“The creature let out a wild howling frightened scream.”

Chapter 3

We now return to our Blogger’s Memoirs.

She will wait five minutes for you to pop some popcorn and pour yourself a drink.

This blog contains adventure, stupidity, compassion, evil and high drama.  Pull your chair closer to the screen and please don’t get salt and butter on your keyboard.

Photo of coyote

Today’s episode features Tasha, the half-coyote dog raised by our young hero and heroine, the transplants to the Upper Peninsula from the staid and flowing farmlands of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Please read Chapter I and Chapter II if you are not yet familiar with their exciting stories.   You can also read about a Tense Marital Moment surrounding the first two chapters if you’re filled with intrigue.

Let us re-join our protagonists, who are still barely full-fledged adults, living in the old Finnish farmstead on a back road near Pelkie in western Baraga County in 1980.

Across the road from Kathy and Barry’s new abode lives an elderly Finnish brother and sister, Elsie and Emil Lyttikainen.  Their parents immigrated from Finland, and they grew up with their ten other siblings in their farmhouse.  They skied to their country school on long wooden skis.  They milked cows.  They saw the twentieth century bring oddities like young people from Downstate.  They were kind.

Elsie served Kathy steaming loaves of nissu (a Finnish sweet bread).  They sipped hot Finnish coffee destined to grow hair on the chest of weaker coffee drinkers.  They lingered near the ancient kitchen woodstove around a peeling formica table.  In the winter, the siblings closed off the rest of the house and warmed their hands near the stove in the kitchen.

Kathy and Elsie grew to be friends.

Real coyote.

One dark and stormy winter night–OK, it could have been a mild autumn evening, or perhaps even a sultry summer twilight–it was dark anyway–the telephone rang on the Drue kitchen wall.

“Hello, Kathy?” said Elsie, on the other end.  (Interjection!  It was a party line back in those days.  You all know what a party line is?  It’s not a festive gathering…it was an old-time convenience where several neighbors shared a single line.  We modern downstaters had never experienced a party line.  We were horrified to learn that bored or vengeful neighbors could pick up their telephone during our phone conversations and say things like, “Get off the phone!  You’ve been talking too long!”)

Elsie’s voice sounded disturbed that long-ago evening.

“Kathy,” she said with her Finnish accent, “dere is a dog crying by da house.  Can you come and get er?  It’s under da kitchen window.”

Kathy pulled on her boots (if it was truly winter) and donned a chook (a winter hat) and heavy coat and tramped across the dirt road in the dark.  Walked up the long driveway.  A lone light shone in the window.  Our rescuer trudged through the light snow (if there really was snow) toward the below-ground window well.

Sure enough, lying in the window well was what appeared to be a small animal.

Here is where absolute stupidity arises.  I simply do not know how this young girl could have been so foolish.  Without a second thought, she leaned down in the window well and scooped up the small animal.

The animal could have been a raccoon with rabies.  It could have been a vicious fisher.  It could have been a baby bear.  The young girl did not know any of this–she didn’t even really think–but scooped up the whimpering animal in her arms.

The creature let out a wild howling frightened scream.

A wild-animal scent of horror rose immediately following the scream. (If you’ve ever smelled a wild-animal scent of horror, you know it is not pretty.)

And then the creature lay utterly still in the arms of its foolish rescuer.

It did not bite.

Kathy, still not realizing that fate had blessed her, in the way that young folks still don’t realize the possible consequences of all their actions, carried the animal toward Elsie’s light.

The elderly Finnish woman and the young transplanted downstater stared at the creature revealed in the lamplight.

It was–a dog.  A puppy.  It looked like it was about six months old.

It had been badly injured.  It looked like (and here is where evil may come into this blog) it had been pitchforked.  Or hit on the back with a rake, in an attempt to kill it.

Broken-hearted, Kathy carried the puppy home.

It lay beneath a chair in the living room all night, refusing to move, refusing to eat, refusing to believe it was finally safe.

Please meet Tasha.

The young people brought the dog to the veterinarian the next day.

“What kind of dog do you think it might be?” they plied the vet.

“Don’t know,” he grunted.  “Part Siberian red husky, maybe?”

