Smoky the Coyote — True Story

How I love the American West and how I love the stories that came out of that long ago West.  This is one that I thought I’d share today — the story of a tame coyote, Smoky.

This story comes to us from James Willard Schultz (Apikuni), who wrote the book BLACKFEET AND BUFFALO.  It’s a true story of himself and his son who found a coyote pup and regardless of how others kept telling him that the animal couldn’t be tamed, he decided to keep the pup and try to tame it.

There was a saying in the old buffalo days, and both whites and Indians agreed that wolves could sometimes be tamed, but not a coyote…never.  An old man named Bill Weaver once said, “plumb wild an’ trech’r’us no matter how careful you was in tryin’ to gentle ‘em.”  Now, this all happened in the White Mountains in Arizona.  Schultz’s son, Hart, found the pup…a male, who had been separated from its mother and was on the verge of starving.  Taking pity on it, he fed the animal, making its first meal a big stack of pancakes and bacon.

At last, Smoky had found a home.  The first thing Schultz and his son did was make a shed for him and tie him to a thirty foot chain.  The chain was to keep him from running away.

Luckily they had a dog — a female — Zora, and so Smoky at least had company.  Now here begins some things I didn’t know about coyotes.  They eat more than dogs and they are extremely fast.  (I guess they have to be.)  Darting here and there, Schultz often described him a a streak of grey.  He was also a joy, according to Schultz.  He loved being petted, he greeted his “family” with happiness, and he often licked their faces, showing them his love.

Eventually Schultz determined to set Smoky free, afraid he would leave.  But Smoky didn’t stray.  He kept with his friend, Zora, and they roamed the forest together.  But unfortunately some things can’t be helped and when Schultz’s neighbor bought some chickens, and when Smoky caught five of them, including a prize rooster, Smoky found himself again chained.  But oh, how he enjoyed his outings.

He was swifter than Zora, Schultz’s dog and when they took him hunting, Schultz again describes him as a gray flash — he was everywhere at once, exploring everything.  Once he caught himself a skunk and promptly ate him, then went about trying to get rid of the stinch.  He never again caught a skunk.

Smoky soon became the best hunter and retriever that Schultz ever had.  He would corner prey, then wait for Schultz to come and make the kill.  He loved the crack of the gun, rushing to seize the prey and bringing it to plop at Schultz’s feet.  No one starved while Smoky was on duty.

Interestingly, Smoky got along well with women — he loved them all.  But he took an instant dislike to many of Schultz’s men friends and he would not let any man except for Schultz and his son near him and certainly not one of  those men would think of petting him.

Now here’s the part I really didn’t know and found very interesting.  Did you know that coyotes(and wolves too) only mate in the month of February and the early part of March?  That’s it.  Any other time, forget it.  Schultz tried to mate Smoky with their dog Zora, but it was summer time and Smoky wouldn’t have anything to do with her.  Can you imagine if humans were that way? 

Thank goodness we are not.

What happened to Smoky?  One day while Schultz and his son were out hunting, they happened upon 3 other coyotes.  Smokey took after them and didn’t return for minutes, then hours. Schultz and his son were worried.  Were they going to lose him?  Had he deserted them to return to his own kind?  Filled with loss, Schultz and son stopped hunting and turned back for home.  But then, they hadn’t gone too far when suddenly in a flash of gray fur Smoky dashed upon them and commensed to licking their faces, whining and whining and running around them in joy. 

 Then suddenly, he went off a distance, looking back at them as though to say, “Well are we going to hunt or what?”  It was a beautiful moment.  Schultz writes that he realized that Smoky loved them even more than his own kind.  Or perhaps Schultz and his son had become his own kind.

So in this same vein, I thought it would be fun to talk about our pets.  I absolutely love my animals.  I have cats and dogs and when my kids were young we had a parakeet.  And to me, these animals are family.  How about you?  Do you have a pet?  Someone you love very dearly?

Come on in and let’s talk. Leave a post.  I’ll be giving away a free  ebook or mass market to some lucky blogger.  And I’d love to trade stories about our “babies.”  Maybe I’ll tell you the story of how one of my sister-in-law’s cats saved her life…  True story.  So come on in.  Leave a post.

NIGHT THUNDER’S BRIDE, on sale now at bookstores everywhere and here at Samhain Publishing — buy it today!

And off to the left here is Karen Kay and her husband, Paul.

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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26 thoughts on “Smoky the Coyote — True Story”

  1. Hi Kay, Love the picture of you and hubby.
    Living in the rural high desert of California, we have always had dogs. Dogs of all shapes and sizes. Mostly of the herding variety. We always had horses and mules, so the herding dog was handy. My husband hated cats! Oh, he moaned and groused about cats. About how bad they were, etc. When our daughter came home from college, she brought a cat! The cat ended up his buddy. That cat could do no wrong. Then we added two more and that was OKay, too. I don’t know what happened, but he decided that cats were really sort of nice.
    Now that my daughter and I are on our own, we have two of the cats, (the older one died of old age), and we added a Lab mix puppy. Needless to say, the cats, (ages 11), HATE that dog. Sort of a Garfield vs Odie type situation.

