10/27/2009 at 09:31 PM EDT
As sometimes happens to Internet sensations, Shreve Stockton encountered blustering criticism as her newsletter and blog, The Daily Coyote
, started to reach more and more people. "What you're doing is sacrilege," anonymous commenters would say about Stockton's relationship with her coyote, Charlie. "He's going to kill your cat or eat your face off in the middle of the night."
Stockton, a 32-year-old writer and photographer who has been documenting the past two years of her life with Charlie, was not looking to care for a wild animal when she first encountered her coyote as a pup. Her boyfriend Mike, a government trapper with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whose job it was to kill coyotes in order to protect livestock, found Charlie orphaned in his den hole, so young he was still blind. For some inexplicable reason, Mike was compelled to take Charlie to Stockton, and after much deliberation, Stockton decided to care for Charlie.
Stockton, whose passion is photography, began taking pictures of Charlie each day, and The Daily Coyote began as an informal e-mail alert for Stockton's friends and family. Those friends and family would forward the e-mails to their friends and family, and a small dispatch turned into a newsletter, a blog – and a book deal.
"The blog was a wild horse with no reins," Stockton tells PEOPLEPets.com. "I was blown away by how it's traveled."
Nothing about The Daily Coyote's evolution was expected, beginning with Stockton's arrival in Wyoming. Having spent two years in San Francisco, Stockton was on a cross-country drive intending to return to live in New York City. On the way, she made a long tour through Wyoming. She couldn't stop thinking about the landscape and decided that was where she belonged. Once a vagabond, Stockton hasn't left since.
"I've done a complete 180," she says. "I'm so excited and challenged by everything that's going on on the homestead that I really don't have that thing pulling me like it used to pull me. Something is fulfilling me on a deep level here."
Charlie has been a large part in making Stockton's life more settled. Stockton has been consumed for the past two years in concerns about his care – she is always thinking about whether or not he is stimulated enough and gets enough exercise because although the property is "huge, huge," Charlie lives in an enclosed portion, secured by electrical netting. Though Charlie is permitted to go in designated areas of her house, she refers to the coyote as "tamed" as opposed to "domesticated," out of deference to his wild nature, which she takes care to acknowledge.
In addition to Charlie, who is 2 years old, Stockton has a tomcat named Eli, a domestic dog named Chloe, a dairy cow named Daisy and a horse named Ranger – dog and cow came after coyote.
"Years ago, when I was in the city, I thought, 'One day I'll have a dairy cow and make my own milk and cheese,' " Stockton says. "So now, with Charlie and my commitment to him, the door opened for Daisy. I absolutely adore her."
Charlie, who will likely have the same lifespan as a dog, has become more confident as he's grown, and life has gotten easier for Stockton and her diverse family. She will continue to blog on The Daily Coyote and send out her daily newsletter, but hopes to start a new Web site detailing her life beyond the coyote. Stockton has also contemplated the idea of The Daily Coyote becoming a movie – though there haven't been any deals made, there has been interest.
"I really like the idea," Stockton says. "I'm so curious about what people would do with the role of Charlie. Would they have a dog in hair and makeup?"
A movie might do something to help the coyote's image, which has taken a beating this year following news that Jessica Simpson lost her dog
, Daisy, to a coyote.
"Coyotes' survival often runs counter to things that people hold dear, especially their pets – that's a reality, and I can see both sides," Stockton says. "Knowing Charlie, I find him completely fascinating – the intelligence and the beauty and the grace he embodies. People could learn so much from them." See more books about animals on PEOPLEPets.com: Andy Warhol's Nephew Paints Sweet Picture of the Artist's Feline FriendsVision of Love: Homer the Blind Cat's Odyssey