He confirmed the blunt instrument diagnosis, shaved, cleaned and stitched the wound, and bandaged the dog with thick white wrapping.

The dog healed.

The young people named the dog Tasha.

It grew to look like…strangely look like…it contained some coyote ancestry.  They pondered if the dog was half-coyote.

Tasha had to wear a bright orange collar so local hunters might believe it was a Dog. Not a coyote.

Neighbors would say, “You better watch your dog.  Looks like a coyote.  Somebody’s gonna kill it.”  (They do not say the word Ki-O-Tee here in the U.P.  They call ’em Ki-yotes or Ki-yutes or simply Yutes.)

“Your ki-yute’s runnin’ around,” another neighbor would say.

One night Barry let the little girl out for the night.  She had a nice warm  doghouse filled with straw.  He suddenly heard a howling chorus outside the back door and investigated.  Dozens of eyes gleamed at him from the dark.  A pack of coyotes stood yelping, gathering around our puppy.  Our puppy hovered against the farmhouse, shivering and frightened.

Another time, months later, when Tasha was an older and wiser dog, she sat outside under a full moon and opened her mouth wide and wider and began to sing beneath the moon.  Louder and louder she yipped, singing, inviting the moon to come down from the sky, in the manner of all wild coyotes.

She grew to be a wonderful companion.  The most gentle of souls.  How the young folks loved her! They took her to Texas when they “escaped” the Upper Peninsula and then brought her back to the U.P. when they “escaped” Texas.  Pardon.  The blogger is getting ahead of her story.

Kathy’s grandmother, god rest her soul, did not think that Kathy and Barry should have a half-wild creature, especially after the babies arrived.  Her grandmother, god rest her soul, was adamant that the creature must not live with any of her great-grandchildren.  (Kathy was so offended by this suggestion she couldn’t even speak to Grandma for at least a week.)

Chris and Tasha

Grandma didn’t understand–couldn’t possibly know–that Tasha had a gentle soul, a soul that couldn’t hurt a flea.  (OK, how did you know that Tasha got fleas when they moved to Texas and infected Kathy’s parents house so that it had to be bombed and sent her brother Scot to the doctor from vicious flea bites?)

Kathy knew that Tasha was the gentlest dog soul on the planet.  How did she know?  She simply knew when she reached down in that window-well and scooped up the whimpering injured baby creature.  That would have been the moment for any biting tendencies to manifest.

Tasha ended up visiting Elsie and Emil quite regularly, in case you wondered.  Elsie served her spaghetti sandwiches on a plate.

Thank you for listening to the story of Tasha, the half-coyote dog.  I hope you remembered to eat your popcorn, and that your keyboard is not disturbed by salt and butter.

Very smart dog. Loved to play Scrabble with Barry in evenings... (tee hee)

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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42 Responses to “The creature let out a wild howling frightened scream.”

  1. Elisa's Spot says:

    Coydogs are interesting.

  2. Very cool. I love the howling coyotes in our woods!

  3. HolEssence says:

    Ohhhhhhhhh, I love this story of Tasha. My favorite photo is the last one of Tasha playing Scrabble with Barry.

    This brings back wonderful memories of when I ran away from home (that’s not the wonderful part), and went to Washington state (a pretty cool place) and rescued a “kit” I found in the woods. The Vet told me his best guess was that he was half fox and half coyote. I named him Charlie.

  4. Susan Derozier says:

    Aw Kathy – You really hit me where it counts with this wonderful story. What a fantastic journey your little ki-ute has to tell us. I was sickened by the state you found him in, but what a life it brought him to. He really is a beauty and so very lucky. Wish I could have heard him sing to the moon! Lovely!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, Susan, you would have adored Tasha. Most folks really did. Although she could be very shy and reserved, too, especially in the beginning. I am glad you enjoyed this story…it was exhausting to write.

  5. Aw! What a heart-warming story.

  6. What a wonderful story, Kathy. I love tales of human-animal bonding. The scrabble photo is a hoot—or howl, as the case may be.

  7. Sybil says:

    Wonderful story Kathy. I also appreciate any excuse for hot-buttered popcorn.

