Written by : Transcript – What Wolves Can Teach Us With Cynthia Heisch 

Transcript – What Wolves Can Teach Us With Cynthia Heisch

Follow along with the transcript below for episode: What Wolves Can Teach Us With Cynthia Heisch





[0:00:08.6] PF: Welcome to Happiness Unleashed, with your host, Brittany Darrenbacher, presented by Live Happy. For this episode, we’re going to take a walk on the wild side. For years, wolves have been revered as spirit animals, and in many spiritual traditions, their belief to help people connect with their instincts and inner wisdom. At the Sedona Wolf Sanctuary in Arizona, rescued wolves on sacred land create a healing experience for those who have experienced trauma or who are looking for renewing spiritual experience.


In this episode, Brittany talks with Cynthia Heisch, Founder and CEO of the Sanctuary, to talk about how and why wolves can help us heal. Let’s have a listen.




[0:00:49.9] BD: Hi Cynthia, welcome to Happiness Unleashed.


[0:00:52.5] CH: Hello, thank you so much for having me, Brittany, and team, excited to be here.


[0:00:58.4] BD: You know, recently, I was out in Sedona and I came to the sanctuary and I just immediately knew, I’m like, “We have got to get her on the show.” And just not only to talk about your space but also to talk about wolves. You know, this is a topic that when I first got into supporting animal care professionals, I didn’t know that this field of rescue and sanctuary life even existed. So, let’s start off by you telling the listeners what is a wolf sanctuary.


[0:01:31.3] CH: Yeah, so a wolf sanctuary is a place where you know, rescued wolves or wolf dogs, or anywhere in between will come to live. There’s a reason why so many wolves and wolf dogs out there end up in sanctuaries. The easiest way that I can explain it is they’re kind of the outcasts of the animal world. If you think about it, they don’t quite fit in a zoo, although, many of them are in zoos.


They’re kind of dropouts as private pets and so, they’re trying to find their place in today’s modern world because even in nature, they’re getting pushed out, right? And it starts with a lot of the misconceptions that people have about wolves in general and even owning wolves or wolf dogs as pets, and why that often goes horribly wrong but that’s why there’s such a need out there for sanctuaries, for permanent placements where these animals can live the entirety of their lives.


Oftentimes, it is in a nonprofit organization that has dedicated their entire organization to rescuing these wolves but that is what your average wolf sanctuary is built upon. Now, our sanctuary as you know is quite different. We are the only spiritually infused wolf sanctuary in the country, maybe the world, on sacred lands. So, we pair and really focus on pairing that sacred land with the sacred animal and the magic behind that, and I think that’s exactly why you’re talking to me for this purpose.


[0:03:09.2] BD: What is wolf medicine?


[0:03:11.1] CH: So, wolf medicine is something that, number one, you feel, and it starts with looking at wolves almost the same way the Native Americans did. So, not just as a spirit animal, but as the eyes of spirit, as our greatest teachers. You know, some tribes even saw wolves as like walking gods, and Healing Wolf, who is the creator of this wolf sanctuary originally over 20 years ago, she thought, “If we could have a direct connection with the wolf ourself or at least, be in the presence of them, that would do a lot in terms of helping people to gain a new appreciation of the animal.”


Change some of the stereotypes and stigmas that are out there about wolves, starting with the big bad wolf, when we’re young, of course, and also helping people heal or transform, whatever they’re looking to go through. A lot of times, it can be quite an emotional experience for people and that’s really the magic behind it because I think in many ways, wolves bring up our own fears. There are so many fears about wolves in general, in society, in media.


As we see, they’re always played out to be the big bad wolf. So, there’s something inherent and almost subconscious about being around wolves that bring up our own fears. So, I think that’s why and I can only speak from experience, why I’ve seen so many people be able to all of a sudden, bam, when they’re around our animals have these transformations. Now, it doesn’t happen for everyone, right?


It’s not guaranteed but for those that are ready, a lot of times, they’re able to help us connect to our inner wolf, and really bring to consciousness what are our fears, what is it that we need to transform and transmute in order to move forward.


[0:05:07.7] BD: And there’s something so beautifully therapeutic about that. I think that’s what stood out to me, you know, in visiting the space is just it is a therapeutic experience.


