Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Joanne Strinka

Joanne Strinka, 53, had a fondness for wolves

ST. PETERSBURG — From the time a friend gave her a wolf hybrid puppy, Joanne Strinka was hooked. She cared for the animal, visiting it at a veterinarian's office until it was healthy enough to take home.

Like many of the other wolf dogs that would cross her path, Nikki came to Ms. Strinka ill nourished and needing medical attention.

Ms. Strinka would become president of Lost Wolf Rescue, a nonprofit organization that places abused or abandoned wolves or wolf dogs in homes throughout the country. She told friends she believed wolves can teach humans important lessons, such as compassion and forgiveness.

"It was always about the animals with her," said Sandy Topper, vice president of Lost Wolf Rescue. "It was not about her own ego. It was not about getting a pat on the back."

Most of the animals placed by the organization have both wolf and dog parentage, with the latter coming from German shepherd, malamute or husky breeds.

For the last three years, Ms. Strinka had visited Nocono, a white wolf dog with a long snout and amber eyes. She wanted to place the animal, which was staying in an overcrowded North Carolina shelter. When authorities closed the shelter in August, Ms. Strinka and a friend drove there to move Nocono, who is now happily relocated in North Florida.

A St. Petersburg native, Ms. Strinka attended local schools. Around 2007 she was laid off from a mechanic's job she had held for more than 20 years. She smoked cigarettes and had a husky voice.

Wolf dogs differ from domestic dogs, experts say, and present unique challenges. They can be difficult to house train and can chew furniture. Ms. Strinka replaced her furniture a couple of times while raising Nikki and Shaman, another wolf dog.

"When you say 'wolf' to people, you get varying degrees of response," said Kim Kapes, a rescuer. "Some people think it's really cool, and others shudder because of the stereotype."

Doctors diagnosed Ms. Strinka with lung cancer in 2009. By the time she traveled to North Carolina to move Nocono to Florida, the cancer had spread to her bones. As she dozed in a Woodside Hospice bed on Saturday, Topper touched her shoulder.

"Nocono is here," she said. "Do you want to see him?"

Handlers led the white wolf dog they had secretly brought from North Florida to Ms. Strinka, who had awakened fully.

"She was burying her hands in his beautiful white fur and saying, 'My boy, my boy,' " Topper said. "He was kissing her arm. I told her he was coming to say, 'Thank you.' " Ms. Strinka died Monday. She was 53.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or


Joanne Sue Strinka

Born: Sept. 18, 1957.

Died: Oct. 18, 2010.

Survivors: Father and stepmother Karl and Dorothy Strinka; sister Carol Adams; stepbrother John Metzger; stepsisters Stephanie Toth and Shellie Snyder; and one nephew.

Joanne Strinka, 53, had a fondness for wolves 10/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  2. Man injured when small helicopter crashes into Odessa home


    ODESSA — A small manned helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County on Monday, injuring a pilot, officials said.

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  3. State investigation cites multiple failures in death of Largo child


    LARGO — It was sweltering in the bedroom of the Largo mobile home the day a child welfare case manager visited in July.

    Liz Rutenbeck, 24, poses with her son William in a Facebook photo. Baby William Hendrickson IV died while his mother was in jail after police said his father left ihim in a sweltering room.  A state investigation into the boy's death found multiple failures on the part of the child welfare system.
  4. 'Siesta Key' star punched in face, not sure who did it


    TAMPA —Alex Kompothecras, cast member on MTV's reality show "Siesta Key," tells police he was punched in the face outside a bar in Tampa's SoHo district.

    Alex Kompothecras, Juliette Porter, Pauly Apostolides, Madisson Hausburg, Chloe Trautman, Garrett Miller, Kelsey Owens and Brandon Gomes pose for a photo in Siesta Key in June before the debut of the MTV reality series Siesta Key. [
EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Editorial: Senate health care bill would be disastrous for Florida


    The frantic effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with something — anything — ranks raw politics over sound policy and threatens the health care of millions of Floridians. It is a desperate attempt to declare victory by shifting responsibility from the federal government …

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks in August in Doral.