A few winters ago we had a much larger than usual number of timber wolves in our area. Many people saw wolves crossing the roads, it wasn't uncommon to hear them howling at night, and two small dogs within five miles of us had disappeared from their respective yards. There was even concern that it wasn't safe to let kids play in the woods. Pet owners were warned not to tie their animals out or leave them in the yard unattended.
Our nearest neighbors to the west had a dog, an Australian Shepherd, that stayed in a dog house outside. She didn't roam, stayed close to home, but was loose all the time.
One morning I was out on our back porch shaking rugs when I heard an animal's awful scream come through the woods. There was no doubt; I knew instantly what it was. I dashed back into the house, threw on a jacket, grabbed my car keys, jumped into our small hatchback car and drove over to their house as fast as I could. They have a small yard surrounded by woods and as soon as I came into the yard, I could see off to the left three wolves who had the dog down on the ground a short ways into the woods.
I rammed my car towards the woods in the direction of the attack as far as I could go, a plowed up snow bank stopping me, all the time blaring the car horn. The wolves immediately ran off into the deep woods, the dog got up (I was relieved to see) and ran to the back of the house. That made me think I had gotten there soon enough, before the wolves had hurt her too badly.
No one was home but the back door into the utility room was unlocked. I tried to examine the dog, but she was so traumatized that she wouldn't let me get near her. It looked like she was bleeding a lot around her throat area and possibly had other wounds. It was hard to tell because of her heavy coat of hair.
I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't know the dog well, she was obviously in shock, and I didn't know if she would bite me as I tried to help her. But I knew I couldn't leave her outside, because most likely the wolves would return as soon as I left. I contemplated trying to get her into the back of my car and taking off for the closest vet's office but didn't think she would or could jump in, and I was hesitant to try lifting and carrying her.
I did succeed in getting her into the house where at least the wolves couldn't get at her again. Having an idea where the man of the house might be working, I left to find him. When I did locate him, I told him what had just happened, and asked if he wanted me to try to get her to a vet. He said no that he would get home as soon as possible and take care of her.
Sad to say, the dog was injured too seriously and didn't survive. I still feel bad that I didn't take her to the vet's immediately. Did I make a bad decision? Had I to do it over again, I think I would have tried to get her in my car. But there's the very real possibility it might have been too late to do any good anyway.
I don't blame the wolves. There was a greater population of them than normal that year, and they were simply seeking food. Just as wolves will run down deer, which are natural prey for them, two or more of them will go after dogs, other pets, or livestock if they are hungry enough. Sad as it is to lose a family pet, I don't believe wolves are vicious creatures out to maim and kill for pleasure. I've got another story, my own very close encounter with a wolf, that I'll share later on that I think will illustrate that.