  2. Thanks for the post. Interesting.

    We have always been a pet family. Our first dog and cat lived to 17 years old. That was 35 years and many pets ago. We have had rabbits, rats, mice, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, snakes, lizards, ferrets, fish, and heaven knows what else. Our children are now adults and carrying on the tradition. Our oldest daughter has a Maine Coon cat. Our second daughter has a mini-farm. Horses, llamas, pig and cow (both now in the freezer), chickens, ducks, emu, sheep goats, rabbits, cats, dogs, and guinea pig. At home we currently have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 9 peacocks, and a ball python. We lost our 16 year old lab to old age in March and still miss her dearly. Of all the many dogs we have had she was the best. The three dogs we have now have all been out son’s. Unfortunately, my husband has purloined their affections. The newest is a 6 month old pit bull- boxer mix. She is staying out with our son in his apartment. He is trying to keep his dad from stealing her away, too.

  3. Oh what a great story! Love animals… I have always had such a variety in my household and have loved them all dearly… dogs, cats, birds, lizards, fish, rabbits, rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, hermit crabs, etc. I even have favs out in the wild that come visit my home to eat… love the bunnies, chipmunks, & variety of birds. Truly enjoy looking at the hummingbirds… there are two that visit and will fly around me… they are not scared at all and will buzz you or sing from the trees to let you know how they feel.
    Wonderful animals… I will say that the best friend I ever had was my very first bird… This beautiful green and blue parrot… I received Oscar when I was 11 yrs. old from a family friend… that bird would play games with me, guard my room, give me kisses… it saddened me greatly when 20 years later I lost him to an infection. I miss Oscar so much at times.

  4. Love the story!! We have had all kinds of pets, including a striped ground squirrel, birds, dogs, and cats. One of my favorite dogs was a collie cross (a mutt) that we inherited when we moved onto the family farm. He was old when we moved here and my father in law wanted to get rid of him becaused he worried about the kids and if Brownie would be okay around little kids. He was wonderful even “hearding” our 3 year old back into the yard when she would escape. When that same daughter left for college many years later we kept her cat. Max was great but I trully fell in love withhim when I was on bedrest due to pneumonia. He would come into the bedroom to check on me…patting my face with his paw. If I responded he would go on his way. If I did not open my eyes fast enough he would jump upon the bed and onto me to bat my face till I opened my eyes. Miss that cat!

  5. Enjoyed Smokey’s story!

    Gorgeous picture of you with Paul!

    I had a dog,a Sheltie, from 2nd grade until the day I left for college. Sandy was my girl. I loved that dog. She died at the foot of my bed the morning I was leaving for school.

  6. I really loved reading the story about Smokey. I have one dog, a chihuahua dachsund mix named Gidget who we rescued seven years ago.

  7. Beautiful story, Karen. Coyotes are cool animals–and you & your hero make such a cute couple.
    I’ve had lots of pets. Mostly cats. But my favorite dog was a little pomeranian named Jumbuck. He belonged to the family but he was really mine. I remember leaving him on an ocean beach while I went swimming. Looking back, I saw this tiny dog paddling through the waves to get to me.
    He lived just ten years. My next pet was a stray kitten who was totally devoted to me and had so many of Jumbuck’s mannerisms that it almost made me believe in reincarnation. She stayed at my side 23 years.

  8. We had a really nice dog for a lot of years. An Australian Shepherd named Dingo. This is a really nice kind of dog. Calm, gentle, not giving to running far and wide. In the country that matters. He’s not penned up and he doesn’t come inside.
    He’s gone now and we haven’t gotten a new dog because we’re gone just enough that it’s an imposition on our neighbors to ask them to check on our dog and feed him. But I miss having a dog around the place.

  9. I never had a dog growing up, always cats. Even after I got married, we had cats. A few years ago, my daughter decided she was going to get a dog. She lived alone, and we thought it would be a great idea. Unfortunately, her work schedule picked up right after she got him, and he spent many days with us because we didn’t want him to be alone so much. A few months later, she moved to a place with no fence, and he came to stay with us temporarily. He has been here ever since. He just turned 4 and has been with us for three of those years. LOL The funny thing was, my husband kept saying, “We are not going to get a dog. I don’t want to be tied down with a dog…” etc. But he is just crazy about Embry and wouldn’t know what to do without him. He gets in the floor and plays with him, and even talks “doggie” talk to him. We are all amazed. Embry is half Anatolean Shepherd and half Great Pyrenees. Last year when we took him to the vet he weighed 190 pounds. He had to go on a diet, and has lost probably about 15-20 pounds this past year. I call him my “granddog”–he was a rescue puppy. He’s had a lot of health issues and takes several kinds of meds, but he has a wonderful life here for sure, and I love him to pieces.

