In Spirit

This page is dedicated to those who have passed….as the years go by, we face the prospect of loosing those who have been with us over the years, and their lives all too brief for our choosing, although their memories will be with us until we too go the route all living things do.

Sadly, this page continues to grow as the years pass and we loose our beloved residents one by one.

In Memory of:


wleasel in the snowThe beautiful gray and white wolf padded up to me, tail wagging with what looked like a smile on her sweet face. Her warm amber eyes regarded me with an intelligence that shone through them, galvanizing me on the spot. Instantly, I fell in love with her. Little did I know that I was to become a part of her life.

My visit to the Wolf Lady was a birthday present from my husband. He knew how dearly I loved the wolf, how totally fascinated and enamored I was with this magnificent animal. He had found out through a friend about Liz, the Wolf Lady, and her family of wolves and called her to set up my birthday surprise.

wleasel as a puppy

Wleasel as a puppy

Standing there with my jaw dropped down, marveling at the beauty, power and love these animals emanated, I knew that my life was to be forever changed.

Wleasel stood beside me along with some of her pack mates, Sheba and Renfield. I was amazed at how soft they were, how sweet and friendly they acted with a total stranger. I dont think I stopped smiling the whole time I was there. I went from one wolf to the next, patting and talking to them. I was in love.

Liz told me all about how she came to be with her little family. I listened with amazement as she told me of her sacrifices to save some of them from fates that no animal should have to endure.

I watched as Wleasel, 10 at the time, lay down on the ground with her head between her paws. I reached down to pet her and her tail responded with a happy thump thump on the dirt. I could tell that she was very smart and indeed my suspicions were found to be correct after Liz recounted tales about her cunning ways. She told me the story of how Wleasel had been digging under the fence one day, attempting to pull a houdini act while her mother Juno kept watch for her. Whenever Liz appeared at the window, Wleasel would somehow get a cue from Juno and stop digging, looking as innocent as she could. Of course Liz knew what they were up to. I found the story to be quite funny, but was totally impressed at how very intelligent these wolves really are.

We stayed for a couple of hours to visit with Liz and her wonderful family. I was totally smitten with them all. I stayed in touch with Liz and we became good friends. It was not long after, that Liz and the wolves moved to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina to fulfill a dream of hers to start a wolf sanctuary/educational center. You see, wolves and wolf hybrids are illegal to have in Georgia. North Carolina has no law against them so she bought 40 acres on the side of a beautiful mountain and began the Herculean task of building and planning for the sanctuary. One day, she asked me if I would like to be a part of The Sanctum, the name that she chose for the project. I was overjoyed and told her I would be honored to be with her and her wolves. I began to make plans to move to North Carolina and a year later, my dream became a reality.

In July of 2002, my son and I moved from Atlanta to Spruce Pine North Carolina. I was reunited with the wolves and Liz and began volunteering my time to help her with her dream. As the days passed, I grew closer and closer to her and the wolves. My love affair with them grew deeper and I knew that this is what I had been missing out on. To help in any way to love, defend and protect, and educate people about this often-maligned animal, was truly what I wanted to do with my life.

I worked for weeks building the web site for the Sanctum, a labor of love and devotion. I would visit them, happy each day to see them. Most of them came to know me and accept me as part of their lives. Needless to say, I was honored that they would remember and greet me with a wag of a tail and a wolfie grin.

Liz developed our Wolf Trek program, a project where we take our three ambassador wolves out to do educational programs at schools, organizations, clubs and community affairs. Wleasel, VPetti and Sheba were always a hit with anyone who came in contact with them. With good humor and gentleness I have seldom seen, they allowed themselves to be petted and fawned over by countless adults and children. I marveled at the affect they had on people. Children, who were previously afraid of dogs, magically took to the wolves in a way that was truly wonderful to watch. One woman confessed that her little boy had been having bad dreams about wolves. She said he would dream about teeth and claws and awaken in a terror. He was a little anxious at first, but as soon as he saw the gentle nature of our Wleasel, his fears were conquered and he was soon petting her and hugging her. Wleasel responded with a gentle wag of her tail and a friendly lick as the boy smiled and looked at his mom. It was heart warming to watch the interaction between the boy and the animal he had been so afraid of. He and his mother both left the festival with a new outlook and respect for the Wolf. It was very satisfying for us all to know that we had in some way, changed an opinion…a misconception about these wonderful creatures. To us, it makes our program a complete success and a rewarding experience for everyone.

