Shelby Wanser, an Oregon State University graduate and faculty research assistant, said their two biggest accomplishments to date have been raising wolf puppies and learning to be comfortable with who they are. are.
Wanser’s journey to these accomplishments began very early, when they began competing in canine agility competitions with their family dog at the age of 11 in their hometown of Eugene. In 2010 they began working in the film industry as an animal trainer, starting with a Musical clip by the OK Go group. For production, Wanser, along with a few other animal trainers, worked together to train 13 dogs and a goat in Corvallis. This opportunity led to more, and Wanser continued to occasionally train animals for various productions, even working on the TV show. Grimm, filmed in Portland.
Along with these projects, Wanser also attended Oregon State for his undergraduate and masters studies in animal science. Wanser’s research interests include human-animal interactions, with a focus on interventions that promote bonding between children and family dogs.
Bring the wolves
This training in animal training as well as their interests in education and research in animal sciences are which led to Wanser having the opportunity to work at Wolf Park, a research center located in Battle Ground, Indiana.
Wolf Park, since its founding in 1972, has worked to study and research the behavior of wolves to better educate the public about wolves and the importance of predators in the ecosystem.
In 2015, with the help of their mentor, Dr Monique Udell, Wanser was able to visit Wolf Park and collect data on adult wolves. Two years later, they were invited to return to the facility to raise two litters of wolf puppies with a team of small parents.
Wanser and the team reared the wolves from ten days to five months, bottle-feeding them, hand–foodand socialize with them almost all of time. Wanser pointed out that because wolves are naturally afraid of new things, much of their job was to expose them to different activities and objects to make them more comfortable while living outside of nature. Of the seven puppies Wanser helped raise, five still live and thrive in Wolf Park.
Bring the drag king
In addition to their incredible academic and professional achievements, Wanser has also made his mark in the Corvallis and LGBTQ + drag communities.
On the drag scene, Wanser takes on the character of Jack Hardness, a drag king whose name is a pun of the Doctor Who character Jack Harkness. Wanser has been performing since 2014, participating in trail events around Corvallis, including at OSU, as well as in Monmouth at Western Oregon University.
While students at OSU, Wanser also took part in pride panels around OSU and Corvallis, telling the audience about their personal experiences with going out and discussing sexual orientation and gender identity. . In addition to these panels, Wanser has started giving lectures on the same topics to high school health classes in the area.
“It was really very meaningful to me,” they said of the experience.
Wanser has also been a facilitator of Out N ‘About for the past six years, an LGBTQ + support group for youth in Linn and Benton counties.
Bring it Next chapter
With all of these experiences and skills, Wanser plans to attend Southern Oregon University and earn his Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Their goal is to work as a licensed counselor, providing typical counseling services as well as animal assisted therapy, especially for adolescents and young adults.
“I think a lot of times, especially for teens, going into counseling can be really intimidating, and I think there are ways I could fill in to make it a more accessible business.
“As a licensed professional advisor, I want to offer animal-led counseling to teens and adults, so I believe my experiences in animal training, animal behavior, and animal-assisted interventions, as well as that my experiences working with youth, and my upcoming training at SOU in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, will come together wonderfully to prepare me to become an effective and successful counselor.
By Cara Nixon