Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Coyote Whisperer

on November 17, 2021
(Injured coyote. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.)

ALL PHOTOS BY DAWN PISTURINO.

My first experience with coyotes was two eyes glowing in the dark, watching me from the sagebrush. People told me lurid tales of coyotes snatching little children, eating family pets, and circling around people who were out hiking in the desert. So, naturally, I developed a fear of them when we moved to Arizona from California in 1987.

Over the years, coyotes have roamed freely on our five acres of desert land, especially when we started putting out food and water for the birds. Some days, it felt like Grand Central Station, with coyotes coming and going. I never felt comfortable with this, but I also didn’t want to fence our land off all the way around. We keep the land cleared around our house, but otherwise, we leave the land in its natural state. We like watching the birds, rabbits, and other critters. We maintain our land as a wildlife sanctuary.

In 2017, an older coyote began hanging around, and I would go out and talk to him and leave dry dog food out for him. He was clearly tired and worn out and became a regular visitor. I worried about the other wildlife, but he never tried to harm a rabbit or a bird or anything else. In fact, on Christmas Eve, I saw him lying down in the back yard, like a dog, enjoying the sunshine, with birds and rabbits milling around him, and never bothered any of them. I remembered that Bible verse (Isaiah 11:6) about the wolf dwelling with the lamb. It was a beautiful thing to observe in real life and a wonderful Christmas gift. I was truly amazed.

In the summer of 2018, we experienced a severe drought in Northern Arizona. Even in Flagstaff, where I was working at the time, pine trees turned brown, the normally green meadows looked brown and dry, and wildfires threatened the whole area. For the first time, the campgrounds prohibited campfires — something long overdue. Around Williams, there seemed to be a constant wreath of smoke as the U.S. Forestry Service conducted scheduled burns.

The coyotes looked horrible! They were skin and bones and struggling to survive. My husband and I agreed to put dry dog food out for them whenever they showed up. The number visiting had already shrunk over the years, and we wanted them to live.

One day, the old coyote was carrying something black in his mouth, and I chased him around the yard, trying to figure out what it was. I was praying it wasn’t one of our wildlife. It turned out to be an old, dried up watermelon rind. That’s how hungry these coyotes were!

He started showing up around 5 pm every day, and that became our routine for dinner. One afternoon, I was sitting on the front porch waiting for him to show up. A truck driving down the road suddenly stopped, and I heard a gunshot. I figured the driver had killed a rattlesnake, but a chill ran through me when I thought about the coyote. I prayed it wasn’t him! The driver smiled and waved at me as he drove by as if he had just done me a big favor. The coyote never showed up for dinner, but I also didn’t see anything lying in the road.

The next day, my husband and I were walking down in the wash and kept seeing strange circular markings in the sand. I thought maybe kids were playing there. Then I found strange markings in our yard. I couldn’t tell if they were big-ass snake trails or if the dog had been running around with his leash on. But it really bothered me. And that night, the dogs kept barking.

At 5:30 the next morning, my husband woke me up and told me there was an injured coyote in our yard. I ran outside, and there he was — my coyote! He was lying in the dirt with a big gash in his right shoulder. I got as close as I could so I could look at the wound, but he lifted his head and bared his teeth at me. So I snuck up from behind and looked, and yes, it was a very deep gash. He had been shot, and even though the wound looked clean, it was very deep. My poor coyote was dying.

It was very hot outside, so I put food and water next to him. As the sun got higher and brighter, he moved to another spot. I moved the food and water with him. He raised his head and looked at me with such a look of gratitude in his eyes, I will never forget it. If we didn’t bond before, we certainly did at that moment.

My husband told me, “He’s going to end up under the front porch. Just watch.”

I didn’t think so because he kept moving farther away from the house and into the bushes, where it was cooler. As I watched him, I figured out that the strange markings in the yard were caused by the coyote dragging his right front leg. Later, I found him lying under the car — and then, I found him under the front porch! My husband was right.

Photo by Dawn Pisturino.

The next morning, my husband found the coyote’s dead body under his truck. I cried my eyes out. And I was so angry at that driver for shooting him! There was absolutely no reason to shoot him. I still cry when I think about it. And I figured out that the circular markings in the wash were caused by the coyote thrashing around in a circular motion in the sand because he was in so much pain. I found the same markings under my husband’s truck.

At the same time, I felt honored and grateful that this poor creature – that was so injured and in so much pain – had made his way to our house for help. He knew he would be taken care of here.

Since then, we have other coyotes who come for breakfast and dinner:

(Coyote family. The baby coyote is on the left, looking up at the camera. With Mom and Dad. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.)

Welcoming new baby coyotes into our life gives me hope that the local population will survive.