I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity. It has enriched my life immeasurably and I would not trade a single day of my time with the wolves for anything. Each of them has their own unique personality, their own unique look, their own loving ways.

Our dear Wleasel left us on a cold day in February. She passed away from cancer. All of her loved ones were in attendance at her graveside to say goodbye. I will always remember her spirit, her charm and her loving ways. I will remember my first glimpse of her and how she befriended me. But most of all, I will remember what she taught me. She taught me that to love a wolf, is to love totally and completely. That when you give to them with your heart and soul, you will get back ten fold. My life has changed for the better, having known and interacted with Wleasel and her pack mates. I want to thank them all for that wonderful gift.

The Wolf Trek Program has lost a valued and well-loved member. Sheba and VPetti will carry on with our newest addition, a pup called Mato Ska. He is a white bundle of fur and energy that was gifted to The Sanctum for our Wolf Trek Program. He has a lot to learn, but in time he will grow into a full-fledged Wolf Trekker and a very useful and well loved member of our family.

Wleasel, we love you and miss you very much. Happy hunting, old girl.

Written by Deborah VanDyke Petty

(note:   Wleasel was a wolf-dog)



Being around Sheba dispelled all the myths about “wolfdogs.” She was a sweet, loving, beautiful wolfdog. She came when you called. She behaved in the house better than any canine I’ve ever had in a house….never destroyed anything, didn’t chew on the furniture, and rarely ever had an “accident” except for a few times when she was ill. She rarely needed to be on a “lead”….and then it was more for the comfort of others. Sheba loved everyone. A gentle soul, she was the perfect “Ambassador” with children’s groups….I think the Girl Scouts were her favorite, as they always gave her cookies when she would come to visit their groups for a program.

She did jump out of the car once to go chase a rabbit…..but to suggest that she should be living in the “wild”, well, she would have told that human to go back to sleeping in a cave….give her a comfortable rug, or the sofa, and trips to McDonalds and KFC for chicken livers. She especially enjoyed “sleep overs” at Julia’s, since Julia could “talk” to her.

I remember the time I took her to a Pow Wow once. We had come to a booth that had a wolf pelt hanging on display. Sheba stopped, stood there and did that high pitched yelp she always did (I rarely ever heard her do what would be considered an actual “bark”), going on and on as if saying FOR SHAME. She could “see things” that most humans could not….like the time Danny came back from the Native burial ground we had discovered in the forests on a tract of land held basically undisturbed for centuries. We knew “something” had followed him back from the way Sheba again carried on. It was not the last time she would display these extraordinary abilities. But, you, the reader, can believe what you will. I have lived with the wolves too long to not recognize they possess better instincts and special abilities that I can only try to comprehend.

Wleasel was part of my soul….Sheba was part of my heart. We all mourn the passing of these loving wolfdogs who contributed so much to human understanding and tolerance. I can only hope that my two girls find a comfy sofa on the other side.

(Note: Sheba passed from cancer.)


Renfield (The King)

renfield the kingIn April 2002, we lost two more of our family. Renfield, the 175 pound gentle giant and little Amaruk. Rennie was old and had hip problems. It had become increasingly difficult for him to get around. That day, Rennie was found lying down, unable to get up. Every effort was made to try to help him, but ultimately, we knew the best thing for him was to let him go. We will miss you Rennie…you truly were the King.






Amaruk a wolfdog


Died of gastro-intestinal problems.









