I am…quiet, shy, wise. A strong yet gentle companion, having overcome obstacles from blindness to the loss of my pack.

I am Rocky.

Rocky was born on May 1, 2001, in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in New Mexico—a breeding success story, as this was the first endangered Mexican gray wolf litter to be born in New Mexico in decades. Unfortunately, the story was about to take a dramatic turn.

Due to a drought, the den area that his wild-born mother chose did not have access to water. To make matters worse, her mate and his brother had abandoned the pack, and radio collar signals revealed that the mother had not left the den for days.

By the time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service arrived, Rocky’s sister was already dead, and he was severely dehydrated and malnourished. He and his mom needed help. Fast.

His “rocky” start to life had left him with a rear knee infection, severe anemia, intestinal problems and parasites, as well as severe nutritional cataracts. It took blood transfusions and special care to save him.

When he was stable, Rocky was flown to the Endangered Wolf Center. Here he was placed with his great-grandfather, Francisco, and another special pup, Anna. Francisco was a wonderful surrogate father for Rocky, and Anna and Rocky quickly became bonded littermates, playing together most of the day.

With lots of care from the staff at the Endangered Wolf Center and the emotional companionship of other wolves, Rocky became healthy enough to undergo surgery for his nutritional cataracts. Unfortunately, his surgery was not able to help his eyesight. He is blind in one eye and can see only light and dark shadows in the other, making him unable to be returned safely to the wild.

Today Rocky serves as an ambassador to his species, reminding us that being wild is hard. Yet despite the tremendous challenges life has thrown at him, his spirit remains unwaveringly strong. And that’s one of the many things that makes Rocky our hero.

Rocky is a wonderful wolf to adopt on behalf of yourself or someone who understands what it’s like to have life throw hardships and challenges our way, yet to keep moving forward with grace and strength.