It’s Just Fluff!

Hi Everyone! I’d like to take a moment to clear up any concerns about Charlie’s weight. Every fall and winter, I receive emails regarding Charlie’s “weight gain.” Some go so far as to call him obese and me reckless for allowing him to become obese. Then, each summer, around July, I receive emails about how skinny Charlie has become, and is he OK or is he ill? The simple answer to all of the above is fur!

I care very much about Charlie’s well-being and general health and, while he does often eat better than I do, he is not an obese coyote, nor is he overweight. He probably weighs more than any wild coyote, but I would also guess that Chloe weighs more than the average stray dog, as well.

If anything, Charlie has such incredible, lush, dense, healthy fur each winter because he is well-fed with a steady, balanced diet. As you can see from these pictures, his fur has come in and has become very thick! I’m using these side views as examples because coyote necks don’t carry any fat. They just don’t. That is all fur – lots and lots of fur.

You can also see the depth of the velvet on his forehead and around his ears. Even though there’s no snow on the ground at the moment, Charlie is ready for it, and his coat will keep him cozy when temperatures drop to 40 below zero. When he sheds all this fur in the spring, it’s enough to overflow a big black garbage bag. His diameter shrinks by half. And he’s the same little trickster underneath it all, regardless of the season. Ain’t nature grand?

photos taken October 2014

one year ago: Monday?!?
two years ago: Cackle
three years ago: Tummy Tackle
four years ago: Stately And Sweet
five years ago: Chloe Gets Too Deep For Charlie
six years ago: Seeing Something We Don’t
seven years ago: Many Of You Have Wondered…

30 Responses to “It’s Just Fluff!”

  1. Cathy Says:

    Sorry you’re getting grief about Charlie’s fur/weight/appearance. My German Shepherd does the same thing. Also, his coat seems to get darker in the winter. And he’s suddenly shedding his summer coat to make way for all that winter mane around his neck. Does Charlie shed out his summer coat, too?

  2. Po Says:

    You are much more patient with folks than I would be.

  3. Gindy51 Says:

    All animals who spend any time outside do this, rabbits chipmunks squirrels foxes etc Even the hibernating animals grow lush coats to protect them from the cold. The spring shed allows birds and ground nesting animals to get lots of wonderful fur to line their nests and make sure their babies are warm and protected. Nothing goes to waste!
    I bet Charlie’s spring shed fur would make lovely wool for a sweater or scarf. I know my mom’s old Samoyed dog’s fur did!

  4. Johnathen Says:

    Happy thanks giving to all. I live in SW Wisconsin and my two 20 lb. barn cats have the most wonderful coats ready to stay warm this winter. So that is what Charlie has done, I wish I could do the same, because walking my dog when the wind chill gets down to zero is darn cold, but just like Charlie she is the same in winter as in summer. Thank you for the wonderful photos of Charlie, haveing fresh photo each day is not easy, especially our weather is so crazy.

  5. torre Says:

    I love seeing the transformation of Charlie’s fur! and he looks so fluffy warm and cozy! He does have a beautiful coat.

  6. Laura Says:

    Several years ago, you mentioned using Charlie’s shedded fur to knit yourself a sweater. Were you ever able to do that? I love his lush, winter coat. Simply beautiful!

  7. Holly Says:

    Mother Nature is a wonderful care giver. She looks after all of her realm with great expertise. I would never have thought he was obese or skinny….like dogs, their coat increases in the winter, and decreases in the spring for the summer months. Built in air conditioning systems, and heaters.
    He is one handsome boy, in all seasons, that is for sure…

  8. Marg Says:

    If his coat is any indication we are in for a doozy of a winter. Just hope it is not like what Buffalo got. I know the squirrels around here (can I borrow Charlie to cull them) have huge tails and that is a good sign of a cold winter ahead. Booked my trip to warmer climes already!

  9. Mindy Says:

    Here in Tucson, I see lots of coyotes year-round, and have always noted that in the summer they look so scruffy, but in late fall through winter their coats are so full and beautiful.

  10. Linda Lu Says:

    Charlie is gorgeous, no matter what time of year. Anyone who has ever had a dog or cat or other furry animal, should know that they shed for Summer and grow more for Winter. I had a little Pekingese and she would do that same thing. When she didn’t have her full coat, she looked so scrawny and with her full coat, a big fluff ball. When I would brush her, I could get paper grocery bags overflowing with her fur. Now that’s a lot of fur for a little 8-10 lb dog! So I can well imagine that Charlie could very well fill a large black garbage bag to overflowing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and comments, and most of all Thanks for sharing Charlie with all of us. Again, he is one beautiful coyote.

  11. Micaela Morris Says:

    I have the same problem with my dog, Bodhi. She is a Tibetan terrier/poodle mix and grows fur like crazy in the winter. People think I have gotten another dog when she is shaved for summer. Charlie looks gorgeous with that huge ruff around his neck….in Wyoming he needs all the fur he can grow!

  12. Susan Says:

    I live in Wyoming and it gets COLD! It makes sense that Charlie would have layers of fur to keep him warm during the winter. Although there are those of us who understand this, your explanation was great and should hopefully clear up the concerns of those that think he is just putting on weight.

  13. Jeff Says:

    I wasn’t worried about him putting on weight, ’cause –

    I like big coyotes and I can not lie, You other bloggers can’t deny…

    His coat is just beautiful! Does let you snuggle him?

