It was a brisk winter day, with the sun shining down on my dog Ricky and I. We had just exited my truck to begin our daily walk together. I decided to take us to a new location that we had never explored before, known by locals as Skater's Cabin.This particular area is near the Mendenhall Glacier which is well known to Alaska enthusiasts. I proceeded to take Ricky's leash off as soon as we reached the trail. My dog started acting strangely as soon as the leash came off. Ricky is a nearly hundred pound Giant Schnauzer and his sensory skills are remarkable. His behavior put me on alert because I knew that he might have a good reason for concern. As soon as I looked to my right, there he was. It was Romeo. I had never seen a wolf in the wild before so my first reaction was sheer terror, because I thought that this wolf must have a pack that was watching us at that very moment, and if they are hungry and they always are, then my dog and I could very well be their next meal. Then I remembered what my friend had told me about this beautiful black wolf that had become somewhat of a legend in Juneau. He told me that Romeo had a mate that was killed in the same area, and since her death he had decided to stay in the area in a futile attempt to find her.
Ricky and Romeo
A Friendship Is Born
Romeo had been watching us since we left the road and entered the path. He started to come towards us, and I seriously considered running as fast as I could. I was sure Ricky would stay and fight to protect me. It was at this point that I realized running would be the worst thing I could possibly do, as it would cause the animal's predatory instinct to chase me down. I decided to stand my ground, and to my amazement Romeo walked right up to Ricky and they greeted each other snout to snout. Suddenly they started playing together in the snow about fifteen feet away from me.What really amazed me was the fact that Romeo was being so gentle with Ricky. This wolf weighed at least one hundred and fifity pounds while Ricky weighed in at about ninety five pounds. He could have easily killed Ricky with one bite, but he didn't. He treated my buddy like an old friend. They romped together for approximately twenty minutes when I realized that I had my cell phone with me, which has a camera. I quickly took it out and snapped a few pictures. After about an hour I decided it was time to retreat to the warmth of my truck so I called Ricky and we started back down the trail. Romeo followed us back to my truck and it became very obvious that this beautiful creature had no interest in hurting me. He was lonely, and he was seeking companionship which he had not experienced since he lost his mate.
The Days To Cherish
Over the next two months Ricky and I visited our new friend a couple of times a week. The ritual was always the same. Romeo would greet us at the trailhead, and Ricky would run to him and they would proceed to play together for as long as I would let them. There were times that I questioned the intelligence of my decision to let my dog interact with this wild animal, but this was no ordinary wolf. This was Romeo. This wolf never showed even the slightest sign of aggression towards myself, or my beloved dog. Sometimes when Ricky and I would arrive at the trail Romeo would not be there, so I would let out a howl and sure enough he would always show up. Romeo was always happy to see us. As a matter of fact, Romeo would usually let out a whimper when he greeted us. I believe he did this in order to let us know that he meant us no harm. It was soon brought to my attention that Ricky and I were not his only friends. I was told that Romeo had been socializing with other humans, and dogs around Juneau for at least a year before we met him. Wolves require social interaction to sustain them, and since Romeo had lost his pack, he had decided that the dogs and humans that frequented his territory would become his pack.
A Treasure Lost
It never occurred to me that a beautiful clear day in February, 2009 would be the last time I would ever see Romeo. He was killed by an illegal hunter's bullet not long after the last time I saw him. When I think of Romeo, a smile comes to my face. There will never be another like him. He made me look at life differently. He made me realize that friends are to be cherished, because they can be taken from you in a blink of an eye. He made me appreciate my relationships in life more than I already did, and that the people I love matter more than anything else. He showed me that there is much more to life than fancy cars and material objects. This is a true story and I will be affected by this until the day I die. Romeo isn't lonely anymore and he is probably playing with his pack right now. I am so grateful that Romeo accepted Ricky and I into his pack, and I just wanted to write this story in order to let my pack know that I love you very much.