Though they’re beautiful and remind us of our dogs, it’s important to remember that wolves are still dangerous animals that should be avoided by humans — for both of our sakes.
In 2004, an Alaskan wildlife photographer named Nick Jans was with his dog Dakotah when he happened upon a wolf outside his home. What happened next would change his life forever…
In 2004, while sitting on his porch with his dog, Nick Jans witnessed a wolf emerge from the woods. Before he could react, his dog, Dakotah, ran straight for the wild animal.
Though he was initially terrified, Nick then saw something he never expected: the two animals began to play. He quickly grabbed his camera and snapped this photo.
He eventually gave the wolf the name Romeo and watched as it stayed in the area.
The wolf was soon frequently seen playing with dogs at Mendenhall Glacier Park.
Though people were always startled at first, Romeo won them over every time.
All he wanted was to play!
It wasn’t just the dogs that Romeo befriended — he also loved the people. He “would bring out toys that he’d stashed,” Nick said in an interview.
“One was a Styrofoam float. Romeo would pick it up and bring it to [my friend] Harry to throw.”
Nick added that Romeo “clearly understood the same sort of behaviors that we see in dogs.”
The happy family “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.”
For six whole years, Romeo made frequent appearances.
He became a sort of symbol to the local people of their close relationship with the wilderness.
Romeo was quite the draw for people, who would often go to the lake just to see him.
Still, while the locals knew him to be friendly, visitors were always a little wary.
Despite this, he was quick to win over even the most frightened dog or human.
Romeo “was downright relaxed and tolerant from the start,” Nick said, “as if he had dropped out of the sky like a unicorn.”
Only, it was not to last.
Tragically, in 2009, Romeo was shot and killed by hunters.
The residents of Juneau then held a memorial service for the beloved wolf and had a plaque made in his honor.
Klas Stolpe/Juneau Empire
That plaque is still there.
Written on it are the words: “Romeo 2003-2009. The spirit of Juneau’s friendly black wolf lives on in this wild place.”
Rest easy, Romeo.
Later, Nick even documented his relationship with Romeo in a book titled A Wolf Called Romeo.
There will probably never be another wolf like Romeo. He truly was one of a kind.