Well, what a marvelous week we had in Yellowstone! I survived the low temperatures (although I hear that -10 in the wind was unseasonably ‘warm’) and the early starts, and we were lucky enough to get plenty of sightings of the wolves. Wonderful! As a group of dog listeners we were also treated by spending time with the biologists and conservationists who have been deeply involved in the reintroduction of the grey wolf into the park in 1995. My colleagues from across the globe, and I, were all there to witness these magnificent creatures living freely and absorb whatever we could for our own passion and to further our knowledge.
Guided by the Wild Side, LLC, we were introduced to many of the scientists who had been hugely influential for Jan Fennell when she was in the early stages of discovering the language of the dog. Particular highlights for me were the presentation by renowned filmmaker Bob Landis, and the wintery wonderland visit to National Geographic photographer Dan Hartman’s home. However, the real stars were our guides, Linda and Nathan, Emil and Leo, who were tireless each day all day in answering our never-ending questions. It was like having a wolf encyclopedia at our finger tips! They must have been exhausted when we left them!
Each day in the park we witnessed a variety of different animals doing their thing. I loved the coyotes listening carefully and then pouncing accurately into the snow for their lunch. I adored the bison who often used the road to meander down… rush hour in Yellowstone is fairly similar to West London – lots of parents taking their kids places, just swap SUVs for huge wooly creatures.
What I didn’t realise was how magical it would be and how emotional I would find it on first seeing, through scopes, a pack of wolves emerge from woodland and come into sight. Then, watching them group together and sit with chins lifted. Everybody shushed… and there it was, a beautiful, sonorous pack howl announcing their territory to an approaching pack a few miles away from them. What a glorious sound! A point in time when I felt completely at peace and immensely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to increase my understanding of the true nature and instincts of a canine. Unforgettable.
Becoming a dog listener has not only helped my dogs achieve balance and calm in their lives, it has done the same for me too. Deepening my understanding of dogs as a different species has helped me understand myself to a greater extent and I love being able to bring calm to other people who need help with their lives with dogs. From my experiences in Yellowstone Park I now look forward to adding colour to my consultations to enable families to connect more with their dogs, helping them respect and appreciate why their dog reacts in a certain manner and teaching them what they can do about it.
- Jan Fennell’s Dog Listeners are based internationally, you can find your nearest one here: http://janfennellthedoglistener.com/listeners
- You can find out more about Linda and Nathan of the Wildside here: http://www.wolftracker.com/TheWildSide/TheWildSide.htm
- Thank you to Arno Murith for his photographs: http://www.arnomurith.ch