The wolves stood there, curiously watching him. His situation was potentially deadly without their interference, but the wolves added to the growing threat. After a few minutes of watching him struggle in the frozen waters, they descended the hill.
The terrified boy was quickly surrounded, and the wolves howled. What was their plan? Were they waiting for an opportunity to strike? Their next course of action caught the boy completely off guard.
The Mighty River
The Neman River runs through Belarus, and in the cold winter months, it's known to freeze over. For one of the local residents Viktar Alandau, it was a favorite time of the year. When winter rolled around, he could use his wooden sled to go sledding and play on the ice.
He enjoyed nothing more than rolling down the frozen hills. However, the little boy had no idea how quickly things could take a turn for the worse.
Viktar might've only been ten years old, but he was no pushover. He felt that it would be harder to impress him than any of his peers. While the other children were more than happy with sitting at home and watching TV, he wasn't too fond of it. He preferred to adventure outside and discover what the world had to offer.
Being an adventurous boy, he enjoyed climbing trees and playing in the park. But the thing he adored most was sledding. That was why winter was a paradise in his eyes.
Christmas, which was just around the corner, was waiting to make his favorite season even better. Cold snow, festivities, hot cocoa, and presents beneath the tree, it was all he could've asked for and more.
The excited little Viktar unwrapped his present, and he couldn't be happier. His parents had gotten him a wooden sled that he would be able to put to use right away. All he wanted was to go out and play. There were so many possibilities that he completely forgot about the dangers. Dangers he knew of all too well.
A Stern Reminder
As his parents saw the excitement in his eyes, they decided to reiterate what they'd told him before. They warned him of the dangers he would face if he wandered too far from the house. It was known that wolves would roam the forests outside of Minsk, but Viktar had never encountered one himself.
As most children do, Viktar didn't bother about the warning. All he wanted was to go out and play. A week later, he wished he had paid attention when his parents were talking.
On that fateful day, Viktar could barely contain his excitement. He grabbed his sled and headed out to play. He just couldn't wait to roll down the snowy hills surrounding the river.
The Neman River formed beautiful snowy hills in the winter. They were especially great where the river's edge usually was during the summer months. However, the ten-year-old had no idea of how fragile the ice that coated the river could be.
Viktar scouted the area for a nice little hill he could slide down. Once he found one, he headed to the top and took a seat on his sled before pushing himself down the little mount.
He pushed himself down once, twice, three times. The little boy was overjoyed each time he felt the wind rushing through his hair. But things went wrong on his sixth attempt. That time he didn't have a soft landing. Instead, he skidded over the frozen river, and when he came to a halt, he heard the sound of ice cracking beneath him.
Viktar had just ended up in a terrible situation. The ice on that part of the river was thinner than he thought it would be, and it started cracking. Being only ten years old, he had no equipment or experience to deal with the situation he had gotten himself into.
However, things were about to get a whole lot worse. The young boy was about to be thrown from the frying pan into the flame. One last loud crack echoed through the woods.
The ice gave way beneath him, and Viktar fell into the ice-cold water. He was fully submerged for a moment but managed to get his head out of the water. The situation was dire. Even as young as he was, he knew that. He wished he'd listened to his parents, but more than that, he wished one of them was there to save him. As he struggled to stay above water, he noticed that something was watching him.
His parents' words from a week ago flashed through his mind. It dawned upon him that his situation was about to get a lot worse.
A Pack Of Wolves
Viktar could clearly see the wolf pack watching him. They were clearly trying to take advantage of the situation he had put himself into. At that moment, Viktar wanted the wolves to vanish and wake up in his warm cozy home. He wanted nothing more than to disappear from the icy river that was surrounded by wolves.
His hot tears streamed down his frozen face. He had no idea what to do to get out of the situation. But he had no idea that the wolves had been formulating a plan of their own.
Waiting For The Perfect Opportunity
The wolves watched in morbid curiosity; his situation was already potentially deadly, but the wolves posed their own complicating threat. After watching him struggle in the river for a minute, they finally decided to descend the hill.
They surrounded the terrified boy and howled at him. Were they just waiting for the perfect opportunity to attack? What they did next surprised the boy.
Grabbing His Collar
One of the wolves took the first step forward. It seemed as if she was the matriarch. She lunged for Viktar and managed to get a hold of his collar. The boy was understandably terrified and screamed.
With eyes shut, Viktar was pulled against the ice. He tried to understand what the wolf was doing, then it all made sense.
Trying To Help
He understood that the wolves were only trying to help him. They weren't biting him but tugging at his clothes to try and pull him from the hole in the icy surface. Knowing this, he tried desperately to cling to the ice ledge, but it was too slippery.
