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

337 Responses to “Love + Update”

  1. Rachael Says:

    I am so sorry. I took a hiatus from social media in later October so I did not see that Charlie had passed. I only saw the Honey Rock Down post earlier today. While my heart aches for you and Mike, I am so pleased that Eli came to escort Charlie into the beyond. The fact that Charlie went so peacefully is a luxury in and of itself, as with Rue. You are credit to these wonderful animals who have Dolittled their way into your life, so to speak. Thanks for sharing Charlie with us over these years. <3

  2. Carole Breakstone Says:

    I just learned tonight of Charlie’s passing and I am so very sorry that he has left life behind for you and yours, for me and all of us followers and well-wishers of you and him, and lovers of his beauty and your adventure together. And I’m so glad you had those 14 years together and shared them with us. I think I started following 10-12 years ago. I wouldn’t know so much about coyotes and their beauty and how to appreciate them when I saw them in the night without Charlie and you.

    I am all about cats. Especially siamese since I grew up with them. Last December my 14 year Moo, a stray cow kitty with a little mustache who came to live with me 13 years earlier, died of kidney failure. Her back legs stopped working the last week, but she still had will to drag herself up and eat, so I helped her all I could, and she let me help her in ways I did not think she would accept, but she did, and showed such love on me. She was always a kitty who loved to be carried about, though totally independent when she didn’t want to be, so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that she would accept help. But when she started breathing heavy and being scared, I took her for euthanasia and held her to the end. She left me with such a showering of love and blessings, it was incredible. She was not my first loss, or heaviest of my furry heart children, but she taught me about gratitude and the beauty of letting go.

    Your experience with Charlie feels like that to me. Thank you for sharing your love of and by Charlie with us. And dear Eli. Light and blessings upon you.

    Best wishes,
    Carole

  3. Rockrat Says:

    I remember once getting lost in the Swiss Alps on a dead end road to a farmhouse at the top of a mountain pass. Absolutely gorgeous scenery all around but it was overcast and very lightly raining. I was struck by the farm woman sitting on her front step. I’d never seen someone so dismally morose in such a beautiful place. I thought of all the animals she must have known and grieved over. And all the alcohol she and her husband must have been using to project such despair.

    We looked at each other for a moment. She looked away. There was nothing I could do or say. I put my bike in gear and left.

    Best remedy for grief is to step outside of oneself and help others, if they want it.

    Keep putting pictures and stories out there. We’ll promise to respond as best as we can.

  4. Josh “Tygerwolfe” W. Says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. I’ve followed Charlie’s adventures from when you first started posting them. I almost never open Instagram but something made me do it today, and your post about the revolving Charlie pictures drew me here.

    I’m so saddened to hear of his passing. I know he shared his name with the main character of one of my fav movies growing up (All Dogs Go To Heaven), and I have to believe it’s true for Song Dogs as well.

    Miss you, Charlie.

  5. Marie Says:

    Oh nooo! It’s sad to read, that Charlie died. I followed him since you started sending the weekly pictures of him. It has been al long time… I started following Charlie after I have seen a small Coyote in the US south west.
    I can imagine how sad you are now and will be in the next month. 9 years ago I lost my 29 years old horse in February and our 16 years old dog in November. Both were put to sleep because of cancer. It was a very hard time for me and my family for a long time. Nearly everything in my live has changed. Since the year I lost my two best friends, I never had an animal again. I couldn’t bear it, losing again a best friend.
    But, I believe that the souls of my horse and dog are running free together with others somewhere – and maybe my soul will meet the two again… And maybe your soul will meet Charlies soul and all the other souls of your passed animals. I hope for it.

  6. Deanna Says:

    When I lost my beloved cats, Dolly and Gigi, I didn’t think I could go through the pain of loss again. Then I read something from a member of Best Friends Animal Society that changed my perspective: “There is no such thing as love without loss, of joy without pain. To believe that the value of sharing your life with an animal isn’t worth the pain of saying goodbye is the only mistake we humans make.”

    I needed to read those words. It’s not all about me and my pain, which was where I was stuck. For too long.

    So, to all those who hesitate to adopt another animal after loss, if you still have love to share with an animal (and you do!), please, at some point, consider adopting again. Love is the only thing that does not diminish the more we share it. Grow your love by sharing it with another animal out there who needs you and is waiting for you. There are so many animals who need love from someone like you. Go love one again. You won’t regret it.

  7. Scargosun Says:

    Something called out to me today to check in. I have not done so in some time. My heart goes out to you and your family. I cried as I read your post about Charlie’s passing. He was and still is a part of your soul otherwise your pictures and writing would have been very different. Cherish that part of your soul. I know you will.

