When most people think of a wolf, they often think of the villainous canine which stalked characters in the popular fairy tales about “Little Red Riding Hood” and the three little pigs. The wolf is often a symbol of courage and ferocity, and feared for its nocturnal hunting tactics; stalking and killing its prey at a time of significantly lower visibility. In one Alaskan city, however, one wolf proved to be anything but threatening as it approached Juneau through the lens of photographer Nick Jans.
The wolf, named Romeo, ended up proving that just because something sounds scary, it doesn’t mean it is, and Juneau is that much nicer a place to live because of him.
The Average Misconception About Wolves
Of the most dangerous animals in the wild, wolves often rank extremely high. The ferocious canine often prowls forests, blending in with the night as its stealth makes it just as dangerous as the bear. What you might not realize is that the wolf is often only dangerous if it’s hungry or feels threatened, or if you happen to invade its territory. The average dog, considered man’s best friend, is actually a distant relative of the wolf, and just as dangerous.
When Nick Jans’ dog met one, it worried him.
Nick Spotted The Wolf In 2003
In 2003, photographer Nick Jans had been sitting on his front porch in Juneau when he’d spotted something in the distance which made him nervous. There were wolf tracks on the ice, something he recognized from his days as a hunter. His dog Dakotah had also spotted the wild predator, deftly escaped her collar, and ran out to meet it. This was a scary situation as Nick watched the two investigate each other.
Dog Meets Wolf
When Dakotah met the Alaskan black wolf, Nick didn’t expect them to actually get along. Not many professional photographers get a chance to take pictures of wild animals, so he took out his camera to capture the two standing nose to nose before the wolf revealed itself to actually be friendly. When they started playing, Nick realized he’d been blessed.
Wolf Behavior Varies
Some wolves are relentless predators, as Nick Jans knew too well after his days as a hunter. Others are calm, relaxed, and even tolerant. It’s impossible to know until you meet one which way it will act, and often enough it’s not recommended that you approach one.
Wolves are often territorial and don’t like being approached, seeing it as an act of hostility, and responding likewise. They are unpredictable, and Nick knew he was lucky that his dog and the Alaskan black wolf got along.
Romeo Decides To Stick Around
Having made his acquaintance with Nick’s dog Dakotah, the photographer was also surprised to see the wolf deciding to make regular appearances in Juneau. The social tolerance the wolf exhibited earned him the Shakespearean name Romeo. Nick’s daughter gave him the name after seeing him become an unlikely friend with Dakotah, much like the children of rival families in the classic tragedy.
This was only the beginning.