The strength, incredible instincts, sharp intelligence, and social abilities of the wolf is what has made them one of the most respected animals in the world. The stunning animal has been featured in legends, books, movies, paintings and other products of culture for centuries which slowly taught us to appreciate them even more.
So it’s understandable that people wanted to take a bit of that wilderness home. With the idea of combining the best of both worlds, people created a wolfdog. Wolfdog is basically a mixture of wolf and domestic dog, both of which are members of same Canis species.
You probably wouldn’t think twice about his descent when meeting Yuki, and no wonder why. Yuki is one of the highest content wolfdogs at the sanctuary where he is currently staying.“His DNA testing came back as 87.5 % Gray Wolf, 8.6 % Siberian Husky, and 3.9 % German Shepherd,” – a staff member of Shy Wolf Sanctuary Brittany Allen told Bored Panda.
In this photo Yuki is appearing so giant it’s intimidating, and it’s taking the internet by storm. The girl in the photo, Brittany Allen, who is 5’4, said that Yuki is not actually as large as he appears in the pic and weighs around 120 lbs. She recently hilariously responded to accusations of photoshopping the image with an Instagram post along with a caption: “The face we make when people say Yuki’s picture is Photoshopped… It’s just his fat angle guys. We all have one”.
The photo has attracted a lot of much-needed attention, helping to raise awareness and tell the both tragic and heartwarming story of a majestic wolfdog who received a second chance at life when he was rescued by Shy Wolf Sanctuary.
“We rescued him from a failed house pet situation. Someone purchased him from a breeder and realized he was too much to handle. They dumped him at a kill shelter at 8 months old. We stepped in and provided a home for him and he has been with us ever since,“ – said Brittany Allen.
“Yuki came to us in 2008. He was in reasonably good health compared to a lot of the animals that come to us and had a very outgoing personality initially. We even considered him for ambassadorship at one point. Shortly after arriving at Shy Wolf Sanctuary Yuki managed to catch a leg on a palmetto and opened up a wound on his right rear knee. The wound ended up taking a total of 5 surgeries to finally repair and in that time Yuki became cage aggressive.” – one of the directors at Shy Wolf Sanctuary added.
Volunteers of Shy Wolf Sanctuary shared pictures of Yuki at his new home from 2012 and their first impressions of his personality: “Yuki loves women, showing off to visitors, and being super goofy”.
“Yuki is one of those animals that he lets you know if he wants you in his enclosure or not. He has a very small group of women that he allows in his enclosure called his ‘harem’,” – says Judy, a volunteer at Shy Wolf Sanctuary who’s gained Yuki’s trust.
Founded in 2001 by Nancy Smith, Shy Wolf Sanctuary Education and Experience Center (SWS) provides sanctuary and rehabilitation to wild and captive bred wolves, and other exotic animals. A 2.5 acre property in Naples, Florida becomes a permanent home to over 60 captive-bred or rescued exotic animals every year.
The mission of this non-profit is to “reconnect people and animals through education”, so staff and over 30 active volunteers work year-round to not only help the neglected animals but to educate the public about the importance of protecting these animals.
Wolfdogs are considered unadoptable by domestic animal services, so Shy Wolf Sanctuary is literally their last hope to get help and find a forever home.
“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. 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. And also giving an animal a chance at a decent life when otherwise they would be euthanized.” – said Brittany.
Most wolves shy away from people and are not aggressive toward them by nature, but with wolfdogs – it’s always a one-of-kind case. Wolfdogs are a mixture of traits, which results in less predictable behavior patterns compared to either the wolf or dog. So with adopting these breeds come unique challenges that people are not often aware of. Especially when purchased as a puppy, it’s impossible to predict how much wolf will be in an animal.
“Wolfdogs are a bit more difficult in my opinion because you don’t exactly know how much wolf behavior vs. dog behavior they will have. Yuki isn’t necessarily more social vs. the pure wolves. We have pure wolves who will run away when they see new people because they are generally shy, curious animals. Yuki, however will run straight to a new person and if he doesn’t like them will become aggressive towards them. With the pure wolves, once they know you and feel comfortable with you, they can be affectionate and loving but they will always be wolves you can’t get in the way of them and their food, and you must respect their boundaries. They are both social with people they accept in their space, but they are very selective as well. This also applies to other wolf/wolfdog companions. They are very selective but when they bond it is pretty unique.”
“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. 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,” – said Jeremy Albrecht.
After years of giving warmth and a loving home to Yuki, the sanctuary was struck by heartbreaking news that the wolfdog has been diagnosed with blood cancer, though you couldn’t tell just by looking at him.
“He was diagnosed with cancer last year and unfortunately it is terminal. We have dealt with this particular cancer before and ultimately you don’t really know how fast you caught it and how much time they have. Yuki has been fighting it for quite a while now and is persevering so it is business as usual while we enjoy our time with Yuki. When the day comes that he starts showing symptoms we will, as we always do, make the right decisions for Yuki’s quality of life,” – Jeremy Albrecht said. – “Saying goodbye to one of our animals is always difficult for our staff and volunteers, and Yuki will be no different. But it’s important to remember that while many of these animals have rough beginnings, their stories always have happy endings once they get to Shy Wolf Sanctuary. When their time with us is over the last thing they do is make room for our next rescue and happy ending.”
Seems that life keeps challenging Yuki, but we are sure that Shy Wolf Sanctuary is the right place to get lots of unconditional love, care and treatment.