  8. Diane Says:

    I know the heartbreak of loosing our animals. I have gone through it many time, with each one I have loved and would give up everything to help them.
    We can never replace that loss, but I keep rescuing another dog and am always will to go through that pain off loss again.
    Charlie will always be with you.

  9. Lesley Says:

    As always, your words convey the spirit of things and touch me deeply. Like everyone else, I came to admire coyotes because of you, and Charlie was the ambassador of his species to beat all. The death of anyone we are close to is excruciating but there is an honour to being part of it, for the dying one to let us accompany them in the journey. The comforting is mutual I think. That you were with him in his favourite spot…this will stay with me for a long while. That Eli came to guide him home. I am so sorry for your loss and I want to thank you for sharing your life and his life with all of us. I grew to be a little better of a person for the lessons you’ve given and the spirit of Charlie and his farmily. All the best to you, Shreve. You are a very special someone.

  10. Stephanie Says:

    On my way home from an early morning workout today, I spotted a young coyote watching me from an empty parking lot. It reminded me that I had not checked in with Charlie for a few weeks.

    I have been crying for an hour now since reading of Charlie’s passing. He was so lucky to be loved by you. I know you consider yourself the lucky one, but take comfort in how you granted him the most precious gift of kindness at the end.

    If you don’t mind, I would like to light a yarzheit candle, the Jewish candle of mourning, for Charlie tonight. Please accept my deepest sympathies on your incredible loss of an incredible creature.

  11. Ken O Says:

    Checking on you, Charlie, and the gang has become more sporadic for me over the last few years, as I have dealt with life, and feared this post, but seeing him never brought less joy. Thank you so much for sharing him! I cannot begin to tell you how important he was in the beginning, as I was first overcoming addiction and going through a divorce. I am so grateful to you and Charlie for being a bright spot, something wonderful that I could cling to during the darkest times. An early “test” for my wonderful second wife was seeing how she responded to Charlie. She loves coyotes like I do now.

    We’re a praying household, and will include your peace and healing from grief in our prayers tonight. I don’t actually know your beliefs, nor do they really matter, but if different from ours, humbly hope you accept them in the spirit in which they are given: According to our beliefs they are the greatest thing we can offer.

  12. Nancy-Sue Says:

    I am so glad that you allowed Charlie to pass naturally. I have read the book several times, and will re-read again soon. I always keep a spare copy of The Daily Coyote on hand to give as a gift to someone I know will appreciate it.
    Thank you for sharing his and your life with us.
    Sending you love and healing during this time.
    Much Love.

  13. Lisa B Says:

    I recently revisited this blog after an absence to find that you had released your new book. I was so excited! I came back to catch up a few days later, on my lunch break, and found the devastating news about Charlie. Oh, how I cried. How was I going to explain to my co-workers that I was sobbing about a coyote, and for a woman that I have never met? How could I explain when I don’t fully understand myself what Charlie and your words have meant to me all these years? The beautiful sentiments that others have left here have expressed it far better than I can. Shreve, your photographs and words have had a beautiful impact on my life, and Charlie will be in my heart forever. Thank you for sharing him with all of us.

  14. mary Says:

    so sorry for the loss of precious Charlie, he was a great character and helped to de-stigmatize his kind. 2020 has been so bad for so many, I just hope you can find a new passion to follow and keep us involved. Our animals bless us with their presence and all we can do is honor them when they are gone.

  15. Jill Says:

    I’m so sorry. I followed you and Charlie from very early on. He was beautiful.

    May I ask what happened to Eli? I know he’s been gone for ~five years.

  16. Lea Darwom Says:

    I had not checked in for some time and am so very sad to hear that Charlie passed. I know that our animals cannot live forever but it is devastating to lose them. I have the very first Charlie book and have kept it with all my moves and I also keep the calendars. This year has been filled with hardships around the world and we all look forward to 2021 and the light at the end of the tunnel. Charlie will always be with us and I am so thankful for your thoughtful and beautiful life and sharing it with us.

  17. Gretchen Says:

    Dear Shreve, I am so sorry for this lose. Your book invited us in to your home and life with Charlie, what a heartfelt treasure to keep forever. Your incredible ability to share experiences and feelings is a true gift to all of us. Thank you for caring for and loving Charlie so much.

