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Wolfskin's diary part 4

11./12.04.2016  Day 27+28

Monday - new week, new opportunities. After Sunday was so phenomenally successful, things could only go uphill. Skina goes in and out alone and without panic, lets herself be petted and is otherwise very calm. But now he's often at the door and wants to get out, which is understandable. He's still not showing any signs of attempting to escape, but you never know. Now we really have to work on the line problem. Shunka and Wolfskin are a great couple, aren't they?

Micha was free on Tuesday and was out and about all morning because of his new driver's license. He then called me when he got home - I had bad suspicions. Apparently our Wolfskin liked it outside so much that he didn't want to stay in there that long... And Micha had closed the living room door behind him (which I usually never do). The result: lots of nice shavings on the floor and a door covered with bite and scratch marks.  He crumpled up guilty when Micha came home.  Well, there are worse things to come.. I've heard of couches completely torn to pieces and furniture shattered into small pieces...

Otherwise we started collar training. Step by step. have a collar put on =

  go outside. With a lot of patience and stroking, it works quite well when Wolfskin lies somewhere quiet. We will now repeat this for the next 2 days and then increase it to a piece of leash on the collar.

04/13/2016  day 29

This morning I was able to put the collar on Wolfskin wonderfully. Only very briefly caressed in her place, then caressed with the collar and then I could put it on him in peace. Of course we went out for a reward! Despite the fact that workers next door were cleaning the power lines, cutting down trees and handling several chainsaws, Wolfskin behaved in an exemplary manner. No excitement, no fear of the quite loud noises. Excellent! Going back in also works wonderfully; after a while he jumps back up the stairs on his own to his usual place next to the living room table. Like a young deer, you don't notice his handicap in the slightest! I then went to work, of course with the living room door open. I was a little queasy, I imagined the most adventurous things that a bored dog could come up with. Micha was home first. He called me and I could hear the terror in his voice. He hadn't even opened the apartment door properly, when Wolfskin stormed past him like a flash and out the front door - without a collar, of course. Fortunately, we always keep our fence closed, and we have also mercilessly vaccinated our tenants. Micha had hardly recovered from the first shock when the next heart attack was just around the corner: Wolfskin tried to put his head and paws through the site fence! He had never even attempted that with me, and my horror was correspondingly great. A loud NO! luckily stopped him from continuing. Help - new surprises every day, the next few weeks will definitely not be boring!

When I came home from work, however, after a short period of reflection, Wolfskin had the collar put on and behaved normally again outside. No escape attempts. We would still get close-meshed wire fence and also attach it to the site fence. Imagine if Wolfskin panicked and got stuck in the fence!

And this is how the way out looks like:

04/14/2016   day 30

This morning I wanted to go out with Skina. So put on the collar and then into our "garden". Yesterday everything worked wonderfully - this morning nothing worked. Skina wanted nothing to do with the collar. In the end I let it go and Micha later let her out without a collar. Not particularly consistent, but chasing the treasure through the apartment would have been even more counterproductive. When I came home from work in the afternoon I was able to put the collar back on quite easily and we went out into the garden. No escape attempt, he even lay down in the dirt outside (where else?) and rested. The day made it clear to me that there will always be setbacks.

04/15/2016  day 31

A day couldn't be blacker. I'm at my wit's end, my stomach is revolting and I'm already out of tears. My worst nightmare has come true.

