I’ve heard of therapy dogs before. But wolves?
I’m not exactly the kind of person who would get therapy from a wolf, to be quite frank. Then again, I haven’t been in battle — and those who have are cut from a different cloth.
A new Animal Planet television series, “Wolves and Warriors,” features combat veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder work with wolves and wolfdogs (wolves that are crossbred with dogs) as part of their therapy. It premieres at 10 p.m. on Sept. 1.
“Few other animals inspire such passion, excitement and fear as the Wolf. They’re mysterious, intelligent, protective and loyal, and Animal Planet’s all-new series spotlights one group’s unique mission to rescue and care for these creatures,” a news release from the network reads.
The series “follows U.S. Navy veteran Matt Simmons and Dr. Lorin Lindner, the husband and wife team behind Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (LARC), a private sanctuary that rescues wolves and wolf-dog hybrids whose lives are threatened by poachers, illegal breeders and other perils.
“Episodes document high risk rescues and rehabilitation efforts undertaken by Matt and Lorin, who are joined by combat veterans working to overcome the traumas of war.”
The first episode, for instance, involves rescuing a wolf from a backyard that needs a medical procedure or will die. Other episodes involving rescuing wolves from wildfires and poachers — in other words, stuff I’d be more than happy to watch yet wouldn’t do for millions of dollars.
But that’s what makes the vets a different breed themselves — and their rehabilitation is just as much of a focus of the show.
“The amazing thing about starting up a relationship with a wolf … is that it’s a relationship that you can’t will to be,” Simmons told the New York Post.
“You have to walk in slow. You have to walk in quiet. You have to walk in open. You have to be willing to share a piece of yourself.”
Simmons actually met his wife at another program in Los Angeles, this time working with abandoned and neglected parrots. (That’s more my speed, really.)
The Navy vet ended up bonding with a parrot named Ruby, who “allowed me to look at my internal struggle differently and allowed me to look at other veterans struggles differently.
“It repurposed and refocused me on being an animal advocate and being an animal spokesperson and as a spokesperson for veterans,” he said.
Simmons and Linder married in 2009 and started LARC. Their wolf-work started later.
“Simmons was on his way to LA when his trailer came unattached from his truck,” the Post reported.
“He managed to get the trailer chained back up, but instead of heading to LA, he headed to nearby Bakersfield for repairs, where he got a call from Lindner that there was a wolf in a local shelter that was going to be euthanized. Simmons walked less than half a block and rescued a wolfdog named Wiley — and, shortly thereafter, LARC become home to more than a dozen wolves and wolfdogs, introducing the ‘Warriors and Wolves’ program for vets to work with the animals.
Amazing work by amazing people, who now have eight to 10 veterans working in the program. Eight to 10 very brave veterans.
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