Wolf - by Maria Ferguson
I am careful not to make a loud noise. I move slowly, silently, meticulously. The clothes I wear are the same that I’ve worn for the past month, unwashed and saturated with my true scent. No makeup, deodorant or any scents other than my own natural oils can be detected on this humid July day. My senses are on high alert. I can feel the blood pushing through my veins. I imagine that this is what it is like for him, the Wolf, everyday and every hour. He must be inconspicuous yet guarded and astutely aware of his surroundings.
I make momentary eye contact and speak softly to him. My words reassure him that it is I, his friend from afar. He knows me as the newcomer to his territory. I have visited him and his pack for a month now. I’ve kept my distance. He greets me before he even sees me with a welcome howl that draws in the rest of the pack. I continue my approach. There is a brief scuffle amongst middle ranking pack members and the Omega. Thoughts scurry through my mind. I briefly fear that all his family members are not happy with my arrival and perhaps I should turn around. I glance in the direction of the melee. I understand now that it is a family squabble. They are warning the Omega to take his place in our introduction. I have approached this fence before with no intentions of going any further and they know that this time is different. I have announced my arrival to them without intent.
He greets me at the gate and licks my hand as I reach for the latch. I become aware of a plane flying overhead and see that they are momentarily distracted. They are the ultimate multi-taskers but I must have their undivided attention today. The hum of the airplane’s engines fades into the distance and I verbally announce to them that I will be entering their home. I push the heavy metal gate inwards steadily. I am shocked to see that he scurries away. His family members receive me with delight. I reach my hand behind my back to close the gate and use my peripheral vision to latch it.
Their enormity strikes me, and I realize my vulnerability to this predator. The Omega approaches my space and rolls onto his back at my feet. My first instinct is to crouch down beside him as I would my dogs. The training I’ve had in the past few months comes flooding back into my memory. I straighten up and begin moving slowly to a place where I can perch myself. My friend, the Wolf, is watching my every move. I speak to him solely, now. He moves towards me and follows at a safe distance to the place where I settle.
I have two Wolves surrounding me, one on each side, as I sit atop their shelter. The Omega starts grooming my hair with his long claws. His brother, a middle ranking pack member, decides to lick and nibble my ear. I am stroking them and speaking to the Wolf. He is more cautious in his advance than I was. I slowly but deliberately offer my upturned hand to him in friendship. His wet nose touches my palm. I can feel the heat of his breath on my hand. He tastes my fingertips with his tongue and gently nips on my middle finger. I realize that my hand is in the mouth of a beast that has the capacity to severe it with the pressure that his jaws exude. I fight the urge to pull away and put my mind back into our introduction. He withdraws and with a swift movement, while emitting a low growl, effortlessly hops up on the platform besides me. His brothers heed the warning and jump down onto the ground. I am thanking him for letting me visit, and he is licking at my face. I scratch him under his chin and let my hand work it’s way up to the sides of his face at the base of his ear. I find the spot, and he cocks his head to allow me to scratch an itch. When he has had enough, he stands on all fours beside me. I am speaking to his brothers that are impatiently waiting their turns below us. I feel the weight of his paw on my shoulder as he once again settles in besides me. He accepts me and welcomes me. I am honored. I grin from ear to ear and let out a chuckle as the thought crosses my mind that I am sitting here with a Wolf, which has his arm around me. I wonder if my Husband would be jealous?
Maria Ferguson, founder of Wolf Howl Animal Preserve, recalls her first physical encounter with a Wolf. In addition to Maria’s passion for Wolves, she has written several Children’s Books related to animals. Ms. Ferguson is currently submitting these works to publishers. The photo appearing with this short story is of the Wolves that are depicted herein.