[0:05:17.6] CH: Right, right, and although I don’t claim to be a therapist on any regard, we get a lot of people in that field, you know, that come here or even people who have tried all other types of traditional methods and therapy and are almost desperate for a solution. People who maybe have gone through animal trauma, you know, like with dogs, or we had one lady who was attacked by a mountain lion, and that was still, you know, affecting her day-to-day.


Those sort of methods where it can be quite therapeutic because not just the wolves but as you know, we create a whole experience and we really try to help people tap inward as best as we can on the sacred land in our own ways with the medicine wheels and things of that nature. So, I agree, I think that’s why we see these big, emotional releases, why people say, “This changed my life.” I mean, that’s almost hard for even me to believe, you know? When you hear something like that, you know that’s really doing something.


[0:06:24.4] BD: What can people expect to experience and see and witness and be a part of in a wolf experience at the sanctuary?


[0:06:33.2] CH: A lot of times, when people first find the wolf sanctuary, I think they just expect, “Okay, maybe we’ll be in there with the wolves.” And I make sure to tell people, we’re not a petting zoo, but rather, it’s an organic experience. So, it’s completely up to the wolves whether or not they decide to come up to you. You know, all the animals that we have are rescues but one reason why this allows to work is because they have all been domesticated to some degree.


So, these aren’t just wild feral wolves that are coming up to you, of course, that would never work but because we still selectively pick our pack and have integrated them, that’s what allows for these experiences, where we allow them to go into the enclosures. Now, where the magic happens, where the healing happens that we see is kind of where it’s exceeding their expectations, how when they’re actually face to face with a wolf and it’s coming up to you, that’s when that catalyst of change happens.


I mean, you’ve experienced it, where all of a sudden, it’s like, all your emotions can come up. Sometimes, even seeing them through the enclosures before they walk in, I see people have tears in their eyes, and when you ask them, “What’s happening?” They’re like, “I don’t know what’s happening.” They almost can’t even put it into words. So, you go into each enclosure but we also integrate the medicine wheels, the ancient medicine wheels that are on the property.


It is sacred land, land that is near Montezuma Well. Of course, Sedona is the mecca for healing but the land that we are on has had years and years of, first, starting with the Native Americans, blessing and being a part of the land. It’s surrounded by water and so, the land itself is its own sanctuary, and that’s what’s equally as important and why people can feel the power of the animals, even more so.


It’s a portal for catalyst of change and a portal for feeling your own emotions. Just like any other sanctuary is, right? It’s the same thing that we’ve created here and that I’m proud to call now my life’s work and continue from healing wolves. We started it in the very beginning.


[0:08:38.7] BD: Yeah, how did you get into this work, how did you make this your life’s work?


[0:08:42.4] CH: I had a whole previous career in the corporate world that taught me all sorts of things. I have an MBA and like many people, I came to a point in my life where I was like, “I think I’m meant for something different I don’t know what it is.” So, my partner and I moved to Sedona, we’re Airbnb’ing it and I happen to find this wolf sanctuary. At the time, it was called Medicine Wheel Lodge and was still being ran by Healing Wolf.


So, I was obsessed with it, I had to go, I called her every single day until we got a booking. When I went there, she saw me with the wolves and said, “You have a gift.” And I was like, “Really?” And she just saw how well I was able to interact with the animals. Healing Wolf became my mentor, this, you know, legendary woman in the community, this spiritual leader suddenly took me under her wing.


And I’ll tell you what, one secret was after that first experience, when I went into the wolf visit myself, I sat in the car, looked at my partner, and was like, “How do we find a place like this?” And some people will say that was pulling it out into the universe, you know, manifesting it, however, you want to call it. It went from arriving there and doing our very first visit was June 2022 to taking over the entire sanctuary, buying the property, the business, everything October 2022.


So, yeah, to the logical timeline, that sounds like, “What in the world, how is that even possible?” But to people who are maybe more, like, in the woo and the divine timing and unfolding, they’re like, “Oh, I get it.”


[0:10:26.8] BD: You spoke it and so it is.


[0:10:29.4] CH: Exactly. So, that’s kind of how it happened and now, it’s an amazing blessing and we get to meet people from all over the world. I get to witness these healings, every single day, and people that are coming from grief. You know, they’ve lost a pet, they lost a loved one, people who are suffering from trauma, like I said, dog trauma is a big one that we get because dogs are everywhere.


