When Nancy finally saw it for herself, her eyes narrowed in fury. She’d rushed over as fast as she could — only to be greeted by a sight she’ll never ever forget.
The enormous creature paced nervously when Nancy approached. But when she saw the animal’s eyes, she knew that she’d been lied to by its previous owner. She felt a hot wave of nausea threaten to overpower her as she bent down to gather the DNA sample. What had they all been thinking?
Nancy Smith loves animals so much that she created her own animal sanctuary in an effort to help every creature she could. Her shelter not only provided a caring environment but also helped to rehabilitate animals.
Over the years Nancy had carefully searched for and hand-picked her team for the shelter. All of them were as passionate about animals as she was and as driven to help them. None of them could have known that soon they would house an animal that left them with more questions than answers.
One of these hand-picked team members was Brittany Allen. Brittany had been working at the shelter for ten years already but this new creature was the most intimidating creature yet. When she came face to face with it, it both scared and fascinated her.
She felt a strange connection to the animal and hoped to help it as best she could. However, once she learned the history of their later rescue and the truth about it she became livid. This was entirely unacceptable to her.
The day before Nancy’s fateful trip to Florida’s east coast, she had received a very strange phone call. The man on the other end of the line didn’t want to disclose his identity but informed her of his urgent need to surrender an animal.
As she drove to the Browen Animal Shelter to collect the animal she thought about the strange call. According to the man the animal had become “much larger” than expected. At least that’s what he told her when she asked why he was giving the animal up.
During their conversation, the man stated that he had believed he knew what he was getting into at the time. According to the man he had done his research, became familiar with exotic dog breeds, and read what people said about these animals.
Furthermore, he’d made sure he had all the necessary items like a bed, collar, tag, and more. He had felt ready and prepared for the commitment he would need to make. However, that all changed when the creature simply kept growing, outgrowing everything. Then something happened.
Although the man had expected Yuki to grow up to be a large canine, he wasn’t prepared for just how large he was getting. At 8 months old, he was already five feet tall – much larger than even the breeder had anticipated.
It wasn’t long before Yuki was too big to live inside the house. The man built him a makeshift shelter in the yard. But, of course, simply moving him outside didn’t make his problems go away.
Yuki grew at such a rate that his owner started to become scared of him. As a puppy, certain things had been less obvious but as the dog grew, so did these features. Huge teeth, combined with large claws and the overall size of the animal became intimidating.
As the dog grew, the man became frightened of it and was scared of being around it. Eventually, the ill-prepared owner knew he needed help. was becoming a little frightening to be around him. That’s when he knew he needed help and called Nancy
Nancy listened to the man’s story and felt sympathetic, however, the shelter was full so she promised to call him as soon as there was space. The anonymous caller wasn’t satisfied with that, however.
He told her that the animal had been bought by a “friend” of his who soon discovered that the animal was too much to handle. However, there was nothing Nancy could do. The next day she received a startling call from Broward Animal Shelter.
The Broward Animal Shelter staff were no stranger to all manner of creatures as they had taken in hundreds of different animals over the years. However, when they saw the enormous beast tied up outside the house, they knew they were in over their heads.
When they realized that they too were out of their depth they called Nancy as well. They begged her to come as quickly as possible. They knew they needed to get the animal to a safe environment.
When Nancy reached the shelter she saw something that would haunt her forever. There, alone in his cage the huge beast paced up and down, its hot breath steaming in the air as his claws clicked on the concrete floor.
Seeing the size of the animal’s head and teeth caused even her to recoil for a moment. She looked at this animal, over five feet tall. The only thing she knew for certain was that it wasn’t a dog or a wolf. Then a staff member spoke to her and what they told her left her ears ringing.
After speaking to the staff, Nancy found out that the enormous creature had been tied up outside the shelter and had been recorded as a “stray.” And she knew who had done it — it couldn’t be a coincidence. Her thoughts immediately flew to the strange call she had received the day before.
The man who had wanted to surrender his “dog” had clearly decided that he couldn’t wait for Nancy to call back. So, the irresponsible owner had dumped him at the nearest animal shelter.
Nancy felt pity for the creature. His owner had obviously not done his research on hybrids before getting one as a pet. And now, the poor animal would have to pay for it. With her blood boiling, she loaded him into the van.
The first thing she had to do was a DNA test to confirm her suspicions. Then, she could hold him accountable. But when the results came back, even she was incredulous.
The Direwolf-like creature, named Yuki, was brought to the shelter and was in reasonably good health compared to a lot of the animals that ended up in the sanctuary.
Surprisingly, he had a very outgoing personality and loved to greet people. Despite his terrifying appearance, the team even considered him for ambassadorship at one point.
