The wolf was incredible; his owners moved to the city and couldn’t keep him anymore because of local laws, but what an amazing animal. I’ve never walked an animal so… strong. I walk a lot of dogs. Many of them are large, Rottweilers and German Shepherds, but you can gauge their strength by looking at their size. I can stop them, if I have to. This guy was about their size, a little bigger, but if he got it in his head to chase a squirrel, I would have been helplessly bouncing along the ground behind him until he was finished. You know those stories you here about dogs breaking steel chains at scrap yards? This is the first canine I can imagine actually doing that. Frightfully strong.
Speaking of fright, I was kind of nervous walking this guy. He was docile, but there’s no doubt in my mind that if he wanted to, he could have ripped me to shreds. I wasn’t worried about it, but there’s that knowledge; most dogs, I could bludgeon into submission if it ever got dangerous (and I use a choke-chain when I’m walking the bigger ones, so I have some leverage), but I only walked this one because they assured me he was friendly. Honestly, he seemed very… amicable… but not friendly.
When you walk a dog, especially at a shelter, the dog wants to get to know you. He’ll smell you, or go for some kind of approval. They don’t usually just take off. Even the most bad-ass dogs acknowledge the human holding the leash in some way. In that sense, he was almost like a cat! The animal shelter worker insisted on putting the leash on himself, but once he handed it to me there was no trade-off to the wolf; just going. I’m sure he smelled me, but he didn’t dwell on it. I felt like he just shrugged and thought, “Well, I’m out of the cage now, tied to some meat sack.” I walked him about 2 miles, and it was just an incredible half-hour for me.
The wolf is one of our principal competitors, millennia before we ever developed much technology, the wolf hunted what we hunted, lived where we lived, and scared the bejeesus out of our ancestors. I can see why. This creature, tame as he was, carried with him the grace and lethality of a predator that hasn’t been made stupid by ages of soft living. This creature’s golden eyes shone with intelligence, echoes of an ancient time when his ancestors made easy pickings of our livestock and outsmarted our best hunters. His body, though old, carried itself with the lethal grace which brought to life, in me, the countless stories our people tell of the big bad wolf. He walked beside me, but alone, almost as though he sought his pack.
In my awe, I also felt a sinking realization.
My entire life, I’ve loved wolves, their majesty. I’ve felt that they were my spirit-animals, in a way, creatures which encapsulate my essence, in some way; alone, dangerous. Self-sufficient. Powerful.
I am no wolf. Those who call themselves wolves in sheep’s clothing are children, playing with power they cannot understand. Don’t deserve to understand. They are fools, fancying themselves as something other than cursed to dwell within their own mediocrity. I was one of them, I see now. I can think of one man I know who deserves to wear the wolf’s mantle, and even that connection is tenuous. I may walk alone, but I will never carry myself with the deadly, ruthless efficiency of the wolf. The indifference to all that is not danger or prey. It is a terrifying thing, to hold such mystery, such mastery, on a leash, and be cursed only to gaze in awe. Awe and envy, as this creature was born knowing itself, adept and confident, while I am wracked by insecurity and ineptitude. Such is the curse of introspection, I suppose.
Anyway, to sum up, wolves are neat.(!).