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Saturday, May 2, 2020

Shyla Saturday

The other day during our bike ride together, Shyla and I had a scary encounter. We were in a meadow with Shyla trailing a little bit behind me, like she usually does. Without any warning, I heard canine noises, extremely distressed ones, from behind me. The best word to describe them was "screams". Then, before I could see what was going on, there was silence.

I hopped off my bike and whirled around. Shyla was on the ground with a coyote standing over her. Neither was moving much. I yelled and ran straight at them, driving the coyote off by about 20 yards. I wasn't the slightest bit afraid of him in that moment. I quickly checked Shyla for blood or other injuries and found nothing. I did find that her neck fur was wet with coyote slobber.

As the coyote continued to watch, I asked Shyla to stand up, and she did. I still saw no signs of injury. Phew.

At that point, I turned my attention to the coyote who I needed to move further away from us so that we could leave. I yelled and ran at him. He decided to trot away with no real sense of urgency. We watched him disappear into the forest.

Thank goodness that my howling girl was just fine.

I love being in meadows in the springtime so, a couple of days later, I decided to try going through a meadow with Shyla in a tight heel. It seemed like we were doing fine until I noticed some movement in the golden grass about 50 yards away from us. It was a coyote keeping tabs on us. He paralleled us for a while, making me very nervous. So I yelled at him, and he veered away. We exited the meadow.
After that, I decided to keep Shyla out of meadows for a while. It's too risky.

Later, I realized that the first incident was exactly 9 weeks after the date when I saw the start of mating behavior in a pair of coyotes. Nine weeks is the gestation period for coyotes so it all makes sense now. The coyote who went after Shyla is probably the father, and he was defending his den that must have been nearby. The reason why the incident surprised me was that there are no dens in the vicinity that have been used in recent memory. I stay away from active dens at this time of year. However, there is one near that spot that was occupied annually about a decade ago. I'm guessing that it's full of pups now.

I think that this was a situation where Shyla's tendency to "shut down" when afraid helped her. I think that she simply sunk to the ground when the coyote came after her. I doubt that he expected that reaction. If Shyla had fought back, the outcome probably would have been far worse for her.

In any case, we were lucky this time. Springtime is a time to respect the space of animals who are raising their young. We got a "warning shot", and we will heed it.


  1. What a scare and thank goodness for a safe outcome. Those of us who love seeing all the photos and videos of the abundant wildlife in your area, can sometimes forget the dangers of having so many predators around. I doubt that Bertie would have acted as wisely as Shyla in the circumstances.

  2. Thank doG you are both safe! What a scary thing to have happen.

  3. Hari OM
    They have to live their lives too - and you and Shyla surely know the circumspect AND respectful way of handling these situation! Glad you are both safe and that Nature allowed this chance to be reminded without harm. YAM xx

  4. That is so scary and I'm so glad Shyla survived that awful encounter.

  5. Wow, that's intense. I hadn't realized coyotes would act so aggressively toward dogs, especially with humans around. Glad you're both safe.

  6. Wow. So glad that Shyla's OK, and that you have a logical and empathetic reason for the attack.

    A couple of years ago a pair of coyotes denned near one of the popular hiking trails in Boise. Signs were posted after a couple of off-leash dogs were attacked, and hikers avoided that area for weeks. No further incidents were recorded. As you say: respect wildlife and their needs.

    Stay safe (in all ways!) -

    Chris from Boise

  7. Oh my goodness! I'm glad Shyla wasn't hurt and you were able to determine that the coyote was protecting his den. Scary time!

  8. I guess the coyotes go into a defensive mindset, protection at the front of their behaviour. Thank goodness Shyla did not retaliate, and you had real trouble out there.

  9. KB...kudos to you for keeping your cool and distance. I know Shyla feeds on your energy...
    Hugs cecilia

  10. It could have been so much worse. Great that Shyla didn't fight back. Looks like you'll have to forego that part of the ride for awhile.

  11. I'm so glad Shyla wasn't injured! It helps when we can figure out the possible or likely reasons for behavior and especially aggression, so I'm glad you have your insights from past coyote activity in your area to help explain this one's attack on Shyla. But gosh, very very unpleasant. That "no real sense of urgency" when being shooed away is something I've seen - that lack of concern, never mind fear - and it's one coyote trait that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Another is the way they can work in a team or group to take down prey. My vet in CO many years ago told me that a coyote will entice a dog to chase it, and lead it into an ambush of several coyotes who will surround and kill the dog. I've never forgotten that description.

  12. You had us all scared there for a bit. We are so glad Shyla is okay. Now that you know it will be easy to keep away from the den.

  13. Oh dear, how scary that must have been for you and for Shyla. Never thought a coyote would go for a bigger dog, especially with a human nearby. Good lesson for us too as there are always coyotes around here. We are so happy that Shyla is OK and hope this does not set her back at all.

  14. I am glad Shyla is okay. I am sure it was very scary. I hope the threat passes so you can get back to the valley.

  15. What a concerning experience, and I am glad it all ended well. Very wise to leave the coyotes to their space for a while :)

  16. Holy crap...what a scary encounter for you both! We hope everyone's nerves calm and regroup during the hiatus from the meadow. Sure loved that last image with the stream of sunlight on your sweet girl's face. Hugs and tail wags.

  17. This is the second recent coyote encounter that I have heard of. THank goodness Shyla isn't a fighter. What a scary experience for both of you.

  18. Wow, that is SO scary. My heart starting pounding when I was reading it! I am so relieved that it turned out OK.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets


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