> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com
> [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of Dana Hedberg
> What am I looking for? ...
> You claim some kind of communication with an animal. Whether you call it
> spiritual or something else, you have offered that this connection was
> real and that something meaningful was transferred between the two of
> you. My questions: What kind of "communication" do you think took place?
> Do you think this possible with other animal forms? Do you think the
> specific situation gave rise to this communicatory feeling, or do you
> think this is something more general?
I'll start with the 2nd question about communication between humans and
animals other than coyotes, because my background might shed light on my
experience with the coyote. As a child I lived in a large city, but my
family had a country place where we spent weekends. I'd spend the whole of
each weekend wandering the woods and fields on foot or horseback. I was only
a small child when I first started hanging out in the woods, and the animals
seemed to realize that I wasn't a threat to them. I can remember playing a
sort of hide-and-seek game with young white-tailed deer, whose personalities
are something like domestic goats'--they're very curious and playful when
When I was around 11 years old, I found a baby pigeon who'd fallen from her
nest. She was a tiny, naked thing that I had to feed gruel from a medicine
dropper, but she survived to adulthood, brought home a mate (I never kept
her penned)and raised babies of her own. She somehow knew which window of
the house was mine and would perch on the window ledge and peck at the
window until I'd go out and feed her some grain. One day she came to my
window, but when I went outside she didn't fly to the feeding area. I
discovered that someone had shot her in the breast with a pellet air rifle,
and she'd come home to die.
When I was 14, my special horse, Mohammed Abu Tabik, was born out of one of
my mares. I always called him Andy. When he was two years old my father
hired a man to help me greenbreak him, which is to say, train the horse to
the extent of putting a saddle on his back and getting into the saddle. From
that point on, I trained him on my own. I never put a bit into his mouth
(although when I took him to a place that might be noisy and frightening
such as a motorcycle race--I kept him in the city while I was in
highschool--I would sometimes use a hackamore). He threw me a few times
when we were first getting to know each other well, but never out of
meanness--he'd always turn around and look at me curiously as though he was
wondering what I was doing sitting on the ground. After a while, I had only
to lean slightly to let him know which way I wanted to go. No one else could
ever ride him--he was fearsome and wild with everyone but me.
I could go on at great length, but maybe these examples are enough to show
that I have communicated with non-humans from the time I was a young child
and that I'm familiar with the different ways in which different animals
communicate. As you might expect from the rest of what I've said, I was
also well acquainted with dogs. One in particular, a black lab by the name
of Henry, was one of my closest childhood friends. Of course, this may say
as much about the lonely nature of my childhood as about my rapport with
Anyway, the coyote is a close relative of the dog--in fact the 2 species can
interbreed & many of the coyote-like animals in the wild seem to be part
dog, judging by their dogesque singing voices. The animal I cut from the
fence appeared to be pure coyote.
I have seen the dog Henry react the same way the coyote did. Once he had a
small wound which became infested with larvae of the screw worm fly, which
is apparently now extinct, thanks to the release of thousands of sterile
males. The screw worm fly would lay eggs in a wound, and when the eggs
hatched the larvae would eat the flesh of the unfortunate host. Many cattle
were lost to screw worms. The larvae had eaten a hole about half an inch
deep in Henry's side, and we had to dig them out with a Q-tip disinfected
with Lysol. It was obvious that the digging was painful, but Henry lay very
still and let us work on him. The coyote was the same way. I don't for a
second believe that she understood my words. Rather, it was the tone of my
voice, and possibly some other (unidentified) signal that went from me to
her. Could be smell. I've heard old-timers say that animals can smell
fear. I know I've smelled fear on humans--their sweat has a peculiar odor
when they're afraid. Maybe animals can smell friendship as well.
OK, I think that takes care of all three questions. No formal studies, only
a lifetime of experience.
> Another question for both of us: Is this connection possible
> with other life forms? Plants and trees are a good example here. Many
> believe that their plants understand and respond to their
> communications. Do you believe this is true?
No, no, no! Ain't gonna get me to go down THAT road, not today anyhow.
Well, OK, yes I communicate with my damned plants. So be it. What can I
> Why, or why not?
OK, here's a simple example. A French mulberry plant tells me it's
suffering from heat and water stress by drooping its leaves very
pathetically. Yes, I know it's actually drooping the leaves to prevent loss
of water vapor through the stomata. But it communicates its condition to me
nevertheless. I'm not going to try to justify talking to plants. You have
to BE there, I think.
> But hopefully, this latest post is worth starting a
> new discussion on forms of communication with psychologies very
> different from ours. Is it even possible/meaningful?
Well, communicating with non-humans is awfully USEful. What good would a dog
be if you couldn't communicate with it? Not good for much of anything but
eating, huh? And I don't even like to eat dogs.
> What do you think
> are the factors involved? How would you go about replicating the
> feelings of connection with the coyote?
I reckon I'd just go on out in the woods and start communicating with
someone or other. I'll tell you, though, coyotes are usually pretty
standoffish. It's not like they'll just come around any old time and chew
the fat with you. Now the javelinas, they're much more sociable. Only
trouble is, if you commit a faux pas they're likely to rip you to shreds
with their razor-sharp canines.
Seriously though, when I talk/write with someone, I
> don't view it as adversarial.
That's good to know. For some reason, your messages came across as though
you were, well, poking fun of me for being just a simple country gal;
especially when you use all those fancy Latin words like "canine" instead of
just saying "dog". But sometimes us simple country folks know a thing or 2
If you'd rather
> have an "argument" I'll oblige, but I'd rather not if it's all the same
> to you.
No, I'd rather not have an argument either. Now that's something that's
likely to interfere with communication, isn't it?
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Oct 02 2000 - 17:34:51 MDT