Wolves are gorgeous creatures. Even though they look like sweet, friendly dogs, it's important to remember that wolves are wild animals. These aren't creatures that you can just cuddle up to. You have to give them their space.
In 2004, Nick Jans, an Alaskan wildlife photographer, was taking his dog for a walk in the snow. That's when he came across a huge wolf just outside his home. Nick was afraid that the wolf might hurt his dog or someone else, but what happened next took everybody by surprise.
A Wolf Came Out Of Nowhere
Back in 2004, Nick Jans was sitting on his porch in Alaska with his dog Dakotah by his side. While Nick was admiring the Alaskan landscape, a large black wolf came out from behind the trees and stood in front of Nick's home.
Before Nick could even react, his dog Dakotah went running straight toward the wild animal. Either she thought the wolf was another dog who wanted to play, or she was preparing to defend her master from this fierce predator.
A Canine Face Off
At first, Nick was terrified. He was afraid that this wolf was going to hurt Dakotah. He wasn't sure what to do as the dog inched closer to the huge black wolf. Then, something happened that Nick never saw coming.
Dakotah and the wolf started playing with each other just like they were old friends. Once Nick was sure that Dakotah was safe, he ran inside to grab his camera. Then he snapped this photo.
A Name For The Wolf
Nick noticed that the wolf liked to hang around his area. The wolf would often stop by to reunite with his friend, Dakotah. Nick thought that this wolf needed a name, so after giving it some thought, he decided to name the wolf Romeo.
Even though Romeo seemed friendly, Nick understood that this was a wild animal. He always watched closely when Romeo and Dakotah were playing and he never got too close to Romeo.
The Other Neighborhood Dogs Eventually Met Romeo Too
A short while after Romeo met Dakotah and played with her, he made his way over to Mendenhall Glacier Park to see what the dogs over there were up to. Romeo would go there often to run around with the local dogs.
Dakotah must have given Romeo the confidence to meet other canine friends. Now Romeo was the life of the party. He loved playing and wrestling with a whole bunch of dogs.
People Warmed Up To Him Rather Quickly
At first, people at the park were quite wary of a large, wild wolf in their midst. Some visitors thought that the wolf might hurt them or their pets, but when they saw how gentle Romeo was and how nicely he played with the other dogs, most of their worries went away.
Even though Romeo was much larger than even the largest dogs at Mendenhall Glacier Park, people soon realized that Romeo was only there to have a good time.
The Dogs Accepted His Presence
Some of the dogs at the park were a little skeptical of Romeo. After all, he does look pretty intimidating. Some of the dogs were hesitant to play with Romeo at first, but just like the humans at the park, they quickly warmed up to him.
Romeo just wanted to make some new friends. Clearly, he was starving for social interaction. Perhaps he was separated from his pack and he was looking for a new one.
Romeo Behaved Just Like A Big Dog
Romeo made human friends as well as dog friends. In an interview, Nick said, "he would bring out toys that he’d stashed" and bring them to the people at the park. He was doing everything he could to win the favor of these Alaskan residents.
He just wanted to be accepted by the people and the animals around him. Nick was confident that Romeo was not a threat to people or to dogs.
He Liked To Play Fetch
Nick went into further detail about the items that Romeo would bring to the people at the park. He said, "One was a Styrofoam float. Romeo would pick it up and bring it to [my friend] Harry to throw."
Maybe Romeo was watching all of the other dogs play fetch and he wanted to get in on the action. Maybe this is just innate canine behavior. Apparently, dogs both big and small like to chase after flying objects.
Romeo Seemed Almost Like He Was Part Dog
Even though Romeo clearly wasn't a domesticated dog, he displayed a lot of the same behaviors that dogs do. Nick added that Romeo "clearly understood the same sort of behaviors that we see in dogs."
Romeo had been around dogs long enough to understand how they play and how they interact. Even though he was not the same species as Dakotah or the other dogs at the park, he fit right in.
A Man, A Wolf, And A Dog
So there they were in the Alaskan wilderness: a man, a dog, and a wolf. Nick couldn't help but take in how special the experience was, of all three of them enjoying the land, playing, and getting along peacefully.
Nick explained, "we were these three species working out how to get along harmoniously. And we did." It's not often that we read about situations like this, and Nick embraced the rare experience.
Romeo Felt Right At Home
Romeo sort of lived with Nick and Dakotah for a long time. Of course, he never actually moved into their house. He is still a wild animal, after all. But he did frequently visit the pair over the course of the next six years.
