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A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans
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A Wolf Called Romeo (original 2014; edition 2014)

by Nick Jans

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16110124,384 (3.64)10
"No stranger to wildlife, Nick Jans had lived in Alaska for nearly thirty years. But when one evening at twilight a lone black wolf ambled into view not far from his doorstep, Nick would finally come to know this mystical species--up close as never before. A Wolf Called Romeo is the remarkable story of a wolf who returned again and again to interact with the people and dogs of Juneau, living on the edges of their community, engaging in an improbable, awe-inspiring interspecies dance and bringing the wild into sharp focus. At first the people of Juneau were guarded, torn between shoot first, ask questions later instincts and curiosity. But as Romeo began to tag along with cross-country skiers on their daily jaunts, play fetch with local dogs, or simply lie near Nick and nap under the sun, they came to accept Romeo, and he them. For Nick it was about trying to understand Romeo, then it was about winning his trust, and ultimately it was about watching over him, for as long as he or anyone could. Written with a deft hand and a searching heart, A Wolf Called Romeo is an unforgettable tale of a creature who defied nature and thus gave humans a chance to understand it a little more"--… (more)
Member:randolphcclibrary
Title:A Wolf Called Romeo
Authors:Nick Jans
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2014), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:wolves

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A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans (2014)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Living in a country where the Dingo (the most maligned of all native animals) is the apex predator and where habituation and familiarisation (caused by humans) has resulted in problems, particularly in tourist destinations such as Fraser Island and Uluru, I was keen to read Romeo’s story.

As surprising as it may seem this is a true story spanning several years.

Romeo was a lone wolf living on the outskirts of Juneau, Alaska and exhibited unusual behaviour for a non-domesticated animal demonstrating he was a sentient being with a need for company.

Walking their dogs on the frozen lake in the winter of 1993, Jans and his wife were one of the first people to see the lone black wolf. He appeared young and healthy. To their surprise all the wolf wanted was to interact with their dogs in a playful encounter.

Over the next six years Romeo became a part of the landscape interreacting with many other residents and their dogs at his instigation and even initiated the games.

It is important to note no-one tried to domesticate or tame Romeo. No-one even habituated him by feeding him or providing any shelter. He came and went of his own accord.

But some residents were not happy with the situation believing he was dangerous or simply just shouldn’t be allowed to exist on their territory.

Although Romeo developed many friendships and others, who developed strong bonds with the wolf, also others feature in the story.

Nick Jans had been a hunter a one time and a wilderness guide but is now a professional wildlife photographer and author with a respect and love for his natural surrounds.

Jans not only tells the story of Romeo, he also introduces facts about wolves throughout the book giving insight into how we, as humans, need to learn about and respect all wild animals.

It is a beautiful, yet heart-rending story told honestly and without prejudice but the emotions of the author and his love and respect for Romeo are still clear.

Romeo’s demise came at the hands of two particularly heartless and wicked hunters – the type that kill for sick fun. They enjoyed taunting those who loved the wolf and bragged about both their plans and the final deed. Fortunately, this part of the story is not dragged out unnecessarily.

Readers should be warned Romeo’s demise is upsetting for any animal lover and cause for anger at the simpleminded and ignorant men who brought it about. The red tape and attitude of the law makers is equally enraging.

Today a memorial to Romeo stands in Juneau as reminder of the life of this incredible animal. It reads:

ROMEO
2003-2009
THE SPIRIT OF JUNEAU'S FRIENDLY BLACK WOLF LIVES ON IN THIS WILD PLACE.

After reading the book, you will never forget this magnificent wolf called Romeo. ( )
  Hostie13 | Jul 27, 2020 |
A Wolf Called Romeo is nature photographer and author, Nick Jans, reflections on the six years that Juneau, Alaska residents were visited by an unusually friendly male black wolf. The wolf seemed particularly interested in dogs and befriended many. Jans introduction to the wolf was when he was throwing a tennis ball out on the frozen lake and, much to his astonishment, a black wolf ran out and absconded with the ball. The wolf did return and made friends with the author’s golden retriever.

Nicknamed Romeo, the wolf became a regular feature for the residents of Juneau. He located himself by the Mendenhall Glacier and was often to be seen on and around the lake. He appeared to be a solitary but healthy wolf and would tolerate audiences getting within feet of himself, especially if there were dogs. Unfortunately this fearless attitude was dangerous for him, for as much as he had admirers, there were some who thought he should be killed or removed from the area. For six years he was a regular visitor, but then in September 2009, he vanished. Slowly the facts came out, he had been shot by two poachers who were looking for an easy kill. Unable to keep the deed a secret they bragged about killing the beloved wolf. They were also known to have been involved in the illegal luring and killing of young bears as well. Although both were charged with illegal game killing, they were simply given minor fines that were not followed up on when they failed to pay.

A Wolf Called Romeo tells an amazing story and the author is very careful to point out that Romeo’s visits were shared by many. It wasn’t just his life that was affected by this creature, Romeo was shared by the community and was grieved by many. The author also includes many facts about wolves, and discusses the boundaries between wilderness and civilization, and the responsibility that humans have to the untamed creatures they encounter. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Apr 4, 2020 |
Nick Jans is a writer and wildlife photographer who had lived in Alaska for over 30 years before this close-up encounter with a wolf. He had heard of sightings of this black beauty from some of the people who frequented his backyard in Juneau, Alaska, in the shadow of Mendenhall Glacier. When Mendenhall Lake froze over in the winter, it became a popular winter playground for the residents of the small city. This area also attracted the attention of a single wolf who seemed lonely and sought the attention of the many dogs that accompanied their masters as they hiked and skied the many trails in the area. This well-wrriten book is a combination of outdoor memoir, a history of Canis lupus, and a cautionary tale of wild animals interacting with humans and their pets.

