The Stranger in the Woods
For a family of eight, moving from the suburbs of Chicago to Northern Minnesota was like finding a whole new world. The lush green forests and beautiful blue lakes were like paradise, and I spent every minute I could in the woods, always with my best friend Chena. She was a beautiful Malamute Husky and one quarter Timberwolf, who loved being out there as much as I did. We spent countless hours exploring the area around our new house near the Canadian border, with Chena always in the lead, investigating every tree, bush, and new smell she came across. We were on a portage trail a couple miles from the house the first time I became aware that we weren't alone in those woods.
Surrounded by wolves
It was a typical early- winter evening in Northern Minnesota, the temperature was in the 20's with about two feet of snow on the ground as I pulled in the driveway to our house. We lived 22 miles out of town, just 7 miles from the Canadian border, and I was the first one to arrive home that evening. My parents ran a real estate business in town, and my brothers were still in town as well when I got home, so I prepared to do a little hunting in the woods behind the house with our dog as I often did. We had a Malamute Husky who was 1/4 Timberwolf named Chena, that we let run free all day while everyone was in town at school or work. She loved our little trips into the woods as much as I did, and would always be home within 15 minutes of whoever got home first each day, without fail. By the time I was dressed and ready to go I went outside, expecting her to be ready and waiting as she always was. I was surprised to find she wasn't there, so I called for her a couple times and went up on the porch and waited. After about 45 minutes of calling with no sign of her, and the sun now starting to set, I was getting pretty concerned. This wasn't like her at all, and I knew something had to be wrong, so I went inside and called my Mom to tell her what was going on. She said an officer with the Fish and Wildlife Service had informed them, as well as the other four families who live out there year round, that a large wolf pack had been seen in the area recently, and they had several reports of family dogs being killed while left chained up outside the home. Concern gave way to fear now, and as I was about to go out the door to start looking for her, it started. It was one wolf first, presumably the Alpha male, who began a long, unnerving howl, and he was then joined by the rest of the pack as I realized they had completely surrounded the house! The howls were so loud they sounded as if they were in the house already, and it was like I could feel them in my bones! It was both awesome and terrifying at the same time! I ran through the house making sure everything was shut and locked when I thought of the basement- it was a half sunk basement, which meant the windows were even with the ground outside, and if they were going to get in, that's where they would do it. I ran down there, placing a loaded rifle by each window as I checked them. After that, I went back upstairs and called my Mom, verging on panic. She could hear the wolves through the phone, so she told me she was going to call our neighbor down the road and to watch for him. I found out later he had been outside listening to the wolves howling, unaware they were surrounding our house at the time! The next 20 minutes waiting for him to come were the longest I believe I spent, and then finally headlights and he pulled in our driveway. As he pulled up, there was Chena right in front of him! Apparently, she had been hiding on the other side of the road a ways down from the house, and had run out in front of him as he was driving over, and stayed in front in his headlights right up to our front door! The wolves all left as he pulled up, but amazingly, neither one of us ever saw a single one of them; they just melted away like phantoms into the forest. I'll never forget how much intelligence that dog had, knowing to hide until she found a safe way to get back home!