Akela is 12 years old today! That’s a venerable 84 in human years although, in the wild — where wolves are challenged by the elements, illness, starvation and injury — wolves only live an average of 7 years. In a domestic environment, they live up to 15 years. We’ve been together since she was five weeks old.
She’s still as active and mischievous as ever, and behaves more like a three-year old dog. It’s difficult to believe that Kenya the staffie is only six months older. He’s grey, stiff and deaf. I’m starting to wonder if wild animals don’t maintain peak fitness until far later in their lives, and then age very suddenly at the end.
Here are some of the most memorable photos of her from the past year.
I just love this photo of Akela. She was totally at ease with Rachel and content just being stroked. I love that smile and the glint in her eye.
You can see that she’s shedding here — her hindquarters have lost most of their very fine, soft winter fur. It comes out in chunks which need to be plucked; combing or brushing just doesn’t work. In the wild they run through thickets to pull the old fur out. In Lapland they collect this fur to make their bonnets — it’s the most waterproof fur you can get.
Look at her thin almost dainty legs. That characteristic sets wolves apart from dogs. Together with her narrow chest, this helps wolves run faster through very thick snow.