Parental Greetings, by Charles Wood

The video first has a color segment and the last third is in black and white, each taken different evenings.

The color segment is in three parts. The first fifteen seconds show Dad looking like a run over coyote whose ears can still move! He is about as flat as a coyote can get. He is waiting for family members. The next fifteen seconds show Dad still waiting. It looks like he is trying to taste the air, perhaps acquiring scents. The next half minute is what Dad and I were waiting for. Puppy shows up and greets him.

Puppy’s body language is highly deferential and is focused on Dad’s mouth. If it is asking for food, Dad shuts that down with some light bites. Puppy then stands for inspection while Dad sniffs Puppy’s hips. Puppy then goes for Dad’s mouth and again Dad says no. Puppy heads south and that day’s video ends.

The black and white segment has more action. Mom and Puppy move from left to right to meet and greet Dad. Eventually they settle down, Mom the coyote with the fuller figure. Then a yearling comes in from the left and the video ends.

In the black and white episode, Puppy was with Mom and they met up with Dad. The color episode leaves us to wonder who had been watching Puppy before it showed up. That day, after Dad and Puppy headed south, it was six minutes before another coyote, a yearling, came along. Puppy was probably with the yearling, hurrying ahead while the yearling instead straggled along.

Dad’s investigative sniffing of Puppy’s hips is intriguing. Odors dissipate and consequently contain clues as to when they may have been acquired. Dad already had a whiff of Puppy’s breath, perhaps smelling clues about when and what puppy had eaten. Puppy’s hips may have had clues about where and with whom Puppy had been. Unrecognized smells on Puppy would tell Dad something too. I suspect there is much day to day, hour by hour scent on a coyote that other coyotes are able to read.

When I come home, my dog greets me excitedly. When calmer, he wants to know what I’ve eaten and if I’ve been anywhere fun. I tell him. I let him smell my breath and my shoes.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Out Walking the Dog
    Sep 09, 2012 @ 14:26:03

    Beautiful. Thank you for posting the video and your description of what’s happening. The family feeling is absolutely palpable, and quite moving. Amazing creatures, aren’t they?


  2. yipps
    Sep 09, 2012 @ 16:56:46

    These are lots of fun to watch. I was thinking that we humans don’t have the ability to communicate well through scent and body language in the same way coyotes and other wildlife do. We mostly use language as a substitute. Who is to say which conveys the most relevant information, and which is really the more accurate of the two? Language opens up the possibility for lies and deception. Of course, maybe wallowing in smelly stuff is meant to have the same effect in coyotes?


  3. Charles Wood
    Sep 09, 2012 @ 17:47:42

    Thank you for your kind comment, Out Walking the Dog. They are amazing and the depth of their bonds leaves me without words.

    Thanks Janet. I also think its interesting that coyotes often signal what they are going to do before they do it. Puppy signals by its postures that it is going for Dad’s mouth. Better be clear about what you are doing when you get close to those teeth!


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