CoyoteLoathe them or love them, coyotes have a message for you at this pivotal time in Saskatchewan’s economic growth.
My sentiment for coyotes has been formed in the night. That makes me unlikely to be at ease with the creature—predation is its excited purpose come dark. I also own sheep. So what hope is there that I could be fair-minded on the subject of canis latrans? I live in relative isolation on the prairie with dogs, cats, chickens, and a wooly flock under the watch of two donkeys. Coyote is anathema, then. She and I are eternally in conflict over my possessions.
I wish it were that simple. I wish what I feel for this unyielding canine could be more rational, more condescending, a little colder. But coyote inflames me.
This inflammation reached its peak one recent autumn. In a comically stupid accident I had stabbed my eye. The circumstances are too humiliating to relate. The slash fell just short of permanent damage to the pupil and the pain was excruciating. At night it was unbearable.
Small anaesthetic drops relieved the scorching for 15, possibly 20, minutes at a time. Lying in bed like that, waking and falling back into shallow sleep over and over, induces a panic. It is like a maddening thirst teased with the smallest measures of water. But when the pain was dispersed for another quarter of an hour I would hold my eyes open until I could distinguish the treetops beside the house against the blue-black sky. I hated the helplessness I was in and the pain I could not escape. The bareness of those shadowy treetops brushed bare by chilling wind made me lonelier than I had ever been. I shut my eyes to breathe and hope that the pain would not return. It did.
There was other breathing in the house. My children slept in rooms nearby and their doors stood ajar. I listened to them as they moved, or snored, or spoke some unintelligible thing from a dream. Sleeplessness and pain had led to speechlessness and I had largely stopped talking to them over the course of several days. Their Little bright eyes were indecipherable tablets. When they laughed I was startled.
Their restfulness, though, relaxed me in the dark. My wife was breathing lightly and the house was almost soundless.
The tentative peace was pierced, cruelly from my perspective, by the voices of coyote. I say voices because they were, as they often are, human-like in range and inflection. If these were human wails and squeals they would come from torment and despair. Coming from this hungry animal, they seem taunting, an unnecessary provocation in advance of an attack. Stealth would seem more reasonable if plunder is the objective.
My teeth clenched as the howling rose. I was half blind and immobile, my dog barked bravely from the step. I knew the sheep would be pressed together in a corner of the barn. They were trapped and vulnerable. “Mangy, unclean, murderous dogs,” I fumed in silence. “Worthless, foul, interloping curs! Pestilent, cursed, vile, rabid thieves!” Could I have reached them, seen their black eyes, I would have lunged. They circled the yard and pasture, leaving their prints in the wet soil. And I wanted vengeance for their truculence.
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