    • Kathy says:

      Shall we have some more this morning? I’m always good for popcorn, too. (Had to make some last night after writing this. and then I messed around with the keyboard…)

  8. Barb says:

    Don’t tell anyone that I came here (I’m supposed to be on”break”). But who can resist a good story – and one that brings a smile to my face at that. (Also love the old pictures of a young family.) Have a good month, Kathy – I may be tempted to visit even though I’m on break…

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, Barb, I am thrilled you came over to read this story on your blogging vacation. Hurray! Hurray! Do come again…OK, don’t if you’re too busy…but you always bring a smile to my face…

  9. emaclean says:

    Great story Kathy! Love the photos too (and the snow).

    • Kathy says:

      Erin, I swear you need to move somewhere where there’s lots of snow. I am glad you enjoyed the story!! And that you paused to comment. I always smile when you share.

  10. Thomas Davis says:

    Wonderful, wonderful story and photos.

  11. Brenda Hardie says:

    Aww….this story warmed my heart! Just think of the blessing for both puppy Tasha and for you on that fateful night. ♥ It was meant to be ♥ Loved the pictures, especially the one with Tasha and little Chris in the big snow! And of course the last one with Tasha playing Scrabble with Barry 😀

    • Kathy says:

      It WAS meant to be, Brenda. How lovely you put it. Isn’t that a dear photo of Chris and Tasha? And then the Scrabble photo…I said to Barry yesterday, “You know, it was really me who was playing Scrabble with you, probably,” and he teased, “NO! REALLY? You don’t think it was Tasha?” **grin**

  12. Kiah says:

    I love story time!

    • Kathy says:

      Kiah, I am so glad you are enjoying story time. Please back these up on a pin drive so you can remember to tell your children someday. (Oh, wait a minute, a pin drive will probably be obsolete by then…) Thanks for remembering about our cats Mango and Mitch. How could we have forgotten Mitch? YIKES!

  13. Pingback: While visions of snowplows danced in their heads… « Lake Superior Spirit

  14. I’m not a dog person (I’ll probably never own one), but Tasha is gorgeous! That’s amazing that she didn’t even try to bite or scratch when you scooped her up – it was fate!!

  15. john says:

    Thank you, this is wonderful.

  16. Heather says:

    How sweet! So glad you got a chance to rescue her. We have a couple of no good terrible cats who we love entirely too much to get a dog. But when we do, I’m heading for a rescue. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, yes, we’ve had our assortment of no good terrible cats, too, Heather. A WIDE assortment over the years–worth a year’s worth of stories, at least. I like your rescue idea. (As you can imagine. **grin**)

  17. KathUsitalo says:

    What a great tail. er, tale.

  18. Robin says:

    How wonderful for you to have found Tasha and for her to have found you. 🙂

    I don’t want to think about the evil part because I don’t understand how anyone could do such a thing. I understand why, sort of (protecting livestock, etc.). I just don’t understand how in that I can barely kill an uninvited insect (and usually don’t — I pick ’em up and take ’em outside if I can). This will sounds odd, but it hurts me when I kill a creature of any kind. It’s an almost physical reaction.

    • Kathy says:

      It is hard to imagine, isn’t it, Robin? I feel similar to you. Although I can slap mosquitoes and black flies–sometime in vicious retaliation. Maybe that’s why both of us have chosen to be mostly vegan… I hesitated to use the word “evil” here, but sometimes it looks that way. Would love to peek into the heart of whoever tried to kill that puppy.

  19. Karma says:

    What a wonderful story. I hope that Tasha got to live out a long and happy life. Dogs become such members of the family – for me it is hard to imagine life without them.

    Now you’ve got me craving popcorn! 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Tasha did not get to live a long life, sadly, Karma. She was probably killed by hunters. She disappeared one stormy day–years later–and did not return. Sigh…it was terribly sad. (I hope you popped yourself some popcorn!)

  20. Colleen says:

    I’m so glad to have met Tasha through this wonderful story and your memories of her. What a beautiful girl! Coyotes are incredible creatures. And all too often misunderstood…..

  21. Pingback: 16 Dogs Who Want To Bring Back Game Night – Viral8nimal

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