Elder Hagar is frozen in his tracks. This had to be a joke, right? He can feel his heartbeat race while thousands of questions flood his brain. He had been working at the animal shelter Hope For Paws for 10 years now, yet he had never seen anything like this before.
He blinks twice in amazement. But then a shiver creeps up his spine as he takes a closer look at this “dog.” Suddenly, he realizes something while a terrible feeling hits the pit of his stomach. This was no dog.
For Alicia Smith, her Monday started just like any other day. After downing her first coffee of the day, she got her kids up, cooked them breakfast, dropped them at school, and then came back home to spend the morning cleaning.
But this devoted mom of two had no idea what was coming to her.
After spending the morning cleaning, Alicia decided to take a walk around the block for some fresh air. Passing by her cheerful neighbors she breathed in the fresh air with a beaming smile slapped on her face.
Today was looking like a good day! Alicia had no idea how wrong she was.
You see Alicia suffered from anxiety, and at times her anxiety left her feeling awful. But for the sake of her kids, she tried her hardest. She found that cleaning and going for walks helped her struggle with anxiety.
But little did Alicia know, she was about to stumble across something that would turn her world upside down.
Alicia had been walking outside for 45 minutes now and she was working up a sweat. She took a sip of water and stopped at the end of a street to catch her breath.
Then suddenly, in the corner of her eye, she saw something across the road, and a terrible feeling hit the pit of her stomach.
Alicia slowly inhales and exhales, while her heartbeat pounds in her chest. Her eyes are fixated on what she can see across the road. What exactly was it?
It looked like a dog or some sort of animal. Alicia had never seen anything like this before. What was it doing out here? Kids play around this neighborhood hood; it’s a friendly place. Then, whatever it was, it got up, its eyes looking straight at Alicia.
What Alicia saw looked like a dog, but it was gigantic, and it looked completely worse for wear. Alicia exchanges glances with the animal and a shiver ran up her spine.
She knew she needed to get help so she snapped a photo on her phone and texted Hope for Paws, an LA-based animal rescue specializing in saving animals from neglect and abuse — the poor animal on the side of the road certainly seemed to have suffered both.
Unfortunately, this sort of report wasn’t anything new to the team. However, it didn’t take long for it to turn into something very much out of the ordinary.
Upon receiving the photo, Hope For Paws co-founder Eldad Hagar knew that the animal in the picture was disoriented and clearly very sick. But he and his team had no idea what was in store for them.
After roaming the neighborhood, the animal rescue team was able to find the animal and upon closer examination, they discovered that she was suffering from severe swelling caused by a number of infections. Not only was she covered in open wounds, but she was also incredibly malnourished, nothing more than skin and bones.
But now, the team had to somehow convince the “dog” that they were there to help, a tall order when dealing with skittish strays.
The team finally found her and noticed that she was about to walk into a yard. Elder Hagar slowed down in front of the gate while his colleague Lisa Chiarelli opened the door and jumped out before he even came to a complete halt.
Then, in one swift movement, Lisa brought to a close one of the trickiest parts of the rescue. She quickly shut the gate, locking the dog in the yard.
When they closed in on the stray, though, the rescue team realized just how bad the dog’s condition really was. Her frail body was a war zone plagued with open scabs from infections that were slowly killing her.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, when they looked closer, they found something even more tragic.
The dog had an old rope tied to her, which immediately made Elder realize that someone owned and neglected her to a criminal level.
But even the hungriest, saddest dogs have trust issues. However, the Paws team knew what to do. Lisa laid out a series of scrumptious treats for the dog, beckoning her closer with each morsel. But it wouldn’t be that easy for the rescuers. Even though she was beyond starving, the stray was overly cautious. Carefully and gently, the dog inched closer to Lisa.
The entire ordeal of coaxing and soothing took 20 minutes before Lisa could slip on the group’s “lucky leash” around the dog’s neck.
Strangely, upon seeing the leash, the dog was unfazed. Perhaps she realized that these humans were in fact there to help?
Although the dog was pretty nervous getting in the car, in the end, her new friends convinced her that they were trustworthy.
From there she was whisked off to the Veterinary Care Center in Hollywood, where a battery of tests would reveal something incredible.
As soon as she entered the clinic, the dog had to undergo a series of tests to determine what type of infection covered her body. And just as the team had guessed, the poor homeless pup was suffering from demodectic mange.
And as the Paws duo began treating the dog, her transformation astonished them.
When the Paws team took a closer look at the new, cleaned-up dog, they could clearly see that they were dealing with a canine of more wild ancestry.
In fact, they started to believe that they had actually rescued a wolf-dog, a hybrid of canine and lupine genetics. It couldn’t be, could it?
Wolves and dogs can mate and produce offspring, but these hybrids can’t ever really be at home in the worlds of wild wolves or domestic dogs.
And sadly, many people think it’s “cool” to have a dog that’s part wolf, but don’t understand the special needs these animals have.
At any rate, Hope For Paws would have to wait for the DNA test results to be certain. In the meantime, though, they took every effort to help the dog, now called Julia to gain her strength and confidence.
Over the next few days, moreover, Hagar kept an eye on her recovery. And fortunately, she was soon eating more and growing stronger.
Julia was unable to wag her tail, but she showed her appreciation by rubbing her head on the team. What a special girl.
As the Paws team continued to show Julia love and kindness, however, Julia finally wagged her tail! She was finally feeling safe, loved, and most importantly, happy!
Nearly 11 months following her rescue, despite a few minor setbacks along the way, Julia is almost unrecognizable! She is now able to spend time with other dogs, learning how to socialize with other rescued dogs.
As you can see, she’s clearly doing much better! After her recovery, she was placed with Alicia, the woman who found her a few months prior, stranded and hurt on the road. But what would the DNA test results show?
Not surprisingly, Julia’s amazing story of her transformation from a nearly-dead stray to the pretty pooch she is now going viral across the internet. But with most of the battle behind her, one question remained. Was Julia part wolf?
And after months of speculation, the DNA results for Julia’s genetic makeup are in!
As it turns out, there’s nothing wolfish about this pretty girl. She’s half-German shepherd, half Siberian husky, and all adorable. Of course, Julia’s genetics wouldn’t have made a difference to the Hope For Paws rescue crew, but it would have complicated finding her a home. After all, owning a wolf-dog hybrid is illegal in California.
Thankfully, this was not the case for Julia, and she has now found her fur-ever home. Now with her identity crisis over, Julia is free to spend time with Alicia and her new family and just enjoy being a dog.
Julia’s remarkable recovery wouldn’t have been possible without the kindhearted rescuers at Hope For Paws.
To keep with all their hard work and dedication to the animal community, check out their Facebook page, or consider giving a donation to help fund more life-saving animal rescues.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.