If you had traveled to Mendenhall Glacier Park between the years 2004 and 2009, you would see a lone black wolf playing with the dogs at the dog park.
Romeo Connected The Community With The Wilderness
Eventually, Romeo not only earned the community's trust, but became a fixture in it. The local residents, both those with dogs and others who came to the park to see the wolf everyone was talking about were in awe of the beautiful animal.
The community enjoyed the fact that they could trust a wild animal, and he trusted them back. For the locals, Romeo was an important symbol that they could be one with the land and wildlife around them.
People Went To The Lake Just To See Romeo
As Romeo's popularity grew, locals visited the lake where he liked to hang out with the other dogs just to see the wolf. The situation came a long way from when everyone was initially (and understandably) freaked out about the presence of the wolf around their dogs.
Still, at first sight, many who hadn't heard about Romeo were freaked out about a wolf who wanted to play with their family dog.
Some Visitors Were Nervous
While all of the locals knew that Romeo was harmless, some of the visitors were anxious about being so close to a wild animal. It's difficult to put all of your trust into a wolf, especially a wolf as big and as strong as Romeo.
There are so many stories and folktales about "big bad wolves." In reality, wolves aren't bad at all. They're just living their lives according to insticnt.
All Good Things Come To An End
Romeo "was downright relaxed and tolerant from the start," Nick said, “as if he had dropped out of the sky like a unicorn.” Romeo had built friendships with all kinds of dogs, from border collies, to laboradors, to poodles.
Unfortunately, some friendships aren't built to last forever. Eventually, everything has its end point. Romeo's time at Mendenhall Glacier Park was coming to a close. Romeo was about to suffer a fate similar to his namesake.
A Tragedy Of Shakespearean Proportions
Romeo was named after a figure in a Shakespearean tragedy, and sadly, he too would suffer a tragic end. In 2009 Tragically, in 2009, Romeo was shot and killed by hunters.
Everyone who lived around Mendenhall Glacier Park felt the immense loss of a dear friend. The residents of Juneau decided to have a memorial service for Romeo, and they even had a plaque made in his memory. This lone wolf turned pack animal will never be forgotten.
A Fitting Tribute
That plaque is still standing in Juneau. If you ever travel to Alaska, you should visit the place where Romeo once roamed. The residents of that beautiful city plan on keeping the plaque up for years to come.
On the plaque are the words: "Romeo 2003-2009. The spirit of Juneau's friendly black wolf lives on in this wild place." There's an image of Romeo on the plaque right above the inscription.
He'll Live On Forever In Their Hearts
Even though Romeo isn't around anymore, he made a lasting impression on all of the residents of Juneau. Nick enjoyed getting to know Romeo, and he's pretty sure Dakotah enjoyed being his friend too.
Even though Romeo was a wild animal, he was one of the friendliest animals that Nick had ever met. Even though hunting is sometimes necessary, Romeo wasn't shot for food. Let's all be more aware of the damage we're doing to this planet and all of its beautiful creatures.
Romeo's Story Will Persist
Shortly after Romeo passed away, Nick documented his relationship with his dear animal friend in a book called A Wolf Called Romeo. If you want to know more about how Romeo got along with the people and dogs of Juneau, definitely pick up a copy of Nick's book.
Alaska is an incredible place that's full of stories about animals bonding with human beings. Not too far from where Nick lives, a woman had her very own wild encounter...
Another Alaska Resident Who Ran Into Some Wildlife
Pam Aus lives in Unalaska, Alaska. Part of the reason that she chose to live there was because of the vast array of animal species she could see right from her front porch. Pam was used to seeing wildlife around her home.
She often saw caribou passing through, and rabbits and hares also made frequent appearances. Pam couldn't imagine living anywhere else. She loved her country home and all of the animals that lived around her.
Could It Be A New Animal Visitor?
One day, Pam heard strange noises coming from right outside her house that she didn't quite recognize. She assumed that an animal must have been making all of that noise, but she didn't know for sure. She was just hoping it wasn't an intruder.
Still, Pam was curious about the noise, so she walked towards it cautiously. If it was an animal, she didn't want to startle it or cause it to attack her.
Pam Decided To Investigate
Pam decided to move closer to where the sound was coming from. She realized all the commotion was coming from right on her front porch. She started to look towards her porch to see if she could figure out who or what was moving around out there.
Initially, she moved very slowly just in case it was an intruder. She didn't want to attract any attention to herself. Pam was a little bit nervous.
Nothing Seemed Unusual At First
When she got to her porch, the first thing she saw was her cat, Gizmo. Gizmo was totally allowed to be on the porch, so nothing about that was out of the ordinary. Gizmo spent time both indoors and outdoors.
