Dog And Wolf Stare At One Another, The Wolf's Actions Changes Their Lives Forever
Kristin Danley 6/7/2017
When former hunter turned wildlife photographer Nick Jans had a chance encounter behind his Juneau, Alaska, home with a beautiful jet black wolf, not only did his life change, but so did that of the wild animal and the entire community.
Nick had an inkling that the wolf was wandering around the outskirts of Juneau near their lake home after he'd spied its tracks in the snow. When he looked out his back window and saw the wolf standing majestically on the frozen lake one day, he slipped on his skis and headed out to find him.
When people in town learned about the wolf roaming around, they initially were fearful. It is well known in areas where wolves prowl that they will attack dogs, even killing and eating them. Wolves run in packs and the alpha male is in charge, protecting its pack from perceived danger.
But oddly enough, Nick's yellow Labrador Juliet went nose to nose when she and the wolf first met. Nick watched helplessly as the wolf closed in on his pet dog. What happened next is unbelievable.
They actually got along great with the wolf even flirting as a wild male animal would do. Nick's wife was concerned about their dog interacting with the wolf regularly and referred to him as a "Romeo," so the name stuck.
More and more people around town accepted Romeo and began allowing their dogs around him. Romeo would even follow people when they went out skiing, seemingly seeking companionship like a dog would. But Nick told National Geographic that Romeo was still very much a wild animal despite his interest in associating with local canines and people.
"He was a pure wild wolf. He was 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."
In fact, Romeo's relationship with others drew outsiders into town who wanted to watch him interact with their own dogs and to see this animal close up. To an extent, Romeo allowed the strangers to be in his general vicinity, but no closer than 100 yards or so. Nick told National Geographic that Romeo would even play with other dogs and humans.
"Romeo was an unbelievably playful animal. He would run into the middle of a game of fetch and steal the tennis ball, run off with it, throw it up in the air and bat it with his paws."
In fact, one of Nick's local friends, Harry Robinson, would be approached by the wolf for some playtime interaction. Romeo would drag out toys that he'd stashed away just to play fetch with Harry. It was incredible to watch.
Nick turned his adventures with Romeo and the relationship between the wild wolf and the town of Juneau into a book titled A Wolf Called Romeo. While the average lifespan of a wolf in the wild is three years, Romeo lived approximately eight years until one day, he was discovered deceased. There are times where Nick will be reading from his book at public gatherings and must pause to wipe away his tears, because the experience was so touching, so moving, he told National Geographic.
"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."
The town collectively mourned the loss of this beautiful and mystical creature. City officials created a plaque in Romeo's honor that they installed by the lake where he used to interact with the locals. What an amazing tale of two completely polar opposite creatures peacefully interacting! Everyone could learn a life lesson from Romeo and the townspeople of Juneau.