MatoWe lost our Mato on April 7, 2004. He had a sudden onset of liver and kidney failure. Mato was a big, friendly fellow who was very sweet and gentle.

Mato was Denali’s penmate and we know Denali will miss him as much as we will.






AkashaThe howls seems more mournful tonight. Today, we lost the Grande Dam of the Wild Bunch….. Akasha. Rasputin, her mate, tried to tug on her as she was carried out of the enclosure she shared with him and four of her children. I did not have it in me to go speak with him today.

Deborah, in her kind gentle way, has always handled announcing the sad news when one of our babes pass. I am a private person, who does not share my grief. But, it is only fitting that I do the memorial to Akasha,as she has had a huge impact on my life, and contributed greatly to the creation of The Sanctum.

I was on Patrol, taking a Missing Persons report on a juvenile, when I first heard Akasha’s howl. After taking the report, the woman took me next door, and there I saw her. Akasha was housed in a small 4 x 12 cage, together with another large canine of dubious heritage. She was pacing back and forth, tromping through days of feces laying in the cage. Looking into those beautiful eyes, I knew I could not leave her there. It was 1996, two years after Georgia had made it illegal to have wolves and wolfdogs. I remembered a “call” in this area several weeks prior, where two wolves had escaped their confinement. One had been shot, the other was still missing. Only one now remained…..Akasha. It took several weeks before I actually was able to make contact with the owner. Weeks of “dropping” by in my marked Patrol Car, checking on Akasha. It was not difficult to convince the owner, whose new wife was afraid of the wolf, that she would have a safer home with me, on a large 125 acre farm, with neighbors far removed, and already constructed half acre to acre enclosures. And thus started Akashas and my long, sometimes tumultuous, relationship!

We put her in an enclosure with Rasputin, Renfield and Nicodemus. Ah, the interest she sparked with the three males, two of which were already neutered. But, despite the large, lovely treed area, Akasha stayed by the fence….pacing twelve feet one way, twelve feet the other, as if she were still in the cage. Danny, a dear friend who lived in a Tipi on the farm, would spend hours with Akasha, playing his flute for her, just outside the fence perimeter. Slowly, she moved further. Finally, she interacted with the others. Our joy and enthusiasm was short lived! Akasha was a far cry from our loving, social mid-content woofers!

Supposedly the first “wolfdog” litter from a woman who bred full wolves, we were not sure if she actually was a wolf “dog”, just an F-1 raised with the pack of wolves, or the product of doctored papers to get her into Georgia when “wolfdogs” were legal. Akasha’s curiosity towards humans generally involved a hesitant sniff, sometimes followed by an investigatory “nip.” She would love to sneak up on you, especially if you were in the enclosure working on the fence, and deliver one of her little nips! Despite the original owner being able to leash her in the confines of the 4×12 cage, just forget trying to capture her up in a large enclosure! I had to remove Renfield and Nicky, after Akasha and Rasputin ganged up on Nicky one day and delivered numerous bites. I was furious, chasing Akasha around the enclosure, yelling! There we were, two bitches facing off! I of course, never did come close to catching up to her. When Akasha presented a litter of seven pups, I also quickly learned the differences between a well socialized wolfdog mom and a semi-wild wolf. With a woof-woof, she would send the pups into hiding, away from any human contact. We kept all but two. Those two went to a home of good friends well experienced in handling wolfdogs. The others were just too wild to risk placing into any home of an inexperienced person, so they stayed, becoming our Wild Bunch, and our Teachers.

Akasha was my teacher in many ways. I learned much about the wolf from her. We did have our “issues” with each other, but resolved most of them over the eight years she was in my care. She was never one, however, that really took to humans.

I always hope, that when I cross over, I can be reunited with those I have so loved and lost….Juno, Wleasel, Renny…the others. I may catch a glimpse of Akasha…but she will be off with the wild bunch, where she belongs.