For a second, Pam thought that it was Gizo making all of that noise, but she kept hearing the sound even though Gizmo was sitting still. It must be some other kind of creature.
Gizmo Wasn't Fazed At All
Pam looked at Gizmo and Gizmo looked at Pam and then Gizmo went right back to minding his own business. He obviously wasn't what was behind all of that noise. But if it wasn't Gizmo, what was it?
Pam had another cat. Maybe that cat was making that weird sound. But it wasn't a sound that Pam had ever heard her cats make before. She was thinking that it was probably some other kind of animal.
Where Was The Second Cat?
Pam's other cat is named Suitcase, which is the best name for a cat maybe ever. At first, Pam couldn't find Suitcase anywhere. Suitcase and Gizmo usually stayed close together, but on this day, Suitcase was nowhere to be found.
Maybe it really was suitcase behind all of that noise— but then Suitcase suddenly jumped onto the porch. With both of the cats accounted for, Pam still wasn't sure what was making all of that sound.
Will This Mystery Ever Get Solved?
The noises were starting to die down and it seemed like Pam was alone with her cats who liked to lounge in the snow. Pam had no idea who or what was causing all of the commotions earlier, but for now, everything seemed to be pretty calm in Unalaska, Alaska.
Pam was starting to think that she'd never figure out what all the fuss was about. She was ready to just forget the whole thing.
Something She Missed The First Time
Pam was ready to go back inside when Gizmo got up and walked toward the other side of the porch. That's when Pam saw something she missed the first time she searched her porch. There was a huge, gorgeous bald eagle just sitting on the ledge around her home.
Pam had seen bald eagles in Alaska before, but she had never seen one this close to her before. The sight of it took her breath away.
Pam Stopped And Stared
Pam was in complete awe. She didn't dare move a muscle because she didn't want to scare away the creature. She just wanted to look at it for a while and snap a few pictures of it sitting on her porch.
Then she remembered that eagles like to eat mammals that are about the size of her cats. This eagle had awfully big talons, and he was getting pretty close to Gizmo.
The Eagle Wasn't Alone
Gizmo did't seem to mind the eagle's presence. Neither did suitcase. Pam was pretty sure that the eagle wouldn't try to scoop up either of her cats (who were actually pretty chunky, and likely too heavy for an eagle to carry away.
Then Pam looked around and she saw a second bald eagle on the lamppost at the end of her driveway. Pam couldn't believe that she was seeing two bald eagles in one day.
What's This? Another Visitor?
All of a sudden, Pam heard a rustling noise that was different from the noise she heard earlier. When she turned around, she saw that a red, fluffy fox was walking right onto her front porch. Pam's house was turning into Noah's Ark! She was half expecting there to be a second fox lurking in the distance.
Pam posted about this encounter on social media. She wrote,"Our fox and eagles and cats basically get along just fine here. They aren't always out to attack and kill each other.” We can all learn something from these interspecies friendships. If cats and eagles and foxes and dogs and wolves can get along, so can we.
It Started With A Boat
Mallory Harrigan, Cliff Russell, and Allan Russell always loved going fishing together. The trio loved it so much that they even bought a boat together to start their own commercial fishing business.
Living in Canada, they knew what kind of fish they could catch and what the local markets and restaurants would be interested in buying. What they didn't know was what to expect when they began hitting the waters everyday in hopes of a good haul.
More Than Just A Business
Cliff, Mallory, and Allan were more than just business partners. They were friends, and they would help each other during the longest days and hardest times. Their new business could have tested that friendship, but it never did.
Every day, after hours on the sea, they would come home with new bumps and bruises on their bodies. No one would complain, and no one would quit. They loved each other and were always excited to show up for the job the next day.
That Fateful Morning
On the morning that would change these friends' lives forever, Mallory was especially excited. She didn’t know what fate had planned, but she had a good feeling about something and showed up early to prep the boat.
Once everyone was there, the trio went through their pre-launch check off list. It was imperative they have everything they needed with them on the boat. Having to travel back to shore after launching would cost them hours on the water.
Prepping the boat was the easy part. They liked to pass the time telling jokes and and stories. They may have been old friends, but every morning felt like a 10-year reunion.
The next part can be described as "the calm before the storm." The water was calm as usual as the boat headed a few miles off the Canadian coast. They knew the perfect spot to catch crab off of the Canadian coast.
Letting Out Their Lines
Once they reached their destination, the friends turned off the boat engine and let it idle. This spot was perfect and was always full of crabs. They dropped their lines and let the cages drag on the seafloor.
