My Wolf Encounter

It was a warm summer night, in July 2000 when I was forced to work an overtime shift at the Radio Station.  I had worked late a few times in the recent past, mostly cleaning the studios and dusting behind all the equipment.  As a young Junior Broadcast Engineer, this is what was expected of me.  I enjoyed the benefit of extra pay, as at the time I was paid hourly wages.  I was young and arrogant.  I thought I had the best job in the world and had some type of power or authority.  Some would argue that I still feel this way.  I beg to differ.

I wasn't able to drive yet, as I still had a learners permit.  I was late in getting my license as I didn't feel the need to drive until after I graduated from high school (I was also highly discouraged by my father who wanted to save money on insurance).  Therefore I took the bus home from work when I wasn't able to carpool.  This was one of those nights.  After a long evening of cleaning the studio and flirting with one of the interns at the time, Josie Dye, I took the TTC Subway north on Yonge Street, and then caught the last GO Bus which reached my town.  I enjoyed the rides on the bus.  I had about an hour and a half to relax as I watched the familiar route unfold in the window beside me.  Most people would of likely had some sort of walkman or portable CD Player to listen to their favorite music.  Me? I had a police scanner.  I had ear buds for it, so it wasn't annoying anyone, but I enjoyed monitoring the usual bullshit which took place in suburbia Toronto and Central Ontario.

In the past I had usually called my mother, and had asked her to pick me up at the bus stop in town.  This time however, I was later then previous times, and I knew she was in bed already.  It was 12:30 am and it was a quiet lovely night.  A stroll felt like a good idea, and I knew the way fairly well, as I would walk it on a regular basis during the day.  The hike was about 2 miles long and took me through a wide wooded valley.  An alternate route would take me about 2 miles extra out of my way, and I would have to walk on the gravel shoulder of a two lane country road.

After navigating through the industrial streets on the outskirts of the town, I descended down a hill in a field, and headed into the forest.  My police scanner was securely clipped to my belt.  I wore a buttoned down shirt, and cargo pants.  I removed my mini-Maglite from its holder on my belt, and rotated the lens to turn it on and focus it.  My other hand clutching my pocket knife, which I had unsheathed and kept in my pocket.  I was more worried about running into people then anything.  I knew some neighborhood kids liked to hang out by the river and do drugs.  I held the flashlight at eye level, as I knew that is the best way to see reflections.

The forest was damp and quiet that night, a slight mist hanging around the lower elevations near the river.  The bridge where the kids liked to hang out was void of any life.  I continued onward, at my fairly quick normal walking pace.  Rounding a grove of dense pine trees, the lights of my street began to appear on the horizon between the distant trees.  Flickering as I move, I wondered if one of them was my back porch light.  I hen noticed two green lights that I didn't recognize.  At first I figured, "hmm, someone has green porch lights?" but then the 'lights' disappeared.  I then realized I hadbeen pointing my flashlight directly forward towards that spot, and they were eyes reflecting back at me.  I had come to realize that there may be animals in the forest.  I scanned the area, looking through the underbrush around me, as I continued to walk at my normal pace.  I saw no other pairs of eyes.

I knew of a lynx which was sighted in the forest, but I wasn't overly worried.  At this point I came to a Y in the road, with one path diverging and taking me back to one of the 2 lane country roads which would take me 2 miles out of my way.  The other headed directly towards my street, and directly towards the eyes.  I did hesitate for a moment, but continued on the path towards my street.  I figured whatever it was was long gone by now.  But a second later I saw the eyes again!

They were still in the direction the path was taking me, but they had retreated further up the path away from me, standing near the top of a 50 foot 30% grade incline I would have to ascend.  They were still too far away to determine what it was, but I was determined to get home.  I pressed onward, and the pair of eyes again vanished into the darkness.

I climbed the hill at a slightly more cautious pace, but only so as to not draw large breaths.  About two thirds of the way up the winding gravel path I found a dead rabbit on the trail, its guts ripped from its body.  It was fresh.  This had been about where I first saw the set of eyes.  At this point I figured it was the lynx.  I knew lynx were shy creatures who avoided humans like the plague.  So I really didn't worry too much and continued onward.