Dawn Pisturino

November 16, 2021

Copyright 2018-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


34 responses to “Coyote Whisperer

  1. Timothy Price says:

    So sad. The wilds are cruel and unforgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michele Lee says:

    Heartbreaking photos. I see and hear less and less coyotes. ๐Ÿ˜ž

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WOW Dawn, what a heartbreaking story. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ I think that coyotes have a mark on their heads as being terrifying and dangerous creatures. Some in our area, which I was so surprised to see them in the Metrolina area of the Carolinas on the east coast, were rabid when they attacked, and the softer nature of this animal is not seen or recognized. Your home must have been like a safe haven for the coyote that found it’s last resting place in your yard, and the babies that probably belonged to it might be the newbies that just showed up.

    Sadly, we are seeing so much of our natural landscapes being invaded by “man’s so called progress.” These animals, through such invasion are becoming homeless and what was once a familiar habitat to them is now foreign. Perhaps this is why we see these creatures becoming extinct. Thanks for sharing your story, albeit so sad. ๐Ÿ˜ฃ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜ž

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can understand why people are afraid, I’ve been afraid, too. It’s only from interacting with them that I see the other side of their nature. And we do have more people and traffic now where I live, so they are being pushed out, but they are also scavengers and pegged me and my husband for big softies! As a friend of mine said, “They are always watching. Even if you don’t know them, they know YOU.” And how right he was! We will continue to do what we can to help and protect them. Thank you, Kim!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great Blog Posing Article Dawn!!!

    Had to doa Reblog@ Zero Lift-Off Only The Beginning

    A Beautiful Friendship with Godโ€™s Creatures!

    It made me cry a bit for the coyote too Dawn! Good how you and your husband put that effort and TLC into watching out for him and the others, with especially the tender mercy during his final hours! Iโ€™ve rescued many wild creatures and have taken the required certification courses to do so properly! Yea, I have a soft spot in my heart for all of Godโ€™s creatures but I have to admit the one I have the least tolerance for is, yup people!

    Coyote Whisperer

    Liked by 2 people

    • I just added another link of mine I hear the call of the wild, because another reader mentioned how they are getting scarce just like wolves did in the lower 48 over the years!! I wasn’t going to include that one because I get pissed and my language gets a bit colorful! Not even sure ATM if that one is too harsh; but if it is let me know I will pull it out!
      God bless you all!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, Lawrence, for re-blogging it. That was so kind of you to do that! I really appreciate it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh Good Dawn! I still have that reblog issue with your site so I’m not always comfortable to just make it up from scratch though I like to cook from the basics!

        I’m a bit beat down today been fighting some cold a slow moving one so probably nothing but my biggest problem is broken sleep! I really found your Coyote experience very moving and I get sad easy, these days not way back, it was easy to stay enthusiastic; but I see a lot of good that came out of the whole experience and here we are talking about it too! I will I’m sure have more to ponder and talk about coming up!

        I see another comment so Iโ€™ll head onto that one! Oh and in some of that Call of The Wild I got way too colorful I found out when I looked it over after dinner! I can pull it if you say so!

        Back then I had fought my own legal case and dealt with lots of rotten people and illness so when I read or talked to people that pointed out some lecherous person blowing away some poor wild animal for laughs it blew my mind!

        Liked by 2 people

      • I think the reblog button stopped working when WordPress changed to the block format. It used to work, and that is what somebody told me. I will have to see what I can do to fix it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Sister Dawn! Thank you for this update and I think you’re correct it must be some programming glitch maybe based on the design formatting; but this bug will fly away like most do eventually! I may do some checking myself but not a big issue so carry on with more important things! I can be good at ferreting out the culprit when I get ready!

        I appreciate just being able to do what I did anyway; your Coyote and all of them there are still on my mind and in my heart! Had some unusual dreams last night; so Iโ€™ll have to see what develops. Thank you!

        I do love God’s little creatures! Our modern world really grinds them up too often!
        God bless you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • And it seems to be getting worse! Thanks, Brother Lawrence!

        Like

  5. This is so sad. I’m happy that there are people like you who care.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. GHLearner says:

    A beautiful/sad and important real-life story. I’m glad you have a heart for the coyotes and help. People can be so thoughtless or clueless, not necessarily heartless. Far too many have the idea that animals that can’t be eaten or worked are useless and can be killed on a whim ingrained into them from childhood. Shoot it, stomp on it, you name it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. balladeer says:

    I’m rooting for the Coyotes.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. […] Coyote Whisperer […]

    Like

  9. I am impressed by the connections you have established to your natural environment and the emotional care you invest to make a difference in the trail of destruction we humans leave behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Katja Kubiak says:

    Thats so sad…๐Ÿ˜”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. […] coyote was lying down in the backyard, waiting for his breakfast. (This is an update to my post, Coyote Whisperer.) As soon as he saw me, he stood up and waited patiently while I put out his dry dog food. Actually, […]

    Like

  12. JessC says:

    You are such a kind soul, Dawn. May the higher powers always shine upon you and your husband for nurturing nature. Peace and Light ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ๐Ÿค—

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jess, I struggle with anger issues like a lot of other people, but we love animals and feel an intense connection to nature since we live in a rural area. I enjoy reading your posts and your thoughts. Have a blessed day!

      Liked by 1 person

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