Koani and Indy
and Bruce and Pat

 

"Are Koani and Indy still alive? How are they doing?" That's the most commonly asked question we receive in correspondence to Wild Sentry.

Indy died on April 24, 2006 and Koani died February 28, 2007. Below is some information about them as it appeared on the site prior to their deaths.

Koani came within two months of making it to the age of 16. If you'd like to read the newsletter dedicated to Koani, Click Here.  

Newsletter #51: Indy

Koani’s Last Days - Newsletter #53

Indy was closing in on 16 years old. Because he was rescued from Dog Prison, we never knew the date of his birth... nor did we know his pedigree. Because of that and other factors, when asked, "What kind of dog is Indy?", we answered that he was a Wonder Dog. If you'd like to read the newsletter dedicated to Indy, Click Here.  

Newsletter #53: Koani

The Last Time - Newsletter #51

 

KOANI
Ambassador Wolf

Koani is a gray wolf (Canis lupus). Koani’s name comes from a Blackfeet Indian word meaning, “play.” Koani was born in captivity on May 5, 1991 for a filmmaker who asked Bruce and Pat to raise and socialize her to play the role of an ambassador wolf in his documentary. Ambassador wolves are animal teachers that educate the public about wolves. After he failed to follow through on his promise to take responsibility for Koani upon completing the documentary,

Pat and Bruce faced a difficult decision: put Koani to sleep or create an education organization. And so began Wild Sentry and a lifelong partnership between Koani, Indy (her dog companion), Pat and Bruce. Koani is not a pet. Wolves do not make good pets. They are nearly impossible to housebreak or obedience train. They are incorrigible chewers of furniture and clothes. Because captive wolves are socialized to humans, yet retain a highly developed predatory instinct, they are dangerous around children unless closely supervised. This is not “meanness,” it’s just the fact that small children move in a fast and jerky manner while emitting high pitched squeals—in short everything that a prey animal in trouble does. A normal, healthy wolf pounces on and bites an animal that behave like that. Because of this behavior, Koani must be kept in an enclosure that does not allow direct contact with people through the fence. When she is outside her enclosure she must always be on a leash. We hope that, in spite of this, her life will be worthwhile—and it will be if she is able to help people form a more realistic attitude toward her species.

More information:

  • Weight: 100 pounds.

  • Color—black at birth, she is becoming grayer as she ages (one black sister and brother, one coyote colored sister and brother).

  • Five pups in her litter (three female, two male) weighed one pound at birth.

  • Needs constant companionship—this is provided by Indy, a mixed-breed dog of shepherd-collie ancestry. They were raised together and are closely bonded. Indy accompanies her everywhere. Koani howls if she is separated from him for more than a few minutes.

  • Koani can never be released in the wild because she does not have a family to teach her how to survive in the wild.

  • Special facilities include a one-acre wooded enclosure, with a spring, that’s surrounded by ten-foot double fencing and provides access through a ‘wolf’ door into a pen within Pat and Bruce’s living room.

  • Secretly hopes to dance with Kevin Costner.

Indy
Star of the Show

  • Koani’s constant companion and dominant canine even though he’s half her size.

  • Displays differences between wolves and dogs and provides a graphic example of why dogs make the best pets (as opposed to wolves or wolf-hybrids).

  • Believes he’s the star attraction, so don’t burst his balloon. He actually is the star of Wild Sentry’s new program, Whatever Happened to the Wolf? The Dog Domestication Story.

Questions Often Asked about Koani and Indy

Indy chillin' on winter's day.

"What kind of dog is Indy?"

We rescued Indy from the animal shelter so we don't know Indy's ancestry-probably some shepherd and border collie, some people think his tail is Samoyed. We call him a Big Sky Snow Roller-one of a kind. Or we call him a Wonder Dog, because we wonder what breeds are in him. Actually, we don't care about Indy's pedigree because he's perfect (or nearly so) just the way he is.

"How old is Indy?"

Again, because Indy came from the animal shelter, we don't know his exact age. However, we think that he's about six to eight months older than Koani. Koani was born on May 5, 1991. So, how old is Indy? How old is Koani?

"Do you think that Koani will have puppies?"

No. We had a veterinary do an operation so that she can't have puppies. Like we said during the program, wolves don't make good pets; they belong in the wild where they can run free. Sometimes we feel very sad about Koani being in captivity. The only way that we can feel better about it is knowing that she's a teacher who helps people understand wolves better.

