Lakota has been showing her tenacity in the retired enclosure. After a new delivery of pine bedding, she proceeded to mark MacKenzie's bed. MacKenzie hasn't slept in it since. MacKenzie's decided to sleep on the Cedar chips in front of the webcam instead.

Lakota is feeling better today after blood work confirmed an infection from a dog tick called Ehrlichia. She is responding to the antibiotics and is up and active again. Her appetite is still not 100%, but she eats the daily meatballs dosed with antibiotics and will take several cups of meat a day in a warm broth. Thank you to all who inquired about her status during the last week, we appreciate your concern. Lakota received great care from the Ely Vet Clinic, and with that great care comes a cost. If anyone is interested in donating to Lakota's vet care bill, please feel free to submit a check to the International Wolf Center 1396 Hwy 169, Ely, MN 55731. Put "Lakota's Vet Bill" on the envelope address as well as on the memo line of the check. Thanks, the retired wolves appreciate your help…So does the Curator.

The cool mornings have brought about a new burst of energy in the Retired Pack. Lakota has been up to her usual tricks of playbowing to the staff and the other wolves and then racing around the pen, looking to see if anyone is chasing her. So far, Lucas has been willing to do a few sprints after her, but MacKenzie just tends to wait until she comes near to take a grab at her.

Lakota has always had the personality trait for being most likely to entice the other wolves into a game of chase. This trait hasn't faded with her advancing age. As the fall weather approaches, staff again see Lakota excitable and often begins wolf care with several laps around the den boxes, jumping at low level tree branches and both wolves and humans in her path. She continues to excavate two major tunnels in the enclosure, one nearing 15 feet in depth.

I hope you all had a great holiday season. The wolves weathered the holiday well considering the December 26th – 9 am wolf check was -34 degrees below zero. On New Year's day, nearly 10 inches of snow fell creating a great diversion for the wolves (the pups love fresh snow) and many hours of work for the curator. Enjoy the winter photos…

Lakota is doing extremely well, despite the troubles experienced by Lucas. We were initially concerned that Lakota and MacKenzie would show dominance over Lucas, but they have been very tolerant of his lethargic and sometimes unstable condition. After Lucas gets a pain pill, he does feel well enough to move around the pen. On Sunday, Lakota started a running bout and Lucas felt well enough to run a few feet with her. Lakota is still full of her undercoat, and daily staff brushings are resulting in piles of hair. For a 13 year old, she has the softest, most glossy hair of the pack.

Written by Wolf Ethology student-Amanda Rice: Always met at the fence in the mornings by a pair of captivating large eyes, her beauty holds your attention. Appearing gentle because of old age, it's a little slow-going. Lots of stretching when getting up from her bed, she gracefully handles her twilight years. It's been an absolute pleasure to meet Lakota.

When Lucas was moved out of the enclosure to be euthanized, Lakota was showing signigicant interest in the vestibule. Staff kept her occupied, but there is likely going to be some separation anxiety expressed by both her and MacKenzie. Staff are monitoring them frequently throughout the day. Lakota continues to maintain a fairly dense undercoat, despite daily brushings from staff. Her method for staying cool is to go underground in a rather deep hole she dug a few years ago. The sprinkers give her relief as well, but her preference is to be subterranean. As a side note, the camera's were off for a few days as we buried a new cable for distance learning opportunities into the lab. Sorry about the side angle on the camera, we moved the camera before disconnecting the electricity, resulting in a 45 degree angle photo as the last photo before we completed the wiring. It wasn't some new abstract method of displaying wolves.

Part II So, we built a kennel in the garage portion of the lab, and Lakota remained in this area from Friday morning until her return to the enclosure on Monday morning. We were prepared to sedate her for this recovery, but she is very calm, and has only needed light doses to keep her anxiety under control. We keep the door open to the lab, so she can hear the pups, and she gets some warmth from the lab heaters. She’s getting a meat, puppy formula gruel to keep her calories up and help her immune system. She’s on antibiotics and pain killers, and so far, she has not touched the bandage. She welcomes wolf care staff, and enjoyed the comforts of a flannel sleeping bag at night. The pups have a bit of adjustment as the garage air is a bit cool, but they’ve settled into the curator’s blanket and pillow which is frequently on camera. Lakota has lost weight since the last surgery to remove the benign tumor on her face. In September of 2007, she weighed 92.4 lb, on this exam, she was 87.5. Granted, the time difference could be a factor, pre-winter fat reserves versus end of winter fat reserves, but Wolf Curator, Lori Schmidt, noticed significant atrophy of her muscles in her haunches and front shoulders.

Lakota gave the wolf care staff a little bit of anxiety last week. Staff noticed her having difficulty defecating and some discomfort when laying down. This was of great concern as this was how Lucas's troubles were first identified. After some investigation and a fecal sample at the vet, it was determined that Lakota ate too many raspberries. The staff did not feed her raspberries, so she must have been picking them off the fence line. After verifying that there was no parasite issue that might be making her browse, it was determined that she would be fine, but it would be better if we could give her a significant amount of meat to help clear her system. She readily ate her carnivore diet and on Sunday, was running throughout the enclosure and jumping on the den boxes. Her searching for Lucas seems to be diminishing, now only MacKenzie shows some anxiety, probably related to the absence of Lucas.