Dharma was born in 2010 at the New York State Zoo in Watertown, NY. She was brought, with the rest of her litter of nine, to Wolf Park to be socialized and to become one of our ambassador wolves. She was the shy pup in her litter, but, as she grew older, Dharma blossomed into an outgoing, affectionate wolf that seemed at times to have an infinite capacity for making human friends. Known as “our little Diva”, she consistently influenced people to get exactly what she wanted. “Hello,” she would say, “would you like to share my personal space and scratch me here? Don’t stop.” Her infectious canine grin was totally endearing.
Although we expected many more years with Dharma, her life came to a sudden end on June 9th.
At some point between the evening of Monday, June 8, and the morning of Tuesday, June 9, Dharma, Kanti, Bicho and Fiona, for reasons unknown to us, were highly motivated to escape their respective enclosures, which we believed to be secure. (They remained within our perimeter fencing the entire time.) Animal care staff quickly worked together to retrieve the wolves. Kanti, Bicho and Fiona came promptly to us and let themselves be led to another enclosure, but Dharma was not immediately visible.
A search party found her standing in some bushes, with fight wounds that looked painful. Our regular veterinarian, Dr Julia Becker, was out of state but was contacted by phone and she made arrangements with Purdue Small Animal Clinic to have Dharma brought to them. A wonderful team, headed by ER DVM Paula Johnson, worked on Dharma all day and into the evening. Dr. Becker arrived home in the early evening and stayed with us at the vet school waiting room, talking to the Purdue vets and to us.
The news got steadily worse throughout the day. While none of the injuries were individually life threatening, cumulatively they were too much even for Dharma. We had been making plans for a convalescent process, but it became apparent to all of us that euthanasia was the only remaining kindness we could give our little diva. It was with heavy hearts and with many tears that we said goodbye. Dharma left us surrounded by friends and those that loved her dearly.
Even when they live into their mid or late teens, it feels like the lives of our canine friends are never long enough. Dharma was only five years old, and it feels as though we are missing out on many years we should have had with her. The pain of her loss will be with us for a long time.
We should shortly have a longer eulogy/retrospective look at Dharma’s life up on our website (in the memory garden section, where we recall old friends who are no longer with us).
Wolf Park would like to send a heartfelt thank you for trying to save our little girl, both to the doctors and staff at Purdue Small Animal Clinic and to Dr. Becker.
We are assessing our enclosures, which have held the wolves securely for years, to make them more secure and help prevent the occurrence of further events. Any donations made in Dharma’s name will go towards medical costs and enclosure security improvements.