When a man found a sign outside a Tuscon, Arizona house reading “Free Puppy,” he had a feeling it was too good to be true. Turns out, his assumption was later proved correct and the puppy he thought he was bringing home was actually a wolf.
The man, who chose to remain anonymous, fell in love with the pup at first sight, but found it increasingly difficult to keep him under control, according to The Dodo. The dog, who he named Neo, was overly skittish and would commonly relieve himself all over his owner’s car.
He was also overly clingy–demanding that his owner give him constant attention. While his owner tried to give Neo as much attention as possible, he had a full-time job and was also a college student, making it difficult to find enough time to attend to Neo’s needs. The dog was often left in the back yard for much of the day, where he would jump or dig out of the fence in order to play with the neighbor’s dogs.
“[Neo’s owner] built a higher fence to help contain him, but Neo chewed through it and continued to escape,” said Cate Salansky of Wold Connection to the Dodo. The neighbors eventually reached their breaking point, and brought Neo to the Human Society of Southern Arizona. Maureen O’Nell, the former CEO of the Humane Society, knew right away that Neo wasn’t just a normal dog.
“It wasn’t his body composition that made me notice, but his behavior. Neo was completely avoidant of human interaction,” she told The Dodo. “The couple walking him seemed, as best as I can describe it, perplexed. “I approached the couple and asked, ‘You know that isn’t a dog, right?””
Good Housekeeping reports that Neo is actually what is called a “high content wolf,” which means that he’s a mix between a wolf and a domesticated dog. However, given his physical attributes and his behavior, he seems to be more wolf than dog. Wolf experts believe that Neo’s urge to escape his owner’s backyard came from a natural instinct to find his pack.
Arizona laws dictate that unless you identity as a Native American or have a special permit, owning a wolf as a pet is illegal. Neo’s owner, then, had no choice but to give him to Wolf Connection, a California wolf sanctuary and rescue.
Neo has perfectly adjusted to his new home at Wolf Connection, and loves his new pack. He commonly participates in “nightly howls” with the other wolves and loves to receive belly rubs from the rescue volunteers.