Wolf In Pup’s Clothing

An Arizona man was offered a free puppy. Who wouldn’t want a cute little puppy, and it’s free? But from the start, there was something about Neo that was a little odd.


For one thing, Neo had a very rough coat and unusual gray color for a dog. But it was his behavior that was really puzzling. He couldn’t be housebroken, he wouldn’t take treats and he never looked humans in the eye.


Worse than that, the neighbors had two German shepherds, and Neo could not stay away from them. Neo’s owner built his fence higher, but the canine culprit just chewed right through it. The neighbors began to guess what the real situation was. So one day when they found Neo in their yard once again, they brought him to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Humane Society CEO Maureen O’Nell greeted them with, “You know that isn’t a dog, right?”


Indeed, Neo wasn’t a dog, he was a wolf or, more properly, a high-content wolfdog. That means he’s way more wolf than dog. That explained his appearance and his lack of response to humans. It also explained his need to be with the neighbors’ dogs; his instinct to join a pack was very strong.


Since wolves, dogs and coyotes can all interbreed, wolfdogs sometimes occur naturally in the wild. However, they’re also bred and sold as pets. The USDA estimates there are about 300,000 wolfdogs in the U.S. Eighteenth-century British nobles kept them, and German shepherds were originally bred from wolfdogs. There’s evidence that wolfdogs go back as much as 10,000 years and were used by early humans to hunt woolly mammoths en.wikipedia.org.


As Neo grew, his size and inability to be trained made it clear he was not a good house pet. Arizona also requires a permit to keep a wolfdog. So his owner found a place for him at Wolf Connection, a wolfdog shelter that also serves at-risk youth. Now Neo has a pack of his own, and he’s having a howling good time.

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