From the Mail Bag: I’d love to hear more about your coyotes, S.B., a reader writes in. She goes on to ask: Have you always had them nearby? When did you start having the coyote dreams? Have they taken over your area or are they remaining a stable population? I am fascinated by the relationship you and Kiera have with them!

Dear S.B.: The first time I heard or saw them was the night I was looking at Magic’s picture on the web. That was six years ago now. There had been rumors on our road of coyotes killing cats, though no one had actually seen one at that point (and I suspect the culprits were fishers, not coyotes). I live on a country road with relatively few houses spread pretty far apart. My neighbors are mostly farmers, and everyone looks out for each other. We also have a group of regular walkers on the road who like to stop and chat. So there’s a pretty good network of eyes and ears for most goings on.

Shortly after that, I started hearing the coyotes pretty regularly; their most “talkative” seasons are spring and fall. (As a matter of fact, Andrew and I listened to quite a serenade last night, while sitting on our deck). And I started seeing them on occasion, though my neighbors still claimed no sightings. Since there’s still plenty of undeveloped area here for them to inhabit, and coyotes are reclusive from humans by nature when not being fed, it’s still uncommon for them to be seen around here. So I didn’t think it odd that my neighbors hadn’t seen any. I figured I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

My western-trained left brain says it’s as simple as what happens when you think of buying a new car and all of a sudden you start seeing that car everywhere you go, when you’d never noticed it before. Because some part of me wanted to see them, I unconsciously looked for them–and I saw them. My influenced-by-native-culture side believes that they’ve wanted me to see them and so they’ve shown themselves to me. Take your pick. :)

I know of two different coyote families: one that lives behind us on hundreds of acres of woods; and one that lives on the back end of the loop, also in hundreds of acres of woods. I’ve come to know a couple of their regular routes and so I’m not surprised when I see one trotting across a field anymore. From what I can tell, the population is pretty stable. And since there are only horses and no small farm animals who’d make likely prey–and people have learned to keep their cats in at night–there is pretty much a live-and-let-live attitude around here. Everyone also knows that if they try to kill them off, others will just move in, so they leave them alone.

I haven’t really had any coyote dreams. Just that one that caused me to wake up, so that I could go outside to get Kiera and Magic away from that coyote with whom they were locked in a Mexican stand-off. The coyotes have been largely a waking phenomena in my life. Kiera and I certainly seem to have some sort of a synchronistic relationship with them. But I haven’t forgotten, nor do I take for granted, that they are wild animals. So, no matter how friendly Kiera and the coyotes seem to be with each other, I’ll never let my guard down or assume they’re safe from Kiera, or she from them.

I also realize that it can be tricky to rhapsodize about coyotes when lots of people see them as vermin and/or as dangers to their livestock (though, statistically, domestic dogs are a far greater danger to livestock than coyotes). Not having any small livestock or small animals to worry about losing, I can just appreciate them for who they are. And, thankfully, I still live in a place where there is room enough for all of us to coexist peacefully.