Thursday, January 13, 2011 |
I was nine when we moved to Atlin, a tiny village near the Yukon border. It was the year men landed on the moon, but the wolf next door was big news. Chilkoot's mother had been shot and our neighbour took the pup home. At first he had freedom to roam the village like most dogs, but as he grew, people got nervous. The neighbour put him on a chain. The strong, gangly teenager with huge feet and a big toothy grin regularly broke loose and came over. We'd play along the lakeshore. He'd fetch sticks, then gallop back, nearly knocking me sideways. He enjoyed making my mother shriek when she opened the door. He'd rear up, whomp his big paws on her shoulders and lick her face. The first time, startled, she dropped a pail of ice cream. Chilkoot loved butter brickle, wiggling with delight as he licked the big mixing spoon. It was his regular treat. My playmate finally went to a game preserve in Penticton to be with other wolves. Driving through a couple years later, we stopped. The ranger said no one had asked for a wolf by name before. A large adult emerged from the trees on a ridge. After a moment, he galloped down to the fence. He rolled over, waved his paws in the air, grinning and wiggling like a puppy. The ranger was at a loss to explain the behaviour. We said it had to do with ice cream and old friends.