The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Kate

What would life even be without the wild? The beautifully real wild. Animals are a big part of my life as they are for many of you out there. These creatures are something for us to marvel at and to learn from. They teach us how to be humble, how to care deeply, and how to coexist. Every time I see an animal, I think…wow. How amazing is it for us all to live together in one place? Pretty damn amazing.

Last month blogger buddy Chris Stocking delivered a deeply enthusiastic message. Often what makes us excited is not a priority in the world, but the vitality of our happiness is rooted in our personal enthusiasm. In my series, The Life Enthusiast Chronicles, fine humans from across the map unveil what makes them passionate about life.

Today I’m overjoyed to show off the always lovely, Kate Johnston of 4am Writer. I hardly know where to begin when it comes to gushing about this gal. We’ve been writer friends for some time, always there for each other through thick and thin. What astounds me about Kate’s writing is her quiet grace. Her intellect, humor, and heart are finely woven throughout her work. I never miss one of her posts, because they are guaranteed to make me feel inspired in some way. She’s quite the Life Enthusiast.

Connect with Kate on Twitter and Facebook.

Without further ado, here is the lovely Kate…

The first stories that captured my imagination were fairy tales. I loved the idea of a world where good trumped evil, magic ruled, and mythical creatures lurked.

But one thing I didn’t like about fairy tales was that wolves were always portrayed as evil characters. It really bothered me, an avid animal lover, that they always got a bad rap in books.

This is when I first started writing. I saw something I wanted to change, and I had the power to do so with story.

I made the wolf the good guy in my own fairy tales. A heroic wolf felt like such the natural order of things that I’m sure I’d have been shocked to know that, in reality, human beings had been pushing the wolf population toward extinction for the past century and more.

In 1926, the last wolf pack had been killed in Yellowstone (though there were ongoing reports of lone wolves). In 1974, the grey wolf had been listed as an endangered species, and in 1975 recovery was mandated under the Endangered Species Act.

Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995—20 years after they were first listed as endangered. They have had a hell of a roller coaster ride overcoming the odds.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every single person on this planet fought for something wild? Imagine how much we would save.

I don’t care if it’s a wolf, a river, a flower, or a mollusk. If we all chose one wild thing that mattered to us and fought for it, this world would be a healthier, happier place.

There are some amazing people who have given their lives to wildlife. I would love to meet them all, tell them thank you.

Denali, a pure gray wolf
Denali, a pure gray wolf

One such woman, Brenda, runs a wolf rescue and education center, Runs with Wolves Sanctuary.

The pure wolves that come to her are usually born in captivity, kept as “pets,” mismanaged and abused, or abandoned. She also takes care of wolf-dogs (half-wolf, half-dog), who were generally kept as pets but ultimately abandoned or mistreated.

Brenda, and others like her, give wolves and wolf-dogs a second chance at life. Maybe these animals can’t exactly live on the wild side like they are meant, but their survival is a clear indication of how much one human being can do to help.

Tazlina “Taz”, a pure gray wolf
Tazlina “Taz”, a pure gray wolf

I’m far from being able to run a sanctuary like Runs with Wolves, but I know I can help in other ways. I write about them. I talk about them. I share their stories through stories of my own.

Giving wolves a voice is the least I can do, when they were the ones who first gave me mine.

*A version of this essay is published in Wolf Warriors, The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Charity Anthology.

**For more information on Runs with Wolves sanctuary, please visit

Kate with Wolves-2008 003
Timber, a pure gray wolf


71 thoughts on “The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Kate

  1. What a brilliant share Kate, and I totally totally resonate with all you have to say about these magnificent creatures who are so often misunderstood. I too am a big wolf fan. Wolves, horses and elephants.. they seemingly have nothing in common except for the fact they’re herd animals with a high sensitivity for taking care of their family. One of my totems is a wolf – the other is surprisingly a whale but I know she’s there to support my vocal ambitions 😉
    Do you know Hélène Grimaud? She’s a famous French pianist, author and wolf advocate.
    You should check out her book “Variations Sauvages”- I believe it is translated now to “Wild Harmonies” in which she talks in large part about her life as a musician and about her environmental work with wolves.

  2. Thanks for the book suggestion. I will add it to my list. I believe the wolf is one of my totems, too, although I never found out “officially”. I think that is pretty darn cool that your other totem is a whale. Have you ever gone on a whale watch? I live near the Atlantic, and there are lots of places that offer whale watches throughout the summer. Even if you don’t spy a whale, the boat ride is phenomenal.

    1. Great to see you here, Scott. I enjoyed writing this post as it gently reminded me that nature and wildlife are worth talking about, anytime, anyplace.

  3. Dear Kate,
    These are amazing photos, and an eloquent piece of writing. How wonderful that you could go with your mom and share that experience. In Washington we have a place called Wolf Haven that does wolf rescue and tries to raise awareness of the plight of wolves, which we have gone to as a family and as field trips from the kids’ school.

    1. I would love to visit other wolf rescue centers. Actually, not just centers for wolves, but any place that protects wildlife. Everyone should enjoy an experience that such places offer. You are lucky to have Wolf Haven. Thanks for swinging by and commenting, Naomi.

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