Some years ago, a couple of biologists living in the northern wilds rescued a wolf cub. For the next decade and a half, the man and woman devoted themselves to giving the wolf, a female, the best, most wolfish life possible, and to documenting it.
If, like me, you have entertained fantasies of what it would be like to have a wolf of your own, the documentary that the couple made would nip them in the bud. The inside of their cabin looked like a war zone. Cushions were ripped out and strewn everywhere. The rustic furniture had been chewed to pieces. There were holes in the floor where the wolf had dug. It’s not that she was in the least aggressive; she was simply…active.
Winter and summer, every single day, the couple hiked endless miles to satisfy their protégée’s compulsion to roam. Whenever they weren’t trudging up and down mountains, they were scavenging for road kill and other sources of meat for the wolf, who flourished under their care. The couple, however, looked more haggard and worn with each passing year.
When the wolf grew old and died, they didn’t bury her. Instead, they carried her body to the top of a nearby hill and laid her on the ground, the way a wild wolf’s remains would have been left. Then they set up a camera nearby and made a stop-action video of the ensuing months.
In late summer and into the fall, as flies and beetles crawled over it, the wolf’s body seemed to flatten and sink slowly into the ground. Scavengers made off with a few bits and pieces, and then the snow came and covered everything.
In the spring, after the snow melted, the carcass had disappeared, and in its place there grew a thick, bright green patch of young grass, in the shape of a wolf.