Love + Update

When Charlie stopped eating completely, a magpie started showing up and I swear to god, it was Eli. Magpies are common in Wyoming but I’ve never, in fifteen years, seen magpies here around the house. This magpie flew in every day and hung out on Charlie’s fence. It flicked its tail around the exact same way that Eli flicked his tail. When it first appeared, the magpie made me furious and scared because of that old rhyme – “one for sorrow, two for mirth, three’s a wedding, four a birth” – that rhyme is about magpies. When I realized the magpie was Eli, I knew I had to prepare myself, and in my sorrow, I was glad Eli had come back to guide Charlie. That’s what big brothers do.

Our last full day together was one of the best days of the year. Charlie and I spent the entire day outside, and the day was warm and mild. The magpie was on the fence flicking its tail and chattering to us. Charlie rested and I sat beside him with my knitting. He was so relaxed, smiling in his sleep, so totally at peace, the soft dome of his head a halo of sunlight. We lounged and talked and gazed at each other and nothing else existed for the whole day. In the evening, Charlie decided we should go on a little walk. He set the pace and direction, and I walked beside him until he was ready to go inside, where he stretched out on his down-covered bed. I stayed up late, just watching him.

The next morning, Charlie slept in. He went outside at 8:08 am. I know this because I checked the clock to give him ten minutes to come back inside before I went out to be with him. When I joined him, he was curled up on the sunny eastern-facing hillside, nestled under a big rabbit brush. I sat down near him, watched him and talked to him. And then, just before 9, he was gone, as light and quick as a dandelion seed lifting off on the breeze.

Charlie died of kidney failure. I can’t know this for sure, of course, but based on the speed of this whole thing, his eventual refusal to eat, and the anemia that was apparent from his tongue (it got progressively pale and was nearly white by the end), my vet said all signs pointed to kidney failure, too advanced by the time he showed symptoms to have done anything about. Charlie seemed to be improving for a couple of weeks which is why I thought it was arthritis and which, frankly, was the only reason I was capable of sharing that first update – and I’m so glad I did. Having you all looped in has helped me more than I ever could have imagined. We buried Charlie under his favorite tree.

There are so many ways this could have played out worse – for Charlie and for me (a long illness with low quality of life, a level of pain that required euthanasia, losing him suddenly to a poacher, Mike and me dying first). The only way it could have been easier is for both of us to die simultaneously in a gas leak explosion. Dying together in a gas leak explosion is literally the best case scenario when it comes to loving someone…. and we know this…. and still we choose love. This is something to be proud of.

I always knew my time with Charlie was fleeting. I always knew it was a once in a lifetime experience, and I didn’t take one moment for granted. Every single time he howled, I stopped what I was doing and reveled in the song – even if I was on the phone, even if Mike and I were in the middle of a conversation, even if I was in the middle of writing a sentence. Every day was a special day because it was a day with Charlie. Every night, I didn’t fall asleep until Charlie came in and curled up next to me. Every time I saw him, I smiled. Every photograph was a gift. This is not hyperbole – this is why I started taking pictures with him on our very first day together, and this never changed, not as days became weeks and weeks became months and months became years and the years went well beyond a decade. I never took one day, one smile, one song for granted. Every single one was a treasure. And I got to be with Charlie for nearly fourteen years, longer than I ever dreamed.

I’m doing OK considering the circumstances, and mention this because I know some of you are worried about me. If you’ve read The Daily Coyote: Ten Years in Photographs or Meditations with Cows, you’ve read variations of my essay on grief. Writing that piece was so hard, just unbelievably painful. I was sobbing with every word, every edit. But I’m so glad I wrote it, because doing so helped me immensely in processing my past, present, and future grief. It is the reason I am not off a cliff right now.

Chloe has been pretty neglected for the last month and she is thrilled to be my therapy dog. She’s glued to me and just so gentle and sweet. Friends have come through with an array of controlled substances so that I may self-medicate as needed. Mike and I reminisce about Charlie’s life and antics and laugh and cry. I continue to read your heartfelt emails.

