Dachshund survives wolf attack
Jada is a 15-pound hero. The eight-year-old dauchsund hurled itself at a wolf June 9 to save a fellow canine, Lana. Their owner, Dana Lundeen, was sitting on the front porch of her South Range home that afternoon when first Lana, than Jada ran ba...
Jada is a 15-pound hero. The eight-year-old dauchsund hurled itself at a wolf June 9 to save a fellow canine, Lana.
Their owner, Dana Lundeen, was sitting on the front porch of her South Range home that afternoon when first Lana, than Jada ran barking around the house. Suddenly, she heard an awful bark. Rounding the corner of the house, she saw a wolf about 75 yards away at the edge of the yard's man-made pond. As Lundeen watched, it punted 1-year-old Lana away and grabed Jada in its mouth. She ran toward them, yelling.
"I was screaming my lungs out, hoping he would drop her and he did," Lundeen said. As the wounded dog ran back toward the house, the wolf took a few steps in Lundeen's direction, than padded away.
"It happened so fast," she said. "I was more worried about my dog than anything."
Lundeen wrapped the bleeding dog in a blanket and called her 17-year-old son, Devin, home from Northwestern High School to help.
"I didn't know if I'd have to shoot her," Lundeen said. "I mean, her stomach's hanging out. He says 'Well mom, is she alive?' Well, yeah. He said, 'Well, then there's hope.'"
They drove to Superior Animal Hospital, where the dauchsund spent 3½ hours in surgery.
"They are awesome people there," Lundeen said.
The wounds were similar to those seen when a larger dog attacks a smaller one, said veterinarian Bob McClellan. "The internal wounds are 10 times worse than what it looks like from the outside."
Jada suffered crushed ribs, a spleen that was split in two, a collapsed lung and a left kidney that had been pulled away from the abdominal wall, he said.
The veterinarian was able to repair Jada, inside and out. After that, it was up to the dauchsund.
"The dog's a tough little dog," McClellan said. "She hung in there."
Sunday, she returned home to South Range.
"She's full of many, many staples," Lundeen said, affectionately calling the dog "Frankenweinie."
Lana was uninjured.
Lundeen was born and raised in South Range, although the family moved to their current residence on the Lundeen Road off of County Highway V in October. Deer, coyotes, foxes, geese and more cross the 64-acre property regularly. Still, the wolf came as a surprise.
"I never thought one would come that close," she said, especially at 1 p.m. in broad daylight.
As the population of gray or timber wolves in the state continues to rise, so do the number of attacks, or depredations. A winter 2008 survey by the Wisconsin DNR puts the number of wolves in Wisconsin at between 626 to 662, nearly 100 more than the previous year. Most of them live in the north.
"Douglas County has some of the highest density of wolf populations in the state," said Adrian Wydevan, a DNR mammal ecologist based out of Park Falls.
The northwestern county was the first spot wolves returned to in 1975, slipping across the border from Minnesota. Today, more than 20 wolf packs roam in Douglas County, according to the DNR's winter 2007-08 report on gray wolf distribution. Packs range in size from two to seven members, with one of the largest in the area being the Crotte River Pack in Parkland.
The wolf population shouldn't be a cause for alarm, Wydevan said.
"They are mostly shy, living out their lives in the forest," he said. They thin out deer and beaver populations, keeping trout streams open and forests healthy. Like bobcats and bear, they tend to stay under the radar, an invisible presence.
But sometimes, the two worlds collide.
"Last year, we had seven cases of dogs attacked near people's homes," Wydevan said. One died, the others were only injured. That was mostly due to owners who were close enough to scare the wolves away.
McClellan noted that the amount of damage the wolf did to Jada with one bite was incredible.
"If the wolf had had a second bite, the dog would have been done," he said. "Fortunately Dana was there when it happened."
Thirty farms throughout the state lost 43 cattle and one sheep to wolf depredation last year, Wydevan said, and there were 21 reported cases of hunting hounds being attacked. All but one of those were fatal because the dogs were hunting far from their owners.
A dog attack near a home could be caused by a lone wolf or one on a hunting foray for the pack, Wydevan said. A wolf could see a small dog as prey, or view domestic canines as rivals for territory.
He urged dog owners to keep an eye out for wolf signs - tracks or long, cyclidrical scat filled with deer hair - and steer clear of those areas. Owners should keep dogs close, within 100 yards or less, and call to them frequently to scare predators off, Wydevan said. Leashes and bells are also options.
If an attack happens, residents are asked to call the USDA Wildlife Services Program at (800) 228-1368. The USDA deals with problem bears, wolves and birds. A day after the South Range attack, a USDA representative came to Lundeen's home and set up wolf traps. They will stay up for 10 days, Lundeen said. Traps are effective in about half of the depredation cases, Wydevan said. If the wolf isn't caught, he said, chances are the encounter was an isolated incident.
If someone notices a wolf acting unusually - out in the daytime or showing no fear of people - they can call the local DNR station in Brule, (715) 372-4866 or Superior (715) 392-7988.
Both Lundeen and McClellan are hopeful Jada will recover. The dog has already survived being run over by a four-wheeler and a three-month period where it was paralyzed.
"Dog with nine lives," Lundeen said with a smile.
But Jada still refuses to return to the edge of the pond. Wednesday, the dauchsund hid under a picnic table next to the house while Lana and three-year-old Deja Mu frisked through the grass. And Lundeen continues to watch them carefully. She knows there are wolves around.
"I just never expected them in my back yard is all," Lundeen said.