Peta (pronounced PAY-tah) arrived at the Sanctuary as a 12-week-old terrified bundle of fluff in June 1999 with his siblings Makoce (Mah-co-chay) and Tate (TAH-tay). They had been saved from a horrible breeding situation by a rescue in New Mexico when they were only four weeks old (earning them the nickname “The New Mex Pups” which in later years resulted in much confusion among new volunteers). Originally part of a litter of five, all of the pups were extremely malnourished and so full of parasites they were close to death. As they were treated and their health began to improve, the rescue contacted W.O.L.F. to see if we had space for Peta and two of his siblings. We said yes. Peta arrived healthy but extremely scared of people and his aggressive fear biting had already earned him the nickname “Snapper”. Because of this it was decided to place him and his siblings with an adult female who had recently had a litter of pups before she was surrendered to W.O.L.F. Peta lived with Whisper and his siblings until they turned two years old. At this point, his sister had decided she was done listening to “Mom” and began fighting with Whisper. Peta, of course, chose to side with Makoce and Whisper was removed from the group.
Peta remained with his siblings for the rest of his life. He was always the most reserved of the three and would chuff and bark at his caretakers when they entered his enclosure. Well into his old age, Peta was agile and difficult to get close to. There were many occasions where staff simply had to give up on trying to catch him after spending hours trying to coax and herd him into a corner or kennel. On the few occasions staff managed to catch him up for a vet exam, everyone had to be careful not to get within biting distance, as Peta never did outgrow his tendency to bite.
Like his brother, Peta developed some issues with arthritis in his back end. Unlike his brother, who would come to the fence for treats, Peta had to have his meds thrown to him. This was often a source of great frustration to staff, as Peta seemed to develop a sixth sense about the medications and with unnerving accuracy look away just as the med treat was airborne and miss seeing where it would land. Makoce, on the other hand, had no problems tracking the treat’s movements through the air and staff regularly found themselves scrambling to recover the treat before she did. Peta had no issues with treats that did not have meds in them, however.
In February of 2015, staff noticed a slight disfigurement on the side of Peta’s face. Within a week, it had doubled in size and just kept getting bigger. Because he was so difficult to handle, photos were taken and sent to W.O.L.F.’s veterinarians to assess possible causes. Two possibilities came back: a tooth root abscess (which could be treated with antibiotics) or cancer. We decided to try the less invasive treatment first in hopes it would clear up with the help of some antibiotics and pain meds. Unfortunately, after a week of treatment, there was no sign improvement. If anything, it was still getting worse. Still hoping for the best, it was decided to catch him up and bring him in for x-rays and surgery.
At the vet hospital, what we learned broke everyone’s hearts. We were dealing with an extremely aggressive, fast growing bone cancer that had within only a few weeks destroyed most of the right side of his upper jaw and nasal cavity. The only possible treatment would be to remove the affected area followed by extensive radiation or chemo. There is no way we could put him through that kind of pain, so the decision was made to help him pass. Peta was a wild spirit to the end, one we will always treasure and miss.