We live in an unpredictable world where dogs are surrendered to animal shelters on a daily basis. But sometimes all it takes is one person to take a chance on them - and in Yuki the shelter dog's case, it took two people to truly put the pieces together. When Kent and Nancy Smith picked up the dog, though, they realized that all was not as it seemed. And they ordered a DNA test for Yuki immediately.
Where It All Began
To truly understand this story, though, we need to know where it all began. And, sadly, Yuki the dog started off his life in a shelter. He spent day after day of his puppyhood waiting for a forever family to come and pick him up. And that day finally came in 2008, when his first owner officially opted him and took him home with him. Unfortunately, their first few weeks together weren't easy.
Although Yuki's owner knew he'd adopted a large dog, he hadn't expected Yuki to be quite so tough and boisterous. He refused to listen to commands and he was extremely reactive to humans. But that wasn't all.
Getting Bigger and Bigger
Yuki the dog's owner knew that it wouldn't be easy to bring a shelter dog home with him, especially when that dog was so home. However, he hadn't expected it to be quite so hard. He was being overpowered by Yuki in terms of his temperament, and the dog was just getting bigger and bigger by the day. And what he had originally thought looked like a husky or a German shepherd was beginning to look a little different.
Of course, Yuki's owner hadn't expected the shelter dog to be as small as he was when he first adopted him. But he was growing at an exponential rate, and it was starting to scare him.
A Tough Decision
By the time Yuki was just eight months old, the 'puppy' was bigger than his owner had ever imagined he would be. And he was still struggling with training. This meant that Yuki was pulling him over on walks, pushing him down when he got too excited, and overpowering him on every level. His owner was at his wits' end. He had wanted to do something nice by choosing adoption over a breeder, but was out of his depth.
Because of this, his owner knew that he'd have to make a tough decision. He could either keep Yuki and potentially get injured in the process, or he could surrender him to someone who could take proper care of him.
Dropping Him off
In the end, Yuki's adopter decided that it was in both of their best interests to surrender him to a shelter that would be able to give him the home he deserved. He needed experienced owners who were familiar with his breed and were capable of dealing with such a large and boisterous dog. But when he dropped Yuki off, the staff at the shelter were just as taken aback by the dog in front of them.
Yuki was unlike any dog they had ever seen before. He was giant and stronger than any dog they had ever met. Because of this, they soon realized that they were out of their depth, too.
Calling for Reinforcements
In the end, the shelter decided to call in for reinforcements. They were familiar with another nearby shelter that focused on larger-than-life animals, and they knew that this shelter had experience working with giant dogs that needed a little more handling and training than others. They'd even heard that the owners had experience working with and caring for other wild animals, such as wild cougars and bobcats. So, they knew they were the people to call.
It wasn't long before Kent and Nancy Smith, the owners, received a phone call from the animal shelter that had taken Yuki in. And, of course, when they heard his story they were more than willing to help.
The Shy Wolf Sanctuary
But who are Kent and Nancy? Well, these Floridians have dedicated their whole lives to helping animals in need of extra love. And from their shelter, the Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Naples, they have taken care of over 1,200 animals to date. However, they have made sure that their shelter offers so much more than just a place for the animals to stay and live out their lives. They want their shelter to serve as an educational facility.
In their eyes, humans need to understand more about wild animals to understand how we can all live in harmony with each other. So, they teach visitors about their animals on a daily basis.
Bringing Yuki Back
As soon as Kent and Nancy heard the news about Yuki, they knew that they needed to step in and help. So, they sent two of their staff members over to the shelter to bring Yuki back to them. And in their minds, this was just going to be like any other day. They were so used to other shelters calling them and asking for help that they assumed their trip would continue like clockwork.
However, that wasn't the case at all. As soon as the two staff members from the Shy Wolf Sanctuary set eyes on Yuki the dog, they knew they weren't dealing with a normal situation.
