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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wild canine encounter

This morning, the coyotes were on the prowl again. This camera caught one individual but another camera caught a terrible photo of a pack on its periphery.
K and I rolled out early, before the coyote shown above passed the camera, into a couple of inches of fresh snow. We saw the sunrise but the world didn't brighten much until the sun arced high into the cloud bank to our east.
K's fur glowed in the sunrise, a sight that is getting rarer as sunrise races earlier.
We started rolling along a forested trail, not a route that our coyotes commonly travel. They tend to like the meadows rather than the deep forest. Nonetheless, a few coyotes appeared like tawny ghosts in front of us on the trail. K followed her instinct and bounded after them as they fled.
I screamed for K to come but lost sight of her almost immediately. I kept yelling as loudly as I could but my voice rapidly gave out on me. When K didn't reappear, I escalated to a full-blown panic. I left my bike on the trail and started running, following the canine tracks. I already had the worst possible visions in my head. Then, the coyote pack started yipping and howling from fairly nearby. My anxiety level rose with each yip.

Within about 20 yards of following tracks and continuing to try to yell with a nonexistent voice, I saw the coyote tracks go one way and K's tracks make a U-turn back toward where she'd started. I turned around, and she emerged from behind a bushy pine tree.

The tracks told the story. K hadn't followed the coyotes for more than a few yards and had immediately heeded my call. But, probably because I sounded so completely freaked out, she didn't come to me. Instead, she stood still, silently watching me, hidden behind a tree.

When I saw her, I first felt a veritable tidal wave of relief. Soon, however, I felt another surge of adrenaline as I looked at this dog who I love with all my heart. The adrenaline brought anger with it - anger at the coyotes and anger at K for hiding from me. I managed to suppress it... and just be grateful that my girl had actually obeyed me and hadn't chased the coyote pack.
I was shaking so hard that I sat in the snow with K for a rest before we proceeded. She seemed unsure about me... because I'd been screaming like a lunatic just a few minutes earlier and she's an easily scared dog. Her fearfulness has improved so much that I don't mention it often here - but her hiding act today reminded me of how sensitive she is.
It's risky out there in the woods, but even as we sat quietly in the aftermath, I was grateful to be sitting in the freezing cold snow next to my chocolate sweetie in the wilderness. I simply love being in the woods with my dog.

Soon, we were on our way again, with K in a tight heel next to my bike. As we restarted, K expressed an interest in the coyote tracks left behind by the encounter, causing me to start to become apoplectic again. I tried to keep the fear and tension out of my voice as I reminded her to heel.
Soon, we'd looped out of the forest and I pedaled toward the meadows, where I always obsessively scan for coyotes. We stopped at an overlook to survey the meadows below us.
In the meadows, we didn't see any wild canines but we saw tracks.
The rest of our ride passed peacefully despite a maze of coyote tracks telling a story of a pack working hard to hunt rodents.

As I look back on the coyote encounter, I think that it was an accidental crossing of paths. K and I were silent so the coyotes didn't know that we stood in their path. The entire pack approached us as if they were on a beeline to their next destination. As soon as the coyotes spotted us, they fled, with no luring behavior or other shenanigans. So, as I mull it over, I don't blame anyone, except maybe myself, for freaking out so much that K was afraid to come to me. But, no harm came from that mistake aside from a couple of minutes of intense fear, and I learned my lesson. I need to sound more composed in emergencies, for K's sake.

For probably the first time ever, I felt relieved to lock K into the safety of our house and head out solo on my bike. It wasn't great riding due to the sloppy layer of spring snow that the sun was rapidly transforming to slush.

But, the sky was gloriously blue, and more signs of spring caught my eye. The buds on willows lining a stream had burst into furry catkins since I passed them yesterday.
I was so delighted that I gazed at the catkins for a long time.
An adjacent willow had also burst to life.
High in the mountains, we have to "make do" with these small signs of spring for months while many of you have flowering plants and leaves on your trees. Indeed, we often get multiple feet of snow between now and the end of May so more winter is in store for us!

Most of all, I am thankful that my K is safe and sound, ready to enjoy spring with me.


  1. We have a coyote who walks down the sidewalk (we live in a city, mind you). He's even come up onto the porch and looked at me through the front door! I think it would be much scarier to meet one in the woods, though. Your photos are beautiful!

    Bella the Boxer

  2. Whew - you had my heart racing there as I read to follow the story to its end. So glad that K listened even if she did hide. I know for sure I would have reacted exactly the same as you did.

