This is an example of a coydog :
(image originally found here)
How could you not love that face?
Coydogs are a coyote/dog hybrid. You can see more examples here and here. Like all canine crosses, they take characteristics from both parents and sometimes even pop up with some unexpected traits that were just lurking in the gene pool.
I think of coydogs as an example of a truly American creature (I mean North American here, not just a denizen of the United States). They exist because of population pressures and range reductions pushing these two species into closer proximity to one another due to expanding cities/towns and farms.
I’ve chosen Coydog as my trickster figure for a series of stories. She has many of the Coyote archetype’s characteristics as well as Dog’s silliness and loyalty. She is a blending of the Old and New World. I think she will bring a fresh flavor and perspective on the Trickster archetype.
Why not write about Coyote then? I’ve certainly done it before. There’s a Coyote in Urban Fey, for example. I’ve written Fox, Crow and Raven, Rabbit and Turtle. The answer, in part, has to do with cultural appropriation. I’ve written about this before here and other blog sites.
The other animals I’ve written about exist in many parts of the world. I can adapt and blend their characters to my needs. Coyote, on the other hand, is a uniquely North American animal. As a mythological creature, he is prominently featured in several stories of significance to native populations, both old and new. I have read brilliant modern tales of Coyote. I included Coyote in Urban Fey as a conscious decision to create faerie courts that are distinctly representative of different biospheres. Coyote fit into the prairie court quite well and I would have felt remiss to exclude him.
The new trickster stories I’m writing are not necessarily rooted in Native American cultures or local biospheres. They are anchored in my own experiences with the land and with people I’ve encountered over the years. I think Coydog will be an excellent voice for these tales of mischief and misadventure. Like Coydog, my own genetic roots are murky and muddied. I am a product of the mythical melting pot. I think she’ll prove an unreliable and entertaining guide to how we should not do things. She will teach us, as do Tricksters everywhere, to laugh at ourselves and, perhaps, why we shouldn’t act in foolish ways. She may even show us when acting foolish is the best way.
There is one other reason for creating a new Trickster. There aren’t many female tricksters in mythology. I’ve been thinking on how it would challenge our views of gender and foolishness if I told these tales through a female character’s antics. Will it change the way I write those stories or how you read them?
The first of the Coydog stories will start this later this week and will run through the end of October. Enjoy.