-- 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...

Among other animals we had an exquisite, playful, affectionate cougar girl here, Tahi, and a determined little three-legged deer, Runs-Like-the-Wind. We treasured them both. Spending time with a member of any species gives you great appreciation for how wondrous each one is and makes it hard to value one over another. On New Year’s Day Amy, who originally rescued our baby deer, came to take him for an expedition in the woods on our property. As she was walking with him he suddenly bolted. She looked up and there was a cougar not 20 feet away. Her husband, Brian, was up ahead and had been seen it running in her direction. By the time Amy saw it, the cougar had just apparently seen her,...

Wolf dog in the snow

-- Susan Eirich, PhD -- We got the phone call on a Wednesday. There was this wolf-like animal hanging around the yard of the caller. Stephanie lived in a rural subdivision and was worried about his future. She suspected he would eventually be shot if he was left free. He was young, perhaps 5-6 months old, and apparently very lonely. When she was in the house looking out she could see him approach her two little dogs, trying to play with them. Over time he bonded with them. He slept in the bushes near the house. He would bring toys into the yard- a ball he had found, sticks, inviting them to play. She quite fell in love with him. Eventually she could sit on the porch and he would still...

We brought Miss Clover the Badger and Streak the Coyote out into a field. They had never officially met before. After some experimental sniffing and digging, Miss Clover found a likely spot for a meal and started to dig for real, dirt flying up behind her like a little brown geyser. Streak stopped, watched what she was doing, and parked himself at what turned out to be a second entrance. A vole came shooting up seeking safety from the onslaught behind it. Streak pounced, caught it, held it in his mouth, walked around to Miss Clover and trotted up to her as she continued furiously digging, oblivious to the vole on the other end. Streak tossed it invitingly up in the air. She ignored it –...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — Jose, our animal caretaker, approached me with something cupped gently in his large gloved hands – a tiny baby sparrow. He had found it near the coyotes and was afraid it was about to be eaten. It was fully feathered but still had that large pathetic yellow-rimmed baby mouth that young birds have. He could flutter along the ground but wasn’t quite yet able to fly. I held him for a bit while Jean went to get a bird cage. Its tiny feet clung tightly to my fingers as I cupped him to help him feel warm and secure in the dark. Still, I could feel his heart beating wildly. We put him in a small cage while I thought what to do. I knew that a large community...

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