The void is excruciating and I look for him a hundred times a day – we all do. But when I call out to his spirit, I find myself unable to utter any of my sadness. Because when I connect with him (which I do so vividly it can only be described as a psychedelic experience) the sadness disappears. I tell him I love him, and I say thank you, thank you for all the time we had. My gratitude for what we had together is like the brightest sunlight burning away the shadows. Feelings of thanks and feelings of love are the feelings I’m left with.

One of the threads that runs through Meditations with Cows is a scrutiny of entitlement and greed. I thought a lot about entitlement and greed while writing that book, on many levels – personal, interpersonal, societal; the ways we are conditioned to accept and even glorify greed; and the ways this conditioning (and my efforts to unlearn it) have affected me as an individual. All that work has helped me cope in the most unexpected way. Instead of drowning in thoughts of ‘I want more, why can’t I have more?’, I’ve been cocooned in gratitude for all that I got. All the time I got with Charlie, all the laughs, all the lessons, all the love. I got to have so much. And I’ll never not have it. I am so thankful.

The day after Charlie died, it struck me for the first time just how huge Charlie was in the world. I never thought much about that – intellectually, I understood it but it never fully registered; I never really felt it. And it just hit me for the first time – Charlie, this individual little coyote, was in People Magazine and Vanity Fair and newspapers around the globe! I was so baked (for the first time in years) and laughing hysterically and sobbing hysterically at the same time (which is really hard to do) at the magic of Charlie, and the reach of his magic. His story, his life, has been translated into multiple languages around THE WORLD. Charlie! Charlie was in all those homes and phones and offices and schools through the internet. Charlie was a superstar! God, what fun for him. He got to just live and run and dance and play and eat like a king and sleep in a bed – he got to be himself, oblivious to all that… but I know he felt it, the way I finally felt it for the first time. He felt that all the time, I know.

one year ago: Goldilooks
two years ago: Rabbit Brush Bouquet
three years ago: Floral Arrangement
four years ago: Over Yonder
five years ago: Hey Hey Hey
six years ago: An Easy Smile
seven years ago: Sunny Outlook
eight years ago: August Warmth
nine years ago: Alpine Aristocrat
ten years ago: Backlit Beauty
eleven years ago: Do you know you quite often make the typo “elf leg” instead of “elk leg”?
twelve years ago: Riding High

290 Responses to “Love + Update”

  1. Joanne Hopkins Says:

    I only followed your story sporadically and sometimes the minutiae of everyday life interfered with even a sporadic connection. However, something brushed by me yesterday and reminded me “Oh, yeah, time for a Charlie update.” I was just poleaxed when I read your posting! No more Charlie?? Magic, especially White Magic, is so very, very ephemeral. His natural beauty and your most natural connection to him through these years was a kind of magic for sure. I’m so glad you two navigated this world as a unique pair; what a treasure your pictures of him are to all of us who need the healing touch of Nature in our fractious world. As a person who has had to bid adieu to so many loved four legged family members, I understand your loss and grief. I am so very very sorry. Goodbye, dear Charlie…

  2. Sue Says:

    Have followed you and Charlie from the very biggining and have always felt a connection to your relationship with each other. I also am very happy that I got to experience his life through your photograpy that will live on forever. My favorite photo is a sweet Coyote curled up on your bed amongst silk pillows in the little cabin. Heaven. I will miss him. love, Sue

  3. susan Says:

    I’m so sorry and sad for you. What a painful time.

    You have a thousand shoulders to lean on.

  4. Colleen G Says:

    I wanted to take a few days before I could tell you how sorry I am about your magnificent and beautiful boy. I could only get through a few of your beautifully written sentences and then could no longer see through my tears. Thank you for sharing your life with Charlie in photos and beautifully written stories. My heart goes out to you and you are in my prayers. He is and was a true legendary global rock star. Hugs and much love to you.

  5. Dana Says:

    I have followed Charlie and the journey through your life since the beginning. I was deeply saddened by his loss even though I knew the day would eventually come. I am fully convince Eli came for him in his new form. I can’t imagine how you feel. Hugs to you in your grief.