Blessings, Liz

(Footnote…my thoughts)

This is Deborah, your webmistress. I too, was greatly saddened by the passing of Akasha. I loved to watch her and Rasputin interact. You could tell that they loved each other very much. At first, I was a bit scared of Akasha. Being part of the “wild bunch”, she was definitely a lot less tame than most of the other wolves/wolf dogs that we have here. As time passed, I got to know her better and found that she was a very sweet, dear heart of a wolf. She let me pet her from time to time, though she was careful and very shy when she approached me. So it was…I began to really respect and care about Akasha. The last time I saw her with her pack, she came up to the fence as I stood next to it, bending low to talk to her and some of the others. I spoke to her softly and soothingly…reassuring her that I was her friend. In response, the beautiful old girl licked my nose and wagged her tail. I smiled and was happy to have gotten such a greeting from her.

I am glad my last meeting with Akasha before her passing was so sweet and gentle. She will live forever in our hearts and minds. She is with the others of our pack now and I have a feeling she was welcomed quite warmly at The Rainbow Bridge. Be happy, Akasha. We will miss you until we see you again.


Justin Pizzutillo

JustinWe will miss our volunteer….he was a dedicated animal lover and a Friend of the Earth.









Rasputin a wolfdogOur old man, passed July 2005. He had suffered from hip problems the last several years, and the cold winters were getting longer for our old guy, so I dreaded the upcoming one for him. Twice before, Rasputin (Razzy) had gone “down”, unable to get up for a couple of days. Once, on the third day, I had called the vet to come out, dreading in my heart what I knew was the right thing to do for him. But there was Raz, up at the fence wagging his tail. He was not yet ready. This time he was. So it is with both joy and sadness that I say goodbye. He goes to join his beloved Akasha, his wild bride of many years.







In December 2005, we were forced to humanely euthanize Angel due to his extremely aggressive and dangerous behavior. We had hoped that the two years he had been with us would overcome the horrendous physical abuse he had suffered at the hands of humans and he could learn to trust again….but alas, the scars and violent behavior did not go away. I bid you farewell, dark Angel.



Son of Angel and Spirit and one of the Old Fort Pack moved to The Wolf Sanctum a bit over two years ago, Anubis was a tall, lanky unsocial wolfdog. He was between seven and eight years of age. Anubis was diagnosed with cancer in several of his major organs after X-rays revealed the extent of this disease, and he was humanely euthanized on May 25, 2006.



BachoIn late August of 2006, we humanely euthanized Ba’cho who was diagnosed with intestinal as well as cancer in his kidneys. Though he was initially treated for a kidney infection, the vet and I both suspected there was more to Ba’cho’s declining heath. Within a month’s time, a rapid loss of weight along with a rapidly growing abdominal swelling precluded additional medical treatment or intervention. We will miss our “good ole boy.” Ba’cho was about as laid back as a wolfdog could get. A sweet, well-behaved gentle giant is probably the best description. He will be sorely missed by Kiowa, his enclosure mate for the last eight years. I fear our old gal (she is now twelve) will grieve herself to death over his loss.



KiowaIn May of 2007, Kiowa was sent to the Bridge, to join her beloved Ba’Cho. She was almost 14 years old, and had lived with our Director for almost 10 years. Often called “Nervous Nellie” as she seemed to dance in excitement as the prospect of attention, Kiowa was a lovable social wolfdog. She will sorely be missed by all the children who loved to pet her.





traceIn August of 2007, Trace passed after a long bout with congenital heart disease. A favorite of our director, Trace was a most loving wolf, although remained shy with strangers. His poses captured in photographey will comfort our loss. He will remain in our hearts forever.





spiritSpirit was diagnosed with a squamos cell carcinoma (cancer) in her female parts on May 8, 2008. She was around 11 or 12 years of age. Although she ate well, weighed over 100 pounds and ran around the pen looking healthy, we took the vet’s recommendations and sent her to the Bridge. Spirit was the only friendly one of the Old Fort four. She is survived by her daughter, Raven.





