Steve Mason was a Husky, Labrador, Rottweiler mix with fluffy ears and a brown and tan coat. He may have been a mutt, but he was also a big, strong, magnificent example of canine beauty. And most importantly, he was a hero.
Mason's owner lives in the mountains and was looking for dog who could join her on long hikes as a companion and a protector. When she saw Steve Mason tucked in among a litter of puppies, she knew right away that he was the one.
While all the other puppies squealed and yelped and played, Steve Mason wandered around sniffing the nearby flowers. The young woman was impressed by his calm and tranquil manner. She adopted him that very day and so began a very special relationship that would last 16 years.
Year after year the two companions scaled the summits and explored the mountains. When his owner got tired, Steve Mason was there to spur her on. With such a strong, loyal dog at her side, she attempted summits that she never would have tried before.
But three years ago, at the age of 14, Steve Mason finally started to show signs of aging. He wasn't quite as strong and didn't move as much as he used to. Month by month his body became weaker and his joints became stiff.
When Steve Mason's owner noticed that his eyesight and hearing were getting worse, she knew she had to prepare herself for the worst. The idea of putting him to sleep was somehow unthinkable, but she also couldn't stand to see him suffer.
On March 5, 2016, Steve Mason and his owner went for what would end up being their final hike. The old dog tried hard to keep up, but had trouble matching the pace of the younger family dogs that were with them. They didn't go far any more; Steve Mason simply wasn't up for it. It seemed like a typical morning walk until Steve Mason's owner noticed something unusual. Feeling a presence behind her, she turned to see a silhouette on the horizon about 250 yards away. It was an animal and it was following them.
At first she didn't think it was possible, but as she watched the animal move, her worst fears were realized: it was definitely a wolf! There hadn't been a wolf sighting in the valley for more than 15 years, but now there was one stalking her and her dogs.
Moving as fast as she could, she tried to herd the dogs back toward the house, but it was too late. The wolf had already moved in for the attack and in a matter of seconds was standing only a few yards away from her.
It was an impressive creature with shoulders that came up to the young woman's hip. But it was also terribly thin and had obviously not eaten in long time. "She looked scared but determined, and most of all she looked hungry," remembers the young woman.
And then, without warning, the wolf attacked. It went for the younger dogs but Steve Mason jumped in the way. The young woman managed to get the pups away from the wolf while Steve Mason fought it. It was a horrible, bloody battle that the old dog had no hope of winning. And then, with one vicious bite to the neck, the massive beast killed Steve Mason.
The young woman was devastated. Her best friend for the past 16 years had been taken from her and she wanted only one thing: revenge!
But as she sat there watching the wolf eat its prey, she realized that her anger wasn't fair. The wolf had only done what it needed to do to survive. It was hungry and it had found food the only way it knew how. Why should she put herself and her puppies at risk for something as petty as revenge? With a heavy heart, she rounded up the younger dogs and headed home, leaving the wolf to eat its meal in peace.
A few days later, the young woman saw a picture of the wolf that had taken her beloved Steve Mason. The local authorities had been alerted and were now searching for it and passing out photos throughout the area to warn the local residents. As she stared at the photo, she couldn't help but admire the wolf's majestic beauty.
The loss of Steve Mason left a huge void in the young woman's life, but she now knows that he had a fitting end. Steve Mason had gone out fighting in a blaze of glory instead of simply fading aways into nothingness.
Hunting down and killing that wolf might have seemed like the natural thing to do in such a situation, but this young woman managed to see things from a different perspective. She and Steve Mason had lived at one with nature, and so had the wolf. Steve Mason's death may appear to be a tragedy, but it is actually a story of sacrifice and heroism. The old dog probably knew that it would be his last stand, but by doing what he did, he saved his owner and the other dogs. His body may be gone, but he will live on in the heart of his owner and his spirit will wander those mountains for eternity.