Tuesday, 2 June 2020

The Dingo Lady and the Wolf Man

On the 20th May 1987 Berenice Walters, the Dingo Lady, met Germany's famous Wolf Man, Werner Freund. It was part of the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to meet a wolf. Meeting Werner and his wolf packs made the occasion even more special. She was thrilled to observe a man who loved and was loved by his wolves.

Werner had been an Army officer and his interest in wolves and personal involvement dated back 14 years. He told Berenice he had never imagined a human could live closely and in harmony with a wolf pack. 

His lifestyle developed into a unique relationship of understanding, love and trust shared by man and wolves. The devotion and trust they felt for him was mirrored in their beautiful eyes as they followed his every movement, and giving him a joyful, and vigorous welcome when he entered their pen.

Wolf Park was a natural area with only a simple sign to identify what laid beyond the forested entrance. Three wolf packs were housed in large enclosures set on steep slopes of wooded hills

Mostly cautious, but interested in the few visitors present, the wolves were obviously happy and contented, secure in their loving and trusting relationship with the Wolf Man. One black wolf was unsure of them and barked anxiously as a Dingo would. As the Wolf Man moved about the area, the wolves raced around following his every move from inside the enclosures.

There was great excitement when Werner made his way to the gateway, one wolf showing his excitement and pleasure by deep crowing. The whole group leapt all over him in an exuberant greeting while he cradled them in his arms, muzzling them in a wolf greeting lasting a couple of minutes. Then as energetically as the welcome commenced, it suddenly cut off, and he became part of the scenery just like a Dingo welcome.

Berenice enjoyed wonderful hours walking and talking to the wolves in the forest. One responded to her “Dingo talk”, coming down to the fence and rubbing itself along the wire. It reminded her of how her Snowgoose behaved. The wolf then lined itself up for a back scratch just as Snowy did. This was a white Canadian wolf rehomed from the Berlin Zoo. They later learnt this wolf was completely blind following an injury sustained when it fell into a moat surrounding the wolf enclosure at the zoo.
The Blind Wolf
Conversation was limited because they didn’t speak German and Werner spoke limited English. However, they could understand the wolves, and this more than made up for the lack of human conversation.

Later in the evening, Werner took them out to listen to the wolves howling in response to his calls, but unfortunately, it must have been their day off. Aside from a few distant howlings, all was quiet.

Next morning, they headed off with Werner to see the three-week-old wolf pups he was hand-raising as their mother had been unable to feed them. Each pup was fondled and muzzled in wolf fashion before being given the bottle. It was lustily sucked. By comparison, these wolf pups were not as advanced as Dingo pups of the same age Berenice had reared. By three weeks of age dingoes were far more active and independent.

The Wolf Man and the Puma
They then trouped off to a German Army camp to see the Army Mascot, a fine puma Werner cared for. After an affectionate greeting, embracing each other, the puma was fed, and they went onto the Army mess for coffee. Werner was extremely impressed with the objectives of Berenice’s Society (at the time known as the Australian Native Dog Training Society) and the way they were going about achieving them. After many questions about their activities, he handed her 50 marks to join her Society and asked if Berenice would join his group. Berenice was highly honoured.

They agreed all too often, people worked with animals purely for self-advancement, and at the conclusion of the project, the animals were discarded or neglected. Enormous time and energy were needed to win the confidence of captive animals, after which they are often cruelly neglected.


She felt sad as she bid Werner and the wolves farewell but comforted by a feeling of hope for an enlightened future for the wolf and other wild canids. To meet another human living with his wolves as Berenice had with her own Dingoes made their trip worthwhile. She felt she was not alone.

Click here for photos of Germany's famous Wolf Man, Werner Freund, and his beloved wolves.

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