Photo by Photo Submitted
Photo by Photo Submitted
A wolf attacked a dog last Friday in the Golden Horn subdivision south of Whitehorse. The incident occurred at the kennel owned by Yukon Quest veterans Susie Rogan and Hans Gatt.
Rogan said this morning it’s the first time in her eight years there that they’ve had an encounter with wolves.
Eagle, a retired eight-year-old sled dog, is recuperating from puncture wounds but nothing that required stitches.
The blood, though, was flowing pretty good when the dog came into the house shortly after the attack at around 10 p.m., Rogan said.
She said they were just getting ready to call it a night. The usual gang of seven older and smaller dogs that don’t pull sleds anymore were out and about, as they usually are before bedding down on the porch or in the house.
“I was in the kitchen and I heard this slam against the door,” Rogan recalled.
There was Eagle looking in the window.
She let her in. Eagle was covered with slobber. Blood started dripping on the floor, and then it really started dripping.
Gatt went outside to look around. The gang was going nuts on the porch, barking and screaming.
One of the smaller dogs was off a ways, barking up a storm, and Rogan figures it was either chasing the wolves or being chased.
With head lamps and bear spray, they checked their yard, and could see two sets of larger tracks – wolf tracks.
At daybreak, Rogan said, they followed the two sets of tracks to the Yukon River. The smaller tracks were larger than those of their largest 70-pound dog.
The largest set of tracks was big, but weren’t the biggest wolf tracks Rogan has seen.
In the daylight, you could see the wolves had been in the field watching for some time.
You could see where the larger wolf had laid down under a spruce tree.
You could see that there had been a skirmish right there, just 100 metres from the front porch.
It looked like Eagle may have just gone walking by and the wolf ambushed her, Rogan said.
But Eagle has the gang she chums with, the dogs that roam freely in the yard but never go too far from the house.
One of the gang is 12, and there are a couple of 11 1/2-year-olds. Three are too small to be sled dogs. They sleep on the porch, or in the house, not like the bulk of the 50-dog kennel that is kept together behind a high fence.
Rogan said she suspects the wolf got more than it bargained for when it latched onto Eagle.
“Amazing enough, I think this little gang showed up and surprised the wolf enough that she could get loose,” she said.
Rogan said she slept in the inside porch that night, stirring to every sound.
She was a little unnerved for a couple of days.
Eagle is doing fine. A member of Rogan’s Yukon Quest team in 2013, she is resting on the couch and taking antibiotics to ward off any infection that might arise from the punctures.
Wolves do not have the cleanest of mouths.
Rogan said from talking to her neighbours, she understands it’s been some 20 years since a couple of dogs were killed by wolves in the country residential subdivision just south of the city limits.
She suspects the wolves may have been attracted by the smell of meat that day, as they had just received 1,000 pounds of dog food.
With a back issue flaring up, Rogan was unable to help Gatt unload as she normally does.
After Gatt had moved most of meat into the freezer, he decided to leave the chicken fat on the trailer until morning, something they don’t do normally.
Rogan said it just seems too coincidental that the attack happened on the same day they unloaded dog food. That meant the door to the walk-in freezer full of sour fish was opened for a prolonged period.
The wolf tracks indicate the pair had been walking back and forth in the yard for some time, she said.
Rogan said wolves are part of the landscape, but she doesn’t think they’re too keen on coming up to people’s houses, especially with 50 dogs in the yard.
But she is a bit concerned, nonetheless, that the wolves might bookmark their kennel as part of their route now.
Rogan said she has talked to Environment Yukon about the attack.
Environment Yukon spokeswoman Nancy Campbell said this morning the incident at the Rogan and Gatt Kennel was the first wolf incident reported to the Whitehorse office this season.
It’s not uncommon in the Yukon for wolves to prey on pet dogs.
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