What Have I Gotten Us Into Now?

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, April 4, 2023
Excavator pup1
American Dirus puppy sleeping

At 9:00 pm, I set the alarm for 3:00 am.

Six hours.

Six hours of sleep would be enough.

I turned on my side, slid down farther into the covers, and closed my eyes, but I worried about the Miners Litter puppies.

The 4-week-old sweeties were outside for the first time and the temperatures just happened to drop below freezing this particular night… THE night I had to transition the seven of them to an outside pen.

I didn’t want to move them outside this early, but there was no other choice.

I had to be gone from Dire Wolf Project headquarters for over twelve hours to deliver Sedna to her new family.

I couldn’t keep Opal in the house that long.

I checked on the little ones for the fourth time thirty minutes ago, so I knew they were okay.

Still, my mind worried.

I clicked on the latest CBS Radio Mystery Theater upload on The Edge of Nightfall‘s YouTube channel.

Soon, my mind felt fuzzy.

When I no longer perceived the story, deep sleep consumed me.

What seemed like seconds later, the alarm went off, a little too loudly.

I opened my eyes with sleepy resolve.

Before leaving with Sedna, I needed to pick up the brown piles in the two outside puppy pens. Feed the hungry monsters. Then, make sure they had plenty of water to last through the day.

It isn’t easy being away for so long. My mind runs through all the worst-case scenarios, as I make the final preparations before any trip.

I threw on my preplanned wardrobe. Then, I grabbed the necessary trip provisions waiting near the door. After making sure I had my purse, wallet, and license information, I checked on the Miners Litter puppies once again.

They were huddled into a ball of fluff deep in the straw.

Opal waited by the kennel door to greet me.

Okay. All was well.

After completing the cleaning, feeding, and watering, I took Sedna for a run before loading her up.

Five hours to Baker City, Oregon, a couple hours transition, and five hours back again.

Sedna traveled very well.

The new family loved her. Such a soft, gentle spirit.

Sedna took to the father right away. I think his gentle, loving caresses comforted her. She melted into his lap. And that was that.

After saying good-bye to the family and pausing for one last glance at Sedna, I returned to my Chevy Trailblazer and headed home.

Somewhere just before the Blue Mountain pass, my eyes began to droop. I pulled over into a rest area parking space and closed my lids for an hour.

When my arm became tingly from lack of circulation, I woke and continued on.

I returned home at 6:00 pm, hours later than I anticipated.

The dogs were overjoyed to see me.

I felt a sigh of relief.

Everyone was okay.

First, I walked over to the Miners Litter and peeked into the cedar cabin door.

The puppies waddled over the straw to greet me at the gate.

Several pets later, I attended to the other puppies.

I repeated the steps I had completed early that morning.

Cleaning. Feeding. Watering.

Then, the rest of the dogs had their turn.

Filling the last jug of water for the last kennel, I realized the 250 gallon water tank was almost empty. The next day’s activities would have to include a run to Two Rivers Campground fifteen miles away to fill up again.

At 8:00 pm, in the dark with my headlamp on, the temperature fell. I could feel it through my jacket.

I found the Miners Litter puppies huddled together once again, snuggled down into the straw.

They just don’t have the same fluffy thick undercoat that the other puppies have.

I checked the weather on my phone.

Sure enough, a cold snap with possible snow was scheduled for the next three days.

I scooped up two of Opal’s puppies and walked them back into the house with Opal following behind.

I turned on the Kerosene heater and returned to the kennel to grab the other Miners Litter puppies.

Another half hour later and all the little ones were playing with joy-filled abandon. I got the strong impression they were happy to be back inside in their familiar den space.

9:00 pm and I realized that the Miners Litter hadn’t eaten since 3:30 am.

I opened two cans of Taste of the Wild premium canned food into their bowl and laid it down in front of them.

Just like the hungry hippos game, they ate and ate and ate and ate.

I stayed up with them to clean up afterwards and let Opal back in to be with them.

9:45 pm. Finally, time to get ready for bed.

My mind had been swimming for hours already, but I had to push on until all the dogs were taken care of.

When my head hit the pillow at 10:00 pm Sunday night, I was already asleep.

While Sunday wasn’t a typical day, it was just as jam-packed with have-to’s and must-do’s as most of them.

Here is a list of some of the activities I do regularly:

  1. Pick-up, feed, water puppies (2x/day)
  2. Walk a group of dogs
  3. Pick-up, feed, water dogs (1x/day)
  4. Service dog training
  5. Write daily email newsletter
  6. Capture video footage for YouTube
  7. Post on Youtube, respond to comments
  8. Check email
  9. Update website
  10. Check messenger/text
  11. Create Facebook/Instagram memes
  12. Collect water
  13. Drive to laundromat for dog laundry
  14. Drive to town for dog food
  15. Take/enhance/post pictures of puppies
  16. Travel to town on Thursday for dog training
  17. Answer phone calls from owners
  18. Plan litters
  19. Give shots and worm medication
  20. DNA tests
  21. Vet appointments
  22. Approve/deny puppy adoption questionnaires
  23. Update health database
  24. Grooming/medical check-ups on the dogs
  25. Categorize expenses and other accounting tasks (state/federal taxes)

And… I’m sure I forgot a few things.