Nancy and her team at Shy Wolf Sanctuary conducted a DNA test on Yuki, and Nancy’s worst suspicions were confirmed. The results of the DNA test confirmed what Yuki truly was.
Yuki was 87.5 % Gray Wolf, 8.6 % Siberian Husky, and 3.9 % German Shepherd. He was a high-content wolfdog — a breed that is illegal to own or breed in Florida.
Humans have always been attracted to the majestic and wild nature of wolves. That’s why wolf-dog hybrids are on the rise. Uneducated breeders and buyers hope to end up with a breed that is as aesthetically pleasing as a wolf, but as loyal and friendly as a dog.
But many people aren’t aware of the repercussions — both for people and the wolfdogs.
Creating wolf-dog hybrids is risky because it’s difficult to determine exactly which traits from both breeds are going to be more dominant. The puppies could look like wolves and have the personality of a dog, or vice versa. That’s why owning a high-content wolfdog is illegal in some states.
But there are other issues that arise with these dogs, too. These issues often lead to abandonment when the owner realizes exactly what they’ve gotten into…
Wolves and wolfdogs need a lot more space to run, a lot more food, and a lot more time to properly train than their owners expect — and they often become too much to handle for the average dog owner.
And since wolfdogs are too tame to be released back into the wild and too wild to be taken in by a dog shelter, they have nowhere to go. This is exactly what happened to Yuki.
Nancy’s shelter, Shy Wolf Sanctuary, has seen a dramatic rise in abandoned wolfdogs since they opened their doors 20 years ago. The sanctuary now rescues 20-100 wolfdogs like Yuki annually from all over the United States. Even though the sanctuary’s first rescue was a 3-legged leopard, wolfdogs have become the most abandoned exotic pet.
But before Nancy could even think about trying to track down his previous owner, something happened that changed the wolfdog’s life forever.
Shortly after arriving at Shy Wolf Sanctuary, Yuki was roaming around the outdoor space when he suddenly caught his leg on a palmetto which opened up a wound on his right rear knee. This wound ended up taking a total of 5 surgeries to finally repair!
It was during this time that the team noticed that Yuki had started to become cage aggressive.
Despite his injury and subsequent aggression, Yuki’s personality started to develop. And soon, he had a very small group of women that he trusted and would allow them to come into his den. Among this group was Brittany.
But, little did the team at the sanctuary know, Yuki was about to become an internet sensation.
One day, Brittany decided to post a picture of Yuki on the sanctuary’s Facebook page. This photo showed Yuki’s size — he was a giant compared to 5”4 Brittany, who was also in the photo. Soon after the photo was posted, it went viral.
Nobody could believe that the wolfdog was so enormous, and many claimed that the photo was photoshopped.
But Britney hit back at the claims, stating: “It’s just his fat angle guys. We all have one”. It wasn’t long before the photo was shared and commented on by Facebook users all over the world. Everyone was fascinated with Yuki.
“They definitely are creatures that demand respect. It would be a much different encounter in the wild than what I do with these guys. The animals I work with have never been in the wild and never will be, so they are more socialized,” Brittany explains.
“We show off their adorable moments in the hope of helping people identify with them at least and maybe change their fear response into a healthy respect through education,” Brittany continued, “… And also giving an animal a chance at a decent life when otherwise they would be euthanized.”
Despite the delight that the photo brought to fans, some bad news would soon make its way to the sanctuary.
For a while now, Yuki hadn’t been himself. He wasn’t eating that much and his excited attitude seemed to slowly fade away. Even when one of the team members played with his favorite toy, Yuki was not interested in the slightest.
He seemed to mope around his enclosure, occasionally engaging in a bit of playtime. The team knew they needed answers.
It turned out that Yuki had cancer that, unfortunately, was terminal. While the team had dealt with that particular cancer before, they knew Yuki was a fighter and would hopefully persevere through it as long as he could.
Yuki had been fighting cancer for a while, so the team made sure that they would make the best of their time with their favorite wolfdog. But Yuki had already made his mark…
Since arriving at the shelter back in 2008, Yuki has definitely made his mark. His outgoing and cheeky personality is what made him a favorite with the guests and staff. He’s been at the sanctuary for 12 years and won a lot of hearts along the way.
But Yuki also did something monumental for Shy Wolf Sanctuary.
“Today, Yuki is one of the most interesting animals in the sanctuary. He is not an easy guy to get to know, but he does have a small number of volunteers he has bonded with,” said Jeremy Albrecht. “He has gained the nickname “Woowoo” because when he sees any of his chosen volunteers that is the noise he makes, beckoning that volunteer to come spend time with him.”
And, since Yuki’s photo went viral, the sanctuary has seen a huge increase in support and visitors. Nancy and her team continue to raise awareness about the plight of wolfdogs everywhere.