I once had a male wolf gifted to me by a neighbor who had bought him on an impulse.
I was going to college in Santa Rosa and lived in a subdivision east of town. I was training by running the trails of Annadell State Park. My next-door neighbor Todd had a noisy puppy behind his house. It yowled and howled a lot and Todd assured me he was 100 percent wolf.
I saw a skinny and scruffy-looking shepherd mix with a lot of energy.
I offered to my neighbor to run his 7-month puppy in the hills a few times a week. Little did I know that would be the beginning of a partnership that lasted many years. The pup’s name was Calimus. We would run over hill and dale in the vast and varied parkland nearby.
I vividly remember two mountain bikers approaching us running on the trail.The one guy said loudly, “Look it’s a wolf!” I looked down at Cal and sure enough I recognized him then and there as being a wolf. He had grown into his own power.
It wasn’t easy being his partner.
I had to protect him from his natural way of being. That meant he was always leashed. He was by my side or in an enclosure. This was for his own protection. Like brothers we tussled and fought, when he was frustrated or angry he was destructive. He tore up more than one car interior.
His favorite trick was to shit on the driver’s seat, when left in a car too long. I still carry the scars of his bites, each one earned during dominance lessons. We moved to Eugene Oregon, a beautiful green college town known for its track and field team and hippiness. We would run the trails there.
I took Cal on campus to a concert one afternoon. We stood off to the side in a large crowd.
I relaxed and was watching the band as he snuffled through the thick ivy growing around a tree. Suddenly he came up with a baby squirrel in in his mouth.
The small animal squeal loudly over and over. It’s high-pitched squeals attracted the attention of the laid back college kids. The crowd was screaming and created quite a commotion. A number rushed forward and were yelling at me. They crowded around as I tried to get him to release the squealing animal.
Nothing was working until I pinned him to the ground and bit his ear hard. He released the squirrel, which shot off into the bushes.
I jumped up and Cal started vibrating, he looked left and right, then suddenly sprung at me and bit my face. The crowd totally freaked out. People were screaming for help; the music stopped. It was as if I’d been hit with a baseball bat. Cal lay cowering on his back in fear.
Blood dripped from my face, I could see a group of policemen trying to make its way through the crowds towards us. Speaking softly I reassured Cal and got him on his feet. Using my strong legs we got out of there quickly.
He was rightfully mad, as I had denied him the spoils of his hunt. We laid low for a number of weeks.
And left town the next season.
Moving from Oregon to Tahoe was an amazing adventure. We ran the trails and swam Lake Tahoe daily. I had a newspaper delivery job by night that allowed me to have Cal ride with me in the truck as I drove a 100-mile route. We ran a half marathon race there.
We swam to the island in Emerald Bay. We camped on the ridge above Heavenly ski resort. Once up there on the peak we were buzzed by a glider who flew 50 feet above us. A few years in Tahoe and I was ready to come back to the Bay Area. A brief stopover at my mom’s house, and we moved to Woodacre in Marin County.
There I had a cabin in the woods near a trailhead.
Everyday we were up on the ridge traversing the heavens, building strength and stamina. I spent more time outdoors than in. Pooping indoors was a novelty.
I knew the constellations and the position of the Moon as easily as I knew my own phone number.
I was with Cal … and life was good.