The remains of dog Shota's second collar
— 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 busy, temporarily gave up on finding out what happened and being practical, the main problem at the moment was to replace it. I went back to the pet store to buy another one. The owner asked, “Weren’t you just in to buy one exactly like that?” I mulled over the option of saying I just liked them so much I wanted two – then I confessed what happened. There was a momentary silence. He digested the scenario. Then, kindly, he said the collar was absolutely guaranteed to be indestructible no matter the circumstances and if I found it and returned it with receipt the company would replace it for no charge. I asked, “Even under those circumstances?” He replied, “Well, they said guaranteed to be indestructible…”
I went to look for it again (it was after all, $15.99). Jean finally found it flung far outside the enclosure. Perhaps with contempt…
I thought it was just Wild Boy, so named because he is one. I put the new collar on Shota and put him in with our female coyote, who I perceived as a gentle soul. I went back an hour later to collect him. No collar, and a very pleased-looking coyote. I looked around, unbelieving. Then I saw pieces of iridescent green and purple and blue strewn wildly about.
Coyotes 2, Humans 0.
So maybe it is coyotes in general that don’t approve of collars, not just Wild Boy. I thought of a cartoon by Gary Larsen I had seen years ago and that stayed in my mind. It was a dog with some cave men and a silly grin on his face. Three wolves were looking from behind a tree, one saying, “It’s Bob all right…but look at those vacuous eyes, that stupid grin on his face…he’s been domesticated I tell you.”
As an aside – though I don’t want to admit it, it is rather likely that this couldn’t have happened without Shota being in some way complicit. I heard no doggie struggles or cries to try to get away. He was perfectly happy and on excellent terms with each coyote when I came to get him. The probable sad conclusion is that he just stood there and let it happen. Twice. The collars were in fact tough and it couldn’t have been a quick job. There were several attempts made on the first one. And he is supposed to be loyal to humans…
I forgot. In a busy tizzy I put Shota in with the little girl again and left the emergency last resort collar on…
Coyotes 3. Humans 0.
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.