Minerva's journey home

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, Oct. 20, 2023
Minerva looking wolfy

As the autumn days blanket the Dire Wolf Project headquarters, the world transforms into a picturesque tapestry of nature's beauty. The sky displays its deepest blue, adorned with the whitest, fluffiest clouds, a sight to behold.

The grasses beneath my feet are now golden, and the trees turn various shades of green, chartreuse, yellows, and oranges. The crickets have hushed their nightly serenades, as the forest's creatures make preparations for the imminent arrival of winter.

Amidst this breathtaking backdrop stands a magnificent creature - Minerva, an 8-month-old, giant-sized golden sable American Dirus dog. Her brown eyes hold a universe of emotions, and a sweet, prickly beard adorn her majestic face. Minerva is a vision of grace, exuding an aura of calm gentleness.

Today, she embarks on a new chapter in her life with a loving family in Canada.

So yesterday, before her grand departure, we had some preparations to make.

She needed to learn how to rest well in a crate, get a rabies shot, experience life in a town, and receive a wellness check at our vet's office.

For a sweet and gentle pup like Minerva who has never left our Ponderosa forests before, everything is a new adventure.

Displaying the remarkable temperament that American Dirus dogs are known for, she approached these unfamiliar experiences with trust and courage.

As I gently lifted her front paws to help her into the crate in the back of the van for the very first time, she looked at me, eyes filled with curiosity and a hint of hesitation. Then, she stood up on her hind legs and I waited until she relaxed. With patience and understanding, Minerva gently climbed into her new spot in the crate and laid down.

I started the engine and watched her from the driver's seat as I drove slowly down the dirt road to the highway. About five miles down the road, Minerva became upset. She whined and began pacing in her crate. I immediately found a place to pull over in order to go to her and comfort her.

A dog that hasn't ever ridden in a car before doesn't understand why the trees whizz by so quickly... it's almost like flying for the first time for a human.

Sitting by her side, I offered comfort and reassurance until her anxiousness subsided and she gave a little wag of her tail.

Then, we got back on the road again to the vet's office.

As we approached the town where the vet's office was located, the bustling surroundings posed a new set of challenges. Minerva's eyes widened at the sights and sounds of civilization, but she remained composed, allowing me to guide her through this new experience.

I got to town an hour early to give Minerva plenty of time to relax before going to the vet's office.

Minerva needed help down, but then she was right by my side, happy to be on a leash to sniff around. We walked over a bridge with a bubbling brook underneath. We saw a little white dog with three kids and their parents having a picnic. We heard a few large trucks go by and a motorcycle rumble by.

Minerva was very observant, but quite brave and willing to explore.

Then, it was back into the crate in the car to travel to the vet's office.

Minerva again needed help to get down from the car, but this time she was wiling to step to the edge of the van all by herself.

She walked up the ramp to the door, but didn't realize the door opened up into a whole new world inside a large waiting area with rooms beyond.

A little leash pressure to help nudge her forward through the door.

Once she came into the office, she was cool as a cucumber. She went up to a few people and asked for pets. They ignored her perfectly, and she came back to stand by me and observe.

Minerva needed help onto the scale, but stayed still weighing in at 81.6 lbs. She was calm and sweet as the vet poked and prodded her. She didn't mind the needles and when it was all over, she walked between the vet's legs looking up at him for some pets.

What a sweet girl!

When it was time to climb back into the crate in the back of the van, she offered to place her front feet up all on her own.

What a good girl!

The ride back to the Dire Wolf Project headquarters was much more relaxed. Minerva settled into her crate and dozed off, as if she had been doing it her whole life.

Finally, we returned to the place she knew best - the magnificent forests at the project's headquarters. With a sense of familiarity, Minerva hopped out of the crate, all on her own, her tail wagging with joy.

She was home.

Minerva's journey was one of discovery and resilience. Her ability to adapt and remain calm through new experiences was a testament to her remarkable temperament. She faced each challenge with courage and, in the end, embraced the journey with the grace and poise that makes her so special.

As the sun rose this morning, she met her new family. We are so excited for her and her new people. She is now en route to Canada.

She may have left the eastern Washington forests, but her memory will forever linger in our hearts.

We watched her depart down the gravel lane, filled with mixed emotions of longing and happiness for the adventures that await her.

Minerva, the brave and gentle traveler, we shall miss you dearly, but we know you'll bring joy and love to your new Canadian home.

Some of Minerva’s brothers are featured on the front cover of the 2024 Dire Wolf Project calendar. They are just as sweet as she is:


Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.