  6. Carolyne Says:

    … you’re right he made a world a little brighter and lighter . I will always be grateful for that & for you sharing that love.

  7. Marlene Says:

    Dear Shreve, And so, we bid adieu to Charlie the coyote who lived one very unconventional, long, life filled with respect, love, and companionship (one heck of a better deal then he would have gotten in the wild!) and in the end, his place as the wild being that he always was, was respected, and his comfort and dignity kept intact as much as possible by Shreve’s decision to let nature take its course, as he slipped away to realms unknown now pain free. How incredibly fortunate for them both and for all of us who have followed his life that such a connection was forged and we shall mourn his loss while taking great joy in all that Shreve and Charlie shared with us. Rest easy dear Charlie. May his memory be a source of strength and a blessing to all who knew and loved him.

  8. Jamie Says:

    The best life. A good death. It doesn’t get any better than that. Thank you Charlie Coyote. Thank you Shreve. Thank you Mike. I’m smiling through my tears with you. And you are all in my heart, where Charlie will live forever. He will have a special place on my Dia de los Muertos altar this year. Love, blessings, peace and deep admiration. Few people live so fully and deeply as you.

  9. Diane Says:

    Dear Shreve,
    I remember the beginning.❤️
    Your life with Charlie had me mesmerized—I was hooked.
    If anything I was envious of your adventurous lifestyle and ability to love and live with Charlie—you respected his wildness and his true self —you shared and taught us about his life.
    I will be forever grateful.
    When you the energy in the future, I’ll be awaiting your second book on Charlie. My heart goes out to you for now, but I truly believe Eli showed Charlie the way. Thank you for sharing, Shreve.
    My best❤️

  10. Pumpkin Says:

    Your life with Charlie has been part of my life since he was born. So grateful for the gift you gave us in sharing your life together. So much love, light, joy & life. Thank you.

  11. Jane Says:

    Shreve,
    So sad to read of Charlie’s passing. Thank you for sharing him with us.❤️❤️❤️

  12. Carole Says:

    Dear Shreve,
    I was introduced to your website shortly after it began, and have followed it faithfully every since. Animals have been an important part of my life and I was immediately taken in by the connection you had established with Charlie. But beyond the story was your photography and writing, both of which I have found to be inspiring. Consequently, I have purchased each of your books, and am currently reading “Meditations with Cows”. Thank you for sharing your journey with Charlie, your art and your inspirations. My condolences on your loss of a dear animal friend, and may his gifts be with you always.

  13. mattozan Says:

    What Charlie has taught you, and the rest of us through you, is a gift none of us deserve yet are immeasurably richer to have received. Thank you and Charlie for everything.

  14. Rachael Says:

    To Shreve,

    I am so, so sorry for your loss. I bought your book when I was 16 (10 years ago) and was immediately captivated with Charlie, Wyoming, life on the ranch and your wonderful observations of life and death and everything inbetween.

    I was going through a horrendous time at the time with an alcoholic parent and trying to find my place in life and not knowing why I was even on this planet most days – but I read your book cover to cover several times over and your voice and Charlie helped me get through so, so much. I can’t even find words.

    Losing Charlie is a loss to the world, but he has touched my life (here in a small town in the UK) more than you could know, and I’m sure the life of so many others – he couldn’t have had a better life with anyone else, and I’m pleased he passed away peacefully next to the person he loved. I’ll always remember him and think of him.

    All my love and hugs,
    Rachael

  15. Erthshade Says:

    All good things…
    I just wanted to thank you for all that you’ve done (and Charlie for all that he was) to show the world the beautiful side of a much-maligned species.
    My condolences.

  16. Cathy Says:

    I read the Daily Coyote every day up to the time you had to shut down for awhile, then my own life took over and I lost track of you guys.
    I thought about you occasionally and wondered how you were, it didn’t occur to me that you may have started up the blog again.
    And then today for some reason I ran a search for the Daily Coyote, and saw this post.
    I cant believe its been 15 years, so much has happened in my life during this time that it just flew by.
    I cant believe that Charlie is gone, and even though I have not kept up with you, my heart grieves for him, and for you, while at the same time I feel joy for having known about him and joy for you for having spent 15 years with him.

