The wolf crept up on his prey. He was hungry. He hadn’t eaten in three days. The bird looked to be just the right size to fill up his starving belly. Through the bushes and thickets he crept, inching closer and closer. Almost there. Careful not to make too much noise. Slowly, slowly… he pounced!
The bird looked at him as if to say, “Are you kidding me? I’m a bird. You do realize I can fly, right?” The bird took flight, and along with it, the wolf’s chance of having dinner that night. The wolf returned home, sad, and still very hungry.
He had two pups to feed, so missing an opportunity to catch an easy meal did not sit well with him. He wondered if he was getting slower in his middle age. He didn’t know how old he was. He just remembered growing up the way most wolves do. His father had taught him how to hunt, how to sneak up on your prey so they don’t know you’re there. He couldn’t help but think that his father would not have let the bird get away.
Then he started thinking about his mother. He had never known her, as she had been killed by one of those big two-legged animals when he was just two months old. His father had raised him, with help from the rest of their pack. He was a gray wolf, and a member of one of the largest packs in Idaho. He and his mate were next in line to become the “alphas” of their group.
Upon returning to his den, he saw that his mate had found three skunks for dinner. One for each pup and one they could split between themselves. She nuzzled him as soon as he walked into their den, as if to say “I love you.”
When she saw the disappointment in his eyes at not bringing home dinner, she licked his face. She was always able to make him feel better. He hoped he did the same for her. They had been together for the past five years, through thick and thin, and through the death of her mother and father.
Times were tough in their pack these days. The removal of the tall green things had been slowly eliminating their places to live. The big two-footed animals also liked to shoot fast projectiles at them. He never understood what he ever did to them, but he always managed to escape their wrath. He was one of the lucky ones, he realized. Many members of his family and friends hadn’t been so fortunate.
It was in the middle of the woods, a long way from where those mean two-legged things called home. Their den was pleasantly decorated as far as wolf lairs go. It had a palm frond for the door, and was built into a large group of trees.
That night, they had a howling session with the pack, which strengthened the bonds between all members of their tribe. It was also a way for them to profess their love for one another. And love each other they did. The ties amongst members of a wolf pack are not unlike human families.
The fact that they were the “beta” members of their pack came with quite a few privileges, the most important being that their pups would almost surely be allowed to reach adulthood. And that was good news for him, as he loved his pups very much.
© Ian Casey 2015