Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In Praise of Coyotes

If it’s true that every dog has its day, then let today, October 21st, be the day of the coyote.

I know there are a lot of coyote haters out there, but a lot of those haters really have no inborn dislike of the coyote. They were turned into haters because their cat or dog was turned into dinner.

I understand their feelings because over the years several of my pets have come to that same end. Each time this has happened it left the whole pack - dogs, cats and humans – mourning, as death inevitably will. But it isn’t the coyote’s fault, and as much as these wild canines may worry those of us with cats, or small dogs, or unattended babies, (if a dingo can eat your baby, a coyote can, too. Australia's feral canines got nothing on America's!) they should at the same time inspire us to admiration, and from there, to respect.

Understand, the coyote is a dog. I’m aware that those who study biology and taxonomy and "science" and "reality" will say they’re a different species, but to my mind that’s a sort of dogcentric version of racism. If a “coyote” can mate with a “dog,” and if the pups of that union are generally reproductively viable themselves, then how are they not the same thing? That’s akin to saying that an Aborigine, for instance, is a different species than human. Hopefully I don’t need to further explain why that thinking can lead to all sorts of mischief, like the holocaust, for example.

So the coyote and the dog are one and the same. Imagine if you will, your dog, living on his own, finding his own food with nutritional balance to keep him alive, having no home for shelter, no human to complete him. The elements buffet your dog, and virtually every creature he meets, man or canine, wants to kill him. Really, imagine it.

Then imagine your dog, in this abject state, not only living, but thriving as the coyote does. Driven from their original habitats, these remarkable dogs have settled in urban and suburban areas across America. They’ve adapted to post-industrial modern life better than most people have, and they’ve recalibrated their ways to survive. They’ve already taken Chicago and they're moving on Manhattan! Would your dog be that ambitious or a tenth as successful? I've known few who would.

“But,” the haters out there say, “They’re not dogs. They’re sneaky and nasty. They kill pets through trickery as often as through force. And, when they can’t achieve their objectives in some sort of legitimate manner, they invariably resort to the Acme catalog and the next thing you know you’ve got a frantic, howling, coyote attached to some sort of wooden thing, hurtling towards your house at 500 miles per hour, while on fire.”

It is certain that Warner Brothers has done the coyote a great disservice. Many, but by no means all, people are aware that coyotes are not purchasing their implements of death from some mail-order Acme Company, or from any other vendor. In order for that to even be conceivable, the coyote would need a credit card, and, as I think I’m making clear, coyotes get no credit.

Often on early morning walks with Levi and Rocky, I’ll glimpse a coyote, hanging out at the park behind Cheyenne Traditional School. I’ve never seen more than two together, and usually it’s a lone figure, picking silently through the brush and saguaros. Even though Rocky is a little guy who would make a fine coyote canapé, we’ve never been approached. At the same time, the coyotes never run from us. They’re cool, if we are. And we are.

Of the approximately two dozen coyotes I’ve seen this way, in not one case were they not already watching me, and aware of us, and on a moonlit night in Arizona, their eyes can at moments glow with the fire of their souls. Those eyes always give me a chill, not of fear, but of recognition. They’re smart, wary, independent, wild, wise in many ways, but, stripped of all that, they’re just dogs. The eyes of a coyote are not only the eyes of a dog, but they're the eyes of a dog who's had to make his way through life with no god-like help from humans.

They’re dogs who have been dealt a bad hand in that famous dog poker painting of life, and they’re making the best of it. They’re dogs living in a hostile world, just trying to survive, to live and be happy. They may cause a lot of damage and pain to others, like when they eat your cat, but they never have a bad intent. They need to be opportunists to get by. Maybe, when you think about it, they’re not so much like dogs, at that. Maybe they’re a lot more like us.

© 2009, All Rights Reserved, Rich Sands
Please share this blog with others.


tashabud said...

Hi Rich,
That's a great observation you've made on the coyotes. I didn't realize that coyotes and dogs are able to mate and reproduce.

Like you said, they're only trying to survive like everyone else.


Post a Comment