Pax and Sasha are affectionate and social, but people shouldn't mistake them for your average dogs. The two ambassadors for a wolf sanctuary home get cheeseburgers when they go out on the town because wolves and wolf-dog hybrids become uncomfortable out of their territories, and a stop at Wendy's is a great reward treat.

Pax and Sasha are two ambassadors for the WOLF Sanctuary (Wolves Offered Life and Friendship) west of Fort Collins that rescues and cares for wolves and wolf-dogs.

The sanctuary is hosting the ninth annual Waltz for the Wolves gala on Saturday, June 1, at The Ranch in Loveland.

"We lost four structures in the (High Park) fire," said Shelley Coldiron, executive director. "We will be using the money to help with regular maintenance and recovery from the fire."

If You Go What: Waltz for the Wolves Gala
When: 5 p.m. Saturday, June 1
Where: First National Bank Exhibition Hall at The Ranch, 5280 Arena Circle, Loveland.
Cost: $50 per person or $450 table of 10.
Info: Visit or call 970-416-9531 for details.

The staff hopes to raise $40,000 to $50,000 to help rebuild structures destroyed in the 2012 High Park fire.

In the past, the organization has raised $35,000 at the event.

The evening gala will include a visit from the ambassador wolves, a dinner, entertainment and a silent and live auction.

The sanctuary now hosts 28 wolves recovered from a variety of situations. The animals live in pairs or threesomes in enclosures up to a full acre in size.

The sanctuary relies heavily on volunteers, such as corporate work groups who come in and tackle large project.

"(The wolves) usually come from neglected or abusive backgrounds," Coldiron said. She said an estimated 150,000 to 250,000 wolves are bred in captivity each year as pets.
"They do not make good pets," Coldiron said.

She added that 80 to 90 percent of these wolf-dogs are euthanized by age 2 because

Isabeau, a rescued wolf, rubs against the fence of her enclosure at the WOLF Sanctuary west of Fort Collins. Isabeau is one of 28 wolves and wolf-dog hybrids that come from troubled backgrounds who live at the sanctuary. ( Jessica Benes )
the animals become aggressive as they get older. Wolves are much smarter than dogs and get bored. When they get bored, they get destructive. The animals at the sanctuary are there for life. They never would survive in the wild because they were born in captivity, Coldiron said.

Some of the hybrids are mostly wolf, and some likely have little wolf in them, although that's a guess on each animal made by staff members because DNA tests are too expensive.

Each has its own story.

Arkte was rescued in 2006 from a private owner who kept her in a travel kennel for six years, according to animal caretaker Michelle Proulx. Authorities confiscated her because of animal abuse.

"When she came to us, she was a mess," Proulx said. "She was insanely aggressive towards people."
Cowboy was rescued in February and is likely a low- to mid-content wolf dog. His owner found him a few years ago cowering under her truck after a storm, Proulx said. He was emaciated and dehydrated. After the Humane Society took care of him for two weeks, the woman adopted Cowboy.

It took more than two years for him to trust her. When she moved to the city, she had to find him a sanctuary or euthanize him because she knew with his temperament, he wouldn't be able to handle a new and crowded environment. "He got really upset when she left. He parked himself by the fence and didn't move, just stared down the road," Proulx said.

Odin and Loki were raised at Wolf Country USA RV Park in Alaska. The owner would show visitors around the park to see more than 25 wolves on chain leashes, and for an extra fee, visitors could take a wolf pup home. Ownership of wolves had been illegal since 2002, but it wasn't until 2011 that the facility was shut down.