Nushka Wolf Dog

by Margaret Graziano author and artist

She was part of my daily life for just two years, although I knew her well for much longer than that. Her name was Nushka, which someone told me means Happy Wolf. I wouldn't begin to know how to verify the origins of her name but I do know she was, in fact, a happy wolf.

To be precise she was about three-fourths wolf, and one fourth Malamute. She looked like her beautiful counterparts in the wild. She was delicate, weighing in at about 60 pounds, though she looked twice that because of her luxurious coat. Her disposition was sweet, and her wolfy kisses very gentle.

I first met Nushka when I visited my daughter and her "then" boyfriend, whom we shall refer to as Mr. Fickle. (The reason for this name is another story that we won't go into at this time). Mr. Fickle also had a big male wolf-dog for whom he had acquired Nushka as a mate. Napoleon was twice as big as Nushka, solid black with piercing golden eyes. His temperament was not so sweet as hers; he commanded respectful consideration.

Mr. Fickle had thought breeding wolf dogs would be a great way to make some extra cash. And eventually Nushka and Napoleon did have a litter of pups.

The little family did well on their own. Nushka was a a wonderful mother and even big old Napoleon was a rather good father, regurgitating his food for the puppies' meals just like he would have done in the wild. I visited the pack during this time.

I'd never seen anything cuter than those seven furry balls! The howling that went on was very dramatic! Nine wolves singing back to the moon in the middle of the night is quite impressive!

It was all very idyllic until it came time to find homes for the pups. When they were advertised the responses were startling. My daughter and Mr. Fickle received threats for having allowed the litter to be born. Some folks called hoping to find vicious wolves to work as aggressive watch dogs. A Pandora's box had been opened! However, eventually caring, decent folks found their way to the litter and after weeding through the nuts and weirdos good homes were found for the little guys. The experience, however, cured everyone from any further plans to use Nushka and Napoleon as a breeding pair.

wolf dog

My daughter seemed especially tuned in to the needs of these animals. With Napoleon's blood line added to Nushka's seventy five percent wolf genes, the pups were almost one hundred percent wild. She knew they would feel the desire to roam and be free, and it saddened her that this would never be their reality. She whole-heartedly embraced the resolve to have them spayed and neutered. Her resolve was to love and care for big ole' Napoleon and Lady Nushka for the rest of their lives, but she didn't want to be part of the controversy around these animals or the potential abuse they might suffer.

Life went on peacefully for a year or so before tragedy struck. Napoleon escaped and ran onto the highway near their home. He was hit by a truck. We were all devastated. Nushka eventually adjusted to life without her partner, and begrudgingly shared attention with Morgan, my daughter's ethereal Persian cat. Actually she deferred to Morgan. We laughed when Morgan took over Nushka's wolf-size dog bed. Morgan would install herself queen-like in the middle of the bed, and Nushka would lay on the floor with just her nose resting on it. So much for her ferocity!

Nushka brought many smiles as we watched her go through her suburban life. She was a connossieur of fine music. We were especially amazed at her response to a disc of Japanese flute music. She would listen to it intently, and eventually came to join in a most incredible way. She would listen for the music to start, as it did ever so softly. She would start to howl along with it in a barely audible tone.. Then as the music grew louder so would her howls. When there was a pause in the music she stopped. When the music resumed she joined in at exactly the right moment. It was hauntingly beautiful to watch her full participation in the music.

Tale of Nushka Continued...