Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Coyote in the back yard

I had just put the finishing touches on the previous entry around 10:30 and decided to take Trixie, my brother's dog, out for a walk.

Trixie is very easily distracted and is convinced that anything she can see, hear, or smell is something that wants to play with her. She will chase shadows, reflections, joggers, cars, and bugs, she will stop and listen to a conversation going on down the block or a little kid jumping on a bed in a second-floor bedroom across the street. (These are all things that she did yesterday.)

She has discovered the spot where the cats come to feed and becomes very excited whenever we get to that point in our walk around the house. Sometimes the cats will hide, sometimes they will not show up in the first place, and sometimes they will make a run for it. In each case, if she senses they are near she will make inquiries as to whether or not they want to play, inquiries that sound to the human ear like high-pitched barking.

We were making our sixth circuit of the house. She still hadn't pooped, what with all the cars and joggers and people having conversations and kids jumping on their beds. We were passing the back steps where my mom puts out the food and I spotted something ahead of us.

I thought it was a cat. It moved like a cat, and it was the size of a very big cat, but its fur - beautiful, two-tone gray/black stuff - was all wrong. It didn't look like cat's fur. It didn't even look like dog's fur. The tail was wrong, too, and the legs, despite their feline movements. And its head...

It picked up its big fox-like head and looked at us. It froze. We froze. We were about 15 feet apart.

Fox?, I thought. No, too bulky, wrong color. Jackal? No, not around here. Coyote? Yes. A coyote. In my back yard. Fifteen feet away from me. Ten feet past the back steps.

Why would a coyote be in my back yard? Maybe it is hungry. Maybe it has experienced habitat disruption. But it looks well-fed. What has it been eating?

Maybe it is rabid. It's just standing there. If it approaches, it's probably rabid, and you're screwed.

Trixie interrupted this train of thought. "Hello, Mr. Coyote!" she said. "My name is Trixie, and I am visiting here for a few days, and I love to play. Would you like to play with me? I would like to play with you! Do please consider playing with me. It will be fun, and you will enjoy it. I eagerly await your response!"

Of couse, she said it in Dog, so it came out as "Yapyap yipYapyipyip YAPbarkYAP YAPYAPyip YAP yapYap!"

The coyote, perhaps due to a mistranslation from Dog to Coyote, was taken aback by this effrontery and took off like a fox with its tail on fire. In the background I could hear other coyotes bark-yip-whine-howling, probably reminding their friend that they had told him it was foolish to wander so far into human habitation.

We got the hell into the house. Cats, skunks, opossums, and now coyotes...what else is wandering around my back yard?


marc said...

Coyote translation: Hey guys!!! Free eats!!! WooHoo!!!!

Same reation I had when I saw a bear at the dumpster up where I use to live.

Aunt Sam said...

If I were feeling more ambitious, I would link to the story about the coyote that wandered into a sandwich shop in Chicago last summer, and curled up on the bottom shelf of the cooler.

Karla said...

And have there been repeat incidents since??????????

D.B. Echo said...

I've never run into another. We adopted the neighbor's 10-year-old cocker spaniel when the neighbor went into the hospital, a situation that became permanent when the neighbor died. I usually put him out on a chain, but he's so insecure he needs you to stay in sight the whole while he is out there or he starts howling. Since we've had him I haven't had any run-ins with coyotes, but I fear that they could even take down a dog his size. I don't know if I've even seen any roadkill coyotes since this time.