A Terrified Dog
As soon as the staff members set eyes on Yuki, they could see that he was terrified. He thrashed around at the sight of humans, he bared his teeth to warn them that he didn't want them to get close, and he seemed to constantly glare at them with his small, yellow eyes. On the one hand, they felt sorry for the animal. After all, it was clear to see that he was in distress.
But on the other hand, they were a little terrified of him, too. He was so much larger than they had expected, and they guessed that he wasn't like any other dog they'd ever rescued before.
A DNA Test
Despite their reservations, the staff members were able to bundle Yuki the dog up and take him back to the Shy Wolf Sanctuary. It was here that Nancy and Kent met the 8-year-old dog for the first time, and they instantly knew by looking at him that there was something different about him. They sensed that he wasn't a normal dog, largely due to the fact that he was so much bigger than anything they'd seen before.
Because of this, they needed to be sure they knew what they were dealing with. So, they decided to test Yuki's DNA, before waiting impatiently for the results to arrive.
Trying to Train Him
While they waited for the results, they kept a close eye on the shelter dog. And while they were sure that Yuki's first owner had tried to train him, they could sense that he was the kind of dog that didn't want to be trained. He was scared of humans, and he seemed entirely undomesticated. Of course, the longer he spent at the Shy Wolf Sanctuary, they did notice a slight change in him.
Although he seemed to become more comfortable around the staff as time wore on, an incident ultimately left them wondering if they'd even made the right decision by bringing Yuki back with them.
A Terrible Accident
Out of nowhere, Yuki the dog injured his knee. Sadly, this wasn't the kind of injury that could be healed with a little bit of bed rest and some painkillers. The shelter dog had to undergo five surgeries to correct the injury, and this seemed to set Yuki and the Shy Wolf Sanctuary back weeks. Although he had previously been fairly comfortable with the staff, he had suddenly become even more territorial.
As he was feeling vulnerable, he was very specific about the humans he would let near him. And while the majority couldn't get close to him, there were a select few who made the cut.
Better With Women
As Yuki continued to recover from his injury and his multiple surgeries, the staff kept a close eye on him - even if those eyes were from afar. It was then that they realized Yuki wasn't particularly fond of men and would react the most when men neared his cage. When they changed tact and only allowed female staff members near Yuki, they could see that the dog was so much calmer.
Yuki was beginning to love the women at the sanctuary, and with some of the staff members, he was becoming more and more like a regular dog. In fact, he would even curl up on their laps!
Continuing to Grow
As they tried to create bonds with the dog, they also continued to wait for the DNA test results to come their way. They were eager to understand more about Yuki the dog, as they knew that this was the key to truly understanding his behavior. And, more than anything, it would allow them to understand why he was just continuing to grow and grow. In fact, he was bigger than anything other dog they'd rescued before.
And when the results finally arrived, they soon discovered that their suspicions were correct. Yuki wasn't a normal dog, and they finally had the proof they had been looking for.
Yuki the Wolfdog
As Nancy and Kent read the results, they finally understood what was so unique about Yuki. While he did technically have dog DNA in the form of Siberian Husky and German Shepherd genes, he wasn't 100% a dog. To be more specific, less than half of his DNA was made up of these Siberian Husky and German Shepherd genes. The rest - a whopping 87.5% of his DNA - was grey wolf.
With this information in tow, Kent and Nancy were able to clarify that Yuki was no longer Yuki the dog. Instead, he was Yuki the wolf dog! And suddenly, everything made sense.
A Tricky Situation
As the staff at Shy Wolf Sanctuary considered this information, they finally understood why Yuki's original owner was forced to give him up for adoption. Wolfdogs are rarely domesticated animals, and even those who try to domesticate them often fall at the first hurdle due to their anti-social nature and their distrust of humans. So, Yuki's original owner was fighting a losing battle he would never have won even if he tried for a number of years.
Of course, this left the team in a very sticky situation. What were they to do with Yuki? Would they be able to domesticate him? Or would they have to send him elsewhere?
