Wolf was one year old when Kate adopted him. Being a Maremma, he’s not your typical suburban pet dog. Kate was Wolf’s fifth home. When his placement didn’t work out, the rescue organisation rang Kate. She jumped in the car, just to meet him and have a look. But it was love at first sight. Later that day, she came home with Wolf in the car.
Wolf was Kate’s first rescue. She had experience with large breed dogs before, but wasn’t planning to get one, let alone a Maremma. ‘Wolf was challenging. He’s gorgeous and a massive living ball of fluff and fun, but he’s also hard work. You need acres of patience, tons of respect, lots of energy, and a strong will to train and work with Maremmas successfully.’
Four years on, with the help from a behaviourist, Wolf is an amazing cuddle bug and protector. He’s patient with babies and old people, affectionate and loving, and he cares for younger, weaker and more vulnerable animals. He has worked alongside Kate and her daughter in rescuing kittens, and he’s phenomenally patient and gentle with them.
Wolf is also a ‘counsellor’ at Kate’s school, assisting with reaching out to kids who need support. He will go into a room, walk silently around, and then settle down next to the child who needs help. Sometimes they need a big Maremma hug, other times they need to talk. In more than one case he has alerted Kate to save the life of a kid who was suicidal.
‘Wolf is truly an extraordinary dog and I love him,’ Kate says. ‘He keeps me sane – no question. He quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) looks after me all the time.’
Wolf has inspired and helped others around him, supporting people in Emergency Departments in a hospital, and being a therapy dog on wards with teenagers and young people.
Rescuing Wolf, a livestock guardian dog, has come with its own challenges, but it shouldn’t discourage people to adopt. In fact, ‘Do it!’, Kate says. ‘Just look for a dog that’s the right fit for your skills, experience and home. Don’t get any dog just because he’s gorgeous – do your homework. There are so many sizes and shapes of dogs out there and the love they give you is like nothing else. Being with beautiful animals that would not have a chance is the biggest reward for me.’
‘We cannot imagine life without this beautiful, intelligent, and loving big bundle of floof.’
Thank you Kate and Wolf for sharing your ‘happy ending’ story with us. Kate and Wolf was the Winner in the 2020 Advocate® People’s Rescue Story Award. Kate’s nominated rescue organisation is Dog Rescue Newcastle.
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Photo credit (all supplied) by Kate O’Donnell.