People who have suffered from PTSD, veterans, the deaf, blind, you name it, we’ve had the opportunity to work with them and it’s just been the best blessing of a lifetime.


[0:11:04.6] BD: You’ve talked about you know, misconceptions, you know, a few times already, like, what are common misconceptions when it comes to wolves?


[0:11:14.8] CH: The biggest one that is – the biggest problem I would say is that people think it’s okay to have them as pets. Not necessarily, mostly wolves a hundred percent but a lot of times wolf dogs. So, there can be certain percentages of content that a wolf is, like how much wolf is this dog if that makes sense. I tell people that’s like having a tiger as a cat in your house and we really make sure to hone in on that when people come here.


Why there are so many in need, and the statistic that we share is over 130,000 are born in this country each year, only 10% make it to the age of two, it’s not because of health reasons or something like that but usually because people think it sounds cool to have one as a pet and then anything is manageable as a baby, as a puppy, right? But as soon as it gets bigger wolves are one of those animals that is often like, “You know what? I’m not trying to do the whole sit-stay-heel thing, I’m not a dog.”


I tell people that’s like trying to make a human be a monkey, right? And we will go crazy, it’s the same thing, so that is one of the biggest misconceptions. I think the fear around wolves in general because that’s an important layer too, I think that comes from the way they’ve been portrayed in media but even before that if you think about it, in the wild, wolves are the apex predator just like lions.


They don’t naturally have any predators, so when the natives and the first settlers came here, you know, all of a sudden they think they’re at the top but then there’s this animal that is kind of at their level, the natives revered not feared the wolves, right? They say saw them as teachers, they saw them as something to respect and learn from how these wolves are able to operate independently but also have so much care and loyalty to their pack.


They saw that as such a beautiful thing but oftentimes, the next layer is that you know, a lot of the settlers came through and saw them as a threat, and then from there on, they became the big bad wolf, they became the figure we see them as in society. So, that’s why here at the Sedona Wolf Sanctuary, we really try to focus on rewiring that in public perception and showing people they aren’t the big bad wolf.


That was just a construct that was out there and they’re just trying to exist and be their selves as we all should be. They are living in their truest level of alignment, which is such a beautiful thing and message that we can learn from them.


[0:14:02.8] BD: And when I left, I felt a deep reverence for wolf medicine, you know? What would be your biggest hope for people that come to the sanctuary and get to experience this, what do you hope to impart for them when they leave?


[0:14:20.9] CH: When they come here, I just hope that they’ll come with an open mind, without any expectations of, “I’m going to pet a wolf” without any expectations of, “I’m going to have this miracle healing, these are going to save me.” But just being open to the experience to receiving because as you know Brittany, we have quite a process that we take people through, and the ones that come and are ready to just kind of drop those expectations and be.


Be present and be here in their fullest self, put the phone away, put the stress away for just a minute, that would be my one hope that they would come with because I know they will not leave the same from this experience and for each person, it is a personal experience, you know? I can’t say or read someone’s mind in terms of what area of healing it is that they need. Only they know that or maybe even on a subconscious level but the wolves will feel it.


They’ll bring it up to the surface, they’ll point it out for them, and that’s what’s so beautiful about it not just you know, spiritual or emotional healings, literal physical healings. They will point it out quite literally. So, even if they don’t experience something like in the moment, what often happens as well is people will have dreams or visions, days, weeks, months later and suddenly call me and say, “I have to tell you what happened.”


“I have to tell you the story.” That’s why we have so many amazing, like almost unreal Google reviews is because of those types of experiences. So, all I would ask and hope for is that whoever feels called to come to the sanctuary is just open and ready to receive because then that’s when the magic can unravel in itself.


[0:16:11.1] BD: Is there a particular moment or just something that has happened on the property that you feel comfortable sharing that stands out to you?


[0:16:19.3] CH: If I think back to one of the stories that stands out the most, that would be there was this mother that brought her child here and her child, who, this was back when we allowed children by the way, he was about six but when he was about three years old, he got attacked by a dog and it was a pretty bad situation, okay? Well, this kid was completely petrified of dogs and dogs are everywhere, right?


People have service dogs, they’re just everywhere, they’re a part of our life. Well, he literally couldn’t function like a normal kid. This mom herself was a counselor, was trained, she did this for a living, and she had tried every other traditional method of healing, of therapy, you name it, to help her child. She came here and I could tell even from the initial phone call that this was kind of a last-ditch effort.


