Nestled on 2.5 acres of land in Naples, Florida, sits the Shy Wolf Sanctuary, which until recently was the long-time home of giant wolf dog Yuki. It was just an average day at the sanctuary in 2008 when director Jeremy Albrecht received a call that would put his education and experience center firmly on the map.
“We got a call from a man who needed to place a wolf dog,” explains Albrecht. “The story was that the animal was 8 months old and had been purchased by a friend of his in North Carolina after graduating boot camp. The dog was growing much larger than he had anticipated, and he couldn’t handle the dog.”
The next day, Albrecht was contacted again by Broward County regarding a stray wolf dog that had been dumped at the shelter. After they sent photos through to Albrecht, there was no doubt in his mind that the animal was the same one he’d received a call about the day before.
Albrecht’s team drove to pick Yuki up and he has lived at the Shy Wolf Sanctuary ever since. “I was nervous the first time going in with Yuki,” says Brittany Allen, a senior volunteer at the sanctuary. “Yuki can be dangerous. We have fewer than five volunteers that can actually interact with Yuki. I was able to start working with him and he allowed me to share his space.”
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Yuki the ladies' man
While it’s likely Allen’s calm demeanor had something to do with her ability to bond with Yuki, Albrecht believes something else might also have been at play – her gender.
“Yuki is a ladies' man and only a select group of female volunteers have been allowed in what we call his harem. It is an honor, and at any given time he can decide someone is kicked out of the harem. Sadly for the volunteer, it usually means they are out for good.”
Their most famous resident to date, Yuki started garnering attention after Allen shared photos of him on social media. “I’m really happy that Yuki’s picture went viral because people can see him and just admire him for what he is,” she says.
When it comes to his personality, the sanctuary describes Yuki as a ‘ham’ who loves being the center of attention. He also has a Jekyll and Hyde personality that comes with the territory of being a wolf dog.
“He has shown us that he doesn’t like to hear ‘No’ or be restrained or controlled in any way, and he has a number of triggers. Volunteers need to be able to read his body language and react quickly as he doesn’t always give a warning when Mr. Hyde is going to appear,” explains Albrecht.
"An awesome animal"
In 2018, after a decade living at the sanctuary, Yuki was diagnosed with cancer. “We don’t really know the expectancy of what could come out of Yuki’s illness,” says Allen, “but so far Yuki has just been in such high spirits. He’s not showing signs of pain. He’s an awesome animal.”
The video above was shot in early 2019 and after some investigation, PetsRadar has learned that Yuki died peacefully on the night of November 12th, 2020 at the age of 13, after a wonderful day spent playing with friends and volunteers.
While Yuki may no longer be at the sanctuary, the team is determined to keep saving as many animals as they can. “As far as our future goes, we’re trying to get to a larger property and build a state-of-the-art facility. We’ve been surviving on two and a half acres of land for almost 30 years,” Albrecht explains. “If I have twenty times the space I have now, then I have twenty times the Yukis I can rescue and that’s what we’re here to do.”
Kathryn is a freelance writer with a passion for creating health and wellness, travel and wildlife content. Originally from New Zealand, her nomadic lifestyle has her currently fur baby-less. She scratches her pet parent itch by stealing frequent cuddles with any neighbourhood cat kind enough to indulge her.
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