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Coyote

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

This story began in October of 2022, and continues still. I was planning a visit to the Albuquerque NM area to visit my children, and called a good friend who lives there regarding a small reunion. Chad is a retired Albuquerque police detective who was featured in a recent posting that explored Edgewood New Mexico’s Wildlife West Animal Park. Chad is a senior zookeeper at this outstanding sanctuary, and like every worker, volunteers his time. He and I became friends during the writing of that story.


Chad sounded more reserved than usual, so I asked him how things were going. There was a moment’s pause, and he replied, “not so well.” His long time friend and companion, Wecks, a rescue dog who had been severely abused, was winding down his life. Chad’s long experience in law enforcement, especially in a rough town like Albuquerque, had left him, in his words, something of a wreck. The two were reflections trapped between mirrors, sharing almost identical names. Yet these two provided for each other, and there was beauty in seeing them together—these two damaged souls receiving, and returning, so much. But, it was time for one to go, and they both knew it.


Wecks had not been so energetic about the walks through the high desert that surrounded his home. What he once had cherished, now seemed a growing burden. Chad, whose acute sensitivity with animals is beyond description, knew what this meant. And so when one day his dog, and best friend, got up and went resolutely to the door, Chad suspected that this may be their last walk.


The familiar trail is brown and dry; the hills are gentle and support prickly pear cactus and piñon trees. It is the high desert, at once both beautiful and wild. Take but a few steps from human habitation and you see a land that looks today as it has for centuries. Chad and Wecks move slowly up the trail, Chad softly encouraging his friend along this final walk. They reach a clearing where the dog pauses to rest, and the man senses something. Something is present, and he looks ahead and into the bushes. In time he sees the presence, a lone female coyote, sitting beneath a tree limb, watching.

Chad, who works daily with coyotes, said later that the animal, though only a few feet away, was not frightened, only observant. It had every reason to have avoided contact with its mortal enemy, man, disappearing long before it would have been detected. But it stayed, for some reason, and even sat down. Chad, struck by this unusual behavior, quickly took a single


photo, and in it you may notice two things: the first being the placement of its hind legs. They are not tucked under the animal and ready for a sudden spring, rather, they are casually placed off to either side—as one might sit comfortably for a performance. The second thing were its eyes.


When I visited my friend some days later we spoke for a long while about this event. Chad said that his initial reaction when he saw the coyote was that the Grim Reaper had arrived. But then nothing happened. His dog just rested, and the coyote only watched. She watched a simple and familiar show, life’s living winding down. This natural acceptance—unavoidable, perfect, and complete—all reflected in the mirrors of her own eyes. Perhaps what made this worth taking a comfortable and relaxed seat for was the presence of the human, so clearly accepted by a fellow canine. This was new, so she stayed, and then silently stood and in a few steps disappeared into her desert.


Chad and Wecks returned home, and in a few days this abused animal who had found his human counterpart, had loved and been loved, was gone. His time was, simply, over. Chad took up his friend and carried him into the woods and hills of their home. There he left him for the coyotes.

 

Afterwords: The world is dynamic; changing beneath our feet. Balance is not possible, but perhaps stability is. Responding to a new situation by incorporating that event into your response, in real-time, is joyful. I don’t believe Chad anticipated his farewell to Wecks, nor how perfect it would be.

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