An Alaskan Town Befriended A Local Wolf, This Is How Their Friendship Ended

Wolves, a close cousin to man's best friend

Wolves are beautiful majestic animals capable of great feats. Wolves are also close cousins to the canine family, which means wolves and dogs are closely related. However, don't let the close relation and beauty of a wolf trick you. 

Wolves are very deadly animals and like to hunt prey. Wolves also like to be left alone most of the time and like to maintain and healthy distance away from humans.

Nick Jans, his pup, and a wolf

In 2004, a wildlife photographer named Nick Jans was working and living in Alaska. Nick decided to take his best friend and companion, a dog, out for a walk around the property. 

However, the two quickly ran into a massive grey wolf, who stood still. Nick, knowing the danger of running into a wolf, was anxious about whether or not the wolf would attack him and his canine.

Dakotah and the wolf

However, before Nick could really react, his dog, named Dakota, leaped up and began running towards the wolf. Nick wasn't sure what would happen, but it seemed his dog was on the offensive as it ran towards the wolf. 

Nicks's heart skipped a beat as he saw his beloved dog run towards the wolf, which is known for its fierce attacks on animals. However, as the dog eventually approached the wolf, Nick saw something he certainly didn't expect.

A new friend

His dog and the wolf, rather than engaging in a blood hurdling fight, began to play with another. After a little while, Nick began to realize that his dog was not in danger and the two were actually playing with one another. Once Nick was absolutely sure his dog would be safe, he ran inside his home to grab his camera. 

He quickly snapped several photos of his dog and the wolf running and playing together in the snow. What was at first a close call had now become two friends just playing in the snow.

The makings of a new friend

Over the next couple of weeks, Nick began to notice that the wolf would come by the house to check up on his dog friend. Nick then decided that since the wolf would come by so often, the wolf deserved a name. Nick decided upon Romeo as the name for the wolf. 

Nick however never let his guard down. Nick understood that wolves can be very deadly and this wolf, in particular, was still a wild animal. So, it would be easy for the animal to quickly become too aggressive or for something to go wrong accidentally.

What about the other dogs?

Nick was also slightly worried about the other neighboring dogs in the area. Although his dog Dakota and the wolf, now named Romeo, seemed to get along just fine, Nick feared that other dogs in the area may not respond to the wolf's presence the same way.

It is not unprecedented for these two species to not get along, or for anything or anyone not to be safe around a wolf. 

Romeo meets the community

However, Nick would soon learn how the other dogs in the area would react. Shortly after Dakota and Romeo becoming good friends, Romeo decided to venture over to other homes with dogs. 

Romeo was reportedly seen going up to Mendenhall Glacier Park where many other dogs stayed. He then began to run around with local dogs and play with them. Nick thinks that after Romeo met Dakotah, Romeo gained more confidence in meeting other dogs since he learned that dogs are quite nice.

Romeo and the community

However, Nick also had another fear. He wondered what would happen if other owners of dogs met the wolf and what they would think about it. At first, visitors to the park were very weary and unsure of Romeo being present. 

The sight of a large wolf trying to play with dogs often times much smaller than Romeo left many people uneasy.

Romeo, the gentle wolf

Yet, Romeo proved himself by being rather gentle with all of the dogs he encountered when playing. Quickly most of the worried owners began to feel a bit better knowing that Romeo was actually quite nice. 

Even though Romeo was noticeably larger than even some of the biggest dogs, Romeo was clearly there to play and have a good time.

Community accepts Romeo

Some of the dogs also acted like their human owners with a bit of skepticism when Romeo appeared. However, they too quickly warmed up to the presence of Romeo. Some of the locals believed that Romeo was starving for social interaction and was perhaps separated from his pack. Wolf often travels in tight night packs which are often their only social interaction. 

These packs not only move together, but they also eat, sleep and play together. So, it is possible that Romeo didn't have a pack to rely on and was simply trying to find or even start a new one.

Just another dog

What surprised me most was how dog-like Romeo behaved as well. Aside from his large size, it would almost be impossible to know that Romeo was a wolf. 

In many cases, Romeo even went off the find toys that he had stashed in the snow for safekeeping. Romeo would then take the toys out of the stashes and bring them to humans. It was clear that Romeo just wanted to play like all the other dogs.

Go fetch!

Repoerdlty one of Romeo's favorite games was "fetch", much like dogs. In particular, Romeo really enjoyed a piece of styrofoam that was once used as afloat. He would bring the old float over the Nicks friend who would then throw the float. 

Romeo would quickly run and retrieve the float and bring it back. He would often even drop it at the feet of the person who threw it and Romeo would be ready to run again!

Wolf or dog?

What's surprising is that even though Romeo clearly was a full-on wolf, he showed many behaviors of those of dogs. Perhaps Romeo had been closely watching other dogs play, or perhaps he learned quickly. 

Another thought is that perhaps Romeo and other wolf are much more similar to dogs than we think. Nick also says it was a very unique and even life-changing experience for him.

Three species coexisting as one

He noticed that he, his dog, and Romeo were three separate species, yet they all co-existed peacefully with one another. Romeo even ended up partially living with Nick and Dakotah for some time. 

