The pooch and I go for our walkies early in the morning. I mean pretty early, like when most of you are figuring you can get a few more hours of sleep early. We used to only walk early during the summer and switch to evenings during the cooler months.
But Mr. Bear didn’t cope well with these changes and often tried to guilt me into taking 2 walks per day.
Honestly who can resist such a face?
Really dark out.
Thankfully I have a head lamp and, hey, I’m not the only one out at 4 something in the morning. There’s lots of folks about. With their dogs.
We’ve established patterns and routes so we keep a minimum distance between ourselves. Mr. Bear doesn’t like other dogs, even ones named Bear. Yes, there is another Bear who walks in the morning with his human pet.
This morning I was a wee bit late leaving and so the routines got messed up. I ended up zig-zagging along my normal route and worse, the neighbor near the park thought it was safe to release his hound. Without a leash. When we were close by. (see note about Bear’s hangups).
So I immediately switched my headlamp to red and left it on, so the man would know I was in the park. He recalled his pooch to the cul-de-sac and waited at the corner.
I cut across the path, moving in and out of the lighted areas, then walked up the rise into the darkness. I reached up to turn my headlamp off (so Mr. Neighbor and dog could enter the area) and accidentally switched it to white light. And that’s when I saw it:
A pair of shiny white eyes staring back at me. Not more than 20 yards away.
I stopped. Dogs, cats and owls do not have white eyes. They reflect green.
Coyotes have white eyes.
And this one was staring right and me and Bear. I immediately made myself as big as I could (since I was in a jacket this wasn’t so hard) and started stomping forward.
Mr. Coyote darted across in front of me and stood on the berm that acts as flood control for out neighborhood (roughly 35 yards away).
And he wasn’t alone. There was another coyote loping parallel to me.
Still stomping and keeping my arms out, I and Mr. Bear headed for the street. The coyotes kept the same distance away.
What the heck? Coyotes don’t as a rule act this aggressive. Either they’d eaten all the feral cats and yappy dogs from last week’s hunt and were very hungry or they were infected with rabies. Neither was a particular pleasant outcome for me. So I stuck to the light then raced to the other street.
And they kept pace.
Figuring my best chance was to head home, I re-entered the dark patches of the park and that’s when I saw it.
The third coyote waiting for me. He was bigger than the other two and he kept glancing away from the light, so he’d learned a few hunting tricks. That settled it. I retreated, dragging the dog who was growling back to the sidewalk and took the long way home. Through the neighborhood, along the street and across the bridge that led back to their den.
Needless to say, I’ve been walking with the headlamp on since my encounter.