Though they’re beautiful and often remind us of our dogs, it’s important to remember that wolves are still dangerous animals that should be avoided. They might look just like loyal ol’ Fido, but rest assured their temperaments are much more aggressive.
In 2004, an Alaskan wildlife photographer named Nick Jans was with his dog, Dakotah, when he stumbled upon a wolf outside of his home. Nick’s nerves kicked in full blast, terrified of how the wolf would react. What happened next, however, changed 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 without hesitation.
Though he was initially terrified, Nick then saw something he never expected: the two animals began to play; they were behaving like friends! He quickly grabbed his camera and snapped this photo.
Nick eventually gave the wolf the name Romeo and watched it linger in the area. Even thought the animal seemed nothing but friendly, Nick didn’t want to turn his back on the action.
Shortly after his playdate with Dakotah, the wolf was soon frequently seen playing with dogs at Mendenhall Glacier Park. It was almost like Dakotah showed Romeo the dog-playing ropes, and now the wolf couldn’t get enough of the action!
At first, park visitors were wary of the wolf, as they should have been, as Romeo was much larger than even the biggest dogs; soon, however, people relaxed after realizing he only wanted to have fun.
All Romeo wanted was to be embraced by the other dogs who roamed the park, and he usually was. Some dogs might have been hesitant at first, but pretty soon they were all rolling around the snow with excitement.
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. Romeo was willing to do whatever he could to gain the trust of those around him.
Nick said of the items Romeo would find: “One was a Styrofoam float. Romeo would pick it up and bring it to [my friend] Harry to throw.” The wolf was starting up his own game of fetch!
Nick added that Romeo “clearly understood the same sort of behaviors that we see in dogs.” Even though he was a different species, he had been around dogs long enough to imitate their actions.
Nick explained, “we were these three species working out how to get along harmoniously. And we did.” Against all odds the three amigos formed a special bond no one saw coming.
Romeo never moved in with Nick and Dakotah, of course; he was a wild animal and his home was the forest. But for six years he made frequent appearances around Nick’s home and the Mendenhall Glacier Park.
He even became a sort of symbol to the local people of their close relationship with the wilderness. He bridged the gap between the natural world and the human-made one.
Romeo was quite the draw for people, who would often go to the lake just to see him. It wasn’t every day you could see a large wolf acting out his inner dog in a public place safely.
Still, while the locals knew him to be friendly, visitors were always a little wary. Many of them found it difficult to fully trust that Romeo was harmless. He was a wolf after all.
Romeo “was downright relaxed and tolerant from the start,” Nick said, “as if he had dropped out of the sky like a unicorn.” Unfortunately, Romeo’s cheerful persona eventually came to an end.
Tragically, in 2009, Romeo was shot and killed by hunters. The loss was a hard blow to every resident in Juneau, and they then held a memorial service for the beloved wolf with a plaque made in his honor.
Klas Stolpe/Juneau Empire
That plaque still stands in Juneau, and residents intend on keeping it up for as long as possible. Written on it are the words: “Romeo 2003-2009. The spirit of Juneau’s friendly black wolf lives on in this wild place.”
Romeo was one of the friendliest and amazing animals Nick ever had the pleasure of getting to know. The wolf truly became part of Nick’s family, along with Dakotah, and he’ll live on forever in the hearts of every Juneau resident.
Not long after Romeo’s passing, Nick actually documented his relationship with the incredible wolf and life-changing friend in a book titled A Wolf Called Romeo. Meanwhile, not far from Nick lived a woman who would’ve definitely appreciated Romeo’s story…
Pam Aus, who lived in Unalaska, Alaska, was used to seeing all sorts of amazing wildlife around her home. That was just part of the reason why she chose to make a life in this corner of the country.
On one particular day, however, she heard strange noises outside that she didn’t recognize. She assumed it was probably an animal, but she couldn’t be sure. She was curious, but she also knew to proceed with caution.
Deciding it was time to investigate, Pam began to peer out onto her porch and see what was causing the commotion. She was sure to take it slow, as she didn’t want to attract any undue attention in case it was an intruder.
The very first thing she saw was one of her cats, Gizmo, who was hanging out on a bin near the siding. There was nothing unusual about finding Gizmo outside; he was totally allowed to roam both indoors and outdoors.
Gizmo looked back at her with a very relaxed gaze. It couldn’t have been him that was causing the noise; he was simply minding his own business! So if it wasn’t the cat, where were those noises coming from?
Pam’s other cat, Suitcase, was nowhere in sight at first, which slightly concerned her. Both Gizmo and Suitcase usually stayed close to each other. But, much to Pam’s relief, Suitcase quickly came bounding up onto the porch within a few moments…
All in all, it seemed like an average day for some snow-loving cats. Pam had no idea what exactly caused the unusual commotion a few minutes earlier. It was a strange mystery and she was starting to think it might never be solved…
That was when Gizmo got up and made his way to the other side of the porch—and Pam spotted something that she’d missed when she first came outside: a bald eagle! She’d never seen such a beautiful bird so close before.
Pam couldn’t help but stare in awe at the sight. Of course, she named him Mr. Eagle. He was so stunning she couldn’t even believe he was real. But then she noticed something else: the bird of prey was inching toward her cats…
It didn’t look like her cats seemed to mind. Then, Pam got another shock: the eagle wasn’t alone. She spotted Mr. Eagle’s partner waiting for him on the lamppost at the end of the driveway. Before long, this second eagle also came to visit!
Suddenly, there was a rustling noise near the stairs. Much to Pam’s shock, a fluffy red fox poked his head over the top step. Pam’s porch was turning into an Alaskan version of Snow White! Initially, the fox seemed a bit shy when he noticed Pam…
But he quickly warmed up to the attention he was getting from his new human friend. Pam couldn’t get over what she was seeing on her porch. Encounters like this were just some of the reasons why people moved to Alaska.
The fox didn’t seem to mind hanging out with two cats and the birds of prey at all! In fact, all of the animals seemed to be more than comfortable in each other’s presence. It was beyond bizarre…
Pam had seen lot of interesting wildlife interactions during the years she lived in Alaska, but this was, by far, the most unique—and adorable! She had to whip out her camera and make sure she captured the moment.
“Our fox and eagles and cats basically get along just fine here,” wrote Pam. “They aren’t always out to attack and kill each other.” Those words would be hard to believe if you didn’t see it for yourself in her photos and video footage.
Despite their peaceful get-togethers, Pam did admit that they might bicker over scraps of food—but that was about it. After all, in the natural world, food can be limited in the wintertime, and these creatures have to find a way to survive.
You wouldn’t think that such different species would get along so peacefully, but they actually seemed to enjoy each other’s company! Was it living in Alaska that had made them so chill, or was it just how animals are in general?
When you watch Pam’s video below, you’ll see just how comfortable all of these animals seemed to be in each other’s presence. It certainly was not something you see every day… unless you live in Alaska, that is!