    Great post, Kay. As always. Loved that story–so heartwarming.


  10. I loved that story. I have tons of stories so it’s hard to narrow down lol. I have had two wonderful dogs but now I devote my time to cats. About 25 yrs. ago a mama cat and 3 kittens were eating food that I put out for the birds and it all started from there. I have taken in quite a few, found homes, fixed and still care for ferals/strays. One night a kitten was left on my doorstep (the noises it made were unbelievable). Apparently they both were covered in motor oil. The kitten was only a month old but with a vet’s care and hand feeding with a baby doll bottle he turned out to be my biggest and alpha cat. I lost him two years ago and miss him terrible as I have many others. I’ve inherited 3 cats from my one daughter – one I’ve had for 6 years and she has to be the smartest cat I’ve known and the baddest lol. I’ve had 7 at one time but now I have 5 and 2 that have been outside cats for over 15 years. One comes in to be petted and when it’s cold, she’ll stay a longer which means nights sitting on the floor with her because she’s just wild enough that I can’t stand and walk around lol. I’ve learned to keep a book nearby! I keep saying I should write a book lol.

  11. Gorgeous pictures and story, Kay! I love animals more than some people, truth to tell LOL. We had three Labs who are now angels at the Rainbow Bridge, but we will get another pup someday. I also adored our menagerie of hamsters when the kids were little.

    Today I have a little neighborhood squirrel that sneaks around, but the big black crows steal his food. Grrrrrr.

    happy new year! xo

  12. We don’t have any pets right now other then fish in a tank and fish in a pond in the backyard. Although the fish in the pond will eat out of your hand and they all have names if I can remember them all. We have had birds in the past and cats but son has an alergy to cats now. We had a small amazon parot at one time and he would talk. We had to let him go because I couldn’t take care of a three year old son and the parot too, it just got to be to much to handle.

  13. Hi Mary J!

    I love it! So the cat converted your husband — how cool is that? We have cats and dogs — the dogs we rescued on the Blackfeet reservation. And we love them all!

    I love the true story!

  14. Hi Patricia!

    Your story made me smile! I love the true story of your son and husband “fighting” over the pet. And I love to hear about the animals that you’ve had as pets. Thanks for the post, Patricia!

  15. Hi Colleen!

    I love that story — especially of the parrot — I know of a parrot story — true story about a parrot who fooled the UPS guy — funny story.

    But at least you had him for 20 years to brighten your life. And that’s something.

  16. Hi Connie!

    Love the story about the collie and also the cat. I’m at my daughter’s right now and she has a cat that watches over her daughter when she’s sleeping. It’s quite something to see. Like a little nurse sitting there with her — at her feet. Love it!

  17. Beautiful Elizabeth! Beautiful story — loved about the fact that the dog paddled out to you to rescue you. And the 23 year old cat. I have one 15 years right now and am hoping to have her with us for another 10. 🙂

  18. Hi Mary!

    It’s interesting that you say that you miss him — I think I would, too. I grew up with lots of animals around me — but when we were raising our kids we didn’t have anything but a parakeet for a pet (whom we all loved dearly, but he didn’t live very long).

    Nowadays I have many, many pets and love them all.

  19. Hi Cheryl!

    What a heartwarming story. I love hearing about the people who get converted to having a pet — even when they were certain they didn’t want one. And am so glad to hear about the rescue, also.

    Wonderful story, Cheryl.

  20. Hi Catslady!

    I kinda thought that with a name like Catslady that you might like cats. Love the stories. I’ve had many, many cats at a time also. When we were in our old house, there was once when we had all total 12 cats (and we had 3 dogs, also). Some of those cats we’ve lost and we lost theh dogs also — but they lived to old age — and of course, I miss them all, too. Thanks for the story!

  21. Hi Tanya!

    Yes, pets are definitely part of the family — they are family — and when I’m not there with them, I honestly miss them. Thanks so much!

  22. Hi Quilt Lady!

    I understand. I know when our kids were young, we didn’t have animals — except for a cat we inherited in a new place we moved into — but he soon disappeared. I like to think his owners came back for him. Thanks for the post.

  23. Hi Kay,
    Loved the story of the coyote.
    I just lost my cat, Snickers over the holidays, but it was a blessing. She was 17 and ready to cross over the bridge. My other kitty, is 8 and we call her Skittles. She’s lonely now and needy, since Snickers is gone and she knows somethings very different, so we are giving her lots of love these days. She’s always at my side when I’m writing, my mascot.

  24. Hi Charlene!

    I understand. We just lost a kitty, also, Midnight. He was loved not only by us, but by all our other cats and all of us had a hard time with it. I did find, however, if you’re interested that there are flower essences out there that tend to help the kitty with loss. The name of the place is Green Hill Farms. I actually did notice a difference — not sure I believe what they say on their site — it seems rather fantastic to me — but I do know that they seem to make a positive difference. 🙂

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