Nushka Wolf Dog continued...

Of course there were other howling incidents that weren't so poetic. Once when she was home visiting she caused a little stir with one of our neighbors. Nushka answered not only the call of the wild, but also the call of trains,sirens, and silly people like me who sang to her. We found out she also answered chainsaws. One day during my daughter's visit home, we had her on a run in our wooded front yard when a neighbor called to complain about her howling. He blared that his wife was trying to take a nap, and couldn't possibly rest with all the racket coming from our yard. I tried to be nice, but I couldn't resist pointing out that Nushka was merely "singing" back to the whine of his chainsaw. Evidently the noise he was making was slumber- inducing, but the singing of a wolf was most disturbing to his napping wife. He had no comeback after I pointed this out. But his chainsaw fell silent and so did Nushka.

Eventually Nushka came to live with me. Mr. Fickle and my daughter parted ways. He insisted on keeping Nushka, but then didn't follow through with taking care of her. Word kept getting back to us that she was left alone frequently, and often got out of the yard and picked up by the animal control people. After this happened several times we got a call in which Mr. Fickle complained that Nushka was once again at the animal shelter, and that he couldn't deal with it. He then asked in a chillingly calm voice if either my daughter or I wanted her or… should he let them "zap" her at the pound?

Nushka, wolf dog raised on hind legs kissing woman

My daughter wasn't in a position to take Nushka, but I could, and was in a panic for her safety until Mr. Fickle brought her to my home.

Even though I knew Nushka very well, and she had spent time at my home, I wasn't prepared for the touching way she transferred herself from Mr. Fickle to me. It happened, literally, "over night".

Mr. Fickle delivered Nushka to me, even though he lived a few hundred miles away, an unexpected consideration, but one for which I was grateful. In exchange for this I allowed him to spend the night on the couch rather than have to look for lodging so late in the night. Nushka was invited to sleep on a rug next to my bed. And that was that! The next morning her former master issued a command to Nushka. She didn't respond to him, but rather came to my side and sat, nudging herself so close to me that we touched. She looked at him in calm defiance, as if to say I don't answer to you anymore.

She was my constant companion from that point on. She became one of the main attractions at my art gallery; people came in just to say hi to Nushka. She greeted all with her sweet smile and gentleness.

The only time I witnessed any sign of aggressive behavior was one night when I was walking her. The streets of our small town are usually deserted, but well lit, so I felt perfectly safe walking her late into the night. On one of these occasions a man did walk toward me asking, from across the street, if my dog was a wolf. He asked if he could pet her. As he approached Nushka gave an uncharacteristic low growl. The man was close enough that I could smell the alcohol on him…at which point I advised him to keep his distance. As he backed away from us he snarled an accusation at me saying that I had trained my wolf dog to be mean. But I knew Nushka was just protecting me.

I'll end my reminiscing about Nushka with this: wolves really do dance! This was a fact Nushka took great pains to teach me. I was a slow learner. She started my instruction after we had been on many morning walks together. Maybe she wanted to see if I deserved to be part of her wolfy games? Whatever her reasons, it was something she took her time to share with me. Then this one day she initiated a rather peculiar ritual. She would frolic some, then do a cute little turn on herself at which point it appeared she was nipping her back flank. This was followed by her looking at me with a goofy smile on her face…and it seemed she was saying "come on!" One day I touched the same spot she nipped at and was delighted to see her leap happily. She had taught me how to play a game sort of like "tag". As we jumped and circled each other I realized the title of Kevin Kostner's movie: "Dances with Wolves" could be a reality if you were so lucky as to have one for a friend. I was so lucky and it still makes me smile to remember those happy days and my Happy Wolf Dog, Nushka.

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