Koani in a Utah desert.

"Do you go to other schools with Koani and Indy?"

Yes, presenting Wild Sentry programs is what we do for our living. It's important to remember that Koani is not a pet, she is a teacher and even though we love her, we would never have agreed to raise Koani if we weren't going to go to schools with her. We also do programs for adults. Every year, Koani and Wild Sentry present about 150 programs to more than 20,000 people.

"Has Koani ever bitten anyone?"

Koani has bit Pat and me when we tried to take something away from her that we thought she shouldn't have. It's dangerous to take things away from dogs too.

"Has Koani ever gotten hurt?"

Koani hasn't ever been hurt badly. Once however, due to her curiosity, Koani stuck her nose into a yellow-jacket nest and got stung. Her muzzle swelled up and you could tell that it made her feel sick. Fortunately, by the next day, the swelling had gone down and she felt better.

"Did you have Indy when you got Koani?"

No, when we brought Koani home to live with us, we couldn't leave her alone for even one minute or she'd howl and cry and whine. We realized that she needed a canine companion so we went to the animal shelter where we found Indy.

"I wonder if you could teach the wolf tricks?"

Animal trainers have gotten wolves to perform tricks for a food reward-to aid in this process, they keep the wolves a little hungry. However, you can't housebreak wolves or teach them to obey commands the way you can a dog.

A young Koani and Indy."Has Koani ever been in the movies?"

Yes, Koani and Pat were featured in an ABC-World of Discovery special, Return of A Legend. Koani and Wild Sentry were in the IMAX movie Wolves as well as many television programs aired on Tokyo Broadcasting, ABC News, News Travel Network, Salt Lake City Channel 2 Morning Program, Tigress Productions (PBS & BBC), Spokane Channel 6 News, and KPAX & KNET Missoula.

"How big can wolves get?"

Just like people, the size of wolves varies according to where they live. Wolves in Minnesota and the Boundary Waters region average 80 to 95 pounds. Wolves in the northern Rockies of Alberta and British Columbia average 90 to 110 pounds. The largest recorded wolf came from Alaska and weighed in at 160 pounds; this was an unusually large wolf however.

"Do you have a cat?"

We used to have a cat named Baggins. In fact, Pat had Baggins before she knew me and long before Indy and Koani came into our life. Baggins died at the age of 19 just after the Thanksgiving of 1992. I was glad that worked out that way because it meant that Baggins got to eat one last turkey dinner; and he loved turkey.

"Are you going to keep Koani until she dies?"

Yes and that's a big responsibility. In the wild, wolves live to be 7 to 8 years old. Koani, being in captivity, could easily live to 13 to 15 years.

Bruce Weide
Author, Storyteller, Educator, Wolf Wrangler

Though he has led a richly diverse life and is a firm believer in the importance of imagination and stories, Bruce never dreamed that he’d grow up to be a wolf wrangler. Before teaming up with Koani, he also drove skidder and set choker in the forests of Oregon, owned and operated a ski and mountaineering store, instructed Outward Bound, roughnecked on an exploratory barge in the Red Sea, worked as a climbing guide, picked cotton on one of the world’s largest corporate Out for a wolf walk. farms, climbed Yosemite’s El Capitan, owned a restaurant, and assisted his wife, Pat Tucker, on the Whitetail Deer Study/Wolf Ecology Project in the wildlands that border Glacier National Park—all subjects of a good story or two. He holds a B.A. in geography and earned a M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Montana. While at the U of M, where Bill Kittredge served as his major advisor, Bruce was awarded an Erasmus Scholarship and a Clancy Gordon Scholarship. Bruce has authored numerous magazine articles, a travel book, Trail of the Great Bear, and two children’s books: There’s A Wolf In The Classroom, about raising an ambassador wolf (selected for Science Book & Film’s Annual Best Children’s Science Book List), and Tales of Two Canines: The Adventures of a Wolf and a Dog. He produced and wrote the awarding-winning, Public Television documentary, The Wolf: Real or Imagined? and an award winning wolf-identification video, Was That A Wolf? (Best of the Northwest Video Festival Instructional Award and Educational Award from the International Wildlife Film Festival). Bruce currently co-directors Wild Sentry, a position that also includes presenting environmental education programs, writing a quarterly (fun and entertaining as opposed to doom and gloom) newsletter, and caring for Koani, the ambassador wolf.

