Our first meeting was outside a cabin, close to Mt. Currie. He was standing in the shadow of a tall spruce, inspecting me. I noticed distinctive white markings on his head, chest and forelegs. He moved silently like a wraith to gain a different vantage point. I went inside and opened a tin of salmon, placing the contents outside on a stump. He stealthily came up to it. His fur was a reddish brown color and he was big – around ninety pounds. The salmon offering was soon gone and he retreated to the surrounding forest. I opened another tin of salmon, putting it on the same stump. He consumed this offering then disappeared as silently as he had appeared. That evening after turning in to bed, he came up the steps and settled on the verandah. He was nowhere to be seen in the morning, though fresh strands of his fur were caught by knots in the wood. The same ritual occurred the following evening. I was out of canned salmon, but did have a large box of Arrowroot cookies. Placing them one at a time on the stump – he delighted in snatching them up and burying each cookie at the edge of the clearing. He kept his nightly vigil on the verandah.
The next occasion I took refuge in this mountain cabin, he turned up within minutes. He made it clear that I was to follow him. He ran to the edge of the clearing then back to the cabin steps – several times. I laced up my boots and took my small pack and walking stick. He took me on a tour of his territory – through thickets, over hills and forest until we came to a wide mountain stream in a high pasture. He swam across and waited to see what I would do. As I was indecisive, he plunged back into the chilly stream to where I was standing and led me further downstream to a shallower crossing. I took off my boots, socks and trousers and carried them above my head, entering the icy cold water. Once we were both across he showed sheer delight. Bounding along the bank, running circles round me – if he could turn cartwheels he would have done so. This beautiful creature then sprawled beside the stream – studying me very closely. He stayed there, prone on the grass for a long time. Suddenly, he bounded away. I slowly retraced my steps. By nightfall I was back at the cabin, tired, scratched by thickets and thorns. There he was on the veranda.
His thoughts registered once I was home in my hermitage in Gatineau Forest Park in Quebec. I had vivid dreams about him – all located in the forest around my home. Perhaps he was dreaming me so I would bring him there. And I did. Some months later I arranged for my son, who was living several hours away from the cabin, to pick him up. There was a family that occasionally put out food for this lone wolf. Their home, near the cabin, became the rendezvous. My son drove in his pickup truck – wondering why his dad was going to so much trouble. He had collected the strong crate I had purchased in Vancouver. The lone wolf was there – patiently waiting. The journey to Vancouver Airport Cargo started with the wolf in the cage resting in the back of the pickup. By the time they arrived at Vancouver Airport, the wolf was on the front seat sitting next to my son. I had also sent my son a sedative from my local vet to calm my friend on the cargo flight to Ottawa. The sedative pills were spat out and this magnificent creature quietly settled into the cage. He knew where he was going. My son told me later that he was reduced to tears about the departure of a creature that had captured his heart.
I gave my new friend the highly original name of “Wolfie!” I hope he forgave me for that. My small hermitage in the Gatineau Forest became his new home. I made the mistake of trying to train him – realizing how totally redundant this was. He could read my mind and would always respond. Obedience training was not part of the deal. Wolfie was instrumental in getting Carolyn’s attention. She and I were taking ballroom dance lessons at a community centre in Ottawa – quite separately. In one class I asked her to dance with me. At the end of the evening I said to her, “Would you like to see my wolf?” I immediately felt she must think this was the worst pick-up line in history! But she consented and came out to my truck. There he was in his splendor. He placed his paw on her shoulder and licked her cheek. Carolyn fell in love with Wolfie first of all. And decided that anyone who had a creature like this could not be too bad. So began our wonderful togetherness.
I was down in Arizona a few years later and met up with my friend Dawson for further training in medicine wheels. A sweat lodge he conducted proved to be pivotal. He introduced the third round as the round of the Red Wolf. During this round I suddenly felt Wolfie’s presence. My neighbour Lisa was looking after him at my home in the forest. That evening she left a message where I was staying, with the news that Wolfie had died. I was stunned and devastated. When I phoned to Lisa in Canada, I learned that the timing of Wolfie’s death in Canada coincided precisely with the timing of the Red Wolf round. I knew I had to talk to Dawson. I put on my jacket and picked up the car keys and opened my cabin door. Dawson was just pulling up in his truck.
In characteristic manner Dawson came straight to the point. “Something strange was going on with you during the Red Wolf round in the sweat lodge.” I gasped and burst into tears, as Dawson put his powerful arms around me for comfort. Through my sobs I told him what had happened. Dawson was quite gentle but firm. “We must do a journey for this one Ian. I took the precaution of asking my fire keeper to prepare the grandfather stones for a sweat lodge. That’s where you can journey and find out just what happened. And don’t tell me you don’t journey, for I know different.” On the drive to his home near Cornville, I related the story of Wolfie. By the time we arrived at his sweat lodge I was in a suspended, yet clear, state. There was only Dawson, the fire keeper and me. The opening round was for chanting to the animal powers, the second – prayers for the Earth Mother, the third – the round of the Red Wolf, though with a difference. Dawson had me move to the West door of the lodge. He was at the East door. He took me through a long session of deep breathing, using drums and chants to take me into an altered state. My journey was to visit Wolfie.
Dawson guided me with visualizations by trek and canoe to find a stream deep in the mountains. I paddled for a long time until my arms felt very tired. Turning a bend in the river I came to a clearing straight ahead. There stood Wolfie with a female spirit guardian behind him. I beached the canoe and knelt before Wolfie, putting my arms round his strong neck while he licked every part of my face. I asked Wolfie, “Can you tell me why you died when you visited me during the Red Wolf round?” It was the guardian who replied, “This creature so loved you that when he tuned into energies that could harm you in that Red Wolf round, he placed himself in their path so you would be spared damage. That is what took his life.” I received this news in silence, placing one hand on Wolfie’s back. We just sat side by side watching the flow of the river. The guardian gently spoke again, “It is time for you to return.” I took my leave and did not look back, as I could not bear to break down. I pushed the canoe off the beach into the grip of the river. Wolfie bounded across the clearing and jumped into the canoe. “He will always be with you in spirit form – protecting you still.” As I began to paddle away I felt the female guardian also step into the canoe. She had sent Wolfie to provide me with protection. I came back from the journey in the sweat lodge when Dawson splashed some water on my face. The final round was a thanksgiving round to keep Wolfie and The Guardian in my mind and heart. Dawson smiled. I bowed deeply to him.