More than 10 years ago, according to stories passed on by staff and volunteers over the years, a coyote arrived at Aspen and was treated for an illness or injury and left a legacy. While she was in the facility, she surprised everyone by giving birth to five young pups.
The last coy-dog at Aspen Valley.
Adding to the surprise was the fact that they weren’t purebred coyote pups, but looked like black Labradors. Clearly, the coyote bred with someone’s pet before it required a trip to Aspen.
The five pubs were raised at the sanctuary, where staff had them spayed and neutered. Then they were released on sanctuary property, coy-dogs that roamed the grounds for years.
Gradually, their numbers have dropped and for the past two years, two coy-dogs remained, a brother and sister.
They were inseparable, and rarely did staff, volunteers or visitors see one without the other.
They would be spotted running across the road, passing through the property, or we’d see their paw prints – a sign they’d passed through.
Sometimes their barking would set the wolves off, howling.
Last winter, the male coy-dog was killed, we suspect, by a pack of wild wolves passing through the property. Staff found his body just off a road we travel regularly.
Since then, his lone sibling has changed. She’s drifted closer, and seems to spend more time around the facility then ever before. Because she’s older, and appears to have a lame leg, staff and volunteers watch for her, worry about her and leave some food out for her when she comes to visit.
Most recently, she’s started to hang out just within site while volunteers gather around for their evening bonfires.
She seems to look for the company, lying down a few yards away from the quiet gatherings.
She’s a favourite among the volunteers, who feel sorry for the lonely coy-dog. They all worry about her and want to make sure she’s okay, and will update each other with the latest sightings.
We don’t know how much longer she has, but we’ll do the best we can to help her live out her final days.
(These weekly articles are contributed by staff at the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary rehabilitates orphaned and injured wildlife with a mandate to educate the public towards a better understanding of local fauna.)