This story originally appeared at LittleThings.
When residents in a Los Angeles suburb first came across Castiel, they thought he was just an ordinary stray dog, albeit one in particularly bad shape.
He was very underweight, infested with parasites, and losing chunks of his fur from mange. The kind residents quickly called a local shelter.
What they didn’t know, though, and what the shelter soon found out, was that this dog was not just a dog.
The pointy-eared, gray-furred dog was actually a wolf-dog hybrid. That meant that not only did he have special needs due to his ancestry, but that he couldn’t stay in a shelter.
Shelters can’t keep wild animals, and if they couldn’t find him a home, the dog, who at the time was known as “New Boy,” would be destroyed.
Luckily for them, and for New Boy, organizations like W.O.L.F. Sanctuary in Colorado take in these beautiful creatures trapped in interspecies limbo. W.O.L.F. stands for “Wolves Offered Life and Friendship,” and they’re open to full wolves and hybrids.
Read on to discover how New Boy, now named Castiel, not only found a home, but found true love, too
When Castiel was found wandering the suburbs of Los Angeles, he was thought to be an ordinary dog.
He was even wearing a sort of makeshift collar, which makes his rescuers think he was kept as a pet.
But his skittish behavior and malnourishment led them to believe his home was probably not a good one.
He was first taken to a local shelter, where it was discovered that he was about a year old, and actually part wolf, meaning that he had to be placed into a special facility as soon as possible — or be put down.
When there was no room in California sanctuaries, W.O.L.F Sanctuary stepped in and brought him to Colorado, and his new home.
He was so scared, he refused to leave the corner of the infirmary, no matter what the rescuers tried.
Fortunately, however, rescuers were able to bathe and treat him — which he desperately needed, considering he was riddled with parasites and mange.
As he recovered, W.O.L.F. held a naming contest for him, and the winning name was “Castiel.”
The name is a reference to a character on the show Supernatural, who is an angel of resurrection.
It was inspired by Castiel’s remarkable transformation into a physically healthy, and adorable, wolf-dog.
His fur grew back, his infections cleared up, and he put on lots of weight.
He already looks like a different animal!
It was time for him to go into the sanctuary proper, and meet his new friends.
Because he’d been alone, and possibly neglected or abused before that, Castiel was very, very shy, and didn’t know how to really form connections with other wolves and wolf-dogs.
And obviously, that pack connection is very important when you’re a wolf.
But in the meantime, he was enjoying the outdoors.
W.O.L.F. staff also said he was growing increasingly interested in the other animals. While he wasn’t yet approaching them, his interest was a good sign that he could be social.
The staff decided that he needed what heals and helps us all: a little love.
After introducing him to several female wolves, kind of like wolf dating, they brought him to Tenali, an outgoing female wolf-dog. She’s a 3-year-old rescue from Wisconsin.
Wolf-dogs are actually quite common across the country, and many are in need.
Tenali is known for her sweetness, and she’s very energetic. Castiel was even a bit overwhelmed at first!
But Tenali didn’t mind. She just took a mini dip in a water bucket to keep herself occupied.
Michelle Proulx, director of animal care at W.O.L.F, said that while initially shy, Castiel began to warm up to Tenali.
“After a couple of days, he started to realize that she wasn’t going to hurt him,” she says, and notes that the pair has been playing and spending more and more time together.
“He went from not having much and being alone for who knows how long to having this girl,” Proulx says.
Just like humans, it took the right individual to open Castiel’s heart and help him heal from his traumatic past.
Now, their bond is getting stronger and stronger every day — and Castiel seems happier and healthier than ever. May they live happily ever after!