Everyone knows about the things that go bump in the night, but what happens when those sounds wind up being more than just creaky floorboards? Jack Jokinen never thought he had anything to fear in his own home, but all that changed after a stray appeared out of thin air right in the middle of his living room. At first, it all seemed like something out of a dream — that is, until Jack and his family discovered the shocking truth.
No one would be thrilled to be jarred awake in the middle of the night, but as Jack’s wife roused him from sleep with a look of concern in her eyes, his mind immediately turned to one thing: their one-month-old daughter. Was she hurt? Had she gotten sick in the night?
Fortunately, the baby was fine, though that only conjured up another fear of Jack’s: an intruder. But before he could even process this thought, his wife shared her discovery — and it was one that just didn’t make sense.
She said: “There’s a puppy in our house.” A puppy? Jack thought he must’ve heard her wrong. The Jokinens did already have a dog, a two-year old pup named George — maybe she had groggily mistaken him for another dog? It was, after all, around 4 AM.
But as Jack descended the stairs and entered his living room, he couldn’t believe his eyes — it was a puppy alright. The frightened yellow Lab mix cowered in the corner as Jack and his family inched toward her, though it was clear by the look of the dog that she was more than just afraid.
The puppy’s body was thin, her fur was wet, and she couldn’t stop shivering. Seeing the dog’s poor state, Jack rushed to grab George’s kennel and quickly swaddled the puppy inside. As the Jokinens’ mystery guest slowly began to relax, there was still one glaring question that needed answering: how did this puppy get inside?
There was no sign of a broken window or any other entry point, and both the front and back doors were closed and locked — it was almost as if the dog had appeared out of thin air. Fortunately, Jack knew just how he was going to get to the bottom of this mystery.
The Jokinens had a security camera mounted above their front door, which had been rolling all throughout the night. As Jack played back the footage, he spotted something that made his blood run cold.
After returning from a walk with George just a few hours prior, Jack had apparently failed to completely shut the front door. The doorknob had been locked, but with the door not all the way closed, a gust of wind could’ve easily pushed it open — and that’s exactly what happened. Jack looked on in horror as his front door hung completely open in the dead of night.
Jack continued watching, and at a little under an hour before his wife woke him, a small shape entered the frame. Was it the puppy, or could this have been yet another stray? Jack believed it was the latter, as the small creature passed the house without a second thought… at first.
Just before the shape exited the frame, it stopped. Noticing the open door, the creature decided to turn around and headed straight inside to seek shelter. Jack had gotten his answer, and he was just about to shut the footage when he noticed another shape — only this time, it was human.
Terrified, Jack watched as the stranger climbed his front steps and headed for the open door… only to shut it in place. A wave of relief washed over him, but now everything came full circle: with the door closed, there was no way for the puppy to get back outside. What were they supposed to do with her now?
First, the Jokinens knew the poor pup had to get some rest, so they decided to let her spend the night in George’s kennel to recuperate. The next day, they gently eased the dog — who they now called “Suzy” — into the car and headed for the vet.
Here, they hoped to find out whatever they could about the strange stray, including weather or not she was microchipped — if she was, maybe her owners were out looking for her. But as soon as the vet placed Suzy on the table, he dropped a totally unexpected bombshell.
Suzy wasn’t a puppy! In fact, she wasn’t even that young either, as the vet put her age anywhere between 7 and 9 years old. Her poor health and hygiene had made her seem far younger than she really was. Getting Suzy the help she needed wasn’t going to be an easy task.
“She was emaciated, teeth all over the place, only walking on three legs with no collar,” Jack told The Dodo. Suzy clearly needed some intense TLC, though with a young dog and month-old baby to care for, Jack and his wife didn’t know if they were up to the task. “[But] we thought, ‘If we just drop this dog off, who knows what will happen?'”
Older dogs like Suzy don’t tend to do very well when given over to shelters. The young, Instagram-worthy pups are usually the favorites to be adopted, and older dogs tend to have a harder time adjusting to new homes. Bringing Suzy into the family would definitely require some work, though the Jokinens also considered the ways she could enrich their lives, too.
Because Suzy was an adult dog, she wouldn’t require the kind of training that’d make it difficult to also care for George and their daughter. Come to think of it, having a mature, well-behaved pet around the house in desperate need of love and cuddles really didn’t sound like much of a burden at all.
And so, despite the challenges that would come with nursing her back to health, the Jokinens decided that the Philadelphia abode Suzy wandered into that fateful night would become her forever home. Shortly after, this “magic” dog’s story went viral — and led to something incredible.
Hundreds of donations from Suzy supporters began pouring in, with the Jokinens raising a whopping $15,000 toward her medical bills. With a loving family and the entire Internet behind her, it wasn’t long before Suzy’s health began to improve.
