The grooming began with the paws which received a slow and careful licking, and moved on to the back which received an equal slow and careful licking. Then the belly area was dealt with, and after that the head was thoroughly and firmly shaken back and forth, as though something were in an ear that needed to be dislodged.
Soon the intensity of the grooming increased into what might be called a “scratch-bath”. It seems that the right itchy spot on the back could not be reached. When the initial back-scratching with a hind leg — doggie fashion — failed, the coyote got up and walked over to where the ground was rough with dried twigs poking up through the dried grasses.
Here the coyote lowered its head, poking it under and through a pile of dead grasses, then slowly slithered to the ground, like a snake — scooting itself over those rough twigs, propelling itself with its hind legs for several feet, allowing the forelegs to be dragged under its belly. The coyote then stood up and shook itself out, and went right back to slithering over the scratchy roughness below itself. At one point it stopped and rolled repeatedly from side to side, feet swinging up in the air, relieving that hard to reach itch on it’s back. When all was well and done, the coyote moved to a comfortable spot and went to sleep!
This mundane exercise took a total of about ten minutes. Lately I’ve watched squirrels, a raccoon and many birds preening and grooming themselves: cleaning fur or feathers and scratching themselves. None got into it as thoroughly as this coyote, nor did they seem to enjoy it as much.