Wolves seem gorgeous, but never forget that they are wild animals, and you cannot cuddle up to these creatures. In 2004, while an Alaskan man was strolling in the snow, he came across a wild wolf. He thought the beast might hurt him, but what the wolf did next surprised everyone.
1. A Wolf Came Out Of Nowhere
There was an Alaskan man named Nick Jans who was a wildlife photographer. One day, he was enjoying the landscape when a huge wolf ran out of the woods and stopped in front of his home. Before Nick could figure out what happened, his dog Dakotah surprisingly rushed to the wild animal. Why?
2. A Canine Face Off
Did Dakotah consider the fierce predator as a dog, or was she trying to protect her owner? Nick was afraid that the wolf would hurt his dog, but surprisingly, the two creatures began playing with one another as if they were old friends. After making sure Dakotah was safe, Nick unexpectedly ran inside his home. What would he do?
3. A Name For The Wolf
It turned out that Nick grabbed his camera out to snap some photos of the two cuties. In the following days, Nick noticed that the wolf would often hang around this area and play with Dakotah. He then named the wolf Romeo. Though Romeo seemed friendly and got along well with Dakotah, he was, after all, a wild animal, so Nick kept a close eye on them until one day…
4. Romeo Met Other Dogs
A short while after Romeo made friends with Dakotah, he made his way over to Mendenhall Glacier Park, where he saw what the dogs over there were up to. Romeo would go there often to play with the dogs. Romeo must have gotten the confidence from Dakotah to meet other canine friends. Romeo became a member of the party, and he loved wrestling with a bunch of dogs.
5. People Warmed Up To Him Quickly
At first, people at Mendenhall Glacier Park were quite wary of a huge, wild wolf in their midst. Some thought the wolf might attack them or their pets, but their worries went away when they saw how gentle Romeo was and how kindly he played with the other dogs. Even though Romeo was much larger than even the largest dogs in the park, people quickly realized that Romeo was only there to enjoy a good time.
6. The Dogs Accepted His Presence
Some of the dogs at the park were skeptical of Romeo, and some were hesitant to play with him at first. After all, Romeo does look rather intimidating. However, just like the humans at the park, these dogs soon warmed up to him. Apparently, Romeo was starving for social interaction. He wanted to make some new friends. Maybe he was separated from his pack, so he was looking for a new one.
7. Romeo Behaved Just Like A Big Dog
Romeo made not only human friends but also dog friends. Nick said in an interview, "he would bring out toys that he'd stashed" and give them to the people at the park. He was doing all he could to earn the favor of these Alaskan residents. He just wanted to be accepted by the humans and the animals. Nick was confident that Romeo was not a threat to them. Read on to learn what game Romeo liked to play.
8. He Liked To Play Fetch
Nick went into further detail about the things that Romeo brought to the park. He said, "one was a Styrofoam float. Romeo would pick it up and bring it to [my friend] Harry to throw." Perhaps Romeo was watching the other dogs play fetch, and he wanted to join them, or this was just innate canine behavior. Clearly, dogs, both big and small, love to chase after flying objects.
9. Romeo Seemed Like He Was Part Dog
Even though Romeo obviously wasn't a domesticated dog, he displayed many of the same behaviors dogs do. Nick further explained that Romeo "clearly understood the same sort of behaviors that we see in dogs." Romeo had been with dogs long enough to understand how they behave. Even though he's not the same species as the dogs at the park, he fit right in.
10. A Man, A Wolf, And A Dog
As a result, they were in the Alaskan wilderness: a man, a dog, and a wolf. Nick couldn't help but enjoy the special experience. The three of them wandered on the land and got along peacefully. Nick said, "we were these three species working out how to get along harmoniously. And we did." It's not often that we read about such situations, and Nick embraced the rare experience.
11. Romeo Felt Right At Home
Romeo lived with Dakotah and Nick for a long time. He, of course, never actually moved into their house. After all, Romeo is still a wild animal, but he did regularly visit the pair in the next six years. If you traveled to Mendenhall Glacier Park between 2004 and 2009, you would see a large, black wolf playing with the dogs at the park. Keep reading to learn what Romeo meant to the people of Juneau.
12. Romeo Connected The Community With The Wild
Finally, Romeo not only won the community's trust but became a fixture in it. The locals, those with dogs and others coming to see the wolf, were in awe of the beautiful animal. They enjoyed the mutual trust between them and the wild wolf. For the local residents, Romeo was a symbol that they could be one with the wildlife around them.
13. People Went To The Lake Just To See Romeo
As Romeo's popularity grew, a lot of people visited the lake where he liked to hang out with the other dogs just to see him. The situation came a long way from when everyone was initially freaked out about the presence of the wolf amidst their dogs. Still, many, who hadn't heard about Romeo, were scared of a wolf that wanted to play with their family dogs.
14. Some Visitors Were Nervous
While the locals knew that Romeo was harmless, some of the visitors were nervous about being so close to a wild animal. It's difficult to trust a wolf, especially a wolf as big and strong as Romeo. There are plenty of stories about "big bad wolves." In fact, wolves aren't bad at all. They're just living their lives according to instinct.
15. All Good Things Come To An End
Romeo "was downright relaxed and tolerant from the start," Nick explained, "as if he had dropped out of the sky like a unicorn." Romeo had built friendships with kinds of dogs, including border collies, labradors, and poodles. Unfortunately, some friendships won't last forever. Romeo's time at Mendenhall Glacier Park was coming to an end, and he was about to meet a fate similar to his namesake. Read on to learn how Romeo met his tragic end.
16. A Tragedy Of Shakespearean Proportions
Romeo was named after a figure in a tragedy of Shakespeare. Sadly, he would suffer a tragic end, too. In 2009, Romeo was shot to death by hunters. Everyone living around Mendenhall Glacier Park felt the immense loss of a dear friend. The Juneau residents had a memorial service for Romeo, and they even made a plaque in his memory. Romeo will never be forgotten.
17. A Fitting Tribute
That plaque is still standing in the beautiful city. If you would travel to Alaska, you should visit the place where Romeo once roamed. The locals plan on keeping the plaque up for years to come. The words on the plaque read: "Romeo 2003-2009. The spirit of Juneau's friendly black wolf lives on in this wild place." An image of Romeo was right above the inscription.
18. He'll Live On Forever In Their Hearts
Although Romeo isn't around anymore, he made a lasting impression on the residents of Juneau. Nick enjoyed getting to know Romeo, and he's sure Dakotah enjoyed being with Romeo too. Romeo was a wild animal, but he was one of the friendliest animals Nick had ever met. Sometimes, hunting is necessary, but Romeo wasn't shot for food. Let's all be more aware of the damage we're doing to all these beautiful creatures.
19. Romeo's Story Will Persist
Shortly after Romeo passed away, Nick recorded his relationship with his dear animal friend in a book named A Wolf Called Romeo. If you want to learn more about how Romeo got along with the residents and dogs of Juneau, pick up a copy of this book.