  18. Sara Says:

    I am so sorry to hear of Charlie’s passing. Be was just a beauty.
    I remember getting your blog address from my dad when Charlie was just a pup. My Dad had found it and just knew I would enjoy it as much as he did and I have been following Charlie…I wish I was more consistant because I just now found out he passed. He will sure be miss. Thoughts and prayers are with you. Maybe Charlie and my Dad got to meet up in heaven!!

  19. Will Says:

    Oh my dear Shreve I feel deep sorrow and gratitude for you and Charlies. I’m not a social media person so I just found out now as I thought about a new calendar. Your writings have touched my heart many times this time most of all. I am in service to many cats and one steady dog who help me stay more connected to our dear Mother Gaia in these turbulent and chaotic times. Grief is something we earthbound species experience may yours serve you, nourish you in ways most needed. Many blessings…

  20. Virginia Colegrove Says:

    I have your first book, signed, and look at it often but just learned of Charlie’s passing. What a gut punch! You know how you think some people will live forever? Well, in my mind Charlie was one of those people. My heart goes out to you and Mike, he was such a huge part of your life. I hope you are able to move on until such time as you and Charlie meet again. Until then, know that when ever you are out on his earth, he is walking with you.

  21. Devin Says:

    Stopped in when I remembered at random about Charlie and how I used to visit this blog every day, a habit I drifted away from years ago. Crying now… so much love for Charlie, such a special creature. Thank you for sharing this story. My heart goes out to you in your grief.

  22. Jill A Stoddard Says:

    Shreve,
    I AM SO SORRY for your loss of Charlie. He had the best life a coyote could possibly have. It IS amazing just how famous he became! Take heart in knowing that you were both blessed to have had each other😇
    Love,
    JillAnn

  23. Randi Leigh Says:

    I read The Daily Coyote when you first published. I followed your little blog way, way back then. I think I initially found you through the Vespa story. Charlie’s story touched me more than you could ever know. I’m actually a wildlife rehabber now and you and Charlie are partially to thank for that. I followed you for some time and then admittedly dropped off because my own life was happening. For some reason a couple of days ago you and Charlie began creeping into the corners of my mind. I made a mental note to check your blog. I settled in with my coffee this morning and found you…. only to find you have lost your beloved Charlie and other beautiful souls as well. What a tremendous loss for you – and for the world who knew him. You have both reached so many people. And his legacy will continue. Thank you. And thank you, Charlie.

  24. scotty Says:

    hey S. so much loss, so much sorrow. i move around in life so much slower now i think it may partly be due to the weight of it. and your magpie came back to help. my heart goes out to you and your farmily. even if you never publish again the daily coyote will be a part of my life. it brings new life to my calendar i can mark off the days and make my notes and wonder when i can also go to the rainbow bridge. i want to go there.

  25. Erica Says:

    Shreve, My best friend introduced me to Charlie, and you, many years ago with a copy of The Daily Coyote. I’ve enjoyed your blogs ever since. You gave me the gift of also knowing Charlie. Not to mention all the other family members. You and I seem to be very much alike. I’ve felt a connection to you because our lives and view points are frighteningly similar. My critters are also my family. My dogs are my life. Each day is revolved around their needs and happiness. I emphasize with your grief in losing Charlie. My heart breaks for you . All their lives, we know it’s coming. We know their lives are short. Every moment is precious. You describe that reality so beautifully in your writing. I’m so glad his death played out the way it did. As you mention, it could have gone a hundred different ways. I feared the process with my first gal, Laurel, for years. I think about it a bit now with my old hound, Henry, who’s gotten write faced and lumpy all over with lymphomas. He’s been by my side , curled up close in bed each night for many years now. I am so very sorry for your loss, losses, this early winter.Sincerly, Erica Stephenson, Monterey , Virginia

  26. Marcia Says:

    You and Charlie are THE luckiest aren’t you? It’s how I know I’ll feel if I lose my husband first. Sad yes but oh my God how lucky we WERE,,,,,

    The boys in my life (husband and sons) want to move to Wyoming. I’m terrified. You have literally made it less scary.

    Thank you for your life shares, since the Vespa days. I’m older than you but hope to be like you when I grow up.

    Love forever, Marcia

  27. Katherine Says:

    Hello Shreve, I’m only seeing your post now, and can’t stop crying. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s heartbreaking. He is already sooo missed. I’ve followed your beautiful journey with Charlie from the beginning. Thank you for your generous sharings through the years. I’m the person who bought your orange wool coat, many years ago already, and I treasure it to this day as a symbol of you and Charlie’s love. Sending you caring hugs. Take good care of yourself. Much respect, Katherine, Sonoma Mountain, Northern California.

