Friday, March 13, 2009

Reading The Daily Coyote

I recently spent a few days in the wilds of Wyoming with an orphaned and adopted coyote named Charlie. How so? Reading The Daily Coyote: A Story of Love, Survuval, and Trust in the Wilds of Wyoming by Shreve Stockton. She also writes a blog of the same name. Stockton was a city girl who took a road trip on her Vespa and quite spontaneously fell into love with the wide open spaces of Ten Sleep, Wyoming. When her boyfriend, a government trapper, brings her a baby coyote, before long she and the pup are bonded for life. Gifted at writing and photography, Shreve began emailing friends and family photos of her adopted coyote. This practice grew into a photos by subscription service which helped the author support herself, and eventually she was offered a book contract. She also taught school and did ranch work, living rough in a small 12' x 12' cabin. So the book is as much about her new lifestyle as it is the coyote.

Quite often Ms. Stockton has to turn off the Comments capability on her blog, because of the snark factor. So many visitors want to pass judgement on her adoption of a wild animal. I have sympathy for her because of that. The situation is what it is; Charlie is neither wild nor completely domesticated. Because she took immediate care of him, gave him flea treatment, bottle-fed him goat's milk, and gave him a home in the world, Charlie survived. It took some time, but he became pals with Eli, the author's cat. Charlie's habitat is a large rural area enclosed with an tall electric fence. Shreve also takes him for lots of long hikes.

Most of us are lucky if we get to know a few cats and dogs during our lifetimes. Right now I have one beloved polydactyl cat, Bowie. My sister-in-law keeps two miniature horses which I adore. Years ago, when I lived in upstate New York, I had an Alpine goat and kept rabbits. Big city life doesn't allow me these indulgences. Just a few days ago, we went to the Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show and much enjoyed seeing various farm animals.

In the case of coyote, I'm sure very few people have lived this close to one. So I was absolutely fascinated by this book. Getting to know playful, intelligent Charlie is a privilege. The author's photographs give me chills (or maybe its thrills); it's just like being there right next to this gorgeous animal. Shreve Stockton writes of their bond with candor and much soul searching. It isn't all hugs, licks and tail waggings. She had to learn how to be the alpha animal in their pack of two. On her website, she speaks of Charlie as her co-pilot. Her dedication to doing the right thing for the animal is humbling. I think we humans have much to learn from the animal world. See AnimalIntelligence.org!

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