Virtual birthday parties are a reality in our new normal, wolfdogs included. Hosted over Facebook Live, sponsors helped design birthday celebrations for the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary’s three wolfdog packs, which included options like Happy Birthday howls, turkey cakes and prowling for presents.
Like many local businesses, the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary pivoted to online offerings when it had to temporarily close its doors to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The sanctuary relies on funds generated from tours and donations to care for the human-bred dog-wolf hybrids who call it home, and virtual birthday parties were one way to continue supporting their work.
“We needed to get very creative in terms of how we can get some engagement from our supporters and still bring in some funding in order to do what we do,” says Georgina De Caigny, Executive Director or the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.
High-content wolfdogs, which have more than 80 percent wolf content, are typically born in April and May. It’s nature’s way of ensuring the pups gain essential skills during the summer and have a better chance at survival come winter. Birthday celebrations for these wolfdogs happen each year at the sanctuary, and the virtual fundraiser allowed more people to get involved and see the high-content wolfdogs interact in a new way.
“A lot of times, especially with the higher content animals, if they’re around larger groups of people it does kind of affect their natural behaviour,” De Caigny explains. “So the fact that it’s just us there with a camera, it really lets our supporters, our followers, be able to see what some of those natural wolfdog behaviours are like that they wouldn’t necessarily get the chance to see if they were here in person.”
The wolfdog birthday parties wrapped up on May 3, but the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary will continue to accept donations through its website to support its conservation and educational work. Videos of the parties are also available on the sanctuary’s Facebook page.