  28. Tara Racer Says:

    I am so sorry, sad, heartbroken and honored. I am honored we were able to go on this journey with you. I am so sorry for your loss and sadness. My dog, Zoe, who passed a year ago, and myself, played a game that Charlie was her boyfriend. Clearly the game was in my chatter. However, we have always had pictures or the calendar up and I would chatter about Charlie to her. Thank you for bringing such love and joy in to our lives.

  29. Sharon McGough Says:

    Shreve…..I have you on my mind, perhaps even more than when Charlie was still alive. You are right and brave to acknowledge that it has now become too painful to continue daily along this familiar path. I am sorry that sorting through the pictures, and reliving your happy years together, has brought you to your knees. That is pretty much how I imagined you might feel, as you try to reconcile this profound loss. No one has a pet Coyote …..I think that was part of the thrill of seeing Charlie every morning for your readers. The love and devotion between you two, and also Mike and Eli in the mix, was magical. You need some time…..something will captivate your creativity again. I hope to see that…….I also want to thank you for adding so much joy and fun into my life. My house is filled w Coyotes because of you/Charlie. Buenas suerte, mi amiga bonita.

  30. Becky Walsh Says:

    The covid year as I’m calling 2020 I lost touch with many things and. your blog about your life and Charlie was one of those things. My mom passed in 2020 and I fell off the map basically. I’m starting to come back to catch up and saw that Charlie had passed. I was very sad to read this. I’ve been reading about your brave wonderful journey since the beginning of your going to the city and then deciding on a totally different path and Wyoming and Charlie! I am truly sorry for your loss. Charlie was a blessing to you and so many others as well. Thank you for all you’ve shared and I will continue to follow your amazing journey still.

  31. Leesa Carter Says:

    Dear Shreve,

    A friend from San Diego encouraged me to read your book Meditations With Cows so I ordered it and read it in a very short time frame. I LOVED it, love Daisy, and the gang. Your writing style is wonderful I felt so happy most of the time reading it! Very informative as well.
    Your book inspired me in so many ways! I then wanted to read The Daily Coyote so I ordered that as well. Again, I LOVED this book, love Charlie, Elie, and all of your adventures and challenges. After reading this book I decided to check out your blog, website, etc. I was so very saddened to see that Charlie had died, also Eli. I am so sorry for your losses, these sweet beings were incredibly special. An understatement. Please feel my big hug from across the miles. Keep writing, please!
    ps Charlie did really have the best life ever because of YOU!
    Warmest regards from Leesa

  32. Debbie Says:

    I came to read this again and still cannot get through it without deep tears. I know a good portion is because I lost Gem just couple months before this and that that grief bubbles up at your words here about Charlie, words that I could not have foreseen being so beautiful and comforting to me too as you articulate your grief and comfort THE WORLD at Charlie’s passing over. Yes, the grief — for Gem AND the years of having Charlie virtually in my heart — is still very much there even though I have a labradoodle puppy tugging at my heartstrings now, Penny. I will always have this little famous coyote living there and be oh, so grateful for you both.

  33. Suzan Says:

    Dear Shreve.
    Your life with Charlie is a magical journey. IS because he for SURE is by your shoulder as a Spirit Guide. If you do Journeying, you will find new partners: Coyote, Magpie and you and perhaps you can carry his medicine. (Chloe is like, “Well, DUH!”)
    Suzan Dianne Green

  34. Jackie Says:

    I read your book The Daily Coyote many years ago. I got it out yesterday to flip through it; my granddaughter is into coyotes and wants to be a coyote for Halloween. That inspired me to look for your site again and I ready the news about Charlie. My heart breaks for you. We lost my heart dog (Loki, a German Shepherd) in February and I miss him terribly; it is so hard to lose someone you love so much. But I know Loki is still with me, as Charlie is with you. We go on, not filling the loss but learning to live with it. Thank you for sharing Charlie’s story.

  35. Cindy C. Says:

    Dearest Shreve,
    I knew one day I would visit here and see that Charlie was gone. I am completely heartbroken 💔. Sending you all the love in the world. ❤️

  36. Tim and Maureen Says:

    We’re both crying.

  37. Linda D. Says:

    It has been a long while since I touched base with the Daily Coyote. As my own pups have aged along with Charlie, I realized that I really needed to check in on you and Charlie. I am not surprised to hear of Charlie’s passing. I am sorry it took so long for me to check in. My heart and prayers go out to you, Mike and Chloe. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to continue to hear condolences going on for so long after Charlie’s passing. I have no words except that I am here for you; to continue to listen to your story. Peace in your journey forward.

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