HOLMBERG: Perhaps the ‘white wolf’ of Chesterfield mystery is solved

Posted at 1:51 AM, Dec 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-19 01:52:45-05

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR)--The minute we starting posting and airing photos Tuesday evening of a wolflike creature ranging through a large section of southern Chesterfield County, we started getting calls, emails and Facebook postings.

Lots of folks have seen what many have called a  white wolf. Others believe it to be just a big shepherd, husky mix.

According to Chesterfield County Animal Control, there is a large white canine that is ghosting through the area.

“He or she is really trucking, so to speak,” said Rob Leinberger with Chesterfield Animal Control. It has been seen from the area just south of the Courthouse to Whitehouse Road, almost to Colonial Heights.

We were sent photos and well-wishes for the mysterious ranger, including those who believed the animal to be a good omen – a positive spirit, “a lucky wolf’ that should be hunted with cameras only.

And we heard from animal lovers ripping us for even doing the story, certain someone was going to overreact and harm the hound or hunt it for sport.

We heard from a woman who is certain the canine is her beloved lost Siberian husky, but that MIA dog has one blue and one brown eye.

The white rover appears to have yellowish brown eyes.

And we heard all the way from Boise, Idaho, from a mountain man who believes the white wolf is his hybrid – one of three that escaped in Chesterfield during a thunderstorm here three and a half years ago, when he was here visiting a badly burned relative.

The other two hybrids were located.

“But Dooley was nowhere to be found,” said Robert Clanton, who grew up in Chesterfield.  “And I searched, God, for three weeks. Looking for that dog all over southern Chesterfield County”

He even returned to Chesterfield from Idaho to search again when the missing wolfdog was reportedly spotted some weeks later. His brother, a local resident, also called us, telling the same story.

Clanton says Dooley, who had yellowish-brown eyes,  would be about 10 years old and “about 60 percent gray wolf and the rest a mix of Siberian husky and white German shepherd. He said he would come to Richmond in a minute if the white wolf is his dog.

Could someone have taken it in when he lost it , then recently tired of it? Huskies and hybrids are notorious escape artists and roamers.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Chesterfield Animal Control hasn’t heard from a resident reporting such a creature as missing. One resident known to keep similar wolfdogs isn’t missing any of his, Leinberger said.

Is the mysterious Chester roamer Dooley? Or some other critter than has escaped from home? Or a  high-maintenance pet someone dumped?

Leinberger said they’ve received plenty of calls about the creature. Animal control officers have been trying to capture it, like any roving  canine, but the closest they’ve come is about 15 or 20 feet. “This animal has wanted no parts of us and simply just takes off.”

He said their crew believes it to be a mixed husky/shepherd, perhaps a hybrid.

But the precise origin and bloodlines of this creature remains as slippery as it is.

Wolves fled this man-infested part of the country more than a century ago. If it is wolf or part-wolf, it was likely a human behind its appearance here in the Old Dominion.

We spoke with residents who have seen it  just loafing around their yards or neighborhoods, or heard it howling at night. It seems friendly to other dogs and is just kind of drifting around.

Common observations are its abnormally large size and its distinctive, wolf-like lope. Clanton said the way the hound’s tail curls is a “dead-ringer” for old Dooley.

“We’ve had no indication that this animal has been aggressive or acted aggressively at all,” Leinberger said. He said anyone shooting the dog would be breaking the law.

They’re not overly alarmed at animal control when it comes to this long-distance loper.

They’ll even roll with a little ribbing about the mystery canine that has eluded them, seemingly bringing a little holiday cheer to a lot of folks cheering on the White Wolf of Chesterfield.

I think many of us admire the spirit of the wolf, and would like to do a little roaming ourselves in  a world that seems evermore tightly controlled and pressurized.