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Why the Coyote is Free


Last updated 8/1/2015 at 1:23pm

Coyote sat on the rocky mesa and howled at the moon. He was sure no other animal on earth could be as happy as he was. He was free. He ate when he was hungry. Slept when he was tired. He could run alone or run in a pack, the choice was his. Coyote was strong, he could run as fast as the wind, his howl could be heard for miles and he knew he was the smartest animal in the desert.

Coyote was happy with his life until winter came. This was the coldest winter he could remember. The wind was bitter and as sharp as a knife. Ice and snow covered the land, rabbits stayed burrowed in their warm holes. The birds had flown south. Even the creatures as small as mice seem to have vanished. The only footprints in the snow were those that belonged to the coyote as he walked for miles searching for food.

As Coyote got hungrier and more desperate he traveled closer to a small Indian pueblo. He lifted his nose and smelled meat cooking over a fire. He sneaked closer to the pueblo, crouching down with his belly dragging in the snow.

He knew the people who lived in the pueblo had food, they had so much food they often threw food away. Coyote was sure he could find some bones or scraps the people had thrown away and he could survive but he had to be careful and not let the people see him because he knew they often shot at Coyotes.

He continued to crawl closer to the Pueblo until he heard a dog barking. He started to run away but the dog was not barking to scare him away, the dog was barking to welcome him.

“Welcome,” said the dog. “The man who owns me has just put a bowl of food here for me. Please share it.”

The coyote was hoping to settle for an old bone and suddenly there was a bowl of fresh, red meat sitting in front of him. The dog and the coyote ate their fill. The dog invited the coyote to come into his doghouse which had a thick, soft blanket inside. The dog and the coyote took a long nap and when the woke up they discovered another bowl of fresh meat waiting for them. They ate until they were full and Coyote wanted to repay the dog for being so kind and generous.

“Come to the Mesa with me and we will howl at the moon,” the Coyote said.

“I’d like that, I’ve never been to the Mesa and I’ve never howled at the moon,” the dog said.

“Why don’t you howl at the moon,” the Coyote said. “It is our nature to howl.”

“The man who owns me likes to sleep at night. He would be angry if I howled and woke him,” the dog said. “If I made him angry, maybe he wouldn’t feed me so well.”

The dog and the coyote ran for miles, they went to the Mesa and howled at the moon.

“This is the best time I have ever had. Please come home with me and share my food and live in my warm house,” the dog said.

The coyote was very tempted. He liked the dog, he liked the warm, soft bed, and having fresh meat provided every day sounded wonderful.

As they ran along the Coyote noticed the dog had some fur missing on the back of his neck.

“What is that mark on your neck?” the Coyote asked.

“That is where my collar rubs my neck. The man who owns me has a collar for me and a long chain that is hooked to the dog house so I don’t get lost. My old collar broke, that is why I’m not wearing it today and I was free to go to the Mesa with you. The man who owns me will have a new collar tomorrow,” the dog said. “It is for my own protection, so I don’t get lost. The man who owns me gives me food twice a day and a warm home.”

“But what do you do?” the coyote asked.

“I sit and I wait for him to bring me food,” the dog said.

“But don’t you want to run in the desert?” the Coyote asked.

“No, my chain is too short to let me run,” the dog said. “I have a warm home, I have a good meal twice a day. What more could I want?”

“Freedom,” said the coyote.

“What is Freedom?” asked the dog.

The Coyote looked at his friend. “If you don’t know, I can’t explain it to you,” the Coyote said sadly. “Thank you for sharing your food and home with me but I’m leaving you now. I have to be free.”

The dog walked back to his safe home where the man who owned him would put a collar on him and feed him and where he would be safe but would never be free.

Coyote’s friend had fed him well and he wouldn’t be hungry again for days and by then he would have found something to eat, something he chased and caught, something he earned. Eventually spring would come, the snow would melt, there would be plenty of rabbits and he would get fat again.

The Coyote ran to the Mesa and howled at the moon because that is what he was meant to do and he was free, and freedom was everything.

Crying Wind is the author of Crying Wind and My Searching Heart, When the Stars Danced, and Thunder in Our Hearts, Lightning in Our Veins. All her books are available from Indian Life.


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