Female High-Content Wolfdog
Arya joined the Big Pack in the Sky on February 8th, 2022.
She was assisted at 16 years old due to quality of life concerns.

Arya’s exact date of birth is unknown, but is estimated to be in 2005. She was rescued in 2012 when she was approximately 4 years old, and like the rest of her family, was born into horrible conditions at a breeding facility in Iowa. The original owner/breeder had passed away after a lengthy illness, and her surviving family was having a difficult time caring for the 12 high-content wolfdogs that she left behind. The breeder had kept her wolfdogs in 10′ x 20′ cages, some with up to three animals. The cages had cement or plywood floors and only 6-foot-high wire ceilings.

After the breeder died, no one ever went into the cages and the poor wolfdogs never went outside. The small enclosures were cleaned with a hose from outside, and years of waste had collected in piles around the edges. No one remembered their names, or how they were related. They were not spayed and neutered, so each year more puppies were born. None of them ever survived.

A family friend stepped in to try to help take care of the animals and called everyone he thought might be able to help. Unfortunately, no one was able or willing to take on so many animals. Luckily, he didn’t give up and finally called Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. We immediately prepared to make our first trip to Iowa to assess the situation, but before we arrived, the oldest male of the 12 had passed away.

During the assessment trip, we quickly saw how serious the situation was for the remaining 11 wolfdogs. Wanting to help any way they could, the family generously offered all of their chain link fencing and hardware to help with the building of the Iowa Rescue habitats. Before leaving to return home, Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary staff loaded Cassie, the oldest female wolfdog, into the van and took her to Canyon Crossroad Vet Hospital. She received an extensive exam and the immediate care she needed, and then she came home to rest in safety at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. Cassie passed away in the winter of 2012.

In September of 2012, Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary staff went back to Iowa to rescue the remaining 10 wolf-dogs, known as the Iowa 10. At midnight, on September 17th, the Iowa 10 stepped foot onto the soil in their new habitats at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. It was the first time they had felt the earth beneath their feet in at least three years! Vet visits revealed they were malnourished, heartworm positive, and had brittle bones and teeth. Due to their age and poor health, we chose not to have some of the Iowa girls spayed, but the boys were all neutered (neutering is often an easier, less invasive procedure with significantly lower risk for the animal). All of the Iowa 10 were given proper medication for their many health issues, put on a healthy diet, and finally received the care they needed. After 3 years with no space to run, they all ran a bit oddly at first, but with time they adjusted to their new life and home. They all became much stronger and healthier, although they have had some drama due to shifting pack dynamics and further health issues.

In the summer of 2013, George R. R. Martin’s wife, Parris McBride-Martin, named all of the Iowa kids after GRRM’s characters from his well-known book series, Game of Thrones. The Iowa 10 were then known as The Westeros Pack, which includes: Shae, Shaggydog, Jon Snow, Summer, Beric Dondarrion, Ghost, Brienne, Arya, Nymeria and Lady.​ The Martins visited often, and Mr. Martin loaned his star power to a fund-raiser to build them a brand new habitat! With Mr. Martin’s help, we raised $150,000 to build larger habitats for this deserving family.



Arya came a long way since her arrival at Wild Spirit. She was not social, but she steadily became more comfortable with people, even occasionally allowing chin scratches! However, her default was still to stalk her Caretakers around her habitat while they cleaned, keeping a careful eye on them and everything they were doing.


Arya originally lived with four other rescues from Iowa: Brienne, Lady, Nymeria, and Ghost. She lived alone when Ghost passed, and after being separated from her sisters due to fighting, but in 2017 she moved in with her neighbor, Nakota. They got along well until Nakota joined the Big Pack in the Sky on April 25th, 2018. She lived the last portion of her life happily with her new friend, Chirakowa.

Likes & Dislikes

Arya enjoyed followed her Caretakers, and scentrolling on anything that smelled interesting.

Arya didn’t like when her companion received all the attention, but she also disliked when all of her Caretaker’s attention was directly on her. Picky, picky.

Fun Facts

Arya’s bottom canines stuck out so we could always recognize her by her uniquely lovely smile. Arya was part of our Westeros pack, and true to her name sake, was a survivor! She and Brienne were the last of our Westeros pack, living to 16 and 18 respectively.

Share your Memories of Arya Below!


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