Born on July 1, 1989
Arrived at Mission: Wolf on January 1, 1991
Passed away on March 1, 2000
Lived with Yaqui, Hota
Raku the wolf-dog cross. Raku, who for the staff was a good friend and more doggy than wolf. Raku, who could be taken with her years long companion, Yaqui, for long excursions without much trouble (but a lot of running). Raku, who lost her home in the city because she was an escape artist. Raku, who caused her owner’s husband to say: “It’s me or the hybrid, one of us goes.” The staff was always surprised that Raku had lost her home. Yes, she was a handful and a bundle of energy. Yet she was also very sweet and gentle. Why, then, did she lose her home? Simply put, her previous owners hadn’t considered the requirements of care taking for a large canine. Sadly, most potential owners don’t make these considerations of space, time and care… but they don’t pay the price of misery, neglect and abuse. Most of the trauma remains the domain of the afflicted wolf-dog, who has no choice in the matter.
Raku was a bundle of energy all right. Whenever someone would walk down to her enclosure she would begin to “raku” at that person. What is “raku” you ask? Hmm, it is difficult to explain, but “raku” is a noun, a special canine language that only Raku knew how to speak. The verb, “to raku”, meant that Raku the wolf-dog was speaking “raku” to you. For instance, it was not uncommon to have one of the staff at meal time make a comment that “Raku was raku-ing at me the entire time I was filling the tubs with water.” “Raku” was a series of low of high pitched bark-howls, more howl than bark, with the emphasis on the higher pitch. This was her special way of greeting visitors to her pen. Raku loved visitation and by “raku-ing” at us she was demonstrating her excitement.
When I would go to visit Raku, she would take notice of my whereabouts as soon as the first outer gate rattled around. That’s when she would begin to “raku” at me, and generally Raku wouldn’t let up until it was obvious that I was going to visit her. Once I was inside she would become very playful and rambunctious, jumping here and there and running around in circles. During the exciting initial greeting she would speak “raku” to me, especially if I was paying more attention to Yaqui than to her. Raku was somewhat high-strung, and I always felt that she thought that I had something mischievous up my sleeve. After a quick greeting, she would jump away and watch me for any unusual behavior. If I settled down and remained calm, she would approach me and after it was evident that I wasn’t going to sack her she would sit and allow herself to be scratched.
Raku was wily, and seemed to posses the same mischievousness that she seemed to expect from her human friends. Maybe this is why she lost her home. Most people want a canine to be a pet. Raku wouldn’t allow that for herself; if you were to try to discipline her like a normal dog my guess is that you would not be able to catch her. She would take the disciplinary anger directed at her and make a game out of it. I bet that Raku’s owner’s husband became flustered every time he wanted to teach Raku a lesson and that then culminated in his ultimatum. He should have gotten a diminutive dog for a companion – after all, dogs have been taught for thousands of years to do what we want, including accepting our disciplinary actions. Wolves, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about us people. They grow up and become independent thinkers and consequently act on their own initiative. Wolf-dog crosses… they are neither here nor there. It’s difficult if not impossible to predict before hand how a wolf-dog cross will act. Puppies from the same litter will behave in a distinct manner from each other… some will act more doggish and others will act more wolfish. Either way, they are a handful and require more attention than the average dog.
Raku had a long and fruitful life at Mission: Wolf, living almost ten years here. Besides being a constant joy in the lives of the staff she was also a good educator and could ably demonstrate the plight of wolf-dog crosses everywhere. I miss her blue-eye, brown-eye combo and her large, funky ears. Most of all I miss her spirit and happiness, and the unique privilege of having been spoken “raku” to. The unique language of “raku” is not lost however. When wolf-dog cross Rogue was a young man he lived with Raku and Yaqui and eventually learned to speak a dialect of “raku” that is called, of course, “rogue”. Whenever I now hear Rogue speaking his “rogue” dialect I think of Raku and her unique outlook on life.