Dogs are truly man’s best friend, but the relationship didn’t start that way. Dogs are are the domesticated cousins of foxes, jackals, wolves and other four legged beasts.
No matter the difference in scientific name, every version of our canine friends has a lot of similarities. Social animals that live in packs, asserting their dominance and status through violence.
Across the gene pool differences in action and shape are evident. For instance, I have a doggy variation that didn’t like to howl. Dogs and their relatives will howl at just about anything, the moon, or the mailman, or even that squirrel.
What separates our domesticated friends from their family, is how social they are or can be. Around humans, our young and other animals, the animals have to express themselves differently than snarling and biting. Around their own kind they need to be able to stand up for themselves and interact appropriately with their peers. Typically a dingo will be more likely to bite you and bark for reinforcements, before he messed with the snack on his nose.
Nick Jans was very likely considering some of these differences, as he watched a lone wolf approach their home in Juneau, Alaska. It make matters worse, Jans’s Labrador launched itself out the door and made best haste toward the newcomer. It was to everyone’s relief and even more so their amazement, as the lab and the wolf started to play together. Within minutes the two were wrestling around like they were best friends. This encounter would mark many like it in the coming years. At first the residents were nervous and slightly off put about a full grown wolf lurking on the outskirts of their town.
They nicknamed him ‘Romeo’ and soon grew comfortable with seeing him come jauncing along with the other dogs. He got along well with the humans and the town’s dogs. He was not aggressive and seemed to be fairly smart even for an animal. He would stow away version of his own toys (like a styrofoam cooler) and give that to people to throw for him.
Romeo was seen hangin’ around Juneau’s outskirts for six more years. When he passed away the residents pitched together to get a plaque made in Romeo’s honor. The town will not soon forget the lessons of acceptance and compassion Romeo taught through action. He got three radically differents species to get together and have a good time, staring down the odds. Nick Jans is a photographer and took many pictures of Romeo’s adventures through town. Jans, published a book, “A Wolf Called Romeo”, he shares those beautiful moments that the townspeople shared with Romeo.