  14. Jenny C Says:

    Well, I’m still hung-up on the hilarious oxymoron of “obese coyote,” hehe.

    It never gets old to me to see your exquisitely healthy, well-cared-for Charlie. I see so many coyotes in the wild who live by their considerable wits and the luck of the draw of weather and available food, and they will never look as beautiful and luxurious as Charlie. They know no other way to live, but Charlie does… and we get to see it. I feel lucky to be privy to this semi-secret world in Wyoming. I’m still amazed by the implausible balance you’ve forged with privilege, nurturing, freedom and wildness in Charlie’s world. Thanks again, Shreve.

  15. Karen Says:

    I assume you’ve deleted the judgement comment saying Charlie is obese…. he is simply foofy! And if you’re going to be outside in ‘negative temps’ you better have some fluff!

  16. mlaiuppa Says:

    Every consider knitting a Charlie sweater?

    That is, having the fur the sheds spun into yarn. They do it with dog fur.

    Just not sure if Charlie would tolerate a brushing in the spring months when he starts to shed. If anyone could do it, it would be you.

  17. Zambian Lady Says:

    That is a nice looking young man/coyote. I wonder how he would feel to be cuddled?

  18. Laura Says:

    Lucky lucky dog to be with you for this life. What a healthy beautiful sight. The coyotes in my neck of the woods (drought-stricken So. Cal.) are living mostly on grapes right now. Lots of vineyards around here and not much else to eat after these dry years. It’s funny to see their scats, bursting with grape seeds . . . . don’t they wish they had some elk haunch like Charlie!

  19. Maggie Says:

    What a wonderful, patient explanation! It boggles my mind that people wouldn’t know that… but I guess not all of us have had the opportunity to own pets that shed. I just learned in Montana that bears shed twice a year! In the spring, AND in the fall as their newly growing winter coat pushes out all the summer fur!

  20. Karen Says:

    A Trickster above all else!

  21. Rose Marie B Says:

    Have you ever found a correlation between Charlie’s coat and the weather of any particular season?

  22. Dana Says:

    It saddens me that you get grief about Charlie’s looks (overweight/underweight). Obviously the people who give you grief have never owned any sort of mammal that sheds! My dogs always get such lush winter coast and I live in Georgia. I can only imagine how they would get living in a colder climate. Then in the spring, I have to deal with bags upon bags of shedded fur and my horses shed to the point that they almost look like they have bald spots cause their summer coats are so much shorter!

  23. Kazza the Blank One Says:

    I always wondered what would happen if you took an animal that sheds like this to the opposite hemisphere. Would it eventually adjust to the new cycle of seasons? How long would it take?
    I really should research that one day :)

  24. Cat Says:

    I have 2 Siberian Huskies and when the blow their coat – ! holy cow ! Visually, it can look like as much as a 20 lb difference. After 14 years, I still have to convince myself that yes, all that hair/fur really did come off just one dog. lol

  25. Creekhiker Says:

    Gee, I always assumed his fur was just thickening for winter. I have a friend who rescues orphaned squirrels…now those little suckers put on some weight every single fall… even though we live in sunny Los Angeles and they have a steady food supply. And magically, every spring, they drop it all! I just assumed it was nature taking its course in your stunning photos. But that people have nothing better to do than criticize… So sorry!

  26. Jenny Says:

    I would never of thought Charlie was losing weight or gaining. I figured his coat was adjusting to the weather as all mammals do. I’m so sorry you get negative comments from time to time about his weight (of all things). You are kind to take the time to educate the ignorant people.
    I have been following Charlie since you got him and I’ve read “his” book ;) well done Shreve.
    Charlie is a lucky boy. Can you imagine had you not been there to care and love him after his parents demise what would of likely happen to Charlie? You are lucky to have each other. It’s a beautiful thing and I applaud you and Charlie both.

  27. Dotty Says:

    I get and love the weekly Charlie pictures and was wondering about Chloe. Glad she is will around, but why is she never in pics wit Charlie anymore? The dog/coyote bond was always a strong and moving visual. Can we see more of her? Thanks Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  28. Roberta Chase Says:

    Hi Shreve, I’m just finishing your book and I want to let you know that I am so amazed and delighted in what you have accomplished in raising Charlie. Your brilliance and persistence and love in caring for Charlie is so admirable. A Buddhist would call you a Bodhisatva. Your light is shining all the way to Utah where I live with my chihuahua!

  29. The Dog Lover Says:

    Are you still keeping up with Cesar Millan? I just read his latest book, Cesar Millan’s Lessons From The Pack” and it was interesting. It was not as much about training as about the lessons dogs teach us.

  30. Rick Says:

    Just discovered your first book a few days ago and have had a hard time putting it down to prepare dinner or sleep. I was EXTREMELY pleased to find it did not (and still does not to this day) have the ending I expected from a story of raising a wild animal in captivity (usually an untimely death or zoo confinement). I am also so glad to see that you have included a lot of the pitfalls that occur when people think they can easily make a pet(which Charlie is definitely not) out of a wild animal. I am so glad that you make it very clear of the personal responsibilities that are required. In the 1970’s I worked for Massachusetts Audubon and was in charge of +/- 150 animals that were confined to captivity due to injury, captive breeding, or the pet trade including two coyotes. It was the most fulfilling job of my life but at times also the most somber. I relived many of those experiences through your book, applaud your work and hope a sequel will someday be in the works.

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