More “Fetching The Kids”

I’ve seen a mother coyote “fetch” her fully-grown, one-year-old pups several times now. She seems to do this to remove them from a situation which she doesn’t like for various reasons. I have the impression that she also does so as a teaching device.

A few days ago two coyote yearlings were out playing and hunting in an empty park when a dog and its owner appeared down the path. Both coyotes watched intently as the dog and walker approached. Lately, one of the coyotes has been showing signs of friendliness to this dog and the dog has allowed the coyote to sniff it.

As the dog and walker moved on, the coyote followed them, sometimes approaching a little closer so as, seemingly, not to “miss” anything that might be going on. This situation is one the mother coyote has never liked. If she is ever present when a pup of hers is inquisitive about a calm dog such as this one, she herself intervenes by going into  her “halloween cat” hunched over, bared teeth display. This is a warning display: “keep away.” I think she does this as much for the “keep away” message towards the dog as for the example for her pups. She may feel a bit nervous and alarmed when her pups have their guard down in the presence of any dogs.

So yesterday, this mother must have been watching from the distance. I think she is always watching her pups from the distance, even though she doesn’t necessarily make an appearance. Although this mother coyote did not put on her warning display this time, she appeared suddenly out of nowhere. She ran by, kind of “low to the ground.”  She appears to have done so specifically to “fetch” the young coyote, who immediately followed her. At this point the second pup appeared, running after the other two. The usual “hugs and kisses greetings” were performed while the three were on the run. They all slithered out of my sight.

Then today, even before there were any walkers at all in the park, I watched this same mother coyote run up and “collect” her kids. Again, there was the affectionate greeting and then the “come with me” running which appears to be a magnetic pull to the young ones. They ran off, and I was about to call it a day. But not long afterwards, when the same walker and dog that I described above appeared, the mother, and only the mother, appeared suddenly and out of nowhere, as she often does, placing herself in plain view of the dog and walker. She seemed to be stating: “Just in case you come across my pups again, I’m here!!” It appeared that she had “fetched” them away earlier so that they would not encounter and be friendly with this dog!!

As the dog and owner walked away, I watched this coyote mom, now alone, eyeing a location far in the distance and then she disappeared. I didn’t give it much thought until another walker told me she had just seen three coyotes in that direction. I thought, wow, that mother coyote saw her pups over there and was over there in a flash. I went over to have a look, and yes, it was the same mother and the two pups that I have been talking about. They were taking one last look around before “heading in” for the day. Their walk “home” reminded me of my walks to and from elementary school when I was a kid: there was never any rush to get there, and the walk itself was an event loaded with activity and adventures. This is how sections of the walk home were for the coyotes. Although at times their trajectory was pretty direct, at other times one, two, or three deviated from the path and the others patiently waited! When I last saw them they were headed single file on a thin path away from where there might be walkers and dogs.

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