When a wolf was spotted slinking around an Arizona neighborhood more than once, the people in the community started talking. They didn’t want to harm or scare the wolf, but it was very clear the poor creature needed help. The question was, what could they do to intervene safely?
The neighbors contacted local authorities who were just as baffled—until they made a discovery about this particular wolf that would change everything. Appearances can definitely be deceiving, and that’s something everyone involved in this story found out…
For weeks, a wolf had been wandering around a neighborhood near Flagstaff, Arizona. He would try to interact and play with the dogs he spotted through neighboring fences. Naturally, this wasn’t normal wolf behavior.
Understandably, the neighborhood’s residents grew concerned. One sympathetic family left food out for him because he was so thin; they were worried that he may have been starving. Still, nobody dared approach him.
Once animal control was called, an officer assumed that the creature—whom they named Cinder—was a full-fledged wild wolf. This meant that he was the responsibility of the state and he would need to be reintroduced to the wild. Still, there was something very odd about him…
Cinder was finally trapped and taken to a shelter managed by the Coconino Humane Association. The Arizona Fish and Game Department became involved to determine Cinder’s DNA and whether he’d need to be released to the state.
But the test revealed a surprise: Cinder was not just a wolf! He was actually a wolf-dog hybrid. This explained a lot about his behavior, particularly the fact that he was so eager to play with dogs.
Unlike other states, Arizona allows wolf-dogs like Cinder to be kept as pets. But just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean everyone was knocking down the door to do it! Due to their natures, wolf-dogs require a special type of care.
Cinder was incredibly anxious around people, particularly those he’d just met. In fact, he was so terrified of people that rescuers feared it’d be impossible to find a forever home for him to really flourish in.
But he had to find a home—and soon—because the shelter wouldn’t be able to keep him for very long. Cinder didn’t exactly enjoy being held in captivity, either. He was so wily that he once even managed to escape from the shelter!
“There’s speculation that the gates or doors weren’t closed properly, giving him the opportunity to find his way out,” said Crystal Castellanos of New Mexico’s Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. “These animals are highly intelligent. If given the slightest chance, they can find their way out of most situations that they deem scary.”
The shelter eventually relocated Cinder to a more secure pen, but it was clear they had to find a more permanent place for him altogether, because they wouldn’t be able to hold him much longer. They needed to find him a home as soon as they possibly could.
They got in touch with Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in New Mexico and asked if they could take in Cinder. Thankfully, the sanctuary agreed, and sent two volunteers on a four-hour journey to retrieve the wolf-dog.
After that, Cinder spent seven months in his own enclosure. Meanwhile, the staff worked hard to find him a companion, ultimately deciding that a female wolf-dog named Riot would be the perfect match.
Riot had been owned by a breeder in California who surrendered the wolf-dog after realizing she didn’t have enough space for her. Riot was originally in an enclosure with an Arctic wolf named Doc, but needed a new partner when Doc took up with another wolf.
The staff had a good feeling about Riot and Cinder and was anxious to introduce them. This would either be the perfect solution for all parties involved, or it would be a total catastrophe…
“We walked Riot to [Cinder’s] habitat and watched the body language from both,” said Crystal. “All looked well and we immediately opened the gate for her to run into his habitat and it was great. Tails wagged in delight, he was interested in her, she in him and they had a great nose-to-nose greeting. I’d say they understood our intentions and agreed they were fit for each other.”
The team at the sanctuary couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome to the meeting. Cinder and Riot turned out to be so inseparable, in fact, that they became known as each other’s “boyfriend” and “girlfriend!”
They did everything with each other, too, from “fence-fighting” and roughhousing to cuddling with stuffed animals. Even though Cinder was still nervous around humans, he enjoyed going on leashed walks alongside Riot.
There was no doubt that Cinder and Riot enjoyed spending time with each other the most! It was like these two just couldn’t get enough of one another, and they seemed to be making up for lost time.
“We want our animals to be happy, and one of the best ways to ensure that can happen is by finding them compatible partners,” said Crystal. “We all need that special someone in our lives.”
It’s hard to argue with Crystal’s point about their companionship, especially after Cinder and Riot seemed to thrive whenever they were near each other. Don’t they look just like the happiest couple around? Congrats, Cinder and Riot!
Not only does Cinder have a safe home off the street, but he has another wolf-dog that he’s happy to spend his days with. Since he can’t be introduced into the wild, hopefully he’ll get over his fear of humans soon enough!
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