The Jokinen’s were pretty firm in their belief that they had one of the craziest canine stories out there—until they ran into a woman by the name of Leah Barrett at a local dog park. The dog owners got to talking, and Leah ended up confided in them. “It’s true,” she admitted. “I never would have believed it if it hadn’t happened to me.”
A Kent native, Leah Barrett bred champions. Her black Labs were some of the best in town, and they were no strangers to dog shows. Still, there was no competition on the calendar when her pregnant black Labrador Beau left her stunned.
Beau was always destined to do great things. Her lineage appeared at the Crufts dog show, an elite competition that honors the best and brightest in purebred canine companions. It’s a cutthroat pageant, and winning is a great honor.
So, when Beau became pregnant, Leah was over the moon. As a breeder, she made her living off of bringing new puppies into the world, and if the litter turned out to be champions like their ancestors, that boded well for her.
At first, the pregnancy seemed to be pretty ordinary. No complications had arisen, and Beau seemed happy and healthy. Leah eagerly awaited the birth of the new baby Labs.
The vet predicted that Beau would produce five or six puppies, but Leah, a staunch believer in her pups, had even grander expectations. She estimated the litter would contain eight dogs. Neither she nor the vet had any idea what surprises awaited them.
When Beau went into labor, Leah soon realized the true shocking nature of this pregnancy. The vet had told her to expect the delivery of each pup to take around an hour. This was not the case.
Leah couldn’t believe her eyes as she watched seven little Labs pop out of Beau in only forty minutes. And she wasn’t done. The puppies continued to come. Suddenly there were eight, then nine…
Leah wondered when the birthing would end. Then, she noticed something that made her heart stop in her chest: one of the puppies had become trapped in Beau’s birth canal! It was blocked by the Lab’s placenta, which had come loose during the delivery.
Leah and her sister panicked. They couldn’t stand the thought of one of Beau’s children not surviving. However, there was no time to call in a medical professional. If the pup was going to make it, they’d have to make it so themselves.
After forty minutes of maneuvering, Leah and her sister finally retrieved the stuck puppy from the birth canal. But instead of breathing a sigh of relief, what they saw next horrified them even more.
The dog was not breathing or moving! For an awful moment, they feared it was too late to save her. But the women persevered. They had done their research and knew to use suction equipment to remove fluid from the small pup’s lungs.
After a tense ten minutes that seemed more like two hours, the newborn finally started breathing! Leah and her sister were overjoyed, but they had more reasons than one to celebrate. New mother Beau had just done something incredible.
Astoundingly, Beau had given birth to a grand total of thirteen puppies. Considering the average of six to eight dogs in a Labrador litter, Leah was thrilled. Beau had done something truly worthy of a Crufts’ champion. But caring for so many newborns would prove more difficult than anticipated.
One problem that arose was that Beau had thirteen babies and only ten teats! Because of this, Leah had to wake up in the middle of the night to feed the runts and make sure that each of Beau’s children was happy, healthy, and well-cared for.
Of the thirteen, there were seven boys and six girls. Leah named each of them after their own unique personalities. A few of the pups stood out immediately, thanks to a few cute quirks.
The runt of the litter was given a strong name, Stormy, to “give him a boost.” One pup who howled a lot was named after a singer, Paloma Faith. And the puppy who almost didn’t make it? Leah called her Hope.
The thirteen siblings truly were testaments to the unpredictable nature of our animal friends and the strength Leah and her sister exhibited when they saved the at-risk puppy. Sadly, the litter wouldn’t be staying with them for long.
Thirteen puppies is a handful for even the most experienced dog owner to manage, so eleven of the pups were sold to new and loving homes. The descendants of champions didn’t come cheap though…
Leah asked 950 euros for each purebred pup, which comes out to around $1,222 in USD. This means that if she sold all of the Kennel Club-registered dogs at that price, she brought home over $13,000. Not bad for a day’s work!
After the harrowing ordeal had concluded, Leah breathed a sigh of relief. Man’s best friend certainly has a few surprises up its sleeve. There are the pooches that defy explanation with humongous litters, like Leah’s, and then there are the dogs that just keep on growing — at a dangerous rate.
Leah had her hands full, but not like this. Another dog owner brought a new puppy named Yuki into her home but the small, shivering puppy they’d once rescued had transformed into a wild, snarling creature. The owner couldn’t get Yuki to sit, let alone keep him on a leash and away from other people. It was like Yuki was another dog entirely.
To make matters worse, the gray-matted puppy wasn’t really a “puppy” anymore. The energetic dog was getting too difficult for one person to control, and that alone was enough to make the owner seek outside help…that is, until he noticed another startling trait.
