Friday, October 24, 2008

A close but beautiful encounter

It is a good thing today is a non-teaching day for me or I would have had the dogs in the pasture before the day was light. As it is, the cloud cover and fall colours masked the presence of Brazen Coyote until we were practically upon him. Sadly, this will mean an end to our morning walks in the pasture for a while.

I had done a quick check of the pasture, but in the grey morning light saw nothing of concern. The dogs bounded up the path – Charley and Sadie in the lead, Belle and Oliver investigating the trail behind me. Charley and Sadie were clearly excited, prancing back and forth, side to side, as they checked out the fresh smells of coyote or bear or deer or small ground critters that greet them each morning.

While the big dogs were off checking the western fence, I paused to wait for the little ones to catch up. That’s when I saw him – Brazen Coyote, not fifteen feet along the path in front of me. Despite sitting in the middle of a cleared trail, he was virtually invisible, camoflaged as his multi-coloured coat of browns and greys and whites and goldens and reds blended in with the grasses and shrubs behind him. Thank goodness my big dogs did not see him first, for I suspect their “reliable recall” might not withstand the temptation of a coyote to chase or to fight with. Brazen's eyes met mine and he turned tail and started up the hill, heading toward the trees beyond.

I hurriedly reversed direction, calling the dogs to me and hustling them back toward the relative safety of the yard. I was about a hundred feet from the pasture gate, when I glanced behind me to ensure Brazen had taken off.

And there he was, following us down the path, perhaps thirty feet to the rear. He did not seem to be in prey mode, just curious and alert. But a wild coyote is not a pet, and I have no intention of trying to tame him – it is in neither his best interest nor mine.

I got the dogs to safety, then went back to flap my arms and yell at him to back off. Instead, he just sat and watched this silly overweight woman in pj's and winter coat flapping around like a fool, and within minutes he lay down on the path to enjoy the show. Sigh.

Dogs in the house, I stood at the pasture gate and watched him watching me. After a while he decided I was a rather boring reality show, and showed me what real entertainment is – a coyote pouncing on field mice, happily doing whatever it is that coyotes do best.

I feel honoured to see this part of nature so close up; he is truly a beautiful animal and his cat-like moves and canine features are a combination that never fails to fill me with awe and reverence for the natural world.

Thanks for being part of my life, Brazen. You touch my soul even if you complicate my routine.

The dogs will get a walk in the pasture later today, or perhaps even a trip to the dikes or the park. But until the mornings are once again light before breakfast, our break-of-day jaunts are hereby curtailed.


Anonymous said...

I love our native wildlife too, and appreciate their beauty and worry about our encroachment on their world, but am very glad you're being cautious for the sake of your domestic 4-leggeds, especially the little old Shelties.

I've met Brazen's "cousins" at Campbell Valley Park, walking alone on the horsetrails, and they stare at me hard and long before they amble
v-e-r-y slowly off the trail. And I know there's usually a few more very nearby, that's how they work.

We don't want to read that any of your critters joined the food chain!


Janice Gillett said...

There no doubt a message in his finding peace there but i would start to make it uncomfortible for him. The more trust he has in you the more trust he will take in getting closer.. if he sees you as no threat he will perceive other humans this way too. His territory is getting bigger the closer he gets to you all. Either he will get killed or kill ..

Anonymous said...

I think a loud noisemaker is in order. Coyotes are indeed wonderful animals, but Brazen is getting too close for comfort and they are true opportunists. He will encroach into your "safe" zone before long -- in fact, he no doubt already has when you're not there. I think a bear horn or shrieking personal alarm might do the trick of encouraging him to keep his distance and help keep those wee little old shelties safe from harm.


Anonymous said...

I agree, he is starting to get a little to close and confident. Time to bring out the air horn.