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Wolfman Jack led his pack

Just west of Sequim there used to be a wolf preserve owned and maintained by a man named Jack Lynch.

At one point, his preserve harbored more than 100 wolves. Jack claimed that some of his individuals constituted the last remaining subspecies originally found over the Great Plains.

Lynch was a dedicated, albeit eccentric, protector of his charges. He had fenced in several acres of woods with a high cyclone "wolf-proof" fence within which his wild canines could den and lead a near-to-natural existence.

The wolfman invested all of his resources into his enterprise. To help fund upkeep, he was forced to conduct daily tours for a small fee to interested members of the public.

He spoke of wolves and wolf habitat while simultaneously describing incidents of gory fights between specific individuals. He often physically fondled and affectionately caressed one particular wolf or another, but heartily admonished anyone who so much as extended an arm in their general direction lest the person be badly injured.

Jack clearly identified with his wolves' controversial exile.

In 1976, upon hearing of my willingness to treat exotic species, Lynch consulted me regarding several veterinary problems. The most interesting involved a fight between two males in which one of Lynch's favorite "studs" sustained a lacerated scrotum with one mangled testicle hanging out.

Could I help?

Upon arrival, it was evident that restraint was going to be a problem. I had not yet acquired a pole syringe and dart blowgun, which later would assist me under similar ticklish circumstances.

The large male weighed probably 140 to 150 pounds and was curled up deep in a burrowed recess under a large cedar stump.

Ideally, intravenous anesthesia is employed to facilitate surgery, but that was impossible here. The intramuscular alternative required injecting a sufficient amount of solution into a rear leg muscle which -- given to domestic dogs and cats - routinely causes considerable pain.

And who was going to give this injection? Lynch unflinchingly assured me that he'd take care of it.

I could barely watch, heart in my mouth, as Jack crawled headfirst into the den and astonishingly gave the injection without incident, all the while cooing soft reassurances to the injured animal.

Twenty minutes later, he again crawled in and dragged the large, limp body out into the open.

Mindful of the dirty environment, he next proposed the kitchen as our surgical suite. After the breakfast dishes were cleared away from the table, the wolf was positioned there on his back.

I cleaned the wound as best I could and surgically removed one virtually macerated testicle. Our patient still could reproduce with the remaining gonad.

Following a large dose of antibiotics, the wolf made an uneventful recovery.

Jack Lynch left the area around 1980. He took his wolves to another locale. Expenses had overwhelmed him and, although some favorable publicity brought him meager support, he was forced to reduce the members of his preserve significantly.

Like the wolf, Jack Lynch seemed to me a man maladapted to modern society. In manner, speech and gesture, it was obvious that he totally empathized with the wolf's outlaw reputation.

However, I truly respected his dutiful social alienation.

He really was, in effect, leader of the pack.



Dr. Jack Thornton is a semiretired veterinarian. Reach him in care of editor@sequimgazette.com.

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