it also has a profound, heart changing effect on the lives of everyone who witnesses the interaction between the two. It's an effect capable of transforming a person who's living life primarily for themselves, into someone who moves toward the more fulfilling life of serving others. This is POWER!
So "Our Vision" here is to bring to life a dual philanthropic mission that involves the developmentally disabled experiencing an enhanced passion for life through interaction with one of God's most awesome creatures, while the rescued wolves experience the life enriching presence of these wonderful, "pure hearted" developmentally disabled people.
Expanded Vision, coming soon...