  17. Nancy Says:

    Shreve,
    I am so sorry for your loss. Charlie was very special and I know he had a wonderful life with you. I enjoy reading your stories so much, you are a wonderful writer that actually transports the reader into the story. Thank you for sharing Charlie with us, he will always be remembered. Condolences to you and Mike. ❤️

  18. Nicole Says:

    I have followed you and Charlie since the beginning. I always looked forward to reading your blog and seeing his pictures. I am in tears, but they’re happy tears that celebrate a beautiful life. I am so grateful for Charlie to have graced the world, and of course for you to share his story.

    Love ya, Charlie, thank you.

  19. Janice Rosen Says:

    I’ve loved every post from daily coyote, and have followed for years. I’m so sorry for the loss, but am glad he went peacefully and without pain. ❤️

  20. Dawn Says:

    I too along with many others have followed you and Charlie from the very beginning. Thank you for allowing me to share in the beautiful bond and the journey the two of you had. He was a gift and I will always remember him.

  21. Penny Says:

    So sad! I have been following from the beginning, don’t even remember how I first heard about you and Charlie. I saw the email with the heading “In Celebration of Charlie” and went uh-oh. But I had to go to this site to see that he had succumbed. Lots of tears here. I always worried about a poacher too, or just some weird coyote-napper taking him from you. One of my cats died in January and I still can’t stop sobbing at times. Charlie was so special. I will never forget. Thanks for sharing him with us.

  22. Sarah Mason Says:

    Shreve… followed you since the beginning although I’m not a big commenter. I rescue animals and I can so relate to your loss of Charlie. No words to make you feel better. He will live forever in your heart. I have an 18 year old Golden Retriever, someone threw her in a dumpster as a tiny puppy, on the decline and what will get me thru it is knowing she lived her life as a Queen, and I am a better person getting to take care of her all these years. Thanks for sharing your stories.

  23. Stefanie Kruczkiewicz Says:

    I am so very sorry to hear of your beloved and so very sweet Charlie passing away. My heart just cried reading your tribute to Charlie. Charlie has been a part of so many lives and he will forever be truly missed. You saved Charlie as a young pup and gave him an amazing life filled with love!! God Bless you and hold dear to your heart all the many, wonderful memories you will always cherish. Charlie will always be very much loved by all who have followed him! My deepest heartfelt sympathy to you all. 😢

  24. janice Says:

    Charlie and Shreve (and Mike- as you started this journey on that fateful day)
    Thank you, thank you for it all…

  25. Nhumey Tropp Says:

    Thank you Charlie and Shreve, and the rest of your wonderful family /farmily, for taking us along on this incredible journey with you. Following you from the beginning I thank you for your generosity –letting us into your world. Sending lots of love..

  26. Amy Says:

    I am so sorry to hear of Charlie’s passing. I don’t know as I’ve ever commented before but I have been following since the beginning. Prayers and positive light sent your way.

  27. Cassie Ancona Says:

    I found you accidentally when Charlie was a puppy. I was mesmerized by your act of kindness and the family you made with all these animals. You were the first and really the only blog I felt an attachment to because I supported and was so adoring of Charlie this adorable coyote who who got this world that was so special and wonderful. I appreciate how you raised him and kept your blog and wrote your books and shared so much with those who felt connected to what you were doing. Thank you. I’m so sorry they don’t get longer lives. But he had a good one. My heart is sad for you r loss. I look forward to your next book. You never know but you may happen on another loving creature who needs your help and fills your world!

  28. Anna (from Finland) Says:

    I’ve been following Charlie’s story from the beginning and was so sorry to hear about his passing :( I lost my own beloved dog 5 months ago so I can imagine the heartbreak… Lots of warm thoughts to you and thank you for sharing Charlie’s life with us <3

  29. Maria Says:

    I have been following your from the beginning. I read your book. I am so sad to read this. I am so sorry for your loss.
    You words struck me deeply,”I’ve been cocooned in gratitude for all that I got. All the time I got with Charlie, all the laughs, all the lessons, all the love. I got to have so much. And I’ll never not have it. I am so thankful”. This is really so beautiful. It is so hard to let them go. They really do stay in your heart forever. They are pure joy.

