Steven looks at the shivering pup wrapped up in the blanket and his heart aches with worry. He can feel the icy air hit his cheeks while he attempts to warm the dog up.
This poor dog had been through a lot. First getting stranded on a frozen lake, then getting trapped underwater. Steven knew he had to help nurse this dog back to health. But there was just one problem. That was no dog wrapped up in Steven’s blanket.
Steven Smith had lived in Alaska his entire life so he was used to the harsh and unpredictable weather. In fact, he didn’t mind it. The snowy terrains and shivering temperatures were the perfect accompaniments to a cozy night in.
But Steven had no idea what was coming to him when he set off one day to go fishing on a frozen lake. Nothing could have prepared him for what he would find.
With it being summer in Alaska, on a warm Sunday afternoon, Steven decided to go a couple of miles south of his town to go fish in the nearby lake. You see, the ice that covered the lake was thin enough to fish.
But this budding fisherman had no idea what he was about to uncover.
Ever since he was 10 years old Steven had loved to fish. His grandfather, a highly renowned fisherman, first taught him and since then he became hooked on the hobby.
Armed with all of his grandfather’s knowledge, Steven spent long afternoons out on the lake. It was the perfect place for him to gather his thoughts. But little did Steven know, his next trip to the lake would be a lot different.
Unfortunately, Steven’s grandfather wasn’t here anymore, but that didn’t stop Steven from carrying on his fishing legacy.
But despite all that his grandfather taught him, Steven wasn’t at all prepared for what he would find waiting for him on the frozen lake that Sunday afternoon… and what happened would leave him scarred forever.
Steven slowly set his feet on the lake and started to set up. But just as he opened his backpack, he saw something in the corner of the eye.
He turned around, and what he saw standing there on the ice turned the blood in his veins as cold as the icy water.
Steven spotted something walking on the lake, about half a mile from Steven. He couldn’t quite make out what it was because of the sun’s glare off the ice, but judging from its shape he guessed that was probably a dog.
He looked around, but he can’t spot the owner. What was this dog doing out here, all alone?
Then, out of nowhere, he hears a terrifying sound — a sound that his grandfather had always warned him about. The dog started sprinting in his direction in an attempt to get to shore, but was’t quick enough.
The ice under the poor dog’s feet breaks with a crack and he falls through into the cold cold water below.
Seeing how the animal is struggling to keep his head above water, Steven doesn’t hesitate for a second. He drops his gear and runs to the water.
Luckily he has fallen through the ice before himself and is now always wearing a wetsuit on trips like these. He knows that every second counts, so he wills his burning legs to move faster.
He could feel the icy air pierce his cheeks as he got closer to the hole. With every step he lunged forward, Steven prayed he wasn’t too late.
As Steven reaches the struggling animal, with his breath ragged and his lungs burning, he summons every ounce of strength and reaches into the icy water.
Steven flung the dog over his shoulder and headed back to shore.
Then he quickly wrapped the shivering pup up in a blanket. But as he looked at the poor creature, a terrible feeling washed over him. But he didn’t have time to hesitate — the dog wasn’t out of danger yet.
Steven noticed that the dog was larger than it had first appeared, and it was covered in thick, coarse fur. Its eyes were yellow, and straight away, a strange feeling washed over him.
But Steven knew that he didn’t have any time to waste or contemplate what he’d done. Time was running out.
Steven carried the wrapped-up-dog back to his home and laid the freezing pup inside his car. He rang his local animal center and they told him to come straight away.
Steven quickly hopped into the driver’s seat and raced over the center. He looked in the backseat and saw the shivering pup. This poor dog had been through a lot. But there was just one problem.
When Steven arrived at the animal center, immediately veterinarians whisked off the “dog” in an effort to restore its health. The dog was suffering from severe hypothermia and shock.
But when three veterinarians with decades of experience looked at the “dog”, they realized it was not a dog. In fact, they didn’t know what it was.
With the veterinarians feeling both confused and eager to find out the truth, they knew they had to bring in an expert. Somebody who could hopefully fill in the blanks in this mind-boggling story.
This expert was Mike Jones and as soon as he saw the “dog” he knew exactly what they were dealing with. But nobody ever could have expected the answer.
This animal was in fact a wolf! It seemed the ice-cold waters had somewhat sedated the wolf: which is why it was so lifeless and not at all guarded when Steven rescued it.
But when the veterinarians realized that the animal they had just taken in was a wolf and not a dog, they had a terrible feeling hit the pits of their stomachs. Especially when they realized they had forgotten to lock its door.
Steven was in complete shock. Not only had he completely misidentified the animal, but he’d actually kept a live wolf in his vehicle without so much as a leash! If it had wanted to, the wolf could’ve easily made a snack of him.
“At first, he was so done in for he didn’t resist at all. We simply kept him in this room,” said head clinician Tarvo Markson. “But once he started to get an idea of the situation, I felt things might quickly take a turn for the dangerous.”
Quickly, the team ran over to the wolf’s room, but to their relief, it was fast asleep. The team knew they couldn’t just kick the animal out, but at the same time, the center was no place for a wild animal.
How long would it take for his wolf to grow into its natural and killer instincts?
The team quickly and safely nursed the wolf back to health. Once the wolf was in a tip-top state, they released the wolf back into the wild. It was a risk, but the team knew it was for the best.
They even had a handy device that would allow the vets to track the wolf and ensure he was safe: a GPS collar. But when it came to releasing the wolf, how would it react?
When the vet team (Steven included) set the wolf free, they watched it sprint off into the hills and mountains without a care in the world.
Steven watched the wolf and he could feel a lump in his throat. He was happy the little guy was back safe and sound. Not so bad for a day of fishing, right?
“I can’t say whether I would have been so bold (knowing it was a wolf, not a dog),” Steven said. “But I would not have left the animal in any case because every animal has the right to life.”
Incredibly, this particular wolf was actually spotted in the wild just a month after its run-in with the construction workers. Considering it was photographed over 70 miles from where it had been released, it looks like this lucky guy was doing just fine.
The Estonian Union for the Protection of Animals (EUPA) paid for the wolf’s treatment and later told the media: “We are so happy for the outcome of the story, and wish to thank all the participants…”
“…especially these men who rescued the wolf and the doctors of the clinic who were not afraid to treat and nurture the wild animal.”