Wolfskin is gone. run away Like every morning, I was with him and Shunka in the pen in front of the front door so that he could do his business. Nothing was different from the days before. He sniffed around, surveyed the area, kissed Shunka. Shunka meanwhile went back up the stairs, in anticipation of breakfast soon. I stayed outside with Skina for a few more minutes. A draft made sure that the front door was no longer open and I turn to open it again so that Wolfskin could go upstairs. Two steps and two seconds. I heard a noise from the fence, spun around and saw Skina running outside the fence towards the neighbor. Not fleeing in panic, but walking calmly and leisurely, in the hopping way that is typical for his three legs. I was completely horrified and realized what that meant. We don't know how he got out of the enclosure. In fact, he can only have jumped over it, because anything else would have taken him a lot longer than the two seconds I had my back to him. I called Micha, crying and sobbing. He was driving his truck and could only express his horror just as helplessly as I could. Shunka was down by now and I went looking with her and a bag of sausages. Skina wasn't far away; in the field directly opposite our house. I sent Shunka to him. If the situation hadn't been so horrible, the sight would have warmed my heart: Wolfskin and Shunka romped exuberantly across the field, high-spirited and full of joie de vivre I saw Skina enjoying his freedom. I called Shunka over to me and Skina followed her. He took treats from my hand and let me pet him. But I knew that as soon as I grabbed the collar to hold him tight, he would fight back fiercely. So I tried to lure him to the house. Shortly before that, he turned and ran further away. He then came back twice more, following my sausage trail and staying in my immediate vicinity. But his desire for freedom got the better of him. We haven't forged such strong bonds yet that he will voluntarily return to his prison. I jumped up to get more sausages - when I got back down after a few seconds, I couldn't see Skina anymore. As if swallowed from the ground.  I grabbed Shunka and ran in all directions, not a trace. I have no idea what was going through my head, what thoughts were constantly circling. Wolfskin spent years of his life on the streets before he was brutally torn from what was, for him, a dangerous and exhausting but familiar circle of life. I knew pretty well he would stay away from cars and people. He had never been in this area, didn't know a single stone here. Would he find his way back? Would Wolfskin remember regular eating, cuddling and a warm spot?

I walked around until the evening, wrote a missing person report on my cell phone and posted his picture on several Facebook pages frequented by Isfjordeners. When Micha finally came home, I was just a bundle of nerves. He kept looking; Meanwhile, people from the village are also taking part in the search. Nothing. Wolfskin was last seen at 8 am; very close to us on the way to the center. Since then nothing. I don't know what to do anymore. If Skina doesn't want to be seen, I'm sure no one will see him. I sincerely hope and pray that he finds his way back on his own. We have distributed food around the house, all doors are open. I walk from window to window all night. Please come home, Wolfskin!

16./17.4. - Saturday Sunday

Wolfskin didn't come home. I had stayed up all night, standing by the window and scanning the area around the house with my eyes.  The worst images formed in my mind: Wolfskin hit by a ditch, caught in a fox trap in excruciating pain, or at least hungry and trembling out there alone, somewhere. In the morning we went looking again. Micha and our horse girl Renate on horseback, I with Kai, my daughter-in-law and many other volunteers from Isfjorden on foot. Not a trace. Nobody had seen a three-legged dog. Our local photographer printed flyers  and posters that we put up and distributed everywhere. Anyone who knows our area knows that it is almost impossible to find an animal if you have absolutely no clue.  Fields and forest as far as the eye can see - where should you look? We came home exhausted, set up feeding stations and gave free rein to our desperation. My cell phone kept ringing, message after message coming in. Everyone wished us luck, comforted us or asked if Wolfskin was back. No, he wasn't. The second day passed and we stared helplessly at his deserted place.

Sunday morning also passed without success. Until finally a redeeming call came - coincidentally from a colleague. She was quite sure she saw Wolfskin a few minutes ago! At his farm, in a small settlement with only a few farms, about 6 kilometers from Isfjorden. We immediately got in the car. Luzia explained to us that the first lambs had just arrived and that she had placed an afterbirth in a bucket in front of the stall. There was also some leftover food on the compost heap. She watched as a dog had emptied the bucket and attacked the compost. It was either our dog, or someone who had obvious damage to one of his legs because the dog was limping. I was pretty sure it was our Wolfskin! He ran up the slope behind the house, there is open field and forest there. We walked up the meadow at random, Shunka in tow. To our right, about 200 meters away, there was a ditch with scattered trees. I noticed a tree trunk that could be seen in the middle of the wood. I wanted to look away again when I got this weird feeling. I didn't see anything but a black dot relatively far away. I asked Micha if he had also seen the tree trunk. Yes, he had, just a tree stump. A hunch made me take another close look - and then the tree stump moved! Almost imperceptibly, but thanks to my lasered eagle eyes I could clearly see that two pointed ears were growing out of the supposed tree. He was it. I felt it, I was sure of it. We just sat down in the middle of a small hill and let Shunka run. Of course she saw nothing; as a tracker, our girl fails miserably. Skina slowly approached. Two steps, then he lay down again. When he was about 50 meters away from his observation post, Shunka finally recognized him and ran towards him barking loudly. The game was on! They swept across the field, licked each other and played. Micha walked very slowly back to the car to get the bag of sausages. Wolfskin was only 10 meters away from me - and yet unreachable. My first thought was: He's alive! He didn't make a stressed or anxious expression, but seemed to be enjoying his freedom. And yet I got the impression that he was torn between coming to me or keeping his distance. I will not forget the picture of Wolfskin enthroned proudly like his godfather on the hill and watching the country like his realm. I have to admit he looked gorgeous...  Our runaway had chosen a nice spot, and with the color of his fur he almost blended into the landscape, which had not yet come to life.