Giving Him a Chance
After much thought and deliberation, the team at the Shy Wolf Sanctuary decided to give Yuki the wolfdog a chance. He had spent his whole life in a situation he had never been comfortable with, and they wondered whether, in the right location and with the right research, they would be able to domesticate him slightly. After all, it is possible to domesticate wolfdogs - but the chances are pretty slim most of the time.
Despite the potential for failure, the team worked hard to give Yuki the space he needed. They let him roam free in their amazing facility, while also checking in on him to prove that humans aren't all bad.
Part of the Family
After a few weeks, they could really see that their hard work was starting to pay off. Although Yuki loved the chance to roam free like the wolfdog he was, he was also becoming more and more comfortable with the humans who worked at the shelter. And despite the fact that he weighted a whopping 120 pounds and was over five-feet-long, he still loved to sit on the laps of his favorite female humans.
In fact, he had become part of the family at the Shy Wolf Sanctuary. And while he hadn't been fully domesticated, he seemed to be the perfect fit with the other animals that called that place home.
A Social Media Legend
Although Yuki had spent a large portion of his life being misunderstood, the Shy Wolf Sanctuary gave him the chance to be himself - and the staff loved him for that. In fact, they loved him so much that they decided to share his story on their social media channels. They kept their friends and followers up to date on the comings and goings of the wolfdog, and fans quickly fell in love with him, too.
He even became a social media icon! He had dedicated fans who wanted to know anything and everything about the wolfdog, and this even spawned his own line of merchandise.
His Lady Friend
For the most part, Yuki the wolfdog loved his female humans - but it seems as though they're not the only females he loved. After a few months at the Shy Wolf Sanctuary, Yuki found a mate in the form of Bella. These two wolfdogs were like two peas in a pod, following each other everywhere and even finding fame as a social media duo. All in all, Yuki seemed to be living the good life.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end - and after a few years, the Shy Wolf Sanctuary was given some news that hit them like a bow to the heart.
A Horrible Diagnosis
In November 2020, the sanctuary learned that their beloved Yuki the wolfdog had cancer. The diagnosis came as a shock to them, as Yuki had always been so healthy and happy. But while they were sad to learn that he ultimately wouldn't make it, they were happy that they had taken a chance on him and given him a good life during his final days. And that's what really mattered.
In the end, Yuki passed away surrounded by the staff members who had cared and loved him for so many years. It was a tough pill to swallow, but one that ultimately had positive repercussions.
All About Education
After caring for Yuki for so many years, Kent and Nancy had been inspired. As they mourned the loss of their beloved wolfdog, they began to question the wolfdog breed as a whole. So, they made the decision to buy more land in Florida to help even more wolfdogs in need, while also educating the wider community about the breed. They felt it was their purpose, and they knew they had to help.
However, Kent and Nancy aren't the only ones who need to be congratulated for their unwavering dedication to animals. When Bee found herself dealing with a stray, too, she knew she needed to step in.
A Strange Visitor
But while the Shy Wolf Sanctuary had an established shelter where they could look after Yuki the wolfdog, Bee wasn't quite so lucky. In fact, she was simply sitting on her deck at her home in Queensland when she was visited by her stray. And that stray was a beautiful lorikeet that boasted the most gorgeous colors she had ever seen. Of course, she was used to seeing these birds, but she wasn't used to them flying in her home.
As soon as the bird flew her way, though, she knew that it wasn't simply lost. She could tell that the bird was looking for some kind of human contact, almost as though it was in distress.
Giving Him Some Attention
The lorikeet looked as though it was troubled. He was puffing up his feathers, he seemed to be panting and trying to catch his breath, and he looked exhausted. And when he realized that Bee was a friendly human, he immediately nuzzled into her. As you can imagine, Bee was incredibly shocked by this strange turn of events - but she could tell that the bird needed some attention. So, she gave it to him.
As she stroked the bird's head and offered soothing noises, Bee saw that the bird was falling asleep. And while she was glad she was able to comfort him, she couldn't understand what was going on.