It was the end of crab season, and while the previous weeks had been fruitful, they were hoping to go out with a bang. Since starting their business, this had been their most successful year. Would this be their most successful catch?
The First Catch Was A Sign Of Things To Come
With the cages in the water, one of them steered the boat while the other two manned the lines, making sure they didn't tangle. They knew this routine like the back of their hands.
As the first cages came up they couldn’t believe it. Their spot had paid off again and it looked like today was going to be their best day ever. They high-fived in celebration, emptied the cages, the prepared to do it all over again.
Moving To A New Spot
The day was going great. Allan, Cliff, and Mallory knew they had a chance to break their crabbing record. Finished at the first location, they turned the boat back on and set off for colder waters.
The further they got, they more dangerous things got. Colonies of seals could be seen resting on icebergs. Birds were nowhere in sight. But as beautiful and serene as the scene was, it was also filled with hidden dangers and surprises.
Iceberg, Straight Ahead!
Huge icebergs floated freely in the Labrador Sea. This was not the place to go on autopilot when fishing. One wrong turn could turn this fishing trip into the groups last.
Allan was on lookout duty when he spotted something in the distance on top of an iceberg. He pointed in out to Cliff and Mallory. No one could make out what the shape was. Mallory thought it was probably a seal sun bathing away from the colony.
Allan Couldn't Let Sleeping Seals Lay
Cliff fell in line with Mallory's theory. During their adventures together they had seen plenty of animals pop up in the ice waters from time to time. It wasn’t anything strange, so why was Allan acting so weird about it?
He probably couldn’t tell you why, but he did know something about what was on that iceberg kept eating away at him. He told his friends that it didn’t move around like a seal and he was skeptical. They looked through their binoculars and couldn’t help but agree.
Even though they knew they needed to keep fishing, curiosity got the best of the group. They couldn't take their attention away from whatever was stranded alone on an iceberg. They decided to move in closer.
As the boat got closer, the wind picked up along with the chill in the air. Then they noticed there was fur on the animal. Even scarier, the fur was wet. The poor animal must have been freezing! They decided until they knew what they were dealing with, their fishing expedition was on hold.
The friends approached cautiously in the boat. Not only did they not know what kind of animal they might have found, but they were going off-course and venturing into unexplored waters. Allan was convinced they were doing the right thing.
Cliff and Mallory weren't as sure as Allan was, but the friends agreed that they needed to investigate the situation. If it was an animal in danger, then they needed to rescue it. They couldn’t live with leaving it to die on their consciences!
A Slow Approach
The boat moved through the water slowly. The friends watched over the sides of the boat for any unexpected dangers. Any large chunk of floating ice could damage the boat and the last thing they needed was to strand themselves.
The waves had picked up, too, making the boat move more than usual. Mallory urged the group to be extra careful. They may have been excited about what they were doing, but they still needed to keep their wits about them.
Choppy Waters And Wind Picked Up
Without warning, a strong gust of wind rattled through the area. This made navigation even harder. Even scarier for the group, this unexpected windy whipping made the iceberg move. How would the animal react?
Now that group had more than just ice to worry about. They were terrified the scared animal would jump off the iceberg from fear. Mallory kept her eyes glued to the animal. If the boat could just get a little closer she'd be able to identify what they were dealing with.
Chasing The Iceberg
The situation had taken a dangerous turn now that the team was forced to chase the iceberg. They weren't just concerned with their safety, but also the safety of whatever was pacing back and forth on the iceberg.
They had to move fast to keep the boat near the iceberg. At the same time, they needed to remain cautious about the water surrounding them. Making matters worse, the day was half over and they would start running out of daylight soon!
The Animal Began Taking Shape
They finally got close enough to the creature to start figuring out what it might be. They could see it had four legs and looked similar to a dog. There was no way this was someone's lost pet, though.
As they predicted, the poor animal was soaked with cold water and was shivering uncontrollably. Allan, Cliff, and Mallory knew at this moment that they needed to do everything they could to save this animal, even if it meant putting themselves in more danger.
The Animal Identified!
After a few moments of disbelief, the friends realized they were staring at an Arctic fox! They didn't have time to figure out how it may have stranded itself. It was weak and there were birds starting to circle above it.
Not only was the fox in danger of freezing to death, but other animals were getting excited about their next meal. The friends jumped into action, desperate to make sure the little Arctic fox lived to see another day.
A Dangerous Rescue
With time running out, the group needed to work together to come up with a plan to save the fox. There wasn't a lot of time, and there was still one big question that needed to be answered.
