I asked Uxmal and Zoe about the grumpy, miserable couple. “Why are they like that? Is it because they’re old?” “Part yes, part no!” said Uxmal “As we age, each of us has a choice to make. We can become wise or grumpy. Some choose one path, and some the other. Look at Zoe and I, we’re both old, but we chose the path of wisdom. It’s much more enjoyable this way, and when it’s our time to go back to The Great Mother— die, that is—we will leave with dignity.”
I thought about what he’d said for a moment. ”So it doesn’t matter if you’re a wolf, a dog, a cat, a bird or a human—you still have the choice to be wise or grumpy?”
“Correct,” answered Zoe. “Life is a long journey during which we learn who we are and where we belong.”
“Do you want to wallow in a sea of misery or do you want to see yourself as part of the great plan? That’s the key question!’ said Uxmal. “Which one will you choose, Miss Wolf?
“Wisdom,” I answered quickly.
Zoe and Uxmal laughed. “That’s not a question so easily answered,” Zoe said. “It’s a way of life, and we must strive to greet each day with wisdom. The good news is that it gets easier the more you do it!”
This gave me a lot to think about for the rest of the day.
The coyotes arrived just as our humans were sitting down for dinner. Zoe, Uxmal, and I had eaten earlier and were waiting by the back door for the coyotes’ call. Hearing the first yips and howls sent a shiver down my spine. We rushed out the dog door and charged around the back to greet our friends. All of the coyotes from the other night were there, and possibly a few more. We gathered around the cottonwood tree, made our greetings, and then bounded east, toward the miserable couple’s house.
There was magic in the air, and the coyotes moved around the trees and rocks with grace and agility. In the dark of the night, their eyes seemed as bright as the sun. I looked away shyly as I wondered about these mysterious creatures. I did my best to meet them as an equal, but I felt that I could only aspire to be as dazzling and free as they were.
The coyotes, Zoe, and Uxmal went into a trance. They quickened their pace through the trees and their voices united in wild, ancient cries, a haunting and magical sound as old as life itself.
I listened as they called upon the powers of the earth. The very wind seemed to respond to them, dancing around the branches of the trees and making them quiver. Everything seemed more animated, as if the The Great Mother herself were pleased by our show of devotion.
We surrounded the home of the complaining couple. Coyotes, wolves and a dog, all united, for a common cause. There were quick movements, flashes of light and howling beyond my wildest dreams. Nothing was planned, it was all spontaneous.
Billy Bob laid stretched out along a fallen log, and looked as if he was enjoying his afternoon sunbath. He lazily stretched his paws and extended his long claws into the log to sharpen them for our possible encounter. He yawned, casually rolled his head from side to side then opened his slit eyes wide. His jade green eyes burned with such enthusiasm for our encounter, that for a second it shattered my confidence. It seemed he was keenly aware of me, his new neighbor, with the long, busy tail and golden eyes, and appeared very eager for our formal introduction.
I would later discover that Billy Bob was proud of his record and reputation. He had a long list of dogs, coyotes and wolves he’d defeated in battle. He was a warrior! Not like some of the pussies in the neighborhood that have never left their houses or ventured outside. He was his own man, accountable to no one.
I prepared myself for the encounter. Uxmal encouraged me to cover my face while confronting Billy Bob and run away if I needed to. Zoe encouraged me to stand my ground and fight, saying I was a big tuff wolf and nothing could take me down! Listening to her encouragement, I worked myself into what I thought was a wild, wolf frenzy. “Nothing and nobody can stop me!” was the mantra that kept running through my head. Zoe lifted her paw and urged me forward, and I launched into a mad charge. Running full speed toward the other side of the wall, my mouth wide open, my teeth bared, I was ready to take that black cat down!
Billy Bob didn’t move. He lay motionless with closed eyes until I was halfway across the path. Then he leaped to his feet in a flash, front paws clawing through the air at lightning speed, a crazed look in his eye. He had a smirk on his face as if he enjoyed the terror he invoked.
It was too late for me to retreat. Before I had time to think or realize the horrific situation I was in, Billy Bob had already given me multiple wounds—a deep scratch across my nose, cuts on both ears, and bloody scrapes all over my body. Howling from pain, shock, and fear, I ran as fast as possible from the scene of my defeat.
Zoe and Uxmal took off after me, desperately trying to keep up with me. I ran to the rhythm of my feet moving beneath me as I made
my escape. I ran until I couldn’t take another step and collapsed to the ground. Suffering from flesh wounds and feeling extremely sorry for myself, I lay there unable to speak or move.
Zoe and Uxmal finally caught up to me. Their tongues were hanging out the sides of their mouths as they drooped to the earth, panting. “Oh my legs! My aching back,” said Zoe. “Oh my poor feet! I haven’t run this fast in years!” Uxmal complained.
Under any other circumstances, it would have been funny to listen to the two oldies grumble and moan, but this wasn’t a moment for humor. We all lay there panting for a good while before another word was spoken.
Finally Zoe broke the silence, “I’m sorry, Kinapak. I knew you wouldn’t be able to take Billy Bob down, and I set you up for a failed encounter. Billy Bob’s a monster.”
“Why would you do that?” I asked, feeling hurt and annoyed.
Well....Kinapak, let’s not forget your part in the story. You’ve been cocky, self important, annoying, and scheming over the past few weeks and I.....umm..err...probably was a little possessive of my terrain. Maybe we could start again?” She paused, looking into my eyes with an intense gaze. “If you allow us, we’d like to make it up to you. Uxmal and I could train you.”
“Really?!” I responded. “What would you teach me?”
“Well, we could show you the way of the wolf and how we can all work together as a pack,” Zoe said. “Skills from the wild that you would’ve learned had you remained with your parents. We can instruct you on how to maintain your freedom as you maneuver the world of humans. We may be old, but our brains are sharp, and we have at least a few tips and tricks worth knowing...That is, if Uxmal is up to the task.”
“Are you kidding? Absolutely,” responded Uxmal. “Even if you offered me the largest, meatiest buffalo bone as a bribe not to do it, I wouldn’t take it. I wouldn’t miss this opportunity for anything!”
After a few laughs, shared stories, and re-enactments from Uxmal, who mimicked how large my eyes were when I first encountered Billy Bob’s flying claws, we formed a strong bond that day.
On our way home, we passed Billy Bob sleeping on his log. The cat opened his eyes halfway, stretched his claws out, and slowly started to sharpen them on the wood. It was an unmistakable message to us three canines, which we each thought about privately as we walked home in the twilight.
I vowed to myself that this wouldn’t be my last encounter with that cat. It was just a matter of time before I’d be large enough to defeat him.