NashobaOur very spunky Wild Bunch gal was diagnosed with kidney failure in April of 2008. Our attempts to get her to eat failed, and she was sent to the Bridge on April 24, 2008. While Nashoba was elusive, once caught and confined she was a sweetie. She became the darling of the vet’s office several years back during a brief stay, completely fooling them. She is survived by her two brothers, Little Brother and Manitou. Nashoba was eleven years of age.





vpetti the wolf On December 4, 2008, we sent out beloved gentle boy to the Bridge. This past year had been difficult for Petey, with advancing arthritis making it extremely difficult for him to get up at times. An acupuncture procedure (they insert gold beads along the spine) gave a brief respite, reducing inflammation, but the improvements only lasted about six months. We knew it was but a matter of time. V’Petti was around 13 years of age, born around 1995 or 1996, the last litter born by Juno and as such, a very precious gift. Once Petey knew you, you could not ask for a more loving or loyal friend. I think he was even considered very special to all the other residents (wolf or wolf-dog alike), as they all accepted him without challenge, his gentle non-threatening demeanor never arousing any territorial displays whatsoever. Except Denali…she doesn’t like any neutered males! He reluctantly followed on Wolf Trek programs as an Ambassador, taking the lead from Sheba and Wleasel. After the girls passed, his comfort level gone, we retired him from that job and eventually his advancing arthritis even made it too difficult for him to get into the car for the trips to Arby’s. I know Jim Petroff (on our BOD) will especially miss Petey, for when Jim and Cindy got to visit, they spent a lot of quality time on the carpet together.

As for me, I have fulfilled my promise to Juno….to always care for her children until they passed. They were indeed Juno’s Gifts.



raven the wolfwas sent to the Bridge in August of 2009. She was the last surviving member of the Old Fort Pack, a group of four. A neurotic squirrel, she possessed quite cunning abilities. The capture of Raven and her brother, Anubis, took six months to accomplish. We had been driving down to Old Fort for six months, feeding these two as the owner had moved and we’d agreed to take them into our facility. It proved much harder than anticipated. A trap had been laid in the feed pen, so when one of them would come in to feed, the door could be sprung shut. After several unsuccessful tries (her sharp eyes would spy us), we tried a different approach…while one person hid out of sight, I got in my car and drove away. But Raven’s approach to the tempting food left in the trap left us amazed…she got down on her belly and crawled though the brush and it was only a lucky break that she was seen doing this amazing feat. After darting, we rushed her to my vet’s office, where emergency surgery was performed to remove a wire that had embedded itself around one of her back legs. She much preferred being housed with Anubis, and we separated brother and sister from their parents. When Anubis passed, Little Brother became her new enclosure mate. They tolerated each other well, although it never appeared they became fast friends. When Raven developed a limp in June, I put it down to a sprain at first since jumping off decks onto muddy red clay soil can be slippery and we’ve had one or two get sprains in the past. She even started putting weight on the limp when she was walking, so I was hopeful. But then there were some subtle changes in Little Brother’s behavior that led me to believe there may be something else going on…he was staying at the gate where I handed in the chicken instead of his usual practice of taking his piece and running to his favorite spot. Almost like he was waiting to get Raven’s food. Evidently there was a weakness I could not see, although she had started dropping some weight. So, off to the vet’s office for X-rays. And Little Brother’s behavior was confirmed….Raven had cancer. We estimate she was between 10 and 11 years of age. We know she’s hooked up with Anubis and is off running around out there beyond the Bridge.



