Yeti's first time outside

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, Oct. 20, 2023
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In the early hours of a new day, as the sun paints the sky with a vibrant and colorful sunrise, the world begins to awaken. The clouds dance with shades of pink, orange, and yellow as they herald the sun's ascent over the Huckleberry Mountains. Nature stirs, with the trees swaying gently in the morning breeze and birds stretching their wings to greet the dawn. Meanwhile, a red fox nestles into its den, a sentinel of the night's adventures.

In the cozy confines of a tiny home at Dire Wolf Project headquarters, a fluffy 7.5-week-old American Dirus dog named Yeti enjoys a peaceful slumber by my side. As the sun's gentle rays creep into the room, Yeti's soft breathing gradually quickens, signaling the dawning of a new day. With a sleepy yawn and a blink of her eyes, she opens her gaze to the world, a blank canvas of opportunities. Her eyes sparkle with anticipation, her heart filled with joy.

Next, it's time to make the bed. Yeti pushes her muzzle amongst the sheets and blankets, burrowing into them like a cute, white bunny. She moves the blankets to and fro, digging with her big furry paws. She lays her head down on the fabric and looks up at me as if to ask, "Did I do a good job making the bed, mom?" "Yes, dear, you did." I reply, then whisk her down to the floor. Yeti helps me pull the sheets up. She's such a helpful girl.

After making the bed, it's time to play. Yeti loves her Ice Age toys. She has a mammoth that squeaks a high-pitched tone, as well as a wild boar that grunts a low growling tone. She loves to pull at the tusks. Sometimes she shakes her head back and forth as if she's pretending to be a fierce dire wolf from the time, long ago, when giant mammals roamed these parts.

All that playing means time togo potty. Yeti knows exactly where her indoor potty spot is. She rushes over to piddle and then get a quick drink.

After a wash up, it's time to eat breakfast. Yeti lays down at first, then stands to really focus. Sometimes,I add canned food, cottage cheese, shredded cheese, or meat drippings to her kibble for added flavor. Today, though, she eats it dry. We have a big day ahead and we don't want to waste too much time making a big meal for breakfast.The kibble crunches in her mouth as she cleans her plate.

After breakfast, the hardest part of the day begins. Yeti is going to learn how to go down stairs. She has seen her mother come and go on the stairs, but she has never been brave enough to try them herself. Jay helps Yeti brave the unknown by placing her feet gently on the step below. Yeti lets us know she is scared and doesn't like this new task at all. She gives out a whimper in protest, but Jay and I are right there to comfort her. It's not easy putting your head and front feet in a compromising position as your bottom and back legs cling to the carpet above. Jay helps Yeti onto the next step down, but Yeti is still afraid and turns backup the stairs to the safety of the top landing. We'll try stairs again another time.

For now, Jay lifts Yeti up in his arms and walks her outside securely next to his chest. Yeti feels the coolness of the autumn ground for the first time as Jay sits down next to her and her mother, Albreta nudges her to be brave. At first, Yeti hunkers down uncertain of this new place. With coaxing and reassurance, Jay embraces Yeti and they sit together on the ground for a moment before the real adventure begins. Yeti has her balance now and follows Jay down the dirt path.

Yeti sniffs the unfamiliar scents of the forest. The birds that landed there looking for grubs. The mouse that scampered into the tall grasses to the right. The owl that lighted on the ground missing the mouse as it raced to safety in a hole under a nearby log. All the news of the night before became clear to Yeti as she explored this new forest world.

Yeti's mom, Albreta, wants to teach Yeti how to play outside. In this vast open space, Albreta shows Yeti how to pounce, run, skid, and bow to another as an invitation to romp together in the grasses and bushes. Yeti has a little trouble at first and trips over her feet that want to go faster than she does. She also clumsily jumps over a login her way. Because Yeti is a singleton puppy, she is unsure of some of the play signals her mother gives. With more exposure, though, Yeti will be a pro at outdoor play time.

At that moment, Yeti notices Albreta heading up the small hill toward the dog cabins. As Yeti follows after her mother, she sees Jay sitting on the knoll with his hands clasped on his knees. Yeti runs over to greet Jay to tell him all about her adventures playing with her mom in the tall weeds. Jay scoops her up and they nuzzle one another for a moment. Then, Yeti sniffs all around him exploring some more.

What a wonderful vibrant world life is in the forest.

After lots of play and exploration, it is time to head home. Yeti doesn’t want to leave yet, but she also doesn’t want to leave Jay's side. So, she trots next to Jay as they walk back down the lane to the tiny home.

Yeti will never forget her first time outside in the forest and all the adventures she had. But for now, she is sleepy and needs a nap.

When Yeti returns to the familiar comfort of our tiny home, she prances around the living room in recognition of being back where she knows her surroundings. Yeti gives a big sigh, then turns around to find a good spot to rest her head. After taking a few minutes for some enjoyable tummy rubs, Yeti yawns and relaxes her body. Then, she closes her eyes and turns on her side. Yeti, the tiny explorer, has learned so much about the big world that lies just beyond her doorstep.

But now it is time for little puppies to say their prayers and sleep a while.

The sun paints its final strokes in the canvas of the day as Yeti drifts into a peaceful slumber. Her heart is full with the memories of her first outdoor adventure. Yeti has discovered the joys of exploration and play in the Ponderosa Forest, and there will be many more days of wonder to come.

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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.