Romeo | The lone black wolf of Juneau, Alaska (Dedication)

Romeo the black wolf of Alaska

This post is dedicated specifically to a wolf, Romeo, the lone black wolf of Juneau, Alaska. There is a reason to speak about one wolf rather than a wolf population or at least a pack: Romeo was a famous wolf: approachable and, at the same time, a wild and free wolf.

Who was Romeo

Romeo was a black wolf living in the Mendenhall Valley near Juneau (AK), known for his interactions with dogs and people. He was an Alexander Archipelago Wolf (Canis lupus ligoni) who lived around Mendenhall Glacier between 2000 and 2009.

Romeo was a member of a pack of 13 culled by the Fish & Game Department. Only two wolves survived, Romeo and a female. There was the hope for a new pack in Mendenhall Valley, and the female was pregnant of four… unfortunately was hit and killed by a car. The female, named Juliette, was stuffed and mounted in the glacier’s visitor’s center. Romeo, now left alone, stayed in Mendenhall Valley.

Romeo and dogs

While other wolves are shy and avoid humans, Romeo was in needs to socialize. He was approachable by people and this is the reason why there are so many portrait pictures of him. But he was mainly known because was dog friendly. He used to play with dogs brought for walks around Mendenhall Lake and West Glacier Trail. Many gave one’s own accounts on the web.

Juneau resident Nick Jans, an avid naturalist and wildlife photographer, shared an abundance of experiences with Romeo over the years since they met.

The wolf took a liking to Jans’ dogs and quickly became a regular playmate.

“He developed a huge crush on our female lab, Dakotah, and that’s how he got his name,” Jans said. “He would hang around our back door and sometimes be waiting in our yard. My wife Sherrie said, ‘There’s that Romeo wolf again.’ The name stuck.”

Romeo was never reported as showing aggression toward a person, though a 2007 incident with a pug raised some concern among community members. Jans witnessed Romeo take the pug in his mouth and begin to run off with it, but he described the wolf’s behavior as more playful than aggressive.



Killing of Romeo and trial

The last sighting of Romeo was on September 18, 2009. Other times in the past years Romeo disappeared for months, and in 2006 he was supposed dead. In fact troopers arrested two poachers for killing and disposing a black wolf, but it ended up not being Romeo.

But between September 18 and 19, 2009 something happened to him.  He disappeared and was never seen again. On May 25, 2010, troopers arrested two men for unlawfully killing a black wolf and two bears.

During the trial the pelt of a black wolf was exposed, and the wolf identified as Romeo. Park Mayers sentenced to 330 days in jail (all suspended), $12500 fine and more, and his hunting license is suspended (only for the duration of his probation).

Jeffrey Peacock sentence to six months of jail (all suspended), $5,000 fine and three years probation.


Romeo was the town’s beloved mascot, and many people mourned for him. Friends of Romeo and other local citizens organized a memorial ceremony. They spoke about Romeo and erected a plaque to remember him.

Harper: The deformed puppy rescued from the trash

Harper cute close up

Sometimes the only humane thing to do is to put a dog to sleep. Just three weeks ago, Erica Daniel steeled herself to take that difficult step with Harper, a small puppy in her care.

Daniel, 26, fosters dogs that need serious help, and Harper had come to her in the most desperate of circumstances. On Aug. 31, a woman in Sanford, Fla., first encountered the little dog when she spotted a squirming garbage bag.

“There was a man outside the Save-A-Lot selling pit-bull puppies for $50 a pop,” Daniel explained. “This woman approached him and noticed a noise coming from a garbage bag he was holding. She asked him, ‘What’s in the bag?’ and he said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ ”

The woman pressed the issue and the man opened — and gave her — the contents of the bag. Inside was a puppy so deformed that it couldn’t walk or hold up its head. Shelter workers and veterinarians grimaced when they saw the dog and came to the same conclusion: It really should be euthanized.

This is how Harper looked when she was rescued. Born with a condition commonly called “swimmer puppy syndrome,” Harper had a flattened chest wall and could not walk or hold her head up.

That’s when Daniel, a regular at the local animal shelter, stepped in. She decided to take the puppy home for one full and final day of unabashed affection. “I had to show her what it was like to be loved,” Daniel said. “I’d planned on taking her home that night, letting her sleep in bed with us, and having her humanely euthanized in the morning.”

What a difference a day can make. Today, Harper is not only alive — she’s thriving. The frisky gray puppy is gaining more and more mobility each day, to the astonishment of onlookers and medical professionals.

Harper’s rapid recovery began on that initial day with Daniel. The puppy had been born with a condition commonly dubbed “swimmer puppy disorder,” and most dogs afflicted with it don’t survive. The formal name of Harper’s disorder, pectus excavatum, causes puppies to lie flat on their chests with their legs perpetually splayed out, as if they were humans — or perhaps frogs — swimming through water.

“The longer she was like that, the more she stayed in that position,” Daniel said. “It felt like rigor mortis — like her legs might break.”

Despite that, Daniel kept massaging Harper’s tight muscles, hoping to alleviate at least some of her stiffness and pain. Within just a few hours, Harper started lifting her head and looking around. Her front legs became more limber as well, so much so that she tried using them to walk and pull herself around.

Daniel’s reaction: “WHOA.”

