Coyote: Life and death on the road |

Coyote: Life and death on the road

The winter of 2007-2008 in Summit County was long, cold and deep with snow. We decided a trip to the Four Corners area and warm weather would break the cabin fever quite nicely. So, the morning of April 7, we took off for Flagstaff to make the Four Corners loop of ancient Indian dwelling sites over the next few days. That morning however, an event occurred on a lonely stretch of two lane highway in the high desert plains of southwestern Colorado that was to add spontaneity to our trip.

Cruising along, the car crested a small rise that descended into an arroyo. I noticed a dead animal in our lane immediately ahead. Slowing, I swerved into the other lane to avoid hitting it. Continuing the short distance to the top of the hill and better visibility, I made a U-turn back down and pulled off the road across from the freshly killed coyote.

I grabbed my gloves and rushed over and pulled the beautiful young female to the shoulder of the road. She was killed instantly, maybe 10 minutes before, struck by a car on her right side which shot her insides out onto the road – or so I first thought. What happened next can only be described as miraculous.

I bent down to pick up her insides, a shock went through me. It wasn’t her insides at all – it was puppies! It was the life that had been inside of her! I picked up three unopened amniotic sacs. I checked for life but there was none – too much time had elapsed. The last sac was further down the road, I could hear faint squeaking from the opened sac, I could see tiny limbs waving in the air as I approached.

I picked him up and he responded to my touch. I blew a breath on his tiny wet face, and he wincing his little nose and brow. He’s alive! He had taken his first breath when his mother had taken her last. Feeling his little paws and legs, he seemed OK. I pulled out my pocket knife and cut the sac away from his umbilical, which we tied later. I ran to the car and handed him to my wife, then checked the other pups again in case they were playing possum, but it was not to be. I respectfully arranged them around their mother as if they were nursing and looked into her lifelike eyes and, with a stroke of her brow, I gave my unspoken promise, then ran back to the car.

We had a couple of gallons of Loveland Pass spring water with us and cleaned the little fella up. He didn’t even have a scratch! The first order of business was to find him some food. In Cortez, we gathered up puppy supplies, puppy formula, a dropper, some towels, and a kitten’s baby bottle, the smallest one we could find. He was premature and less than 7 inches long from the tip of his tail to his nose and maybe 6 ounces in weight. He had good lungs, and his heart was strong, and he was as hungry as hungry could be. Getting him to drink his first two teaspoons of puppy formula was easy and he was soon fast asleep. He took to the little rubber nipple like a pro.

He ate strong from his first feeding, and made hardly a peep the entire trip. He slept curled up on a pillow or snuggled warmly inside a sweater. Little did I know, this unplanned gift, this coyote pup, was to forever change my life.

Summit County resident JT Coyote also writes for the free speech blog He can be contacted at

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