I know it's been a while since I made a news journal concerning our wild neighbors,
but that's partially in due to because a lot of it was depressing and about animal cruelty.
As much as I want to stop inequality towards animals and spread awareness, as an animal enthusiast
I also want to highlight GOOD
topics to show there are slow changes in our world.
These changes may be small and slow, but they are differences nonetheless and even the smallest difference can mean the biggest change.
"A Wolf Called Romeo"A novel by Nick JansPhotograph (c) Nick Jans. No copyright infringement intended.Below is an interview done with the author Nick Jans by National Geographic. Only key questions and answers are used in this journal. For more information, you may read the full article here: CLICK HERE
- In 2003, a black wolf named Romeo won the hearts and admiration for an Alaskan community. A former hunter, now wildlife photographer, Nick Jans traveled from his home in Florida to Alaska to learn more about this wild canine that craved the company of humans and their dogs. He wasn't expecting his first meeting with the wolf to be as tolerant as it was and to last 6 years!
You tried to keep Romeo a secret from the Juneau community, but after a few winters even the local newspapers were writing about him. Did the Juneau community surprise you by its reaction to the wolf?"The reactions covered a continuum. Everything from “the only good wolf is a dead wolf” and “let’s kill this one now,” to “this is a spiritual creature that is beyond us”—the New Age version of a wolf.
From the time he first started showing up, it was reported in the paper, and it went from a handful of people to hundreds of people within a couple of months. He became a fixture. People would say, “I’m going to the lake to see the wolf.” But some people were extremely hostile to the whole idea. Some people didn’t care one way or another. It was a wild animal. They wanted to go out there and ski or play with their kids, and as long as the wolf kept his distance, that was fine. It’s Alaska, after all.
A lot of people were fascinated by this animal and wanted to get close to him. He more or less allowed it, although he had a very elastic sense of personal space. Typically, most strangers couldn’t get closer than a hundred yards. But if it were someone he knew and whose dogs he knew, you’d find yourself within touching distance of him. There were a number of times when I could have reached out and brushed my hand along his back as he went by. But I never did."
How do you explain Romeo’s behavior? Was he just more dog than wolf?"He was a pure wild wolf. He was not a pet, as some suggested, that had been released, because then he would have been coming to us for food. He was his own gatekeeper and came and went as he pleased. Sometimes he disappeared for weeks. He clearly was catching and eating wild food with great skill. Wolves that are socially tolerant to humans must have appeared to us not once, but many times over our history. Clearly, dogs came from wolves. But the question is, Where and how? The latest theories suggest there were multiple points of domestication. So there must have not been one wolf like Romeo. There must have been a number of wolves in the past that came to lie down by our fires."
Image (c) Nick Jans. No copyright infringement intended
Though humans love dogs, we are not so kind to their cousins. Can you briefly explain the difference between domesticated dogs and wolves? And why humans are generally so afraid of wolves?"The fear seems rooted in our genetic consciousness. We have the Big, Bad Wolf; we have Peter and the Wolf; we have the Three Little Pigs. There are no cuddly wolves in our mythology, though there are lots of cuddly bears: Winnie the Pooh, the Berenstain Bears, and so on. Never mind the fact that bears, especially grizzlies, are much more dangerous to humans [than wolves are].
When you get down to the genetic difference between a wolf and a domestic dog, whether it is a Chihuahua or a Great Dane, all dogs are 99.98 percent genetically a wolf. That 0.02 percent obviously looms huge, because if you raise a wolf cub from the time it opens its eyes, it may make a wonderfully bonded animal, but it will not be a dog, no matter what you do. It will act like a wolf and be a wolf. It takes generations to shape the soul of a wolf and its physical shape into “man’s best friend.” "
Indigenous peoples see wolves in a completely different way. Take us inside that mind-set."The Inuit are not just attuned to the natural world. They are part of it. A couple of them became my friends, and I traveled with one in particular. He was a superb tracker and amazing hunter. I went along with him and learned what he had to teach me.
The Inuit would not even say the word “wolf,” or amaruk in Inuktitut. They would use aliases because they believed if you talked about an animal, it could hear you. They believed the animal wasn’t just an equal, but a superior being with magical powers.
As the ultimate hunter in a landscape of hunter-gatherers, wolves were revered. But many Inuit communities also had the same unreasoning fear of wolves that you see in European culture. I had several Eskimo hunters tell me to be extremely careful and keep my rifle by me because when wolves came around your camp, they might be trying to grab you.
But the Inuit also sought out wolves to breed with their semi-domesticated dogs. They wanted some of that blood in their dogs—the wolf’s intelligence and the wolf’s incredible endurance and toughness."
Like humans, wolves are predators. Yet Romeo shows us a different side of wolf nature. Talk about the role of play and how it is a part of even wild creatures’ natures."When you have a very intelligent, social animal like a wolf, play—just as it is for dogs—is an important practice and a rehearsal of necessary survival skills. When you watch dogs playing, what are they doing? They’re play-fighting a lot of the time. They’re chasing; they’re engaging in predatory behaviors, games of chase. Play also cements the social structure of a pack. And Romeo was an unbelievably playful animal. He would run into the middle of a game of fetch and steal the tennis ball, run off with it, throw it up in the air, and bat it with his paws.
For my friend Harry Robinson, who had an incredibly close relationship with the wolf, the wolf would bring out toys that he’d stashed. One was a Styrofoam float. Romeo would pick it up and bring it to Harry to throw. He clearly understood the same sort of behaviors that we see in dogs. Any highly intelligent animal, from killer whales to wolverines, will engage in play when they have leisure and aren’t engaged in survival."
How did Romeo change your life? "Romeo was the single most transformative event of my life. I am about to turn 60, and knowing him was the culmination of why I came to Alaska in the first place and an absolutely magical experience. His life and death are not something that I ever expect to get over. It’s part of who I am. I find myself waking up at night and thinking about him. If I am doing a reading in front of an audience, there are certain places in the book I cannot read. If I do, I can guarantee I will be a blubbering mess. And when I look up, everybody else is misty-eyed too.
The amazing thing was Romeo’s understanding. It 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."
Romeo past away at the age of 8 years-old, well beyond the life expectancy of a wild wolf (normally lives for 3 years). The love, compassion, and harmony between dogs, humans, and wolf may have well helped him live longer and protected him. He was a wild wolf to the end, nobody's pet, and transformed a community that would be remembered for generations.
Read the Full Article Here
We are a pack.
We are a community.
Come, the Wild Awaits...