Micha came back, and despite the sausage, Wolfskin decided to go his own way.

But at least now I knew he was alive and well, and we could hatch a plan. Surely Skina would come back to this place where he had already found delicious meals. So we strategically set up a feeding place from which Luzia could watch him. The plan was that Skina would be fed there regularly until a certain schedule emerged. Then our vet came into play, who was supposed to lie in wait with the tranquilizer gun and shoot our sweetheart incapacitated.

Skina was spotted close by several times today, always keeping a low profile and avoiding the proximity of humans and animals. That was good, very good. A dear neighbor lent us a game camera, which we installed at the feeding place. Now our plan just has to work. I regain hope; maybe I can finally find a few hours of rest tonight. I haven't slept for over 40 hours and I've barely eaten.

04/18/2016 - Monday

Luzia wrote to me very early on that the feeding station had remained untouched. So Wolfskin hadn't been there. That didn't quite go to plan...

I had to go to work, even though I didn't know how I could stay focused for even an hour. Micha is free - one of many fateful coincidences that should make the day memorable. My phone rang on the way to work. A woman from Isfjorden reported that she had just seen Wolfskin. On the way towards Isfjorden center. Along the main street. Jesus... why was Skina running in the completely different direction than he was supposed to?! And so a kind of telephone marathon began - people who had seen Wolfskin called me almost every minute. On the school grounds, near the campsite, at the Civil Defense camp. I sent Micha to the place described each time. But somehow he was always late, or Wolfskin didn't want to be seen. I couldn't think straight at work; Fortunately, my work colleagues and bosses were more than understanding and even shared my excitement. The next sighting was reported - Wolfskin had appeared near the go-kart track, on the way to the mountains. As a precaution, she would have locked her loose ducks away. Right so, who knows how hungry Wolfskin was.

Micha drove there - and suddenly Skina stood in front of him in all his glory, maybe 150 meters away on a forest path.  In the next half hour he made it  Shunka's help, and thanks to wieners, to lure Wolfskin to the car. But no chance of getting him in. Then happened  something amazing: Wolfskin stayed for a full hour  lying next to Micha and Shunka. Relaxed and calm. Micha had the same feeling as I had the day before: Skina was struggling with herself. He wanted to trust, but his bad experiences still stood in his way.  I said to Micha that we probably wouldn't get such a chance again. Wolfskin had moved such a long distance in a short amount of time that we couldn't be sure where he was going to run next. I called the vet and begged her to drop everything, load her gun and head to the go-kart track. So did she. I called Micha again and said he should please, please hold on for a while...

Then there was nothing I could do but wait. Either on the redeeming call, or the next bad news that Wolfskin had smelled the roast and had fled. I can't remember how I got through the next hour without going insane. I haven't had a complexion for a long time, my stomach revolted and I couldn't even hold a pen in my hand because of nervousness.

