Young Wolves Taking A Bite Out Of Garbage

They sit on sand pails and wear toy sheriff’s badges, but don’t underestimate the Wolves.

They’re constantly on the prowl in their Dalton Gardens neighborhood and they’re ruthless with their prey.

“Every piece of trash we see, we kill,” Spike Gatten spits out, as menacing as a 7-year-old boy can be.

Spike - his five older brothers named him - isn’t talking about the neighborhood riffraff. He and his fellow Wolves patrol daily for plastic cups, disintegrating paper and other garbage that sullies the scene.

“We needed some purpose,” explains Spike’s sister, Brynne, who’s 11 and unofficial leader of the pack. “We decided to save the Earth, help the environment…”

“And raise money for the animal shelter, to help the homeless and to feed Keiko the whale,” Lynette Page blurts out, too excited to wait for Brynne to finish.

The Wolves live in three neighboring houses with sprawling, weed-free lawns in Canfield Mountain’s shadow. The clubhouse is in the middle, in the Wise family’s back yard. It matches the house.

A club was inevitable for these seven kids who play together all summer.

“We didn’t want to be some sweetsie thing,” Brynne says, wrinkling her nose. So they named themselves the Wolves, rejecting Lions, Tigers and Motorcyclers (sic).

They have rules: no roughhousing, yelling or talking out of turn; always have fun. They have goals and don’t elect officers so no one feels hurt.

From a table between two of their yards, the Wolves sell jewelry and picture frames and spinners they make from popsicle sticks and people they make from radishes. They sell lemonade and cookies, too. Their cardboard pencil box overflows with the $41.82 they’ve earned.

The money is for their causes and each Wolf is adamant that it’ll go to nothing else. Keiko, the whale from the movie “Free Willy,” should receive his cut later this month.

“I had a dream,” Brynne says, giggling at the famous phrase she’s heard so many times, “that, like, we all got old and added more people, that we passed it on from generation to generation.”

Shelly Page, who’s 10, nods vigorously.

“We want the Wolves to be the longest-running club ever.”

Pint-size celebration

If no one appreciates your kids or your pets, stop in Hayden with both July 27-28. Hayden Days wants cats, dogs, rabbits, pigs, birds, fish(?), etc., for a pet show that requires no talent or pedigree whatsoever.

There’ll be prizes for personality and good looks, tricks, best dressed. Pets are even invited to the kiddie parade as long as they’re leashed - the pets, not the kids.

The kiddie games planned are wild: saddle barrel rides, roping, gigantic bubble blowing, hula hooping. Adults may be jealous. For details or to volunteer, call 772-4727.

What’s in a name?

North Idaho’s Multi Service Center has suffered an identity crisis ever since it changed its name from the Kootenai Food Bank a year or so ago.

The character of the little storefront building on Coeur d’Alene Avenue in Coeur d’Alene hasn’t changed. It still stocks food for the poor. But the volunteers there also help people learn to budget, plan menus, find jobs, learn job skills and how to get through an interview.

The center even keeps a closet of classy clothes to lend to people going on job interviews. So call it the food bank if you must, but remember: it has multiple personalities.

Grand people

Every town in North Idaho has a celebration in the summer and those usually include parades. Who was or will be your grand marshal and why is he or she so special? Boast about your favorites to Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814; fax to 765-7149; or call 765-7128.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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