Faerytale the coyote
— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. —
I don’t want to write this because if I do it means she’s gone. I didn’t want to bury her for the same reason. Sometimes, with some animals, you just can’t bear it and Faerytale is one of them. How can you love a coyote so much? Be touched so deeply by her spirit. Her courageous delicate sensitive feminine terrified spirit?
Sometimes you have an animal being that is so beautiful, vulnerable, brave that she just breaks your heart. Faerytale was like that. I ached with love for her. She touched everyone who met her, from large tough football players* to troubled teenagers, to everyone. For myself, she would never let me touch her but she did feel safe enough to come towards me and take a piece of food from near my hand. That alone was a great honor. I seemed to be the only semi-safe person in her world. She gave me such trust as she was able and it touched me deeply. Even without food, if I stayed there quietly, with fear in her eyes yet she would come, wanting a connection, afraid of a connection. Beyond hard wiring, in a deep mysterious place, something within each of us responded to the other. That, is richness.
left photo Coyote siblings Faerytale (left) and Skitter (right), middle & right photos Faerytale in the Earthfire Garden | Photos by Marilyn Paine and Rose De Dan
Fourteen years of knowing she was out there, her spirit there, available anytime I wanted to visit, which was never nearly enough, being pulled by human worries and weights. I bitterly regret not spending more time with her. Maybe, maybe she would have finally have let me touch her and she could have had the pleasure of human touch. But that is often true. We always think we have more time. We don’t always live our lives to the depths we can; should, given the gift that is and the riches it would bring, to us and others. Our human, technological, unnecessarily complicated life pulls us away from what is really important. Even as she lay dying I was in an online virtual meeting with several humans talking about marketing and fundraising. What does that have to do with Life! It is essential – without that I wouldn’t be able to reach you, the receiver of this piece, or have the funds to reach you. But what a strange way to live, from an animal’s point of view and, if we look at it as some might from another planet, for us as well, half animal, half in our abstract brain. The immense complexity of what we have created; the distance from the visceral reality of physical life. The disconnection from the Earth from where we come and the spiritual solace it gives.
She passed quickly, one evening fine, the next morning in seizures. She seemed cold and Jean covered her with his wool sweater. We called the vet, just in case there was something we could do though we didn’t know if it was the right thing to do. She was so afraid of touch, would it just traumatize her to have someone handle her. She passed away moments before he arrived.
I had known it would be coming soon. Last fall she appeared frail and grizzled. And January is the cold dark time of year. But it never seems real until it’s real. And final.
I don’t know why she was the way she was; so fearful. An ingrained sensitivity? A special soul? PTSD? She came that way. We have had quite a few coyotes here and their personalities have differed dramatically. Pimpernel demanded human attention, touch, stroking, massage. Her energy field was that of a large animal, which in her estimation she was. At least in importance. Faerytale was all contained, shy, all within herself. Willow was wily coyote, sheer brilliant Machiavellian mischief, a deliciously wicked intelligence shining out of her golden eyes, delighting in herself. There is no such thing as “a coyote,” any more than there is “a human.” And if one coyote has the sensitive receptivity of Faerytale then some others must have it too. Some of the very ones we shoot, poison and trap.
To be fair, there are aggressive predatory coyotes as well, but in honor of the possibility that each animal we eradicate as an inconvenience to us may be sensitive receptive beings, on a moral basis we need to find other ways to coexist other than violent. That is the lazy easy unthinking unimaginative way to handle things. Unseeing, just reactive, causing unseen and unimaginable suffering. We can do better than that. (Not worthy of us and our capabilities.) We have the creativity and brain power if we put our minds to it. In fact I believe the suffering of any living being goes out into the atmosphere and affects us subliminally. So does joy and beauty and kindness.
One reason I write this is to share that rich awareness of all the individual beings with which we share the Earth, and delight in their diversity. What a beautiful ever-changing symphony with all the unique vibrations around us! If we would tune to it more we would be better occupied than by many of the things with which we fill our life’s time. And have a lot more joy and a lot less stress.
I don’t want to be writing this. I don’t want her to be gone. Earthfire is poorer without her exquisite presence. But I want to honor her, and share who she was for the gentle beautiful teachings she offered to all who met her: All coyotes are not the same. All beings of a species are not the same. We live in a richly varied world with each being a unique temporary sound lending its beauty to the ever-changing symphony of life. That is the nature of life – an ever-changing symphony of beings and their unique notes and essence and teachings, varying moment to moment as some leave and some arrive. But oh how I wish some of those notes would stay forever even though I know it is impossible and not in the nature of things…
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Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.