What happens when Rover meets the call of the wild?
It’s one of those Northern urban legends: A friend of a friend of a friend owns a wolf. Is it true? Are wolf-dogs romping in the backyards of the North?
Well, it depends where you live. In the Yukon, owning and breeding wolves and wolf-hybrids is illegal. “A lot of people claim they have one, but it doesn’t happen,” says conservation officer David Bakica. “Wolves eat dogs. They don’t breed with them.”
Except, perhaps, when they do. In the NWT, Inuvik restraurateur Greg Sim says he’s owned Billie, a black wolf-dog (pictured at right), since he bought her as a puppy three years ago. “The first couple years were extremely challenging,” he says. “I’m 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds. In the beginning, it would be putting on a heavy set of gloves and doing the duel with her.” Nowadays, Billie has mellowed out – but Sim still keeps her in an eight-foot-high, chain-link pen. “She’s too unpredictable to be off the leash in town,” he explains.
Is Sim’s dog really a wolf? Ultimately, says Bakica, you can tell by the size – especially the size of the paws. “You get a lot of people saying, ‘My dog’s a wolf-dog cross.’ The problem is, they don’t have the feet. It’s gotta be an honest, 100-plus pound animal.”