The wolf became known as Romeo because of the way he flirted with the female dogs he befriended. He also had male friends and even accepted their humans. He returned to the Mendenhall recreation area winter after winter and enjoyed many hours of play with his canine friends while the townspeople looked on in awe. Of course, there are all kinds of people in Alaska as there are all over the world. Some are animal lovers and some are afraid of them. Author Jans respects the wolf and keeps his distance, but others aren't as cautious. As Romeo's fame grows so does Jans' fear that something bad could happen.

Nick Jans loves Alaska and the natural world and has a calm and informative way of writing about what he loves. His accompanying photographs are pretty wonderful, too. I was attracted to this book by the cover picture taken by him of Romeo and his Yellow Lab, Dahkota, who is a dead ringer for my dog Lucky. I soon became enamored by the author's way with words and will be on the lookout for some of his earlier books. ( )
1 vote Donna828 | May 16, 2016 |
This promising book is a bit marred by the loose narration, coupled with run-on sentences and frequent near-martyrdom statements from the author. Jans at times assumes a "holier than thou" attitude that distracts from what could otherwise be an informative read. Occasionally he reiterates how he stayed out of certain issues, and made better judgments, than the other people involved in Romeo's fate. Ignoring such posturing may become taxing to some readers and make it difficult for them to draw their own conclusions regarding Romeo's case, and the wolf debate in general, for Alaska. ( )
  Meghanista | Apr 22, 2016 |
For the first time in my life, I regret skipping ahead to the end of the book – knowing what was coming (tho it wasn’t hard to guess) just made getting there all the more difficult. Didn’t make me stop reading tho. The story of a solitary wild wolf who made his territory on the outskirts of suburban Juneau, Alaska, and established friendships with several of the local dogs and, eventually, some of the humans, is an eye-opening one. I can’t remember ever reading of the complexities of interspecies relationships so well or reasonably recounted.

I do think author Jans was probably the best person, of all those involved, to write this story. Now a writer and wildlife photographer, he spent years in early adulthood as a hunter and trapper, often working with native Alaskan hunters, before he exchanged gun for camera, and is familiar with all sides of the hunting debate (a particularly hot topic in the far north). He also has the ideal reporter’s fair-minded approach which, despite his unhidden bias in favor of the wolf, allowed him to present the facts without demonizing or rhetoric. I appreciated that.

Jans, his wife (who gave the wolf his nickname) and their 3 dogs were among the first to meet Romeo when the young black wolf first turned up on the frozen lake where they often went to walk their dogs in winter. The picture on the book's cover is one Jans took of the first meeting between Romeo and Jans’ blond lab Dakotah, with whom the wolf established a close (but not sexual) relationship.

What follows is a fascinating account of wolf, dogs and humans learning to live and interact together peacefully over the next 6 years, despite the pitfalls of the wolf’s growing popularity which led to crowds of often thoughtless humans and their not always well-controlled dogs coming out to the lake in hopes of seeing the friendly wolf, and doing stupid things that could have easily pushed the wolf’s predator buttons. Fortunately, either Jans or another of the wolf’s admirers were also usually out there running herd on nitwits.

Altho Romeo lived a very long time for a wild wolf (normal lifespan – 3 yrs) it all came to an end at the hands to two particularly sadistic, and in my view sociopathic, hunters who illegally killed the wolf, mostly for bragging rights and the pleasure of causing suffering – not just to the wolf (who apparently was fortunate enough to die quickly from a single rifle shot) but to the many people in Juneau who were fond of the wolf. This is why I consider them sociopathic, their pleasure in causing suffering that marked not just this act but much of their previous behavior as well. It isn’t just me disliking them.

Fortunately those hunters, who are truly bile-inducing, occupy only the very end of the book, most of it is an enchanting, heart-warming read. ( )
  BooksCatsEtc | Nov 2, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nick Jansprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barry, PatrickCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craig, LaurieCartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perkins, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosaschino, LindaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sibley, GretaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
For the animal shall not be measured by man.  In a world older and more complete than ours, they moved finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses that we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren, they are not underlings, they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time.

HENRY BENTON
The Outermost House.
Dedication
In Memory of Greg Bowen
1950-2013
_____________________
A friend to all living things
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“Are you sure about this?” my wife, Sherrie, breathed   (Prologue)
I was taking my usual afternoon ski on Mendehall Lake on an early December day, right behind the house.
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My old Eskimo hunting companion, Clarence Wood, once snapped me out of my tendency toward overanalysis with a narrow-eyed squint and disgusted mutter: “Too much think about bullshit.” (Chapter 1, “Wolf!,” p.10)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"No stranger to wildlife, Nick Jans had lived in Alaska for nearly thirty years. But when one evening at twilight a lone black wolf ambled into view not far from his doorstep, Nick would finally come to know this mystical species--up close as never before. A Wolf Called Romeo is the remarkable story of a wolf who returned again and again to interact with the people and dogs of Juneau, living on the edges of their community, engaging in an improbable, awe-inspiring interspecies dance and bringing the wild into sharp focus. At first the people of Juneau were guarded, torn between shoot first, ask questions later instincts and curiosity. But as Romeo began to tag along with cross-country skiers on their daily jaunts, play fetch with local dogs, or simply lie near Nick and nap under the sun, they came to accept Romeo, and he them. For Nick it was about trying to understand Romeo, then it was about winning his trust, and ultimately it was about watching over him, for as long as he or anyone could. Written with a deft hand and a searching heart, A Wolf Called Romeo is an unforgettable tale of a creature who defied nature and thus gave humans a chance to understand it a little more"--

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