Sunday, February 10, 2008

Phew! Charlie's OK!

I have a bunch of favourite websites I visit on a regular basis - Daily Kos for American lefty politics, Guardian Unlimited for world news, Public Address for erudite Kiwi discussions - and for fun I occasionally pop over to the very wonderful Dooce, who cracks me up on a regular basis.

Shreve and Charlie when he was a baby. It was Dooce who introduced me to my "awwwwwwww" factor favorite website - The Daily Coyote. It's the story of Shreve Stockton, her cat Eli, and the wild coyote Charlie, who was orphaned at the age of 10 days after both his parents were shot for killing sheep. Shreve adopted Charlie, and has been taking photos of him every day since then.

Charlie was born in April '07, and in September '07 Shreve began writing The Daily Coyote, chronicling Charlie's life from the day he came to live with her. For that reason, the blog has a 5-month time-lag - in other words, a post she publishes today actually happened 5 months ago. It's a feature which can have interesting (and unintended) consequences for her readers, especially those new to the blog, who haven't quite figured out the time-difference...

A couple of days ago, Shreve posted that Charlie was very ill with parvo. This is often a fatal disease in canines, and it's incredibly fortunate that Shreve realised immediately that something was wrong, and got help. If she'd waited a couple of days, it would have been too late and he would have died.

Grass ocean. Now those of us who've been following Charlie's life for a while understand that there's a time delay, and that Charlie actually got parvo in September of last year - but that didn't help allay everyone's fears. What if Shreve had been inspired last September to begin writing The Daily Coyote as a result of Charlie getting parvo and dying? How would we know? Oh nooooooooooooo!

Some of the blog's more observant readers had figured out that Charlie must still be alive because there's a photo of him, nearly full-grown, romping around in the snow (which was presumably taken some time after September in the winter of 07/08) - but the link to the photo's pretty small, and not that noticeable, so most people didn't figure that one out...

It was fascinating to read the comments on the blog during that time. It was this crazy mixture of "OMG! I hope he gets well soon!" from those who didn't understand the time lag, "OMG! What if he died in September and we never knew!", from those who had got the time lag but hadn't seen the snow picture, and "OMG! Don't you people pay attention! Timelag-snow-picture-he's-ok-stop-freaking-out!", from those who'd figured it all out already.

Charlie and Eli. In the end, Shreve just gave up trying to reassure the freaker-outers and posted this short and to-the-point missive...

Phew! Well that's OK then....

Funny how easy it is to get caught up in the life of someone (human or animal) living on the other side of the world, whom you will never meet, and who will never even know you exist. In a funny way, I find it rather reassuring.

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