Written by Deb Lucchesi: So many memories of Nyssa, two come to mind most readily. Nyssa was the most engaging with her immediate interaction with wolf care staff, nannies and even strangers during the pose with the pups program. She always ran up to lick and nibble our chins, and get a belly rub. Of course the other memory is of the fierce, spunky defense of her food, toys and treats. I always will like to refer to Nyssa as Miss Vocal, never a hesitation to be heard in the wolf yard. Her sounds resound in my memory forever. I came to see Nyssa last September and once again she came to the fence, intent on face licks and making a connection, as if to give me one more intense memory of the black princess. As I walked away, she gazed on at me in a way that I'll never forget…Remember me… Remember me… When Nyssa passed to the spirit world, my brother reminded me that she had fulfilled her purpose… She is so loved and cherished.
Written by Lee Williams: It was our Nanny team's turn to escourt the pups into the "Pups 101" program, and after several attempts to entice her, I had to carry a grumpy Nyssa into the building. As usual, she snarled and did her best to look menacing, but once I picked her up, she went as limp as a wet noodle in my arms. We had recently prepared treats for the lecture, which consisted of bones that had been drilled, filled with meat, and attached to lines of rope for easy retrieval from determined pup jaws. We tethered the rope ends to the little fence surrounding the enclosure, and watched as each pup ran to claim their bone. There were only two bones in thepen, and after assessing the situation, Nyssa decided rather than her usual "pounce and claim", she'd try something new. I watched as her eyes followed each rope to where it was tied to the fence. Then, with calculated precision, she went straight for the knots and started to untie them. She actually got one free and yanked it away from her surprised brother. She was such a clever girl. Her beauty, her fierce will and her intelligence will stay with me always.
Behavioral Observation Team Member Janet Narron sent this tribute to Nyssa: It's split in three sections to fit in the space allowed: One year ago this month (August), I took a journey northward to find the International Wolf Center. I was to be a part of the Behavioral Observation Team. Three magnificent wolf pups were to be assimilated into the world of Shadow and Malik, thereby creating a new family, a new pack. The week would be like nothing I had ever known. It is, to this day, my most rewarding trip. As I write this, my IWC identification badge for the week still hangs above my desk. The badges each displayed photos of our assigned wolves for the week…mine reads…Janet Narron—NYSSA. I am not a scientist, or a teacher, or a wolf biologist. I am just someone who has always been intrigued with wolves, although I knew very little about them. Perhaps I was drawn to their mesmerizing beauty or simply their ever-present air of mystery. I was so thrilled, as I drove along unfamiliar roads, to think I would have the chance to be near wolves, to watch them and to photograph them. I certainly never imagined how it would feel to hold one in my arms.
When I learned of Nyssa’s heart wrenching, premature death, I had been checking the website planning to return to take photos. I was amazed at the growth of the pups throughout the year and at how incredibly majestic Nyssa had become. I am not sure what it was I felt as I read the announcement. In shock and sobbing, I read the paragraph over and over. It is truly quite amazing how Nyssa touched so many lives in her one short year on this planet. Each of us can only hope and strive to make such a strong impact on others. I am so very grateful to the IWC for allowing me the opportunity to join Nyssa’s world for a time and the world of her family, both human and animal. Some experiences in life you just never forget. I will never forget the day I held a wolf in my arms. Thank you Nyssa…you are missed. Sincerely, Janet Narron Behavioral Team Observer 2004
Nyssa is shedding more than any other wolf. Her undercoat is a lightish gray, so it tends to be more noticeable. Her coat may appear darker after she sheds the undercoat and is left with the darker guard hairs. She still avoids going into the pond unless she has to, versus Maya who'd like a torpedo (especially if there's a duck in the pond). Maya is the best hunter of them all.
The program particants for Pups at One Year were asked to write a memory of Nyssa. The following postings are their thoughts verbatim. The photos are representative of the Nyssa Memorial tree planting and miscellaneous enclosure work done during the weekend.
Written by Vicky and Art Bomberger Nyssa: A willful, playful, feisty, confident little girl with the softest black fur and a querulous growl. Unknowlingly, you touched so many with your birth, life and death. Teaching us that nature can be gently guided and lovingly nurtured, yet never truly controlled.
As you may know from reading the home page, the Center suffered a tragic loss of Nyssa, the lower ranking female. Nyssa served as important role as an ambassador for wolves in the wild and touched many lives in her short time on the Exhibit. The events on the morning of the 11th may never be known. Since the day of the medical exams (I worked 29 straight hours with the wolves and behavioral team) and the subsequent overnight observation sessions that followed, behavioral observers noted she was playful with the pack and often encouraged interaction by playbowing to fellow pack members. Daily wolf care checks included a complete inspection of the females (including photographing incision sites to monitor progress) as well as a status check on the dynamics. On Tuesday, she was photographed stalking and pouncing on Grizzer. Tuesday's photographs of the incision sites revealed that both Maya and Nyssa were healing well with no problems. Staff delivered antibiotics 3 times a day to Nyssa with the last antibiotic early in the evening on Tuesday. Log observations showed the pack calm, Nyssa very socially interactive and no issues. I know it is difficult for people to understand the behavior of wolves; their complex social orders and dynamics cannot be assessed by human judgement, their actions are neither good nor bad. In a world that is clearly run by wolf rules, we must appreciate the lessons they have taught us and remember the behaviors of the past and present to aid in understanding the future.
PART TWO Written by Pups at One Year program participant: Diann Evans We were encouraged to feed "Nubee" as often as she showed interest, after all, the other pups had a one-week head start. Since we fed her so much, her stomach was always well-rounded. Even at week two, she showed her "spunky attitude" by growling at the other pups and gnawing on their legs and tails. Written by Pups at One Year program participant: Dena Arntzen I remember Nyssa as "Nubee", the newest and smallest of the summer 2004 trio. Her eyes were so dark as to almost seem to disappear into the rest of her jet-black face. But those eyes sparkled and took in everything.. She was tenacious and loving all at the same time as she worked to keep up with her big brother and sister. In one important way she surpassed them both, and that was in her ability to find a spot in everyone's heart. Written by Pups at One Year program participant: Kristen Radermacher I remember her tenacity; she never gave up until she dropped into an exhausted sleep. She fit in my cupped palms and slept and snuggled there. For a wolf with a voracious appetite, as a yearling we sure struggled to bottle her. She was much more interested in the gruel than either Grizzer or Maya, but it was still a struggle to get her to eat. She really held her own against the larger pups, giving as good as she got. She was a tough but sweet puppy; she is missed. Written by Pups at One Year program participant: Matt Weeks I can only begin to imagine what it must be like to to be an integral part of their day-to-day lives, or what it much have been like to nurse these pups in their formative days. Nyssa's impact on everyone is simply testimony to just what these animals mean to us and what they should mean to us all.
The following was written by Pup at One Year program participant: Steve Lokker For a week, we nannies gave Nyssa our heart. When it was time to leave, you returned our hearts and they wer overflowing with love, strength, and a gentle spirit. Your passing leaves a void that can never be filled, and at the same time, you left a mark on our hearts and our spirit that will never be erased. Thank you Nyssa, for allowing us to share in a small part of your all too-brief life. Please know Nyssa, that the measure of the impact you had on us was significantly greater than the short span of your life. Steve Lokker, Nanny Class #3 – June 13 – 19, 2004
The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future.