09/03/2013 04:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Wolves Will Lick Your Face

The penultimate trip this summer for me and Daniel can be summed up in two words: wolves rock. Still in awe, and it's been over a week since I was licked on the face by one.


Circa August 9, 2013, we set out for Colorado. After flying into Colorado Springs, we met up with a group of Boulder ICO (Inner City Outings) kids going to Mission: Wolf, a sanctuary in this gorgeous valley. Game plan: meet some wolves and help out the volunteers who work there.


The weather was moody, the wolves were howlin', there were 13 middle school kids running around eating sticky marshmallows -- it was quite the scene. Haven't hung out with that many middle schoolers since I was a middle schooler. They were a bunch of chillers.


Almost every single one of us (besides the leaders) had certainly never been kissed by a wolf. An experience for the books, for sure.


Mission: Wolf started because this guy Kent -- a true character, with casts on both arms and an outdoorsman's glint in his eye -- decided that wolves, which can't be released into the wild, should have somewhere to go, and that people should be educated about them. He claimed that seeing and touching wolves has a certain affect on kids, and he was right. Just about the only thing that got the tweens to stop talking at high decibels were the wolves.

So we all helped feed the wolves some horse meat that smelled just divine, loaded timber for wood-burning stoves, and gathered round the campfire morning, noon, and night.


We camped next to the volunteers' teepees, which were next to the sanctuary buildings, which were completely solar powered. Good deal.


This guy though ... taking a work break and looking awfully photogenic.

Mission: Wolf is in southern Colorado, but Kent and some "ambassador" wolves who are especially friendly, travel the nation in hopes of gathering support for these canines who are at risk of delisting as an endangered species. Daniel and I, being youth ambassadors for the Sierra Club, were obviously very excited to meet our canine equivalents.



Here's some wolf trivia, just so you're prepared in case your uncles' new husky starts growing at a suspiciously fast rate:

- Wolves grow three times as fast as dogs.

- However, their DNA is exactly the same.

- They have bigger paws and heads, and their front legs are much closer together at their chests.

- Some have yellow eyes, some have red eyes.

Not making eye contacting and letting a wolf sniff you upon greeting the animal is the equivalent of refusing a hand shake. Don't be rude -- acknowlegde that wolf.

Give a wolf some watermelon and it will be gone in about .00005 seconds.