ShamenEvery winter for the past several years has brought concern for our sweet big boy. At 135 pounds, he was a big boy…not fat, just big! And unfortunately, the bigger they are, the sooner they fall. Joint problems were evident…hopping on his two hind legs, or having difficulty at times getting to his feet. The winter of 2010 has been a cruel one for our older citizens. On February 19th, Shamen went down and we were unable to get him back up, despite three days of medicating him and keeping him warm. On February 15th, he was humanely euthanized. It was my hope that Shamen would go before Alpine. He was so emotionally attached to his sister that even a short period away from her brought out extreme separation anxiety and he would try to move any obstacle in his path to get back to her. Never underestimate the tenacity and willpower of a wolfdog or wolf. Shamen was 12 years of age. He had been with us since 2001. He was loving, gentle, and faithful to a fault to those he accepted. He will be sorely missed.



May 2, 2010 we made an emergency call to the vet to come examine Manitou after he went down. Manitou was an unapproachable, unsocialized wolf-dog. He had not eaten his chicken on Friday, and Saturday had spent the day laying down, unusual behavior for him. On Sunday, upon being able to approach him, it was discovered he had a large open wound. More wounds were discovered, the result of being bitten by his pen-mate Nala. The wounds were severe, badly infected and infested. Due to his age, and the fact that he was so unsocial, as well as the severity of the wounds, the vet recommended we euthanize our old boy. His pen-mate, Nala, will be kept by herself from now on.



TimbreTimbre came to The Wolf Sanctum in 2002. To say she was my favorite gal is an understatement…she was my special girl. Timbre was growly at everyone else, but affectionate and loving in her spirited way with me. We called her Miss Poofy, for in the winter time she would “poof” out and appear almost twice the size of what she really was. The last few years had been fraught with health concerns, and though every test available had been run, without diagnosing any tangible problems going on in her intestinal tract, I think the sedations and the multiple times we had to put her on metronidazole took their toll. The end of May in 2010 she was diagnosed with liver and pancreas problems, again put on medications and ultimately on Milk Thistle also in an attempt to help those organs. I found her dead on Friday late afternoon, September 3, 2010. She was 11 years of age, and I wish she would have lived much, much longer and stayed with me forever….in my heart, she will.


Little Brother

Little BrotherLittle Brother’s death marked the passing of the last of our Wild Bunch. He was three months shy of his 14th birthday. Little Brother had developed weakness in his hind joints, making it difficult for him to get up, squat, and get around. But his death was the result of an accident….fresh straw on top of the deck evidently made footing slippery, and when his hind leg slipped between a space between the deck boards, lubricated by the straw, he was too weak to pull out the leg. I found him passed, his leg wedged. We have since placed a solid board over the decking, as this was one of those preventable accidents had I been on my toes.



DENALI                Mid August 2011, Denali went down, unable to get back up.  She was nearing 13 years of age and had been showing signs of joint/hip problems the last couple of years.  During the colder winter months, she would at times almost “hop” with her back legs.  Since Denali was a big girl, we put her on a diet last year, getting her down to a trim 125 pounds in hopes that would help.  When she went down, we administered pain pills to see if that would help her get back on her feet, made arrangements for the vet to come out the next day.  Nali passed during the night however, never being able to regain her footing.  Denali came to us in 2001, with her brother Shamen and Alpine.  Alpine is now nearing 14 years of age, has health issues, but is hanging in there with us.  (Pictures of Denali are in the Gallery, off the Resident’s page).

Alpine went to the Bridge April 11, 2012.  She was 14 years of age.  Alpine had been having mobility issues for a while, struggling to get to her feet, with joint problems.  She also had the usual issues associated with an elderly canine, and while her hind end often looked muddy and matted due to the incontinence and difficulties arising, we vowed to hang in with her as long as we could as she displayed a very strong will to live.   She did eat well, but weight loss recently was indicative of worsening conditions.  While bathing Alpine the last weekend, we attempted to groom her coat and found her hair was pulling out easily, leaving completely bald areas….with the approach of warmer weather, there would have been no way to keep her comfortable.   So, we bid farewell to our sweet Alpine, knowing that she will be happily greeted on the other side.  (Note:  pictures of Alpine are in the Gallery, off the Resident’s page)