Would the fox even trust humans with its life? There’s no way of knowing how much contact this wild dog had previously had with humans. That meant despite their best intentions, there was a real possibility that they wouldn’t be able to help.
Cliff, Mallory, and Allan needed a plan to lure the fox to them. First, they tried speaking quietly and holding out their hands to see if the scared dog would come to the safety of their arms.
The fox's first instinct was to run away. Of course, it had nowhere to go and ended up just staring at the strange humans trying to save it. It refused to jump to them, and they refused to leave.
Patience Is A Virtue
The waiting game was on. The fox showed no interest in the three friends. They continued to show interest in it though and they decided the best game to play was the long game.
Their patience was being tested, but they refused to give up. Finally, just as they were about to break, the fox stepped toward the boat. Would it take a leap of faith? Putting its trust in the hands of humans was looking like the only way to survive.
The fox got as close as it could to the boat. It wasn't strong enough to jump aboard however and looked to Allen for help. He gently picked it up and placed it on the boat.
Things still weren’t alright. Allan and Cliff grabbed towels to dry the fox and keep it warm but were hesitant to handle the scared creature. One wrong move and it could attack. How long was this fox’s trust going to last?
An Escape Attempt
Scared to death, the fox decided it made the wrong choice and jumped out of the boat without warning. Everyone was stunned as the wild animal raced in the water to get back to the iceberg.
The friends followed the fox until it ran out of energy. Allan gently picked it back up and placed it in the boat again. It scurried to a corner and stayed there, terrified of the situation it was in.
Back From The Brink
This time the team was going to make sure the Arctic fox couldn't get away. While Mallory was busy steering the ship back home, Allan and Cliff watched intently and waited for their moment to approach.
They knew if they couldn’t warm the fox back up its body would go into shock. They looked around the boat, trying to find anything to make the little guy warmer and more comfortable. They never took their eyes off the animal, though.
A Warm Place To Rest
From behind the steering wheel, Mallory suggested that they find a way to give the fox warmer accommodations. Cliff and Allan could only find sawdust, which they thought they could use for filled as bedding.
While collecting the sawdust, they found a plastic bin to put it in. This would make a great bed frame! They packed sawdust into the bin, hoping it would act as insulation, then placed it in an area on the boat with the most sun.
Getting The Fox In Bed
Allan, who up to this point was the de facto animal handler, picked up the Arctic fox and placed it in the bin. In a matter of seconds, the exhausted fox was sound asleep.
While it was recuperating, the team continued to get back to the Canadian shore as quickly as possible. The fox was okay for now, but surely needed medical attention to make sure it would survive long term.
No Rest For The Tired
Still about 30 minutes from shore, Cliff took over driving duties from Mallory. He changed course, knowing they might not have 30 minutes. Then he hit a wave and the fox woke up.
It stared up from the bin, terrified and exhausted. Looking to calm the fox back down, Mallory suggested trying to feed it. Surely they could spare some of their fresh catch. A good meal could do wonders for the animal, if it was willing to take food from humans.
All Turf, No Surf
The fox was dry now, and the bin had indeed helped warm it up. Mallory offered the fox some fish and crab but it looked away, disinterested. There had to be something it would eat?
Mallory decided to look in the crews personal food supply. She found some Vienna sausages, which she soaked in water and put in a bowl in front of the fox. It sniffed the food, then scarfed it down like a ravenous animal. This was its first meal of the day, and possibly more.
Coming Back To Shore
The fox fell back to sleep after eating its meal. Shortly after, the boat began docking at shore. The noise ended up waking the fox back up. Mallory stayed near it, trying to keep it calm with the storm of noise around it.
Mallory spoke softly the to the fox. It wouldn't be able to understand what she was saying, but maybe her voice would help soothe it. She just needed to keep it calm until they were done docking.
Finding The Fox A Home
Safely ashore, the next decision the friends had to make was what to do with the fox. It was warm, dry, and fed, making this the last big thing to do.
True to her character, Mallory came up with the answer. She remembered there was an area near the docks that would be perfect to release the fox back into the wild. There would be no imminent danger and they could watch it safely reintegrate to its natural habitat.
A Room With A View
Not only was the fox's new location safe for it to re-enter the wild; it was equipped with a makeshift dog house! The structure was 10 minutes from the dock and very remote.
They searched the area for the dog house. They knew it was located on the bluffs, but were uncertain of its exact location. Cliff carried the fox the whole way, doing his part to keep it safe while the friends finished their rescue mission.