Cresting the hill I saw the eyes again, ahead of me.  The terrain was fairly flat, but the path was winding slightly with thick underbrush on either side.  The backyards of the houses which lined my street were only about 500 feet away.  I scanned the underbrush again, wondering if there were more eyes up on this terrace of land.  I saw none.  I focused back on the pair of eyes ahead of me, as I resumed my normal quick pace of walking.  I could see the eyes turn as the head turned away, and I could see some shadows of it moving away down the path.  I still couldn't make out a shape, but it was taller then most of the weeds which lined the path.

Again it stopped and turned to watch me.  I was easily gaining on it, and I knew this now.  I retained my pace and kept the light focused on the eyes.  As I gained on it, I started to make out its form.  The pointy triangular eyes apparent first, and the larger huskier canine body.  I gripped my knife in my pocket, and felt my palms were sweaty.  My police scanner squaked with some random police radio chatter, and broke the silence.  The animal again turned, and this time I could see its tail as it trotted away from me down the path.  Its tail was held high which I found unusual for a dog.

I continued onward, following the animal down the path only to find it stopping again about 50 feet from the fence which separates the backyards from the forest.  I could easily make out the houses on my street through the trees.  I was close to home.  I was determined to get home.  I walked straight towards the creature.  It began to growl as I approached.  My light illuminating its face, the telltale pointy cheeks becoming apparent.  Its tail was still raised, and it was in a sturdy defensive stance.  It began to show its teeth, and I thought I could see some blood from its meal on some of the fur around its mouth.  I dared not stop or slow down at this point.  I was committed, and continued walking straight for it.  My hand tightly gripping the knife in my pocket, out of sight.

I got within about 50 feet before it turned tail and retreated yet again.  It paused at the pathway entrance, where the path in the forest funnels into a fenced in enclosure between two houses, towards the street.  It seemed to consider taking to the underbrush, but my swiftness likely made it change its mind, as the underbrush was full of vines and thorny bushes which would of slowed its movement.  Instead it opted for retreating into the pathway between the two houses.

Again my police scanner squaked loudly about some police activity.  And as I rounded the fence to enter the path between the houses, I saw the wolf standing about half way down the length of the corridor, in his defensive stance, with his tail held high, the darkly colored tip slightly frazzled with hairs pointing in various directions.  He was already growling.  In the corner of my eye I saw bedroom lights turning on in neighboring houses, obviously woken up by my police scanner / the growling on this warm summer night (their windows were likely opened).  I felt a slight relief knowing  was close to safety, and I pressed towards the wolf.

He began to growl louder, and was bearing his teeth.  They were quite large.  I recall seeing my flashlight reflecting off of his saliva which was dripping from his top row of teeth as he growled.  I was heading right for him, and was completely expecting him to lunge for me.  20 feet away, he begins to yip.  They were kind of like accented growls, but quite loud.  10 feet away he snapped his jaw, as if threatening a bite, but seeing that had no effect on me, he turned again and retreated from the corridor, ceasing all of his growling and lowering his tail quite tightly around his hind.

I exited the corridor and proceeded to walk towards my house.  He was standing on someones lawn, watching me calmly.  His tail still lowered.  At this point I was just glad he was out of my way, and mostly in shock.  I continued down the street towards my house.  He continued to stand on the lawn as I passed him, and I ignored him.  With my back to him, I retained the same pace I had kept before.  I dared not look back.

I however did begin to hear its claws clicking on the cement behind me.  Not quickly approaching, but rather slowly approaching me from behind.  I gripped my knife again, but still refused to look back.  It wasn't until I had heard the clicking of his claws beside me that I looked to my side.  What I saw surprised me.  I saw the wolf, with its head lowered, staring at my feet pacing along side my heel.  Its tail was still tucked and it was not in any way threatening.

The wolf followed me, pacing along side me until I got to my driveway.  Continuing a very strict method, I made a abrupt 90 degree turn into my driveway, and continued to walk up it a few steps at the same fast speed, completely ignoring the animal which was pacing me.  I finally stopped and turned to watch as the wolf continued down the street as if I was never even there, its tail relaxing slightly, and its head rising slightly, but otherwise, continuing on its way.  It never looked back, and I watched it until it was out of sight in a field down the road.

My mother had heard the growling and when I arrived at the front door she almost killed me for not calling her.  She also almost had a heart attack when I told her what the growling was.  Ah, fun times...  :P  In all honesty however, I doubt I could repeat that.