Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Coyotes - And the Narrow Window of Normalcy

Nova Scotia is having a bounty on coyotes this fall. Ever since the tragic death of a young musician in Cape Breton last year, our Enquirer-type media sensationalizes even normal encounters with a coyote, using words like “aggressive” and “attack”, when indeed there are no ripped pants, bite marks, or carried away children that support the rhetoric. Our government sadly gave into the paranoia of a few and acted against the advice of experts. Not only are the “aggressive” coyotes that encroach on human habitat dealt with so that people can continue to dump their garbage in the ditch, but this fall trappers are enticed with 20-bucks-a-pelt to venture into coyote habitat and kill as many as they can. 20 dollars doesn’t seem much money, but then again it buys a pack and half of smokes, almost a case of beer and who knows how many banjo strings.

The intolerance to share space and resources with anybody “other” than us, the childish need that the government takes care of every booboo, and the narrow window of “normal behavior”, is typical for our society.
According to statistics (, 26.2% of adults in the US have a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, with only 6% being a serious one. So if I get my math right, and correct me if I’m wrong cause numbers are not my forte, one fifth of the US population is diagnosed with something not that serious but are given the “not normal” label anyway.
Society also has a pretty good idea what a normal dog should be like. And like with humans, the range of behaviors a dog’s allowed to do is very narrow, and there are social pressures on every owner to conform to the cultural demands. In a nutshell, we want a politically correct Lassie who loves everyone, tolerates everything, hardly barks and never growls or chases things.
Pampered people want 100% insurance and assurance that nothing bad will ever happen. Along the way we forget to live - and don’t allow our children or dogs to live a natural life either.
We force dogs to adjust to our unrealistic expectations. Their life happens on a six-foot leash, and in a crate or on a mat. And on a six-foot they are barely allowed the freedom of half that length cause the alpha rule states that the dog has to walk behind, or beside, the all-mighty master. We forcefully make dogs a part of our sterile world of flawless skin, white teeth, big houses and organized sport. That is what Millan speaks to and that is why he is so popular. Not because he has any special talents, or even likes dogs, but because he charismatically coerces dogs to behave in a “Desperate Housewives” society.
Some dogs surrender and look good on TV, but many develop even more problems based on stress and are then banned to the back yard, or surrendered to the pound and find themselves on puppy death row.
The question is how an emotional and cognizant living being, any organism really, can remain balanced and in harmony when micromanaged into an unnatural existence? The answer is: They can’t.
According to Gordon Warme MD, in his book “Daggers in the Mind”, psychiatric symptoms are solutions to inner conflicts. They are created by the self, albeit not consciously. Dogs have many inescapable conflicts. Inescapable, because an owned dog does not have a voice or choice and relies completely on his person’s mercy. There is every reason to belief, and evidence, that dogs’ mental symptoms, which we call problem behaviors, are human created and an escape from going insane.
We now have dogs that are diagnosed with the same mental issues every fourth American is, and lucky for the pharmaceutical industry, many veterinarians are as keen as psychiatrists to prescribe a pill, rather than dealing with the root problems.
Quick fix symptom control is what the Nova Scotia NDP government did when they put a bounty on coyotes. What I'd like them to do with my tax money is investigate and pursue a more permanent solution where humans and nature can live together.


  1. Very Well Said. Let’s hope that they get the message and listen to the people. As for the media using words like “aggressive” and “attack”, sells and that is what society thrives on. If it didn't, then there would not be so many reality shows on TV. It is sad that in the City of Calgary they have over 2000 coyotes living in the City area and everyone gets along but here!! What does everyone expect? We are moving into their areas. Should they pack up and move. Maybe if everyone starting policing their areas and keep the garbage away and stop putting just garbage bags on the side of the streets and roads. Then it would stop the free meals and then they just might move then back into the woods. But when everywhere you look and see fast food wrappers and such then this is what you get. After the cull then the next thing you know there is too many deer on the road and hares in the gardens and that will the next chapter of this never ending story.

  2. Thanks for comment, Mike. Hm, a bunch of cute hares in the garden - maybe getting rid of coyotes isn't such a bad idea after all.
    Just kidding.

  3. what a great article!
    "In a nutshell, we want a politically correct Lassie who loves everyone, tolerates everything, hardly barks and never growls or chases things."... don't forget, a dog that doesn't shed... hence the new rash of "designer" dogs!
    If this "bounty" or whatever they want to call it [a rose by any other name...] goes ahead, I will ashamed to call myself a Nova Scotian!