She was like, “Maybe the wolves can help my kid.” So, when she came here, I’ll never forget, we did the whole experience and then we’re walking into the enclosure with Thor, the first enclosure, Thor the wolf, he’s coming straight at the kid almost too fast where I almost – I was so close to literally physically jumping in between Thor and the kid. I’m thinking, “He’s coming in way too hot.”


But I just sat there and I trusted him like, “Okay, source, you’ve got this, like come on, you’ve got this.” And so, Thor went straight up to the kid and started pointing at his leg, and at the time, that didn’t mean anything to us but the kid was fine. He wasn’t freaking out, he was totally calm.

So, I’m like, “Okay, so far so good.” We go through the entire experience and all the different enclosures, meeting all the different animals.


And at the end, we were wrapping things up and I walk around the corner and I’ll never forget, I see the mom just bawling. She’s standing next to her child, she’s bawling and she said, “Tell Cynthia what you just told me.” And the kid told me that when Thor first came up to him, Thor, I still get goosebumps saying this, Thor was pointing at his scars through the kid’s pant legs. Like, Thor was like, “Boom-boom-boom” went straight for the bites where he had scars, and after that the kid knew it’s okay, I’m safe.


This child, right? Was telling us this and then I start bawling because I was like, “Oh my gosh, that is beyond the physical.” I mean, there’s no other way to explain that and so ever since then, he’s totally fine with dogs, you know? He’s going through life completely normal. You know, people sometimes will have those fears coming here and I know it’s not for everybody every time of course, but for a lot of people who do feel called, I wish they could know, like, miracles happen here.


It’s possible, right? If you’re open to it again, and I think the kid was open to it, his mother was open to it and that’s really also what allowed for that to happen. Those are the moments I think back to and I’m like, “Okay, keep going, this is important work.”


[0:19:42.1] BD: So, to close out the show, I like to ask everyone to share a story of an animal that has really had an impact in your life, that has done magic or healing, you know, maybe in an unassuming way and just, you know, a story of a special animal that stands out to you.


[0:20:01.7] CH: Oh, jeez, the one that I would say right now is, this is a hard one, I think all the wolves have special stories as you know but I think right now would be Eva. When she came here, she kind of had a lot of trauma. She would literally fear pee and poo the second you looked at her, and I remember thinking because I didn’t do the transfer, my partner did, and I remember thinking, “Well, how in the world are we going to do this, you know?”


I don’t know if she’s ever going to trust us and you have those doubts in your head when you see this animal that’s so petrified, and you just want to give them all the love in the world. Well, I went in there and every single day would just spend time with her over and over, and she went from literally hiding in her den for the first month that we had her in with Thor, to now, jumping all over me, coming up to guests.


And so, to me, that’s just a testament of the power of love, the power of patience, how much they can feel and it’s a reciprocal give and take experience, the wolves, and seeing their progress, seeing how they are able to know that. It’s like they know they have a purpose here and they know what they’re here for and they feel the love that we give to them that they’re a part of the sanctuary.


They’re a part of this experience and knowing that, and seeing that in action, that’s just – those are the moments that warm my heart the most.


[0:21:42.3] BD: They’re incredible.


[0:21:43.9] CH: Thank you.


[0:21:44.9] BD: Cynthia, thank you so much for coming on the show.


[0:21:47.0] CH: Thank you, Brittany, yes.


[0:21:47.9] BD: And sharing all the wolves with us and wolf medicine, and I hope that everyone makes a trip to Sedona and books a wolf experience with the Sedona Wolf Sanctuary. I can’t recommend it enough.


[0:22:00.5] CH: Thank you. Hope everyone comes and sees us or checks out our website and we would love to connect. Thank you so much.




[0:22:09.0] PF: That was Brittany Darrenbacher, talking with Cynthia Heisch, about the power of wolf medicine. If you’d like to learn more about the Sedona Wolf Sanctuary or follow them on social media, just visit our website at LiveHappy.com and click on the podcast link, and of course, Brittany will be back here next month to talk more about how animals bring us joy, help us heal and can be some of our best teachers.


Until then, for everyone at Live Happy, this is Paula Felps, reminding you to make every day a happy one.



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