At eight-months, Yuki had grown to a bigger size than his owner could ever have expected. Of course puppies grow, but this much so soon was alarming enough that his owner decided to wipe their hands clean of the matter and make Yuki someone else’s problem.
The owner dropped Yuki off at an animal shelter in hopes that they could find him a more suitable home. The shelter had seen all kinds of badly-behaved pups and wild animals in their time, but it soon became clear that they were no match for Yuki. So, they called in the big guns.
They knew of a nearby shelter that specialized in taking care of animals that other shelters couldn’t handle. Owned by Kent and Nancy Smith, the animal shelter’s staff and volunteers had overseen the most unruly animals, from badly-behaved dogs like Yuki to bobcats and cougars.
Settled in Naples, Florida, Kent and Nancy’s shelter, Shy Wolf Sanctuary, has helped over 1,200 creatures in need. More than that, the Smiths have emphasized an educational approach to better unify humans with animals. They had no idea then how little they were prepared for an animal like Yuki.
Two staff members from Shy Wolf Sanctuary traveled over to bring Yuki to his new home. The gray dog needed special care and people who could actually understand him, and the staff members knew they were the best people for the job…until they met him face to face.
They’d been told that Yuki was a tough case, but it was still unnerving to see young Yuki thrashing around in fear when they approached. When he wasn’t baring his teeth at them, he was glaring at them with small, yellow eyes. Of course, what really struck them as odd was his size.
For being only eight-months old, Yuki was big — weirdly big. One look at him and Kent and Nancy knew they weren’t dealing with a normal pup. So, they arranged for Yuki’s DNA to be tested. While they waited for the results, their hunch that something was up with Yuki was only reinforced by his behavior.
Yuki definitely didn’t have the friendly, “man’s best friend” attitude of other dogs. He was erratic at best and violent at worst, though he slowly got more comfortable at the sanctuary as time went on. Still, the sanctuary’s staff tried to domesticate him…until an accident made doing so impossible.
When Yuki unexpectedly wounded his right knee against a palmetto, he needed five surgeries to fully heal. The painful experience only made poor Yuki even more unpredictable. Throughout that period, he became very particular about who was allowed into his cage.
It became apparent that the few staff members Yuki liked were women. When comfortable, Yuki could even manage to sit on one of their laps for a cute Instagram moment! Those moments were rare, however. Most of the time, the staff simply tried to figure out why he wouldn’t stop growing.
When the DNA tests finally came back, the staff didn’t know what to expect. As the owners of Shy Wolf Sanctuary, Kent and Nancy definitely had a feeling that Yuki’s dog-like appearance didn’t tell his entire story. And when they analyzed Yuki’s DNA, they saw just how right they were.
Yuki had German Shepherd and Siberian Husky in his genetic makeup. With his inquisitive yet protective nature, this made sense, though the German Shepherd and Siberian Husky genes were only a fraction of his DNA. As it turned out, the other 87.5% of Yuki’s DNA was grey wolf!
With that, everything started to make much more sense. It was no wonder his original owner couldn’t handle Yuki — he wasn’t a dog at all! Although pure wolves are known to be anti-social to humans, wolfdogs like Yuki are unpredictable. Whether or not he could be domesticated was unclear…
The staff at the sanctuary were hopeful that knowing Yuki’s DNA would make it easier to domesticate him. After all, some wolfdogs can be successfully managed in a home…but it’s a very low percentage. And with Yuki’s injury and aversion to males, Shy Wolf Sanctuary became a permanent home for Yuki.
Growing up into an adult, Yuki weighed close to 120 pounds. He grew to be over five feet long, and by that time, the staff were grateful that Yuki was there to stay. After all, just because Yuki couldn’t be fully domesticated didn’t mean he couldn’t have a family.
And thanks to the staff members at Shy Wolf Sanctuary, Yuki had his own fans, too! Through Instagram, the volunteers kept their followers up to date on the daily life of their very own wolfdog. They updated their followers on Yuki’s favorite activities, and even on his love life.
Yuki went on to find a mate with a canine named Bella. To the shock of the staff, it was Bella who ended up being the alpha of the pair! The duo lived together happily for years, their lives broadcast on Instagram. But as Yuki got older, he received something no one expected: a cancer diagnosis.
Though heartbroken, Shy Wolf Sanctuary did their best to ensure that Yuki enjoyed his final days. In November 2020, after years of rescue, rehabilitation, and love, Yuki passed away. Though he would no longer roam the sanctuary, Yuki still managed to inspire Kent and Nancy into making a huge decision.
Inspired by their difficult but rewarding years with Yuki, the Shy Wolf Sanctuary successfully managed to purchase another area in Florida. With more funding, the staff will only continue to grow their animal haven. After all, with their habitats disappearing all around the world, wolves need our help now more than ever.