    It was supposed to be a sunny and warm week here with all the kiddos on Spring Break, but we actually have a wintry mix coming in overnight. The pups will be happy if there is snow, but not so much me:(

  3. You take great photos when you get frightened.

    It is nice to know that the coyotes were not being agressive, at least that time.

    Mogley G. Retriever

  4. Oh K don't scare us or momma like that.. Yikes
    Benny & Lily

  5. wow close encounter....i have similar nightmares about my dogs going after stray pig dogs and getting ripped to bits..

    glad it all worked out ok though

    love you pictures

    check out my blog to

  6. I can feel your emotion and fear. You only reacted for survival of K, your beloved. Don't whip yourself too much. I think it's only normal to show your caring. Yes, the screaming freaked K out but maybe a lesson for the doggy was learned. Time will tell. At least, you can keep hugging the 'bejeesus' outta K...right!

  7. So scary, but glad K obeyed. It is amazing how the dogs can hear our tone more than our words.

    I am intrigued with the bell on K's collar. Is that a bear bell? We use them too, but just a different style.

  8. As I've shared, today's transport was done in honour/memory of a Siberian attacked by coyotes -

    Great pics today
    Great job by K
    Great job by K's mom

    Of course, Khyra likes the khyttykhat bush pics - I'm hoping for a nice sunny day here tomorrow to get some of ours!

  9. I'm glad K listened to you, even if she did hesitate about returning to you! I know my heart would have stopped if it had been me in your position. It's so hard to sound cheerful when you call a dog in a tense situation.

    I love how blue your sky is! That is one of my favorite things about so many of your pictures. I say any sign of Spring is something to celebrate! Those columbine of yours that I envy so will be blooming before we all know it.

  10. So glad to hear that everyone is ok.
    I think your frantic calls for K were normal, it's very hard under those extreme circumstances to keep calm, no matter how calm I try to be sometimes with the boys when situations arise, I think they can still feel the tension even if they can't hear it.

    Beautiful Spring buds! I love how you look so closely for any signs that Spring is near!

  11. KB
    Oh I can feel your anxiety. I can't imagine. I've only felt panic like that a couple time with norwood but definitely not due to a coyote pack. I'm so glad K was found and all is well. Staying calm and not letting it impact your interaction with K is the hardest thing. Yeah! you both are okay.

  12. Wow, I would have been frantic too! I'm so glad K listened to you and did not chase the coyotes! You are very lucky to have such a well behaved girl!


  13. Oh my goodness, you had me panicked and sitting at the edge of my seat here. I can only imagine how terrifying the whole experience must've been for you. I, too, am glad she stopped the chase. All your training paid off!! Possibly your panicked voice may have been what caught her attention and stopped her in her tracks!

  14. OMD, you scared me fur a moment there. I can hardly imagine how you must have felt, oh gosh. Sure am glad she heeded your call!


  15. And to think we get worried when badgers wander across the lawn !

  16. KR, I could feel your worry and fear as I read that account. Your love for K shows in every work you write, always, but, especially here. And, that's why you reacted like you did, out of love. K may have been frightened, but she will get over it, and she will forgive you for scaring her. That is what is so wonderful about the animals around us, they do forgive.

  17. oh my! i was on the edge of my seat! so glad all is well!!
    this morning i could hear the birds singing as i awoke...spring is in the air in wisconsin too!!

  18. Gald K is okay!! I understand the momster freaking out...mine will too sometimes. I think it's just what moms do. :)

  19. Phew! All that emotion! We're so glad K stuck close to you!

    We just love the photo of her with the stunning landscape behind her!


  20. We are so glad that everything turned out okay. That had to be so scary. Thank goodness all is well there! Lots of love, Holly and mom

  21. Don't feel bad about your panic. It a natural reaction. I did the same thing and I think it was the utter panic in my voice that stopped Java in her tracks as she ran after two coyotes. If I would have actually lost sight of her, I think I would have had a coronary. I don't want to kill the coyotes for the danger they present to pets, but they sure can scare the bejeebers out of me if my dog is loose.

  22. I really don't know how you wouldn't freak out in that situation. I know I would!! Let's hope there isn't a "next time." I glad it turned out the way it did. Hugs to you and K.

  23. We all have moments when we all freak out. It is so understandable.
    We are happy everything is okay,,, and you get to hug K more and more.
    I know your trembling heart must have felt like it was going to explode out of fear.
    We feel your love for K and R..
    a love that is understood

  24. That is so scary. I would have been frantic too. It reminds me of Lilly's latest rattlesnake encounter. I got her to move away from it, and she did run away with me the other direction, but she would NOT come to me ... because my voice and energy were freaking her out.

    I'm glad you both are OK.


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