A silent communion
Not the Coyote we saw yesterday, but a Coyote from Yellowstone. Photo credit: Jim Peaco
My Borders, Bossy and Bark, normally sound off when an off-leash dog approaches us. But not yesterday.
Yesterday at Hilton Falls we met one of our resident Coyotes as we crested a hilltop. It’s the second time in the last six months we’ve been lucky like this. Last time we were coming around a corner on a forest path and I thought I was seeing the hind end of a young deer.
This time, the Coyote was out in the open. At first I thought I was seeing an off-leash German Sheppard running towards us. Expecting a vocal explosion from my terriers I stopped and looked around, preparing to ask the owner to recall his dog.
But when we stopped, the ‘dog’ stopped. And for a few seconds of suspended time we all gazed at each other, the ‘dog’ looking straight at us without a hint of confrontation in his body or attitude. No owner in sight. Certainly not a Sheppard. A handsome Coyote instead.
Far too quickly he turned and vanished into the hillside woods behind him, running through a carpet of fall leaves without making a sound. Bossy and Bark didn’t make a peep either. Just like when we met the Deer-Coyote in the woods in the summertime. A silent communion. Some amazing grace.
-8 this morning with frost on the ground. Winter is coming. Playtime!
photo credit: A. Beaudin
Burrs happen. Suffering is (usually) optional.
I’ve had lots of practice with burrs. I get into a lot of things. Bossy and Bark find them all the time and my mare grazed a paddock laden with burrs a few summers ago. Every day, until I trudged out with a wheel barrow and the will to tear every last of those dang plants out, she came in with a unicorn horn and a dreadlocked tail. It took ages to get them out. Never to be cut out. Like a terrier’s beard.
Day after day. What to do?
Do the opposite of what comes naturally. Don’t hold the hair and pull the burrs out. Hold the burrs and pull the hair out. It’s counter-intuitive. Yet it works for beards and manes and tails. And life.
When you’re on the hunt, burrs–and other sticky or prickly things–come with the terrain. Take hold of the problem and tease the good stuff out.
Just tease the good stuff out.
Terriers–and dogs in general–are much more “plastic” than we are.
A speaker at a semi-recent national veterinary conference reported that canine personality (and related behavioural issues) is fixed by about three years of age. The implication was: if you haven’t ‘fixed’ your dog’s issues by then, forget about it. Time to despair? I don’t think so.
Bossy changed a lot between three and four. So I, for one, conclude this assertion is “bunk!”, to quote my colourful first-year sociology prof, Kunkel. Of course, if I’d stayed stuck so would have Bossy.
What’s more, if I could’ve figured out faster what I was doing–or not doing– in the situations that stressed and challenged her, I could’ve helped her find her softness and stillness sooner than she did.
Freeing ourselves with the idea that behaviour is malleable is a key to improving all our relationships. After all, isn’t change–and not stasis–the real way of life? Let’s be tenacious on that thought.
Let’s be open to having a terrier teach us.
We can live more joyfully with terriers.
Join me in considering, understanding, and learning from this complex breed–both canine and human. I hope you dig the conversation.