Author: Shreve Stockton
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
One day, while perusing the new hardcover books at Barnes & Noble, I came across a book called The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton. Opening the book, I was immediately taken by the photos of the Wyoming landscape. Then I came across the photos of a baby coyote and knew I had to own this book.
I first became enamored with coyotes when, late one fall night, I came across a coyote pup in the middle of a busy street. The pup was jumping around, completing acrobatic turns and leaps that I had never before thought his breed capable of. Fearing something might be wrong with the coyote, I ventured closer in my vehicle and soon discovered that the pup was actually playing, throwing a pine cone up in the air and leaping and twisting in an effort to catch it. The thought of a wild animal playing was fascinating to me. One doesn’t really think of wild animals as playful little sprites, but this coyote pup was so adorable in his playful antics that I completely forgot he would some day become a fierce predator.
The image of this moment flashed before my eyes as I looked at the numerous photographs of the coyote in various stages of growth and I couldn’t wait to read the book once I got it home.
The Daily Coyote is the true story of photographer and author Shreve Stockton and her experiences in Wyoming. It all begins with Shreve’s decision to move back to New York from San Francisco. She decides to take the trip on a Vespa and immediately falls in love with the natural beauty of Wyoming. While in New York, Wyoming calls to Shreve and she finally decides to pull up stakes and return, renting a house in a town called Ten Sleep.
Shortly after moving to the town, she becomes close to a local cowboy who works as a government trapper, hired by the Department of Agriculture to cull the coyote population in the area. Coyotes are a direct threat to the ranchers in the area, killing livestock including sheep and calves. After one coyote hunting expedition, Mike brings home a gift for Shreve - a coyote pup that he couldn’t bring himself to kill. Shreve, being a free spirit, is not certain that she can take on the commitment of raising an orphaned coyote who would rely completely on her for the first couple of months of his life. However, after only a couple of nights, Shreve falls in love, naming him Charlie.
She begins sending her family and friends daily photos of Charlie and his exploits. Eventually, the photos become so popular that she creates a website known as the daily coyote with an attached blog to discuss Charlie’s various adventures. Things take off from there and Shreve is soon offered a book deal detailing her adventures in raising Charlie.
Of course, most wild animals are not meant to be raised as pets and Shreve Stockton makes it very clear that there were quite a few hurdles she had to face while raising Charlie. She had to hide him from hunters and ranchers as coyotes are their enemies. Charlie had a bout with Parvo and this required veterinary treatment, but how many vets are going to be willing to treat a coyote. What if Charlie didn’t take to Shreve’s cat, Eli? And how will Charlie act once he gets old enough to become the predator he was always meant to be? Will aggression become an issue and, if so, will it ever be possible to return Charlie to the wild?
The Daily Coyote is more than a story about a woman raising a coyote in Wyoming. This is a heartwarming story of growth and finding oneself. In raising Charlie, Shreve Stockton learned very valuable lessons about herself and eventually grew as a person. Each hurdle she faced made her stronger and strengthened her relationships both with her animals and with the people she truly cared about.
I was hooked on the story from the very first pages. Shreve Stockton’s descriptive writing expressed her awe and wonderment at the beauty of the terrain and life around her and made me yearn to experience the beauty of Wyoming as well. The sincerity she conveys regarding her relationship with and fears for Charlie inspire the reader to root for her cause and a happy outcome for all involved. I was completely absorbed in the story and found myself reading The Daily Coyote during every spare moment to find out what was going to happen next.
The photographs included in this novel are simply amazing. Shreve Stockton is not only a gifted writer, but a terrific photographer as well. The care and precision with which she took her photos shows just how much the moments she captured meant to her - Charlie frolicking with or without Eli, Mike working at his ranch, the beauty of the terrain in Wyoming and more.
The Daily Coyote was such an enjoyable read that I was actually disappointed when it was over. Happily, I was able to find the website that started it all at http://www.dailycoyote.net/. Here you have the opportunity to check out more photographs of Charlie and family, read Shreve Stockton’s blog, purchase calendars and other items and sign up to receive daily photos of Charlie and company via email.
Animal lovers will fall in love with The Daily Coyote. Folks who study wildlife will find this story rather intriguing. Artistic folks are going to love the photography that accompanies the story. All-in-all, The Daily Coyote has something for everyone - an intriguing story, beautiful photography and an uplifting message. What more could I ask for from a book I bought simply for the photos…except, perhaps, a sequel?