Interspecies Connections
November 8, 2018

Teton Totem Goes to Bed

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 carry him up to his bed and tuck him in.

— 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. — August 1, 2017 A sweet young volunteer, Gwen, came into the office walking softly, her hands cupped together in front of her ever so gently, holding something apparently very delicate and precious.  It was a baby bird. She had seen it tumble off our roof from under the gable onto the ground. She rushed to pick it up. It was still alive. It was far too young to survive out of the nest, having just sprouted a few tufts of feathers sticking out in ungainly fashion from its naked pink skin.  It was a baby sparrow. Left to Right: Baby sparrow just fallen off roof, baby sparrow in hand | Photo by Earthfire Here was a golden opportunity for Gwen,...

-- by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. -- I was driving to town the other day to run errands. I was almost there when I suddenly felt a strange movement and weight on the top of my right thigh. I looked down and thought, “That is a large mouse.” Then I realized it wasn’t a mouse at all. It was an ermine.* We have had a family on the property for years. They have never caused any trouble with our chickens or eggs, and we peaceably coexisted, though once one ill-advisedly attached itself to the back of the foot of one of our ducks. We take great delight in seeing their lithe forms darting across the property. We don’t keep domestic cats because of their preying on birds and other small animals...

— by Susan Eirich, PhD — I bring him fresh-cut wild rose bushes as he comes over to greet me and daintily pull at the green leaves between the thorns. I stroke his long graceful neck; his smooth chestnut flanks and admire the impossibly long lashes over huge liquid brown eyes. The soft browns and grays that follow the delicate curves of his face. The lovely shape of his ears. The impossibly slender legs. He twists his flexible neck to peer back intently into my face and arches it against me in companionship. His whole being is a thing of grace and function. An exquisite creation. A little three-legged deer who can run like the wind. How can there be anything so lovely on this...

— by Susan Eirich, PhD — My brilliant, nearly Nobel-winning scientist father, was flummoxed by a squirrel. Squirrels are not to be taken lightly because they are small and common. We humans make that mistake often.  No matter what contraptions my father set up to foil them, they always got into the bird feeder. His frustration, and my mother’s mischievous delight in it, is a vivid childhood memory. Squirrels are so remarkable that the BBC committed its resources to doing a full hour-long documentary, where they set up an impossible obstacle course in the trees – and lost. Nugget the squirrel came to us as a five-day-old rescue having fallen out of her nest. She was found...

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