Bruce has consulted and/or appeared in documentaries such as Wolves-IMAX, Wolves-Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet, Really Wild Show-BBC, Secret Life of Wolves-Audubon/Disney, Return of a Legend-ABC Discovery Series, The Snow Wolves-KUED Public Television, and Wolves of the World-BBC. His articles and photography have appeared in Montana Magazine, Boys’ Life, Northern Lights, Washington Magazine, High Country News, the Montanan, Defenders Magazine, Outside, various newspapers, and books such as Montana: A Photographic Celebration—Vol. I & II, Christmastime in Montana, and Montana on My Mind. He co-authored Can You Turn a Wolf into a Dog? He is a member of the Society Children Book Writers and Illustrators.

In addition to his educational work with Wild Sentry, he instructed Wolf Courses for the University of San Francisco and Glacier Institute, taught Writing and Technical Writing courses at the University of Montana and worked as a Senior Instructor for Northwest Outward Bound and Summit Expeditions. He has been a featured speaker at the Smithsonian Institution, American Museum of Natural History, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the California Academy of Sciences among others.

Pat Tucker
Wildlife Biologist, Author, Educator, Wolf Wrangler

Pat began development of Wild Sentry: The Northern Rockies Ambassador Wolf Program in August 1991. She quickly realized that people possess a tremendous desire for contact with animals. The impact and importance of viewing live animals cannot be overstated. Ironically, urban children, because they live close to zoos, possess a far greater opportunity to see large predators than do children in most rural areas. Seeing a live wolf forces viewers to alter their mental image of the animal and confront misconceptions. This is particularly important with the wolf, an animal that plays a symbolic role in our imagination based on its characterization in stories. Pat in an early attempt to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone. Pat’s belief in and commitment to environmental education predated her development of Wild Sentry. From 1987 until 1992, as a biologist for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), she produced and distributed educational material about wolves and wolf recovery in the northern Rockies, in addition to serving as a consultant on numerous wildlife issues. Wolf advocates and opponents continue to credit Pat for presenting sound information that represents both sides of the issues surrounding wolf recovery.

During her tenure at NWF, Pat presented programs to several hundred diverse groups that included sportsmen clubs, ranching groups, students of all ages, teacher workshops, scientific symposiums, business associations and conservation groups;

  • Produced an educational video;
  • Created the Traveling Educational Program on Wolves, which reaches more than 22,000 students annually. Distributed to teachers throughout Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the 25 “Wolf Boxes” contain curriculum, videos, books, pelts, skulls, plaster casts of tracks, scat specimens, as well as classroom aides such as a felt story board, puppets and maps;
  • And served as a technical advisor to the congressionally mandated Wolf Recovery Committee.

Pat completed a BA in nursing in 1979 and earned her M.S. in wildlife biology from the University of Montana, in 1991. She also wrote Can You Turn a Wolf into a Dog? and co-authored two children’s books: There’s A Wolf In The Classroom, My, what big teeth you have! about raising an ambassador wolf (selected for Science Book & Film’s Annual Best Children’s Science Book List), and Tales of Two Canines: The Adventures of a Wolf and a Dog. She published the popular booklet, Wolf Recovery in the Northern Rockies: Commonly Asked Questions (more than 40,000 distributed), Wolves: Identification, Documentation, Population Monitoring and Conservation Considerations (1990), Attitudes of Hunters and Residents Toward Wolves in Northwestern Montana (Wildlife Society Bulletin, 1989), and compiled the definitive Annotated Gray Wolf Bibliography (1988) for the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service.

Her awards include the 1995 Public Awareness Award from Partners in Flight, 1993 Environmental Educator of the Year from the Montana Wildlife Federation, 1992 Environmental Achievement Award presented by Renew America, a 1990 certificate for outstanding dedication and initiative presented by the Central Idaho Wolf Recovery Steering Committee, the 1988 Bertha Morton Scholarship.

As a consultant, Pat provided technical and expert advice for television documentaries such as Return of a Legend (ABC), The Wolf: Real or Imagined? (Public Television), and Was That A Wolf?, Wolves of the World-BBC and has consulted and appeared in Wolves-IMAX, Secret Life of Wolves-Audubon/Disney, Return of a Legend-ABC Discovery Series, and The Snow Wolves-KUED Public Television. She has been a featured speaker at the Smithsonian Institution, American Museum of Natural History, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the California Academy of Sciences among others.



 
Wild Sentry
P.O. Box 172, Hamilton, Montana 59840
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