Nick Jans was enjoying the outdoor scenery of Juneau, Alaska, with his faithful pooch when another dog appeared… or was it?
The Big Bad Wolf
In fact, it wasn’t a dog but a wolf. Nick’s dog was by no means small, but it was dwarfed by this black wolf! Nick began to get nervous, fearing for his dog’s safety!
BFFs From The Get-Go
To Nick’s surprise, his dog and the wolf began to play together. Nick did not see any animosity between them. He still feared for his dog since wolves are predatory animals and can be unpredictable.
Over time, the wolf kept reappearing in Juneau. When people began to notice that he never showed any aggressive behavior, it eased their minds and they grew accustomed to the unusual visitor.
He kept making friends with the local dogs, and eventually even with the humans. Most people kept their distance from the black wolf until they got to know him. After that, they were great pals.
His Popularity Soars
The wolf became so popular, people even gave him a name which stuck. They called him Romeo. Over the years, more and more people would show up at his favorite hangout spots to try and catch a glimpse of this kind wolf.
Romeo Didn’t Discriminate
Romeo loved to play with the area’s dogs the most. He didn’t care what breed they were, he welcomed them all. Romeo had a blast playing with them in the snow.
Retreating To The Wild
When he was done playing for the day, Romeo would go back into the Alaskan forests for the night… possibly to hunt for some food. But sure enough, he’d be back within a few days, ready to play again.
He Loved Toys
From sticks to actual children’s toys, Romeo loved them all. If he could play with it, it held a special place in his heart. He would even bring toys to humans so that they would play fetch with him.
Resting And Relaxing
Even playing can get tiring. Romeo did so much playing, he had to take a moment here and there to rest. He might have been a wolf, but even wolves need their beauty sleep.
Taking Risks Daily
Just by being in public, Romeo was taking some serious risks. The people who knew him were no danger, but it was always possible he would run into someone (who had never heard from him) who would panic and shoot him.
A Very Unusual Scene
Seeing humans, dogs and a wolf playing together in harmony is not something that happens every day. Usually, two predatory species (humans and wolves) do not fare too well in close proximity to one another.
Long-Term Tourist Attraction
Romeo was seen around Juneau, Alaska, for over 6 years! In that time, there was not even one incident where he hurt a person or a dog! That is one well-behaved wolf!
Bridging The Gap
Romeo could have been considered an ambassador that bridged the gap between civilization and the wild. The two usually don’t get along and it takes a visionary to succeed in making them live in harmony. Romeo was that visionary.
Romeo’s Favorite Games
Playing in the snow with the other dogs was Romeo’s favorite game. Many people came out to see him and saw him digging his head deep into the snow.
Feared By Strangers
It’s safe to say that strangers were not quite as fond of running into a wolf as the locals. These people usually kept their distance, but even they found it hard not to indulge their curiosity about this strange beast.
Juneau’s Communal Pet
The local community in Juneau pretty much adopted Romeo as their unofficial pet. Word spread in the frontier city and after a few years, everyone had heard of the popular wolf.
Were They All His Friends?
It’s hard to say whether everyone loved Romeo, or whether he had made some enemies among the local human and canine population. It didn’t seem like he had any enemies, but you never know what lies in people’s hearts.
One day, Romeo didn’t show up. There was always the possibility that he had been hunting and hadn’t caught anything yet. But a week later, he still hadn’t been seen. People began to worry about Romeo.
Romeo The Tragic Wolf
Like in Shakespeare’s tragic story, this Romeo’s story also ended badly. It looks like some hunters shot the black wolf for sport. The city of Juneau was devastated when it heard the bad news.
A Town In Mourning
Romeo’s death was a real tragedy and the town mourned him properly. Friends of the black wolf gathered at Mendenhall Lake, one of his favorite spots, and held a memorial.
Juneau’s love for Romeo was real. The community even commissioned a special plaque to remember the fallen wolf.
The plaque was placed near Mendenhall Glacier, where Romeo used to love to hang out. People still come to the site to pay their respects.
Romeo, The Book
Nick Jans, whom you might remember from the beginning of this story, later wrote a book about Romeo. He had done a great job of chronicling the wolf’s interaction with the community and he had plenty of material to fill the book’s pages.
Hunter Turned Wolf-Lover
Nick actually used to be a wolf hunter, but his experience with Romeo changed his outlook on hunting species. Nick said the book is not so much about Romeo as it is about the community and how it accepted the black wolf as one of their own.
Forgiving The Hunters
While Nick Jans was at first furious to have heard of Romeo’s demise, he soon forgave the hunters. He said there was no point in holding a grudge as it didn’t do anyone any good and wouldn’t bring Romeo back.
Since his death, Romeo has been immortalized in several ways in Juneau. A bar and two streets are named after him. Several magazines have written about him. People have pictures of him in their home… and best of all, there is a coffee and even a beer named after him!
Black Wolf Committee
The Black Wolf Committee, chaired by Nick Jans, aims to educate the public about wolves. Romeo is always a part of the committee’s efforts and was the inspiration for its founding.
Black Wolf Special Funding Project
The committee plans to open up an exhibit at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. The exhibit would feature different recordings of Romeo, his footprints and even a mount of the black wolf.
His death might have been tragic, but we believe this is the beginning of an Alaskan legend that will be told throughout time in Juneau. Goodbye, Romeo, you will be missed!