So are wolves different to dogs? Certainly! A wolf is a never-ending challenge and keeps you on your toes. Not that they are vicious or aggressive, they are not. They are inquisitive, spiteful when they don’t get their own way, demanding, aloof like cats, and supremely intelligent.
When Akela was six months old, she learnt to open the fridge with her paw. But I’m sure dog-owners have come home to empty fridges too.
So I locked the fridge but two weeks later it was emptied again. I cursed myself for forgetting to lock it. Two days later it was raided again… but I was sure I had locked it. Following her around the house, I soon discovered that she had learnt that she needed to turn the key between her teeth before the door would open. So it became lock, remove and put the key where she couldn’t get it.
Wolves are natural-born thieves too. Several times have I arrived home with a freshly-roasted Pick ‘n Pay chicken, only to see the chicken flying out the house in her jaws while the car is being unpacked.
When we lived in Llandudno – she was a year old then – if your dirtbin lid went missing, you knew where to find it. Seeing her walk down the street with a lid in her mouth was a sight not to be missed. Smelly shoes left at someone’s front door or flipper left on the beach all got carried home.
A friend in Stanford remarked how she had that characteristic of wild animals where they can be in one spot one moment, and somewhere completely else then next.
On a visit to David Daitz’s office some years ago when he was head of CapeNature, I was surprised to see a stunning wolf poster on the wall. I asked about it. He had been to the wolf sanctuary in the south of France which receives more tourists than Cape Town. The poster was there to remind him of the attraction of nature.
A week later we were at Die Plaat near Gansbaai – a long empty beach. Akela was in a very playful mood, running up to me on her hind legs and boxing me with her paws, then charging off, feinting, and dashing back. Watching her movements — so unlike a dog’s — was pure ballet!