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Animal Intruder Mistaken for a Wolf Turns Out to Be a Lonely Dog Looking for Love

The couple now caring for Balto the husky mix believe someone may have dumped the dog near their home in California

<p>@justflintisfine/TikTok</p> Balto the husky mix, who was rescued after turning up in a California yard

@justflintisfine/TikTok

Balto the husky mix, who was rescued after turning up in a California yard

An animal who broke into a California yard looking for companionship and food found just that.

In early March, Flint spotted something strange and potentially alarming in the yard of his California home in the high desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas when he got up at 6 a.m. to tend to his chickens.

"I have to get up really early to let the chickens out. We have 12 chickens, and they demand an early rise," Flint tells PEOPLE, adding, "As I turned around to go back into the house after letting the chickens out, there was what looked just like a wolf standing on my garden wall. And he howled at us, and I lost it."

Living in the desert, Flint has had run-ins with other wild animals, so he acted fast in response to the wolf sighting, taking his dog, Stella, indoors. After "peeking through the blinds" of his house to get a better look at the "wolf," Flint realized his yard intruder was actually a dog.

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Even after realizing the critter was a canine, Flint was still cautious about approaching the dog, which he started to assume was dumped nearby or lost.

"We live half an hour from the freeway, and people come all the way out here and dump dogs," Flint explains.

Flint and his partner watched the dog, who was "hanging out by our trash cans," for a bit longer and decided the animal seemed friendly and they should extend a peace offering to the pooch.

"We're like, 'Okay, well, he is probably hungry at least.' And so we got a little bowl of dog food and some water, and he very slowly came over and just obliterated that dog food and emptied the water," Flint says.

<p>@justflintisfine/TikTok</p> Balto shortly after he arrived in Flint's yard (left) and the husky mix after he was taken in by Flint and his partner (right)

@justflintisfine/TikTok

Balto shortly after he arrived in Flint's yard (left) and the husky mix after he was taken in by Flint and his partner (right)

"After a while, he just came over and started licking our hands and leaning into us. It seemed like he wanted affection just as much as he wanted food. And so that's when we started to fall in love a little bit," he adds, noting that he and his partner started calling the dog Balto shortly after spotting the pet.

After feeding the dog a few more bowls of food and gaining the pup's trust, Flint took the canine to a local vet to get an exam and to check for a microchip.

"The vet said that he was probably between a year and two years. We think he might be even younger than that. He was intact, so he had not been fixed," Flint says of what the vet found.

"He had an injury on his paw. He'd gotten bruised or nicked. He might've gotten hit by a car or swiped or something. And he had a small infection on his belly. So it didn't look like he had been out on his own for months. But he'd definitely been having a rough time for at least a week or so."

The vet also didn't find a microchip. So after searching around their area for a potential pet parent that might've lost Balto and turning up with nothing, Flint and his partner decided to take in the dog, who joined the couple's two cats, Tugboat and Submarine, nine chickens, two roosters and their other dog Stella.

The couple is still looking for missing dog posters and social media posts with Balto's picture in case an owner does come forward, but they are also prepared to love and care for Balto as their forever pet. Flint documented Balto's arrival story on TikTok, where the post received over 3.4 million views.

While Flint suspects Balto was dumped nearby, he doesn't hold any ill will against any of the dog's potential past owners.

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"You just don't know what circumstances someone came from or why something happened. And so if he ran away, or if he was dumped, or if a family just didn't know how to take care of him, those people still deserve compassion the same way that he does," he says.

Balto is getting plenty of compassion at Flint's house. The dog recently went on his first camping trip with his new family, where he "really, really enjoyed being outside, chasing squirrels up trees and sitting by us by the fire."

Related: Baby Hedgehog Rescued by 'Well-Meaning' Woman Turns Out to Be a Pom-Pom

Flint is looking forward to an exciting future with Balto, an energetic husky mix, and hopes the dog's story inspires others to offer time and kindness to those seeking it out.

"My partner and I both understand what it feels like to be too much to love, too much work, too much energy, too much hassle for other people. And so that's one of the reasons why it was so easy for us to take in Balto," Flint says. "And what I hope people get from Balto's story is that no animal, no person is too much to love or is too much work to be worthwhile."

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