Bee lived in the Australian tropics, so she was no stranger to seeing beautiful and exotic birds flying around her window. And while she admired them from afar, she had never seen one so up close and personal before. This made her wonder what had happened to the little guy nestled into her clothes. He had obviously been spooked by something or had been injured during a long flight. Either way, she wanted to help.
But before she did anything, she wanted to let the little guy sleep - and that's exactly what he did! All in all, he slept on her chest for a whopping two hours before he eventually stirred.
Assessing His Condition
When the lorikeet woke up from its sleep, he still didn't leave Bee's side. And while she had assumed that maybe he'd simply fly off when he was well rested, that wasn't the case at all. Because of this, she began to worry that he really was injured - so she decided that it was in his best interests to assess his condition. She inspected his wing, and examined his whole body.
Throughout this process, the bird didn't put up a fight. He allowed her to look him over, which allowed Bee to realize that, thankfully, he wasn't injured at all. But what was wrong with him?
Still Not Quite Right
Although Bee had assessed the bird and come to the conclusion that he was fit and well, he still didn't fly off. And while he certainly seemed comfortable nuzzled into Bee's chest, he still didn't seem quite right. His feathers were still ruffled, and he kept fluffing up his feathers - a clear sign that he was still in distress. But Bee just didn't know what to do, or how to help the little guy.
In the end, she decided to let him move at his own pace. She vowed to continue being a safe haven for him and hoped that eventually he would feel well enough to fly off.
Joining Her Inside
Although Bee was certainly enjoying the snuggles, too, there came a point where she had to get moving. She couldn't sit out on her deck forever, and she knew that she needed to get herself some food and water. So, she carefully got the bird off her and went into her kitchen. She didn't know what the lorikeet would do next, but she definitely didn't expect it to follow her inside!
As he flew about her home and perched on her shoulder, Bee knew that this bird had chosen her for some reason. However, she still didn't quite understand what that reason was.
Building a Bond
While Bee was overwhelmed with joy at the fact that this lorikeet had chosen her, she was also realistic. She assumed that when the bird felt better, it would simply leave her, never to return again. So, she cherished the moments that they had together. They cuddled on the deck, they explored her house together, and they chatted about everything and anything. And it seemed as though the bird was enjoying himself, too.
He spent the whole day with Bee, and they developed a deep bond as a result. They seemed to have become the best of friends, but Bee didn't know what would happen next.
For the next week, Bee woke up every day expecting that day to be the one where the lorikeet would fly off and leave her alone. However, that day never came. The bird would hang out on the deck and in her home, and it was clear to see that he didn't enjoy leaving her side. She was his safe space, and their connection ran deep. And just as the bird loved her, she also loved the bird.
It felt very natural for Bee to have the bird with her around the house, and it felt as though he had always been there. But he was still a slight stranger to her.
Choosing a Name
Bee knew that if the bird was going to stick around, she had to give him a name. But what would she call him? She knew that she needed to find a name that suited his personality and his unique quirks, and one of those quirks was bobbing his head whenever he got excited or happy. So, without having to think too hard about it, she decided that he was going to be called Elvis.
As she gave him his name, Bee knew that there was no turning back. She had fully bonded with Elvis, and she knew that she would never forget him - even if he eventually left her.
Starting to Worry
The more Bee thought about it, the more she began to think that Elvis flying onto her deck had been fate. He seemed to really need her, and, although she hadn't realized it at the time, she had needed him. Of course, Bee would have loved to have kept him as a pet - but she was also conscious of the fact that Elvis was a wild bird, and he wasn't meant to be stuck inside.
Bee began to worry about Elvis's lack of socialization and wondered how that would affect him in the future. So, she knew she had to do something to help him out.
Helping Him Integrate
In the end, Bee decided to make it her priority to help Elvis integrate with some of the other birds that flew in and around the trees outside of her house. After all, her deck was a haven for all kinds of tropical and exotic birds, and she knew that they'd give Elvis the perfect chance to socialize. And, thankfully, this decision paid off, as Elvis seemed to love mingling with the other birds.