Then my cell phone rang. Micah calls. As much as I had been waiting for it, I was scared to answer. "It's fine, I have Skina lying in the car drugged." Oh my God!!!!!  I immediately burst into tears, and my co-worker, who was also shaking, put her arms around me.  We had our Skina back! Wolfskin had fled a short distance, into the forest. But Micha and the vet were able to follow him, and when he appeared behind a small hut, the shooter was only 2 meters away and had an easy time. After a few meters escape, Skina then collapsed. Not nice, but otherwise we would never have gotten him home unscathed. The nightmare was over. Skina was back, after almost 4 days of fear and despair, hope and anxiety. My boss sent me home - I wouldn't have done anything sensible anyway. There our emigrant lay in his favorite place in the living room, still fast asleep. I fell into Micha's arms, tears of relief ran down both of our faces. Micha was my hero of the day. We would see how Skina weathered this new trauma. He had run an extremely large number of kilometers; his body would certainly be completely exhausted. What his trip had done to his spirit would be seen over the next few days. We would be there for him with patience and love. This was the second time he hadn't fled directly from us and we both had the impression that Wolfskin already knew that we meant well with him and that he was safe with us. He's back - and that's all that matters right now.

19.04.-24.04.20116     Tuesday Sunday

Wolfskin slept through the night from Monday to Tuesday. In between, I offered him water, which he drank in one gulp. And slept on.

The next few days were mainly spent sleeping and resting, only eating a bit in between. We went back to the balcony to do business, but at most once a day when Wolfskin couldn't stand it any longer. He has now given up his usual place in the living room and has crawled into the bathroom, but not in a corner but in the middle of the room. He must be having incredible muscle pains and of course Wolfskin is exhausted after his 4 day adventure. Apparently the underfloor heating in the bathroom is doing his damaged bones good...

Wolfskin has changed. We noticed it as soon as he opened his eyes for the first time after the anesthesia. His eyes haven't looked shy or scared once in the past few days; we can easily approach it from all directions, in an active posture and with anything in hand.  He's enjoying the cuddles like never before and doesn't make the slightest move to even go near the door. It seems he feels safe and secure inside now...  Wolfskin is lying in the bathroom, we usually even have to step over him on the way to the toilet. His eyes follow me constantly, I get closer, lays  he turns to the side and unconsciously encourages tenderness. I plucked the "residues of the forest" out of his fur, removed 3 ticks - and Wolfskin put up with everything, although it certainly tugged a bit every now and then! There just had to be a certain level of trust or he wouldn't be so relaxed and calm. Daniela Hüther, a really great anxiety dog therapist from Germany, who helps me over the phone with a lot of advice and tips, explained to me that anxiety dogs are often much calmer after an "excursion" because they have vented their fear with exercise. It's like with people: aggression or anger disappears best if you can react it on something (unfortunately sometimes also on someone). But she also said that there must already have been a familiar basis, otherwise he would not have come near us again in life.

In any case, I am now thinking of further increasing and expanding his trust in me. He has clearly noticed that he is safe with us, not on an exhausting search for food  has to go and our touches don't hurt him - on the contrary.  I want to show Wolfskin that my closeness means safety for him, not danger and fear. In order to make the whole thing even clearer to him, I have set up a makeshift mattress next to him on the bathroom floor for the last few nights and slept with him there. I was lying so close to him that I could reach out and grab him. I then put my hand near his head, and after a short time Wolfskin pushed his soft snout into my palm! That was such a great feeling! My back hurt from the hard bathroom floor (two deck chair cushions pushed together don't replace a spring mattress), but I didn't care at that moment! This familiarity with Wolfskin was just wonderful - until my little Josy came tipping over and intended to take up most of my already puny bed. I let her, my little one always wants to be close to her mum, even a wolfskin wouldn't deny her that! 

During the week we had further secured our enclosure. Additional, small-meshed net and overhangs angled inwards on the grids would now make it no longer possible to jump over. Like Alcatraz. Funny and ugly to shoot, but the end justifies the means. The prison isn't supposed to stand forever, and fortunately we have very understanding tenants who have to dig up a section of the fence every time they go in and out and put it back in its place and also have to hang a chain in front of it so that Wolfskin doesn't have a chance to cut the small gap between the two entrance grilles.

At least once a day there is a kiss!

Wolfskin is also by my side when I shower -

but a true gentleman looks away ;-)

You feel like you're being watched

when visiting the toilet!

Even more mesh and high bevels - our Alcatraz is ready.

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