A heartbreaking viral video that has amassed over 9 million views is proving that grief is just as real for animals as it is for humans. Wiley the wolf had always been close to his human companion, Gladys, and when she passed away, his grief was hard to disguise. The video shows the grieving dog lying on Gladys’s tombstone, whimpering as a family friend kneels and comforts him. The friends says, with compassion, “We miss her too.”
Sarah Varley, Gladys’s granddaughter, posted the video to her YouTube account, “Sarah and the Wolves.” She explained that Wiley is one of the service wolf-dogs that help veterans returning to the community after war cope with the debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. The Lockwood Animal Rescue Center, in Ventura County, California, provides shelter for the wolf-dogs, alongside horses.
Sarah posted her very first YouTube video back in April of 2013. She describes Wiley’s video as “a beautiful, lasting legacy for my grandma,” and goes on to explain that the money she has earned from YouTube has allowed her to work, and stay, at the wolf sanctuary without having to demand a pay check. This is “huge,” she says, as the sanctuary needs all the funds it can get for the upkeep of their sheltered animals.
Sarah’s cousins opened the sanctuary in 2010. At the time, Sarah was herself struggling with PTSD, including panic attacks and night terrors, and was finding it hard to get through each day. “When I walked into the enclosure with the wolves,” Sarah says, “it all melted away.”
“Wolves are beautiful, strong, big animals,” she continues, “and when you’re with them, it’s breathtaking.” The first wolf in Sarah’s care was a troubled animal that had been kept on a 6-foot chain as part of a roadside zoo his entire life. By showing compassion for the wolf, Sarah realized that she too deserved the same level of patience, respect, and love.
A pharmacy technician by trade, Sarah has devoted years to working in wolf rehabilitation. Sarah and her fiance, Matt, intend to open their own sanctuary in the near future.
LARC also posted the touching video of Wiley the wolf’s emotional visit to Gladys’s tombstone on their website, and described Gladys as “a family member, and a supporter” of their center. “She will be forever missed, especially by Wiley,” they added.
Amid concerns that Wiley’s emotional display was actually a sign of his own sickness, Sarah replied: “I promise he’s not [dying]. We have a veterinarian on staff at the sanctuary and Wiley is just fine.”
Sarah reinforced that she believed Wiley was grieving for his beloved, elderly friend. “I may be anthropomorphizing,” she offered, “but it’s how I’m choosing to deal with loss.”
Wiley crying over grandma 😢Credit: JukinVideo
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The widespread response to Wiley’s video on YouTube has changed Sarah’s life; not to mention, it keeps her grandmother’s legacy thriving. “There’s no way for me to say thank you for that,” Sarah says. “I’m forever in your debt, and forever grateful.”
This viral video has received more than 3,000 comments.
One user who related to the video wrote: “i had to take my father’s dog to his funeral. he started shedding tears and quivering, hyperventilating like this. even though it was closed casket, he knew who was in it. animals are intelligent, emotionally as well as mentally.”
Another one commented, “It just shows how loyal dogs really are and how they care so much.”
“This hit me right in the heart man. This was so emotional the dog could barely take it it was heartbreaking,” a third one chimed in.
Have you seen the video of Wiley grieving at his dearly departed friend’s graveside? Show your support for the service wolves, the sanctuary, and Sarah’s years of hard work by sharing this touching article.