“More Dad”, by Charles Wood

Early this week the small field where my 9 coyotes live had much of its drying spring growth cleared.  Weeds are habitat, and those weeds were in the wrong place at the wrong time, bounty indifferently cut short.  I hadn’t seen the coyotes at all for a few days.  Today, impatient, to stir things up, I took my leashed dog with me into their field.  The gambit worked and the alpha male, Dad, seemed fine.  I suspect that puppies weren’t far from where he challenged me.

Today he appeared, approached and then began to strut.  I stood and took pictures as he proceeded to yawn and stretch himself out, preparing himself for a dirt scraping session.  He dug, strutted and dug more.  Also, during a pause, he bounced up a little with his forepaws, raised his head and didn’t bark, but instead seemed to just repeatedly draw in air and expel it quickly as in a hic-up.  Then he strutted and dug some more.  Throughout I had not moved away, and eventually he walked off to rest and stare.  His stare looked familiar to me, prone, head on the ground, much like how my calmly exasperated dog looks when waiting on me.  Perhaps Dad was signaling to me that it was now my move.  Perhaps he thought I was a little slow.

My dog and I started our walk out of his field.  He immediately followed, getting closer as he came.  Not wanting him too close, I stopped and stared at him.  After a few moments of standing, I decided to move diagonally back towards the place where today I first saw him.  He countered with redoubled energy, quickly coming closer, decidedly more intense.  I wondered if puppies were over there and if they were the reason for his barring a probe of that particular area.  I didn’t further press him, being intimidated.  As I continued to walk out, he followed and marked what may have been some of the places I had stopped to stare him down.

I think Dad is providing valuable lessons to his puppies.  When people are around:  hide.  If they get too close, chase them off.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for these and more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

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