Romeo was never allowed to go inside of Nicks's home, however, Romeo would visit Nick and Dakotah quite often over a period of six years. Nick would also often feed Romeo and let his dog Dakotah play with Romeo as well.

Connecting the community to the wild

One unique factor about the presence of Romeo was his ability to connect the community with the wild. Romeo has earned the trust of the community since he showed that wolfs do have the capacity to be kind and loving, even though they are wild animals. 

The community also enjoyed that they could trust the presence of a wolf around their families and dogs. Romeo was quickly becoming an important symbol that the community could use to become closer to the natural world.

Glacier national park

Eventually, people wound up coming to the Glacier Park and the frozen lake specifically to see Romeo. 

Even with the notoriety of Romeo and the common knowledge that he was friendly, some visitors were still quite on edge. For some, the thought of the sight of Romeo around their dogs was troublesome.

Romeo is part of the community

The locals knew and understood that Romeo was not a threat. 

However, visitors to the park were not all locals and some became increasingly worried. The needed to remind the world that he was a friendly wolf, unlike any other they have ever seen. 

The community loves Romeo

Even with the amazing story of Romeo and the joy he brought to many of the locals, including their dogs, Romeo's story was bound to come to an end. 

In late 2009, Romeo was enjoying his time out in the wild around other dogs. Much like the character he was named after, Romeo would soon meet a tragic end.

Hunting for Romeo

A group of hunters had decided to shoot Romeo. The locals and even those from surrounding areas felt deep remorse and loss of such a beautiful creature who showed kindness and joy to all. 

The locals of Juneau dedicated a memorial service and special plaque for Romeo in the park.

The spirit of Romeo

The plaque reads, "The spirit of Juneau's friendly black wolf lives on in this wild place". 

That plaque in Juneau still stands to this day. So, if you ever travel to Alaska, you may want to stop by the place where Romeo once roamed.

Good things aren't meant to last

However, the story of Romeo doesn't entirely end there. Although Romeo was tragically killed by hunters, his impression on the community continues to live on. Although Romeo was wild, and initially greeted with cation, he was also one of the kindest wild animals that Nick and the other locals had ever come across. 

It especially hit the community hard because Romeo was shot for no other reason than being a wolf. Nick then decided to write a book about his and the community's encounter with the wolf. He wrote a book titled, "A Wolf Called Romeo". The book gives more detail and descriptions about his encounters with the friendly wolf as well as how the wolf interacted with the community at large. What's perhaps more amazing is that Romeo is not the only friendly wildlife in Alaska.

Pam and her two cats

There have been several other stories such as that of Pam Aus, who lives in Unalaska, Alaska. Pam had chosen to live in this region of Alaska due to its wide abundance of wildlife and untouched nature. 

Pam says she was quite used to seeing wildlife from the comfort of her front porch.

Wildlife all the time

She oftentimes saw caribou, rabbits, hares, and another wildlife pass by her house. Those interactions then become a lot closer when Pam one day heard noises unfamiliar noises from just outside her house. 

Figuring it was an animal in search of food, Pam cautiously approached the front door to check what was making the noise.

Gizmo is that you?

Pam was initially relieved to see her cat Gizmo peacefully sitting outside on the front porch. Gizmo would often sit on that spot on the porch, so nothing seemed amiss. Pam thought it must've been Gizmo who made all of that noise. 

Yet, Pam again heard the unfamiliar noise even though she could clearly see that Gizmo was sitting still. Pam then thought maybe it was her other cat, however, Pam had never heard either of her cats making this sound before.

Searching for the noise

Pam then searched for the suitcase, the second cat, but couldn't find him anywhere. After searching for just a few moments, Pam saw Suitcase pounce onto the porch. 

Now that both cats were in view and clearly not making the noise, Pam wondered what could be causing it.

Closing in on a mystery

Gizmo then got up and began walking over to another side of the porch when Pam saw something see initially missed. A massive bald eagle sat just feet away on one of the porch supports. 

Even though Pam had seen many bald eagles in Alaska before, one had never come this close to her or the cats.

Being cautious

Pam cautiously went back into her home to grab her camera and take a picture of the bald eagle who was now just inches away from her cat Gizmo.

Wait until you see this one! He was so close it was unlike anything she had ever seen. 

Bald eagles are big!

Pam began to worry because she remembered that bald eagles will eat rather large prey, and Gizmo was smaller than the bald eagle. 

Yet, Gizmo didn't flinch or seem to mind the presence of the bald eagle in the slightest.

Not one, but two

Then, just as Pam began to worry about her cat Gizmo being carried off by the bald eagle, a second one landed right next to the first bald eagle. 

But, the story gets even crazier. Pam then heard a ruffling sound and saw a rusty red fox appear from under the front porch.

It's like a Disney movie

The fox then walked onto the porch and joined the other animals. Pam took away a very meaningful message from this encounter. 

Pam posted the story and pictures on social media and wrote that this was a meaningful way to remember to get along with everyone, especially other species and nature.