Jacoba died two nights ago. He was eleven. In dog years that is 77. In wolf years it seems longer. No shorter.
Kaylynn G. was working as a vet’s assistant when they brought in Jacoba. She was somewhere between not impressed and enraged. She hates it that people think getting a wolf is cool, and are clueless how to care for them. Jacoba was 90+% Wolf. I am not certain how you get those numbers in breeding, but the overall effect was astonishing.
A wolf looks at you, and through you at the same time. He sizes up everyone and everything every day as matter of factly as breathing, eating, pooping, and eating the stray cat that falls into the back yard. And that intrigues as well. Most wolves translate “cats” and “small dogs” as “snack” but in today’s topsy-turvy world, those in Jacoba’s house were “pack” and all others were varelse. Status can upgraded or downgraded with a good fight. His nose and eyes always seemed to be working on a zero sum basis if you were not “pack”.
The pictures will reveal perfect markings, lucid eyes, huge size, but they can’t compose his presence. Jacoba in the night in his front yard, which had a buried electrical fence, only had to watch you. Even after the G’s had introduced you a few times, something from our dim past whispered for my hair to stand up on my neck.
He endured petting, and endured it by watching the alpha male and female in his house say it was okay. I telepathed that I was alpha male in my house, and had flashbacked to Never Cry Wolf as a researcher tried to out pee a wolf marking and remarking the same territory. Losing battle. Wolf won. Jacoba accepted my telepathed thoughts with a small “hmph”. Not terribly important.
Jacoba died of cancer and that may easily be our society’s gift to him as cancer rates go up and even affect the wolves in our circles. And the night seems emptier. Jill and I walked last night and heard not wolves and not coyotes. Someone must have served notice. Stars didn’t even fall
I had a friend explain that they are making no new land, and my translation is they’re making no new wildness. So to see something as astonishing as Jacoba pass back to dust makes me hope that other people are guarding the wolves in Yellowstone and other places where we are reverently restoring wildness, and fear, and all those things that makes us feel small. It gives me hope. I miss Jacoba making me feel a little smaller. How easily does that get crossed up with the desire to tame these astonishing creatures? Why are we wired that way?
But then, Jacoba felt more complex than a hereditary hunger. I miss him. Couldn’t bear to say goodbye to the idea of him as well. I miss his imposing quiet. Few of us possess that.