All those stunning, yet untamable animals from the wild that we only get to observe from the distance create at humans sort of fascination and a hidden need to approach closer and learn more of them.
Wolfs are definitely one of those animals that speak fear and even aggression. But is it really like that? Or we don’t even give some species the chance to prove us otherwise?
Wildlife photographer, Nick Jans had us thinking when he filmed the incredible encounter between his Labrador and a wolf that paid them a visit at their backyard in Juneau, Alaska back in 2003.
Nick had tracked and photographed wolves for years and he knew that this one was a wild one. At one moment, he got really concerned for the safety of his dog, but in the next, he saw both the animals playing together.
He couldn’t believe his eyes and rushed to grab his camera and put the incredible moment on tape.
The wold then ran into the wilderness, and just as Nick thought it was a one time occasion for such an animal to get around humans and dogs, the wolf returned the following day.
“This wolf was downright relaxed and tolerant from the start, as if he had dropped out of the sky like a unicorn,” the photographer told National Geographic.
This unlike friendship flourished throughout the years and Nick made sure he documented the encounters he found to be beyond fascinating.
Over time, many of the town’s residents learned of the friendly wolf, and although they didn’t trust him at first, they soon realized this incredible ‘wild beast’ was not an ordinary one.
Now that this wolf became known by everyone in the area, Nick even gave him a name, Romeo. People were eager for their dogs to meet Romeo and play with him so they would often take them to the Mendenhall Glacier Park.
Incredibly enough, Romeo loved being around humans too, so whenever he would found someone who wasn’t afraid of him, he would simply approach closer.
“The wolf would bring out toys that he’d stashed. One was a Styrofoam float. Romeo would pick it up and bring it to [my friend] Harry to throw. He clearly understood the same sort of behaviors that we see in dogs,” Nick said.
“The amazing thing was Romeo’s understanding. It wasn’t just our understanding and tolerance. It was the combination of his and ours and the dogs. We were these three species working out how to get along harmoniously. And we did,” said Nick.
Romeo lived around the area of Juneau for six years. He still is an example that humans and wild animals can live in perfect harmony.
“He was a pure wild wolf, not a pet, as some suggested, that had been released, because then he would have been coming to us for food. He was his own gatekeeper and came and went as he pleased. Sometimes he disappeared for weeks. He clearly was catching and eating wild food with great skill,” explained Nick.
Sadly, after six years, Romeo died and left the whole community heartbroken. Everyone, including those who were scared of him, were deeply saddened by the loss of such an incredible animal.
“The average life span of a wolf in the wild is three years. Romeo was already full grown when he showed up, and then he lived among us for six-plus more years. So he was at least eight years old at the time of his death,” Nick says.
People wanted to honor him for the love and the trust he gave them so they dedicated a memorial to him and placed it near the lake that he loved spending his days at.
This amazing story speaks of the beauty of nature better than anything else.