He would fly around with them and chirp away, and Bee loved watching them in action. At the end of the day, though, Elvis always returned back to his home and back to Bee.
Bee's heart swelled when she saw that Elvis was finally integrating with birds of his own kind, but a little piece of her was worried that he would simply fly off one day, never to return. However, that didn't happen at all. Although Elvis flew off with his new friends on a regular basis, he always considered Bee's house to be home. And even if her sliding glass wasn't open, he'd patiently wait outside for her to let him in.
This made Bee so happy. She loved the fact that Elvis was being the bird he was supposed to be, but she also loved their cuddles at the end of the day.
Welcoming Him Home
In fact, having Elvis in her life was like having a child. Every morning, she would open up the sliding doors for him to go out for the day. Then, every morning, she would open up the sliding door to welcome him home! Plus, he even developed a love of using electronics while living with Bee. And now he loves nothing more than coming home and tapping on the iPad with Bee.
But that's not all. When he's not playing on the iPad, Elvis loves to help Bee put on her makeup. He even gets involved and tries to apply it with his beak.
An Eyeshadow Lover
Although Elvis loves to get involved in every stage of the makeup process, there's no doubt about the fact that he particularly loves it when she starts putting on her eyeshadow. He'll sit by her side, dip his beak into the powder, and lovingly peck away at her face! And while we're sure Bee doesn't appreciate what she looks like at the end of this makeup session, these moments just strengthen their bond even further.
Of course, Bee still wonders whether she's doing the right thing by keeping Elvis close to her. But as he's continued to return to her, she knows that it's ultimately his choice.
A Keen Singer
More than anything, though, Bee can tell that Elvis is very happy when he's around her. Not only does he nod his head when he gets excited, but he's also a keen singer. Whenever they're together, he bursts out into song and serenades her with his tweets. What's more, Bee has filmed so many of their interactions and his songs and put them on social media for everyone else to enjoy.
Seeing Elvis happy and listening to his songs makes Bee incredibly happy, and she's so glad that she was the one he flew to during those first traumatic moments of their interaction. He's even claimed his own spot in her house now, too.
His Very Own Spot
Of course, Bee has given Elvis free reign of her house - but it seems as though he doesn't want the whole house to himself. Like many other animals, Elvis is quite happy with his own 'spot' that he can claim as his own. But this isn't on the couch or in Bee's bed. Instead, it's on a metal dish rack! Bee doesn't know why, but something about that dish rack just makes him happy.
Elvis has turned this dish rack into his own personal climbing frame, and it seems as though Bee doesn't mind that. If he's happy, that's all that matters to her.
An Open Door
With his 'spot' firmly claimed in Bee's house, it seems as though Elvis is now more comfortable leaving Bee. He's always excited to get out of the house and fly around with his bird friends, and Bee can see that he has found his flock for life. But that doesn't mean that he's forgotten about Bee. He still returns to her house every night, as she now has an open-door policy when it comes to her beloved bird.
In Bee's eyes, this is the perfect life for him. On the one hand he still gets to be the wild bird that he is, but on the other hand they get to spend some quality time together.
A New Lady Friend
Bee has loved watching her beloved lorikeet grow in confidence, but one thing she had never expected was for Elvis to find himself a girlfriend. And while he could see that he was growing especially close to a female bird, she had originally thought nothing of it. Then, one evening, he decided to fly back home with his new girlfriend in tow. And it seemed as though he was incredibly proud to show her off.
As he nuzzled into Bee's neck, she could sense that he was asking for her stamp of approval. And after a little bit of attention from his girlfriend, Bee was more than happy to give it.
Three Years Down
It's now been over three years since Elvis first made his way onto Bee's deck, and she can't quite believe the journey they've been on during that time. Both of them have grown in ways she had never expected, and their bond has grown to a whole new level. Now, she couldn't imagine her life without Elvis in it - and it seems as though he feels the exact same way.
All in all, the stories of both Yuki and Elvis show the power of connection between humans and animals. And that connection can run incredibly deep if the animals are treated correctly.