Lois said to me about a year ago now I wouldn’t be able to sustain this level of exhaustive work, and she was right.

I knew at the time she was correct, but I didn’t have any answers then.

So, any spare time I had, driving to town or on the DireWolf Express, I listened to audio books. Books on business practices, marketing strategies, business structure, and time management.

I must’ve read (listened to) over 100 books in the last year.

Many of them were super!

If you own your own business (or, more accurately, your business owns you), I highly recommend the following:

  1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad (Robert Kiyosaki)
  2. The Millionaire Fastlane (MJ DeMarco)
  3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Robert Cialdini)
  4. Buy Back Your Time (Dan Martell)
  5. Persuasion Secrets of the Worlds Most Charismatic & Influential Villains (Ben Settle)
  6. The Go-Giver: Expanded Edition (Bob Burg, John David Mann)
  7. How to Get Paid for What You Know (Graham Cochrane)
  8. Unscripted: The Great Rat Race Escape (MJ DeMarco)
  9. The Dichotomy of Leadership (Jocko Willink, Leif Babin)
  10. How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)

Well, all of that input into my psyche has had a tremendous influence on the future plans for the Dire Wolf Project.

Leaving Facebook was a calculated event.

Shifting to daily emails was planned strategically.

Returning to YouTube was not an accident.

There are many more precise ways we are going to improve our work over the course of this year.

I won’t list them all here.

You will find out about them in time as they develop.

However, one of the most important changes needs to be a way to grab back the time taken up by tasks others can do.

With an increase in available time, I will be able to do more for you than ever before.

More informational books/pamphlets/articles on the breed.

More training videos.

More time to answer questions.

More time to plan/implement the Surrogate Breeder Program.

More time to develop the Gift Shop/distribution practices.

In order to do it, though, I have to let go of some of the tasks that bog me down.

There is no way I can add even one more thing to my already immense plate of daily tasks.

After reading Buy Back Your Time by Dan Martell, I realize hiring others must be done mindfully.

So, after thinking about all the daily tasks I do, the one position to benefit me the most would be an administrative assistant. Someone who can manage my calendar, take over most inquiry emails, process applications, update webpages, and on and on.

By hiring someone for administrative tasks, much of my day is freed up.

Not being one to linger too long on a necessary change, I hired a lovely woman to assist me with the online day-to-day interactions.

Some of you may know her.

She owns two of our dogs and is very active in our small owner’s community.

She has undying devotion to the breed and is highly skilled in many of the things in which I sorely lack.

She is great on the phone. She keeps a schedule like nobody I know. She is positive, caring, compassionate, and genuine.

She has done her research on the breed and has a good understanding of our mission.

She wants to see us grow with purpose and integrity, keeping Lois’s breeding morals and ethics intact.

It is going to be quite a change for me to have someone else plan my calendar and sort the hundreds of daily emails.

I won’t have to keep so many things in my head all of the time.

What does one do who is addicted to mental chaos when the reactive mind is managed?

I can’t wait to find out.

Please give a warm welcome to the Dire Wolf Project’s new administrative assistant, Jody-Lynn!

If you want to say a word of encouragement to Jody-Lynn, her project email is:


PS: Sedna’s sister, Syrenka, is just like her sister. Very smart, sweet, loving and gentle.

She is a bit more independent… has her own mind… is not as much of a follower, but just as intelligent and aware as her sister.

Syrenka isn’t going to be a large dog. I imagine she will reach around the mid-80 lbs range as an adult.

She has a long double-coat with high shedding.

She has dark eyes and a loving spirit.

And… Syrenka wants desperately to find that family who will understand her soul, reach out to it in love, and draw her into their home.

She is great with children, cats, and other dogs.

If you have a desire to get a dog that can penetrate your emotions and deeply entwine itself into your world, Syrenka is that dog.

Don’t take her for granted. She needs training. The kind of training that honors her spirit, but gives her clear boundaries and rules. Give her the gift of understanding how to live in a human world.

If you do, she will be the best dog you have ever owned.

Here is her webpage to learn more:

Reply to this email if you think your family has what it takes to care for Syrenka and give her that loving home in which she longs to be a part.

And… if you haven’t yet gotten on our waiting list… we’ve been waiting for you!

Here’s the link to get the process started.


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.