As an eight year old girl (no, let me correct that---make that an eight year old Tom-Boy,) I spent every manageable moment outside. That was a feat unto itself in the hot, arid, Arizona heat. You quickly learn to run barefoot from one shady spot to the other; if you can find a shady spot, that is. Walking along a back road, I saw a culvert that ran beneath the road. My curiosity piqued and that curiosity ALWAYS got me in trouble.
I was big enough that, if I bent down a little, I could walk through. I was about half way and carefully picking my way through the debris so I wouldn't step on anything sharp, when I heard it! I stood very still and held my breath. Then I heard it again. It was a faint whine. I moved towards the sound.
There, nestled down in some old paper and rag's was this little puppy. I gently touched him with my finger and talked to him.
"It's OK," I cooed in soft, reassuring tones.
He was so tiny and he was crying and licking and sucking at my fingers, I could see that he was hungry. His tummy was sunken. I quickly looked around to see if I could see any more puppies and then I scooped him up. Running all the way back home, and didn't bother to step only in the shady spots, yet I never even noticed my burning feet in the desert sand.
Luckily my father was home at the time. He had a way with animals and was known around the region for breaking horses. He always reminded me that animals were our best friends and they would always be there with love and devotion, even when humans were not.
The puppy's eyes were open and alert but his wobbly legs did not hold him up for long. I watched with eager anticipation while my father checked the puppy. Then he laughed.
"Girl, do you know what you have found here?" he asked.
I thought that a silly thing to ask. I had simply found a little puppy in the culvert and he was hungry.
My father went on to explain that the puppy was probably a runt of the litter and the mother had abandoned it, as many do, because its chances of survival would be doubtful. He also told me that this puppy was different from most because it was part coyote. He showed me how one of its eyes was different. It looked like a piece of pie when it is cut into wedges because they were different colors. There was blue, a gray and a green wedge.
Of course that puppy was put into a box and kept next to me as my father showed me how to feed him and it was not long before the steadily growing creature was running beside me from one shady spot to the other. I named him Cody.
Now, Cody had one fault that caused a lot of problems. There was not one chicken in the neighborhood that was safe when he was around. He would stalk them and then kill them. He never ate them, for he had plenty of food in his bowl at home. It was the "coyote part of him," that would surface and come alive at the sight of a chicken.
I watched one day, as my father tied a dead chicken around his neck in an attempt to break him of this habit. He then tied up Cody so he could not get away from it. Believe me---Cody and that chicken smelled pretty bad when Dad finally relieved the dog of his burden.
That "chicken killing lesson," lasted until the next chicken walked by. Now mind you, this was a time when people let their chickens run loose in their yards, so poor Cody was tempted on a regular basis. It wasn't long before our neighbors started putting their chickens in a wired chicken yard. You might say---Cody changed the neighborhood in his own way.
One day I noticed that Cody was coughing and he wasn't eating much. All he wanted to do was curl up in a cool place and sleep. I told my father that I thought Cody was sick and after he examined him he agreed. He told me that Cody had distemper and it was bad. He also did not think the dog would live long. We were very poor and option of taking the dog to the veterinarian was out of the question.
Of course, I was devastated and cried. Too make it easier on me he convinced me that if he took Cody out to my uncle's ranch---that maybe he would feel better. It was his way of keeping me from seeing the dog die. A few days later, after he had taken Cody away, he presented me with a new puppy so my attention could be averted from my lost.
Each summer I got to go out to my uncle's ranch and spend two weeks. I looked forward to this special event. It had been two years since Cody had gone and I still thought of him often.
One evening after supper, my uncle said he had something to show me. We climbed into his old pick-up truck and bounced along up a deeply rutted road, then he suddenly turned and the beat-up old truck climbed up a dry wash. There to my left and a little ways away, I could see a big wind mill and a water tank near it for the cattle to drink from. I wondered why we parked back so far from it.
"Shush, be real quiet," he said in his no-nonsense voice. He quietly told me that we might be surprised at the animals that we could see when they came here for a drink. The sun had just set when I saw the first coyote casually make his way to the tank of water. Then soon after, several more followed--equally cautious of any danger that might be present.
"Don't move and just look back up that slope there," he whispered.
I couldn't believe it. There standing back from all the others was CODY! He was staring straight at me. I wanted to run to him but my uncle whispered for me to stay put until the other ones left. The pack moved on but Cody stayed behind. Finally my uncle and I slowly got out of the truck and slowly walked towards Cody.
"Now, call him very softly," my uncle said.
Cody stood there and intently watched as I approached. It was just a slight movement at first. Then his tail wagged even more as I talked to him. His nose sniffed the air and the tail wagged rapidly. He recognized me!
When I moved a bit closer he backed up, yet still wagging his tail. Then there was a coyote call in the distance and he turned. Looking towards the call, he paused and then, once more looked back to me.
We both stood there for several minutes before the stronger instinct took over. He then turned and followed the---call.
I watched until he disappeared far into the mesquite brush and I strained to catch one last glance of him. I could only smile and wave a silent goodbye.
At last, Cody had found his way back home!