Abandonment can leave dogs with severe trust issues, and this poor pup was no exception. In fact, rescuers found him on the streets of Los Angeles, and he surprised them with just how wild he seemed. However, it was an even wilder friend who would give him a new outlook on life.
In early July 2016 animal control responded to sightings of a stray dog in a South Central L.A. suburb. Then, the team tracked the animal down in a park, where they determined that he was clearly ill. In fact, his feet were so swollen that he couldn’t run away.
And while nobody knew the dog’s origins, his nervous nature around humans hinted that he had had a difficult start in life. After all, he was wearing the remains of what rescuers thought was a crude collar around his neck. Presumably, then, somebody had once kept him as a pet.
However, whatever his life had been like before his time on the streets, his owner had left him in quite a state. In fact, he was in dire need of medical attention. Therefore, the team took the stray to a shelter, where staff could look over him more carefully.
Sadly, closer inspection revealed the stray to be only a year old and in terrible condition. Yes, he was drastically underweight from malnourishment and riddled with parasites, while mange had caused severe fur loss. But staff soon discovered that he wasn’t just a typical mutt.
In fact, their new stray – dubbed “New Boy” – was a wolf-dog hybrid, and his mixed ancestry could have cost him his life. Hence, the shelter alerted a non-profit group called W.O.L.F Sanctuary to New Boy’s desperate situation. This organization is dedicated to providing homes to captive-born wolves and wolf-dog hybrids.
“W.O.L.F. received an urgent request for help [from] Apex Protection Project, one of our wolf rescue partners in California,” the group wrote on its website. “There was a young wolf dog in a shelter in Los Angeles County, Calif., who needed immediate rescue.”
“He was [most likely slated for] euthanasia since wolf dogs cannot be adopted out to the general public,” the group explained. After all, wolf-dogs are less domesticated than their dog relatives and have special living and training requirements that most people can’t fulfill.
So, within 24 hours, a W.O.L.F. rescue team had boarded a plane and landed in California to take New Boy to Wellington, Colorado. From there, the group’s vets could get to work trying to save the animal’s life. However, the wolf-dog’s condition was so bad that his vet, Dr. Teva Stone, decided the animal needed time to recover in W.O.L.F.’s infirmary.
At first, New Boy seemed terrified of humans and shrunk into corners away from his rescuers. But after a few days of patience and kindness, the wolf-dog’s defenses dropped enough for treatment. And Dr. Stone’s combination of antibiotics, painkillers, medicated baths and nourishing food did wonders for her charge.
Thankfully, New Boy recovered quickly, and to celebrate, W.O.L.F. held a contest to give him a new moniker. The winning name? Castiel, after the angel of rebirth from the TV show Supernatural.
“For those of you who watch the show Supernatural you’ll recognize the angel Castiel who is resurrected over and over again,” W.O.L.F wrote on Facebook. And this angel was proving true to his namesake. After all, his recovery was as speedy as it was impressive.
“Our Castiel is eating like crazy, showing some spark now that he has energy, and taking naps when necessary,” W.O.L.F. continued. “His paws are healing well and he’s starting to gain weight. And… he’s always ready for more food, despite the numerous feedings throughout the day.”
In fact, the wolf-dog’s love for food cracked open the doors of his trust. Indeed, as Castiel became surrounded by more people who cared for and fed him, his attitude toward people began to change. He even grew comfortable enough to take food from the sanctuary’s volunteers.
So, just eight days after his rescue, Castiel was far more accepting of humans. “His health is improving every day, and he’s stealing lots of hearts along the way!” the sanctuary’s social media update reported. “He was [even] visited by internationally-acclaimed sculptor and long-time W.O.L.F. supporter Rosetta.”
In fact, he showed such progress that it was no time at all before the wolf-dog was able to get a little more exercise and explore the off-site infirmary. “He’s doing SO WELL. [Hopefully] we’ll be able to take him up to his forever home at the Sanctuary in a few days,” W.O.L.F. wrote.
So, as Castiel became healthier and a little more confident, W.O.L.F. staff began to notice his interest in other animals, too. “Our director had a number of dogs,” the sanctuary’s animal care director, Michelle Proulx, told The Dodo. “The infirmary was located at her house and we noticed him getting really, really interested in [them].”
On July 19, 2016, Castiel made the move from the infirmary to the sanctuary at W.O.L.F. It was then that staffers decided he needed to make a close friend. “We knew he was starting to get lonely for canine companionship and wanted to find a companion for him,” Proulx explained.
Therefore, W.O.L.F. contacted some other sanctuaries about wolf-dogs in need of a permanent home, and it wasn’t long before they struck gold. “We got a hit almost immediately,” Proulx said. “This is indicative of the problem that’s out there, that there’s so many of them in need of homes.”
Animal control originally picked up three-year-old wolf-dog stray Tenali in Iowa. However, her situation was the same as Castiel’s: her breed marked her for euthanasia. Luckily, though, her charms had won over one of her shelter’s workers. And in a stroke of further fortune, the employee was in a position to help her.
Tenali’s new savior made a call to a central Wisconsin-based group, The Grey Wolf, and it was very interested in helping her. So it was that the worker’s connections put the beautiful girl in caring foster placement until she could find a forever home.
Tenali’s foster family had furthermore taken good care of her, and she was in excellent health when the call came from W.O.L.F. So, on July 23, 2016, just four days after Castiel arrived at the sanctuary, he had his first blind date with another wolf-dog.
After having spent who knows how long alone, Castiel’s disposition was the opposite of Tenali’s in many ways. For instance, he was nervous and shy, whereas she was bubbly and energetic. “Castiel was overwhelmed by his new companion and remained a bit aloof and reclusive,” W.O.L.F.’s website reported.
It continued, “Tenali had very good instincts, and she gave Castiel the time he needed to feel comfortable with her. She explored her new enclosure, played in her water bucket, enjoyed her daily feeding, and eagerly visited with W.O.L.F. staff who often stopped by with treats.”
Proulx said, “After a couple of days, [Castiel] started to realize that she wasn’t going to hurt him.” So the two soon began spending more time together, and Castiel’s confidence grew exponentially.
In fact, Tenali and Castiel became close friends. As the two took their walks and played together each day, their bond strengthened until they had become inseparable lifetime companions. Plus, Tenali was perfect for helping Castiel acclimate to his new home and made his transition to the W.O.L.F. sanctuary more comfortable.
From his rough beginnings on the streets of L.A., Castiel has now found his forever home at the W.O.L.F. sanctuary and, thanks to Tenali, has left his loneliness far behind him. His angel of restoration name is well-deserved; the transformation this wolf-dog went through is incredible.
Still, both Castiel and Tenali were lucky to have found a home at W.O.L.F. sanctuary, where dedicated staff have devoted their time to rescuing these animals from euthanasia. You can find out more about its work on its website.
Fortunately, W.O.L.F.’s supporters continue to help Tenali, Castiel and the other sanctuary residents through the Guardian Angel sponsorship program. Indeed, every year the sanctuary assigns each one of its wolves a Guardian Angel. In return, the sponsor receives several exclusive rewards and news about their wolf’s progress.
And, in September 2016, W.O.L.F. posted an update on Castiel’s recovery. “Castiel… you have come a long way, friend,” the sanctuary wrote. “It has been our honor and pleasure to care for you during your progression along with the LOVE and support of our family on social media.”