Sean McGill never thought he would have to leave his wolf pack behind, but with his wife and children needing to return to Australia, the Whistler local has had to come to terms with saying goodbye to his other two life companions.
McGill is the owner of Odin and Ida, the sire and dam of many of Whistler’s wolfdogs. They are approaching their twilight years – Odin is already 13 and Ida will soon be 11 – but both are still in good health.
“I’ve had them both since they were puppies and their whole lives they’ve probably spent three days apart,” says McGill.
“Ida is more connected to Odin than she is to me, and he’s more connected to me than anything. Of course they’re joined at the hip, he never takes his eyes off her.”
Odin lets out a wheezy bark, frustrated about being restrained on leash as Ida happily runs around Alpha Lake dog park with five other wolfdogs, all from her and Odin’s various litters. McGill comforts his old friend with soothing words. Letting Odin – an alpha male wolf – roam free in public has been off the cards for a few years now. Odin needs to be in charge, and if challenged by any dog – including his own kin – he will respond aggressively.
“We had a good stretch of both of them off leash and running around,” says McGill.
“But by the time Odin was five it was like okay, unless we’re going walking in the forest they have to be on leash because any other ‘tough guy’ dogs would always butt up to him. And Odin was never one to back down.”
Similar instinctual behaviour was exhibited by Odin several times when McGill himself was threatened. He recalls a time while working tree planting in northern B.C. when he carefully approached a trailer with a defensive dog guarding it.
“The dog latched onto me, and I was getting thrashed,” he says, pulling his sleeve back to show the obvious scars on his forearm.
“I felt two paws on my shoulder, Odin jumped over my head and straight away took this dog off me. I’m looking at the exposed muscles of my arm at that point but still had to get Odin off the other dog. I think I had to lie down after that.”
The two wolves have gotten themselves and McGill into trouble more times than he can count. Ida once killed a rabbit that belonged to a little girl down the street from their Pemberton residence, which prompted a knock on the door from the RCMP. Odin has bitten off the nose of a neighbor’s llama before castrating the farm animal, which also got a visit from the authorities.
“They’ve been a ridiculous hassle at times,” says McGill, shaking his head. But for every story of the wolves running away for several days at time, there is also a happy tale. Tales that would rarely be told about other dogs.
“I had Odin in a photo shoot for FHM magazine when he was eight months old,” recalls McGill.
“We were hanging out in Milestones Bar one time and I was asked by another production crew if he could be on the set for a European quarterly magazine. Because of that he got me a heli shoot the next day, it was a paid gig and the only time I’ve been in a helicopter in my life.”
Apart from film shoots and helicopters, one other perk to being a wolf or wolfdog owner is entering the role of the pack leader. Wolves are very smart and are bound to their original owners, making them unquestionably loyal. They are also adept escape artists
McGill always thought he would be able to see his wolves into the next life. Odin and Ida are a part of him, a part that he must leave behind in Whistler in order to stay with his wife and children.
“It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever had to deal with,” he says.
“Not one bit of me leaving has been my choice. It’s been basically that I’m going to lose my kids – my human kids – if I decide to stay here.”
McGill lifts his sleeve again, this time to show his latest tattoo. It’s not finished yet, but the outline of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains is a familiar image. In the foreground coniferous trees surround Rainbow Lake, one of the McGill’s favourite places in Whistler where he could let both his wolves run free. On the shores of the lake Odin and Ida stand proudly side by side, just as they have for their entire lives.
Carers for Odin and Ida are currently looking for a home for the wolf couple in the Whistler/Sea to Sky region. If you are interested in adopting these two mature wolves please contact Corley Mcelwain as soon as possible at email@example.com
Vince Shuley is the owner of a wolfdog named Link, a third generation offspring from Odin and Ida.