Then another wolf stepped forward to help. Together, they tried desperately to pull him out. But Viktar had no idea how the situation would end.
Onto The Ice
After a lot of tugging, Viktar managed to pull himself onto the ice with the help of the wolves. They looked down at him with concern in their eyes. He was not convinced that they were trying to help above all else.
Still in shock, he lay on his back while he caught his breath. The wolves stood with him to ensure he stayed out of trouble.
Viktar still knew they could be dangerous and didn't want to see the limits of their kindness. Instead, he smiled at the wolves that had saved him and slowly trudged back home.
The wolves stood by the river and watched him leave. He turned back to look at them before making it over the hill where he couldn't see the Neman river anymore. At least he had a once-in-a-lifetime story that he could share.
What If The Roles Are Reversed?
This encounter was definitely something that Viktar will never forget, but what would happen if the roles were reversed? What if it was the wolf who was in danger instead of the person? Would the results still be the same?
Let's look at a much older story from the other side of the globe to see if the wolf would be grateful for the human’s help.
A Story From Alaska
Before World War 2, there was a man living in Alaska. He would often go into the desolate, foresty areas of the State to search for gold that might’ve washed up in some of the rivers.
But one day, he came across something completely unexpected, and his experience would stay with him for years to come.
John The Prospector
This man was known as John. One day John was kneeling next to the river and panning for gold, but he was not as successful as he hoped he’d be. It was starting to get late, and he decided to head home.
However, on his way out of the forest, he stumbled upon something that crushed his heart.
A Trapped Wolf
A few feet from where he was standing, there was a wolf who had its paw stuck in a trap that was set by hunters. John knew a few of the hunters in the area, and unfortunately, he also knew that the man who had set the trap had died a few days prior.
But that was not the only thing he picked up on while he was watching the injured wolf.
She Had Pups
John could see that the wolf was a female and that she’d been nursing. She had pups, and they had to be somewhere in the area.
A female wolf would never stray too far from her den because that would put her pups at risk, so they had to be nearby.
The Search Began
Determined to save the wolf and her pups, John began searching the area, but the woods were vast, and the ground was covered with snow. It would be impossible for him to find them if he didn’t have any clues to rely on.
All he needed was a sound or footprint to lead him in the right direction.
As he made his way through the woods, he got a lucky break. There were footprints leading in the direction he just came from. With newfound hope, he started following the tracks, which led him deeper into the woods.
It wasn’t long before he stumbled upon what looked like a wolf den, but something seemed to be wrong.
A Quiet Den
The den was far too quiet. If he didn’t know any better, he’d say that it has long been abandoned, but John felt that the pups had to be in there. The only problem was that he couldn’t just reach in and pull them out.
He needed the pups to come out on their own.
John sat just outside the den and started making wolf calls with the hopes that the pups would come out on their own. But minutes ticked by, and there was still no indication of any pups hiding in the den.
But John wouldn’t be giving up that easily. From the looks of their mother, he could tell it had been days since the pups had any nutrition.
Four Baby Wolves
John kept sitting there making wolf calls, and eventually, four small pups, who couldn’t be older than a few weeks, stepped out of the den.
Being extra cautious, John picked up each of the pups and gently put them in the bag he had with them. He would return them to their mother if it was the last thing he did.
Bringing Them Back
When John got back to the trapped wolf and took the pups out of his bag, they were ecstatic. They immediately ran up to her and started feeding. But she was still trapped, and John had to free her.
Unfortunately, the mother wasn’t as trusting as her pups, and she wouldn’t let John get anywhere near them.
Earning Her Trust
John camped near the wolf and her pups for days on end, hoping to earn her trust. With each day that passed, he gave her scraps of meat and played with her pup. He inched a little closer to them every time he had an opportunity to do so.
And then everything changed.
The wolf allowed him to touch her. It was the opportunity he’d been waiting for. He could finally release the trap. Being extra cautious, he placed a hand on the trap and pressed the release. He expected the wolf to take her pups and run off now that she was free.
But that wasn’t what happened at all.
Meeting The Pack
Instead, the wolf stood in front of him for a moment and watched him. Then she motioned for him to follow her, and he happily obliged.
The wolf led him through the forest and into a clearing, where he saw a pack of about nine wolves. He spent the night with the pack, who were rather curious about him, before returning to his home the next day.
Four Years Later
A lot happened to John over the next four years, but after he returned from fighting in the war, he went back to the forest. He found the trap laying where he had left it and decided to see if the pack was still there.
When he arrived at their territory, he let out a wolf call, and the wolf he saved approached him once more. His rescue attempts were something neither of them would ever forget. And the trust he worked so hard to earn was still there years later.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.