  30. LaurieFoes Says:

    Charlie’s story, his photos, and your words have been one of the most lovely things. I am sorry he’s gone, but so very glad he lived and I got to know him.

    Thank you Charlie
    Thank you Shreve

  31. Marva Says:

    My heart both breaks and heals as I become aware of the loss of Charlie on earth. As an early follower of The Daiky Coyote, Charlie, Shreve and the farmily, I know that Charlie is always with you, Shreve, and in different ways, he is with us all. Wishing us all the kind of peace he left for us.

  32. Arthur Says:

    Life is fleeting. Life is but a moment it is here and then it is gone. Like the scent of lilac on the summer breeze, all we have left is a memory.

    Thank you for sharing your memories of Charlie.
    Thank you for your wonderful writing .

  33. Chrissi Says:

    Your beautiful words about the way Charlie touched so many lives all around the world are so true. Here I am somewhere in Europe, crying because Charlie died. It has been so much fun reading about the farmily and Charlie’s antics over the years, and I will continue visiting the site.

    Just know that thousands of kilometers away, someone is thinking about you, the farmily and above all, Charlie.

  34. Margo Says:

    Through the years as I have lost my dogs, Charlie was there. I am so sorry for your loss, but we know that he was so lucky to have been found by you and loved by you. You shared your life with him and brought so much joy to us. I was so glad that Eli came for Charlie, so that he was not alone. Travels are so much easier with good friends. I know that the heaviness in your heart will be there for awhile, but know that the good memories will lighten the load.

  35. Celeste Says:

    Deep heartfelt Thank You for sharing Charlie with all of us. My heart goes out to you while you soldier on without your precious Charlie. God Bless you

  36. kaylani Says:

    Shreve, my heart is breaking for your loss. You shared a wonderful, wonderful adventure and life with Charlie for all these years and the special bond you had will never ever be broken. That Eli came to guide Charlie on this last adventure, buoys my heart because it is one more reminder that we are never truly alone and we are ALL connected. Until you meet again, I hope you take solace and comfort in knowing you are surrounded in love.

  37. Alison Says:

    Shreve, I just caught up, I am so sorry. Charlie was so loved! Your relationship was amazing. You learnt and taught us about him, and for that I am grateful. It is amazing how those who’ve gone before come back to help us along. Thankful for magpie Eli and your loving life with Charlie. Thank you for sharing him with us.

  38. Cynthia Says:

    I’m so sad to hear that Charlie has passed. I have been watching his photos and life with you from the very start. Pics from the first calendar adorn my walls. Thank you for sharing him and yourself with us. So, so grateful to you both. Love and peace. ❤️

  39. Kazza the Blank One Says:

    I’ve had this page open in my browser for a couple of weeks now, knowing I would post a comment at some point. I was so sad the morning I woke up to hear of the new of Charlie’s passing. How do you get emotional over an animal that you’ve never even met on the other side of the planet. Life is strange sometimes.

    I was one of those people that came to this site after Heather from dooce.com posted a link. Oh man I felt so guilty that I contributed to the stress it caused you when I was reading your first book!

    Charlie had an amazing life. Through this blog we’ve seen how wonderful you have been to him and the whole farmily. Your dedication and love to them shine through.
    Imagine how different his and your world would be if Mike didn’t make that split second decision not to kill him! Not only for Charlie’s life, but your chance to push for better lives for cattle through your Star Brand Beef site and Meditation with Cows book.

    Thank you for sharing Charlie’s life for the past thirteen and a half years. Stay strong!

  40. Tara Says:

    I read The Daily Coyote when it was first published in 2008. It touched me so, that when I moved from New England to England 5 years ago, it was one of 3 books I took with me as “a keeper on the bookshelf”. I don’t know why, but today I looked up your blog and learned of Charlie’s passing. Thank you for sharing him with us. Thank you for the wonderful shared memories.

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