Convinced that this determined little dog needed a second opinion, she canceled the following morning’s appointment and made a new, hopeful one with a veterinarian at the University of Florida. At first, the vet described the reasons Harper probably would need to be put to sleep. The list included the likelihood of degenerative bone disease, brain abnormalities and a severe heart murmur.

They decided to do a few tests just to be sure. And, as it turned out, the rumors of Harper’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Her organs were functioning just fine, and she had no heart murmur or serious brain abnormalities. The medical conditions she did have required treatment — but nothing that warranted putting her to sleep.

Some nice people at Hip Dog Canine Hydrotherapy & Fitness in Winter Park, Fla., heard about Harper and donated free hydrotherapy and massage therapy to the puppy. Harper responded remarkably well, and before long she actually started walking.

“She started out on grass, then carpet, then concrete,” Daniel said. “She still can’t walk on tile or hardwood floors, but she’s getting there.”

Bev McCartt, a Hip Dog therapist, explained that swimming has helped teach Harper what her natural gait should be.

“Her brain kicked in and by the end of her first session, she was like, ‘Oh, I can do this,’ ” McCartt said. “She’s a walking miracle. She’s a real testament to a dog’s determination to get up and just go.”

Today, Harper is about 11 weeks old, and she’s holding her own playing with the seven other dogs at Daniel’s home. Daniel estimates that Harper should be ready to be adopted in about a month — that is, if she can handle parting with her.

“Right now we’re saying that eventually she’ll be available for adoption because we haven’t made any decisions,” Daniel said. “If I give her up, that will make it possible for me to foster another dog. But she’s like a baby to me. I just don’t know!”

(Below) Note how Harper’s paws are in front of her rather than splayed out to the side.

Source:  MSNBC


Two young boys combine efforts to rescue puppy

Boys rescue puppy 03

A puppy caught in the drainage water of an arroyo is noticed and rescued by two young boys. The teamwork, effort, and creativity is extraordinary with these two young lads.


How could you?


A man in Grand Rapids, Michigan incredibly took out a $7000 full page ad in the paper to present the following essay to the people of his community.

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was “bad,” you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” — but then you’d relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs” you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love. She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” – – still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.

Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love.” As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch because your touch was now so infrequent and I would’ve defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being “your dog” to “just a dog ,” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your “family,” but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her.” They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with “papers.” You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked, “How could you?”

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind that this was all a bad dream.. or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.

When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.

As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured, “How could you?”

Perhaps because she understood my dog speak, she said, “I’m so sorry.” She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself — a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

A Note from the Author: If “How Could You?” brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly “owned” pets who die each year in American & Canadian animal shelters. Please use this to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay & neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

Please pass this on to everyone, not to hurt them or make them sad, but it could save maybe, even one, unwanted pet. Remember…They love UNCONDITIONALLY.

Now that the tears are rolling down your face, pass it on! Send to everyone in your address book and around the world! This IS the reality of dogs given up to shelters!

By Jim Willis, 2001

Source: The Familiar Spirit


A tribute to Lady, a rescued Golden Lab

Lady collage

I will be posting a series of tributes written by Notsuredomus, another fellow dog-lover who has rescued and fostered many dogs.  He has several tributes to those who have gone to visit the Rainbow Bridge.  More may be found on his website, The Familiar Spirit.

His preface:

This blog is dedicated in loving memory of my familiar spirits. These Animal Angels have been my best friends, my protectors, my teachers, my dogs, my heart.  Teaching me the values & ethics no people ever had (save my grandmother). They taught me to know love, loyalty, devotion, courage and heart.  To know them with out limits and to have them with out condition. I would not be the person that I am today had not been blessed with those tremendous spirits.

When I close my eyes, I can still feel you by my side

and you will always SHINE INSIDE!

Now, about Lady, his rescued Golden Labrador Retriever:

 was a yellow lab and she passed away august-17th 2010. I rescued Lady from the Lancaster animal shelter a little over a year ago. She was very old arthritic covered in moles and cysts and stuck in a cage with 4 other dogs. Lady was a day from being euphonized and I felt I had to take her. I new nobody else would. The people at the shelter thanked me for choosing the oldest one with the worse health. She had been neglected and abused her whole life. She wanted nothing to do with me. She was food aggressive. She growled if you put your face anywhere near hers. Snapped at me when tried to help her up. What people must have put her through to make her this way troubles me, it is not in a dogs nature to be that way. Slowly I gained her acceptance and eventually her trust. It took over a month before she wagged her tail for the first time with out promise of food. another month to teach her she didn’t need to worry about food. 6 months after I rescued her from that shelter I was returning from a hike and I heard her howling. She was calling for me and I new then that the walls were now gone she loved me and missed me. The only thing that I was not able to get her over was the flinch she always had which accompanied an unexpected touch it angers me to think what she must have gone through to expect pain to accompany any human contact. The best years of her life spent in pain and/or isolation. I just wanted her to know what she never had before love, security, trust and a little happiness. Lady died  3 days ago and her last hours were spent in my arms hearing my voice and knowing she was loved. I will always love her and rescuing her was one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done, in  my futile attempt to in some small way make up for what my kind had done to her. Lady you will always hold a special place in my heart.

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