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Human-Animal Connections
February 20, 2019

Giving a Bear a Pill—Or Trying To…

There comes a time in the course of events when you have to give a bear a pill---or in Major Bear’s case, eight of them, twice a day. You might think it was easy. With...

Teton Totem the Grizzly Bear

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — It seems elderly bears are the same as elderly humans. They want their naps. They like to sleep in. And now, way early, Teton Totem has asked to go to bed for the winter. All the other bears, relatively young whippersnappers, are still in massive eating mode, preparing for hibernation. (Well – maybe not Huckleberry; I can’t imagine where he could fit another pound). But Teton has slowed down noticeably for weeks now, and the day before yesterday barely touched his favorite treat, plump juicy grapes. It’s pretty easy to see when A Bear Wants to Go to Bed. He looks just like a very sleepy child, so pitiful and vulnerable in his need that you want to...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — The child in me keeps crying out, “Where is she? Where is my Woodle? Why isn’t she there on her bed? Is she OK?” When my father passed away, no longer able to visit my mother in her separate room in the nursing home, she didn’t understand. She would ask for him, wonder why he no longer came. She would write him postcards and ask the nurse to deliver them, saying how much she missed him. There was never any answer. It is at that level I am calling for her. I know she is gone. But somewhere I don’t understand. We are so helpless in the vulnerability of loss. Woodle with Hope the Wolf Dog | Earthfire Yesterday, I received an urgent...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — Apparently coyotes don’t like collars. Not that we ever put one on them. No. It seems they object to collars in principle. It started with putting Shota, my fine German Shepherd pup and animal assistant, in with Wild Boy the coyote for companionship. I had just bought a splendid peacock collar for Shota, all iridescent green and purple and blue to set off his lovely white coat. When I went back to get him – no collar. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was confused. What could have happened? It was new. I had put the clasp in firmly. The dawning suspicion was that it must somehow have been removed. There was only one possible culprit. I got really...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — There are many tales of Swatworth, self-named the Magnificent, a bobcat of extremely high self-esteem. In fact he is the subject of our first children’s book Swatworth, Josie and the Buffalo Girls based on a true story in which he (nearly) met his match but managed by the skin of his whiskers to save face. In the following Swatworth actually gave something back, though unintentionally. Several splendid old willow trees used to grace downtown Main Street in Driggs. A developer bought the land and despite diligent efforts to save them, they were cut down. In the endless battle between individual property rights and community values, the focus on property...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — Jean walked into the office. “Tanaka isn’t feeling good….” Jean never says that for anything mild. Last time he said that, the wolf died. Tanaka is a gorgeous, sweet, loving, three year-old wolf. In a panic we put him in the back of the Subaru. I petted and reassured him as Jean drove us all to Maura, our vet. Meanwhile she obligingly cleared her day’s appointments. On the ride over he hung his head over the front seat to be closer to us for reassurance. Tanaka the wolf on the way to vet, not feeling very well at all What could be wrong with a healthy three year-old suddenly taken desperately ill? He was coughing, hunched over in...

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