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03 April, 2010

Coyote Fools Day

April 1, in my culture, is a day of trickery, fakery. Hilarity if it works out right.

As usual, I woke up and wished I had thought of something, some fiendishly clever trick to pull on family and co-workers. But of course I hadn't. Maybe I could have told my wife that I had finally finished making the present for her birthday months ago, but that would have been mean, I guess.

Then the whole day passed, not even a trickle of foolery. Family and friends all as gumptionless as myself, apparently.

So that evening, I broke out a DVD I got recently, a Colville elder's Coyote tales. Coyote tricks bird women into releasing the salmon for all to eat, turtles fool coyote to win a footrace--pranks all around for April Fools Day.

We have no coyote, but we have his cousin, and she tricked us that night.

Looking to let her outside before bed, we called her name. Nothing.

We opened all the bedroom doors, sing-songing "Daaaai-sy." Still no sign.

Now the search was on for real. Back through the house: under beds, in closets, behind couches, outside. Not a trace.

Speculation and mild debate followed.   Had we let her out? No.   Was she under the bed?No.    Had she ever not answered? No.    Could we have missed her?

Yes, obviously. So, another end-to-end sweep, under quilts, in cabinets and dishwasher and trashcan, and every other place a dog could fit. Back over the places we'd checked already. Again outside for a full perimeter patrol.


Followed by mounting panic. Daughter fearing, knowing that animals crawl off and disappear when they know they're going to die. Mom taking to the road, driving around the neighborhood, eyeing every last whitish blur and hoping the dog would come into focus. Dad having a crisis of reality: the dog has to be here--the dog is not here. When the only rational explanation is that someone has broke in and stealthily napped the dog from under our noses, I go for irrational.

Sure, the dog just turned invisible. The spirit of Coyote helping a cousin mess with the humans, "Disappear for a while, little dog. Have a laugh and see what they do." "Coyote" comes from Nahuatl, like "cocoa" and a bunch of other cool words that make the language I speak American instead of English. Out dog is a mutt with a hefty dose of American Eskimo, so I figure she and Coyote are New World creatures capable of pulling the wool over this Euro-mongrel's eyes.

Cogitation couldn't conjure our canine. Another search, calling her name for the umpteenth time, speculating on increasingly bizarre scenarios, none of this would bring her back. Comforting our daughter, all I could say is "It's going to be all right. We'll wake up and she'll come back." We both knew there were no data to support that.

What more could we do?

Dejectedly retiring for the night, trudging down the hall, hoping that somehow we had just been blind, that the dog for once had completely ignored us for hours and didn't have to pee.


A noise in our sleeping younger daughter's room. A stirring.
Probably just her hearing us made her roll over, or maybe she has to pee. But maybe...

We all three quickened to the room, and as we got to the door, there appeared the dog. Acting like nothing had happened. Giving us the usual quizzical look. Then nudging me back down the hall, "Time for me to pee, man. Let me out." Back to normal, just like that.

So thats my true story of what happened on April Fools Day 2010. Some sort of pithy paragraph here would be good. Wrap it up neatly, maybe talk about how we all learned something. But's that's not how it is. We the trictims are none the wiser, won't ever know what happened. Politely out of our earshot, Coyote laughs at us, and the dog with the ambiguous eyes ain't talking.

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