Whilst downtown Calgary has plenty to offer, and the peaks of the Rockies are like a magnet for your gaze almost anywhere you step in the city, there is a world in-between the bustle of city life and the vast landscapes of the mountain range and in this hinter land is where you can find gems such as the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.
Now, if you’re anything like me and come from an entirely wolf free country, you probably have never heard of, let alone encountered, a wolfdog before. A hybrid between a domestic dog and a wild wolf, wolfdogs are in some locations actually legal, meaning these enormous animals are sometimes kept in cramped conditions meaning eventually they’re abandoned and that is where organisations like the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary come in. They take these gorgeous animals and keep them in safe, semi domesticated environments whilst still allowing them to indulge in some of their natural pack instincts. Kept in enclosures with ample room, lots of interaction and socialisation opportunities the wolfdogs they all seemed to be living the good life. The sanctuary is surrounded by acres of land, providing stunning views when you’re not totally engrossed in the adorable animals in front of you.
The sanctuary offers walking tours as well as more interactive tours for a variety of prices. There are also feeding times posted around the enclosures so you can watch the wolfdogs play and interact with each other, we saw Lark and Nikita grab blocks of frozen meat from their keeper and run off into the enclosure, gnawing away at them with glee, if dogs can experience glee which I’m pretty sure they can. We took the “intro tour” at $34 per person, which involves a guided walk through of the park, a full discussion and talk from one of the experts (we had the lovely Alyx) who share their knowledge and utter love of the animals with you. Plus, with a bag of treats in hand, you’re taken much closer to the wolfdogs and you witness their interactions, their playfulness and are given multiple great opportunities to take some great photos of them.
We met Aspen, Grizz and Quinn during our introduction, a young pack of three who all displayed such distinct personalities which we could pick up on even from a distance. They were absolutely stunning and Alyx kindly answered all of our questions, persuaded her furry friends to come and say hi to us near the fence and the whole experience in amongst the ice and snow frankly felt absolutely magical.
If you wanted an even more special visit with the wolfdogs, you can book the “interactive” tour in advance of your visit at $54 per person. This tour allows you fully into an enclosure with the chance to feed and pet some of the wolfdogs.
Many of the wolfdogs at Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary spend their days playing and enjoying the comforts and food on offer but others have day jobs! You may have spotted one or two of the wolfdogs in Fargo, which was partly filmed in the nearby and they have been seen in various other TV shows and movies throughout the years.
If you’re visiting Calgary and/or Banff at any point I would thoroughly recommend making the drive to the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary. Not only will your visit provide a valuable donation to help these gorgeous creatures thrive, it is also such a magical place. So secluded and quiet, with only the occasional bark of an excited dog to pierce the snowy silence. If I could visit there every day, I absolutely would!