I am in love with photography. There. I said it. When I have a camera in my hand - regardless of which one it is - I completely forget about my surroundings and focus on what's in front of my lens. Most times that's a great thing. Sometimes though, it can be downright dangerous. For me mostly. Not so much the subject of my image. Most of the time anyway.
Recently, a representative from our local wolf sanctuary (Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary) came out to PetCo to display their wares in an effort to secure donations for their cause. And it's a great cause...the preservation of the wolf species. Such beautiful creatures. Large, smart, cunning, beautiful and yes, dangerous.
On my usual Saturday excursion to Cost Plus World Market (I love that store), I noticed a crowd hanging around outside of PetCo. I didn't see the usual adoption organization out, just the crowd. As I exited my car and began the long trek into Cost Plus (20 feet, tops), I could see through the legs of the crowd what I thought was a really large dog. I love big dogs! I had to go see. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was a wolf! A big, gorgeous wolf. As you can see, this is a big, no, make that ginormous animal. The tiles on the wall are 16" and he is easily three tiles tall - approximately 48". Well, I'm only 62" tall, so to me, he's huge - and I think it would be to anyone!
I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket and got ready to capture this wonderful creature. I approached and pressed my way to front because, as I mentioned, I'm short and it's the only way I could see. Behold! A wolf in all it's glory. Ish... There was a guy there holding onto a thick rope/chain to which the wolf was attached and I was a little saddened to realize it had to be so. A wild animal in a shopping center could only mean trouble for both the wolf and its only natural predator...humans. Even so, it was approachable, so I did and got some phenomenal shots. I even got to pet it! I was in heaven.
Fast forward two weeks...the same wolf with his human in tow was there, only this time, the wolf was asleep on the AstroTurf provided. So me being me, I grabbed my iPhone once again and approached. Only this time I got much closer. Apparently, I startled the wolf and he rose up very fast in all his glory and bared his teeth. The guy holding him freaked! "Don't come up on him like that", he shouted and tightened his grip on the chain. I apologized and then had to listen to the diatribe of two guys behind me who witnessed the whole thing and said I should be more careful because "that thing" could easily "f**k me up". I looked at them and would have done an eye roll, but I was too embarrassed by my foolhardy actions, so I hid behind my camera and continued to shoot...briefly. Once finished, I went on my way to Cost Plus to attend their weekly wine tasting. In truth, I could have used something stronger given the state of my nerves.
Once home, I posted my image to Instagram where it proceeded to win not one, but two features within 24 hours. I was ecstatic! I jokingly said to my good friend and fellow photographer (who was present at "the incident") that "I guess nearly getting eaten by a wolf was worth it." Not really. While I am happy to have captured such a beautiful image of this amazing animal and get it featured, it was no joking matter and I would definitely NOT recommend doing what I did. In my own defense, however, I had two weeks prior walked up to him and actually petted him. I made an assumption that he was more tame than he is - and we all know what happens when we make assumptions...
In hindsight, it was a very stupid thing to do considering that I put the animal and myself at risk; not to mention the other people that were there. For that I am profoundly sorry and it won't happen again. Lesson learned. It could have easily turned out otherwise.
I am happy that I managed to capture this magnificent animal, though I think I've cured myself of wanting to go on a wildlife safari. For a while at least...unless I use a very long lens, or I'm up in a tree, or on the other side of a very tall fence, or...you get the idea.
Please visit Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. These animals are beautiful and majestic and worth the visit.