Right now you might be thinking, “Whoa, a 62-pack? I haven’t heard about this yet!” Well, not exactly…a pack of 62 New Hampshire wolves living at Dancing Brooke Lodge (DBL) are some of Stonyfield’s furriest fans!
I received a phone call in 2009 from someone (who I thought was a pig farmer) looking for some extra yogurt for his animals. You can imagine my surprise when he replied, “No, not pigs, wolves.” I was definitely intrigued and offered to bring the yogurt donation up there myself the next weekend. What I found was a 200-acre mountaintop sanctuary for 62 wolf-hybrids, each with their own names, life stories, and personalities, ranging from very shy and reserved to bubbly and bouncing. I learned that DBL is a non-profit that takes in abused, neglected and abandoned wolves and wolf-hybrids.
I was completely taken by the dedicated couple – Bill & AJ – who love these animals and run DBL. They live in the middle of the woods on a mountaintop in a platform tent year-round with no running water and no bathroom! The nearest (dirt) road is 3 miles downhill. Bill is an ex-state trooper and his wife, AJ, a nurse in a nearby town. They manage to feed their pack with a combination of donated dog food, leftovers from the local butcher (who throws hunting season’s grisly remains into plastic drums for them), and the occasional Stonyfield yogurt.
My first time up to DBL, I brought the pack Black Cherry and I noticed right away that the wolves were not huge fans of the cherries. In subsequent visits, I brought the pack a little variety – Strawberry Fruit on the Bottom (FOB) and Pomegranate Berry. They overwhelmingly preferred the FOB, strawberries and all. I am usually put to work feeding the wolves yogurt and then helping to distribute some type of carcass (moose/bear/goat) to the pack. I must say that I think they would love moose-flavored yogurt even more than strawberry!
(Above I am feeding the alpha female some organic yogurt during my first visit to DBL in 2009.)
Ever since my first visit, I have made the trek up to Dancing Brooke Lodge several times per year in order to drop off some snacks for the wolves, volunteer, and visit Bill and AJ, of course. This past Earth Day, I somehow convinced a group of Stonyfielders to make the 3-mile hike up the mountain in order to volunteer (apparently rugged hiking, the lack of bathroom facilities, and the prospect of cutting up dead animal leftovers was very appealing!).
We helped do the feeding rounds and repair fences and some trails. I think a couple Stonyfielders fell in love, especially with the friendlier wolves like T.C.
I visited DBL again after Hurricane Irene, in order to help them repair the damage caused by the storm. Much of their trail system had washed out and there were many trees leaning on the wolf pens. Luckily all of the animals and fences survived the storm.
If you’re in the New Hampshire area and would like to help out with this non-profit, they are having a fundraiser on October 9th, beginning in Meredith, NH. It is a Poker Run/Road Rally (you visit 5 stops and pick up a card at each to create a hand of poker), followed by a ham and bean dinner and informational talk about DBL. It is a great way to enjoy fall in New England. If you’re not up for the rally, you can still attend the dinner for $10.
Date: October 9, 2011
Time: Sign in is at 11 a.m., starts at 11:30 / dinner begins at 5 p.m.
Where: Starts and ends at the Wicwas Lake Grange, Meredith Center Road, Meredith, NH
Cost for Rally & Dinner: $25.00 per person (2 people minimum for the poker run – you’ll need a navigator!)
For more information: Contact Bill Russell 603-707-9507 or visit www.dancingbrookelodge.org