Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Art Critic

Yolanda took this sequence of photos some months back, towards the end of a walk with Max in Van Cortlandt Park. At the south end of the park, there is a statue erected to commemorate the occasion of a coyote being killed by a car on a stretch of highway within the boundaries of the park. It was the first time many people became aware that Canis latrans had come to The Bronx. It doesn't look much like a real coyote--a rather idealized, even heroic portrait, somewhere between Rin Tin Tin and the way the ancient Romans depicted the she-wolf who suckled Romulus & Remus.

Our previous dog, Peggy, who spent a good portion of her life in Van Cortlandt, encountered coyotes there on two separate occasions. The first time, out with me one winter's day, she saw one in a frozen swamp, and growled softly, before it silently vanished into the brush. The second time, out with Yolanda, she saw one in the northwestern woods. Never being any too fond of her fellow canines, she chased after it before Yolanda could stop her--getting a bite on the posterior for her presumption. If she'd been a smaller dog--she weighed around 40lbs--her wild relative might well have made lunch out of her.

When Peggy first saw this statue, she recognized the outline--and growled. Not necessarily making an association with the coyote that bit her--to her, it might have just looked like a big dog with prick ears, which was bad enough as far as she was concerned. It wasn't as strong a reaction as she would have had to a real canid. Her nose told her nothing living was there. But the shape alone was enough to get a rise out of her.

Passing by the statue, on our way out of the park, we just had to know what Max's reaction would be. Max, you will recall, likes other dogs. And looks quite a bit like a coyote himself.


Seems preoccupied.

Something's not quite right here.

It sure looks like a dog....

Alive or not, that's some handsome profile.

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