Thursday, September 27, 2012

Close Encounter

The girls and I have found a great new walking spot (thanks to Lisa and Zack) out at St. Mary's Reservoir.  We went out there on Tuesday and the girls had an absolute blast.  I was soooo excited to go back again today, camera in hand.

The walk was great... (photos to come) until the end.

Today was warm and beautiful so I took my socks and shoes off and walked down close to the shore.  Out in the middle there is a grassy knoll that the water wraps around and I wanted to see what was on the other side. As we got close to the grass, Coulee ran ahead to poop.  Just as I was reaching the edge I glanced up and saw a coyote...

I took a picture mainly to see if it was actually a coyote or a dog.  An owner could have been 6 feet behind it and I wouldn't have been able to see them.  Nope.  Definitely a coyote.  I instantly call Coulee.  She is totally ignoring me and I discover it is because she hasn't quite finished pooping and is looking for a second location to go.  I glance up again and the coyote is gone...

Phew.  Then I notice he isn't gone, but it is about 8 feet closer!  Gah!  The dogs are still oblivious.  I call the dogs, Coulee picks up her frisbee and we are off back towards the car but we have a big stretch of open beach to cross.

I keep glancing back and the coyote keeps moving forward but isn't leaving the grass area.  He sometimes turns sideways as if he is about to leave, but never does.  I snap a few photos while still walking.  We are walking at a fast clip, but he keeps coming forward.

He stops at Coulee's poop and circles around it for a bit, sniffing.  I totally thought he was just going to stay there when he starts following us across the open sand at a trot.  The dogs are still oblivious although Lacey has been sniffing around a lot. I'm pretty sure she can smell him, but she isn't really sure what is going on.

He is starting to catch up with us and I can't remember what to do in case of a "Coyote Emergency".  Do I run, do I scream, do I turn my back or not turn my back, do I act small, do I act big?  My brain has gone blank.  I decide to call Marlin - he'll know what to do.  I dial the phone and suddenly Coulee spots the coyote.  I toss my phone in my pocket and poor Marlin hears "Oh f*ck.  COOOOOUUUUULLLLEEEEE!   COOOOOOUUUUUULLLLLLEEEEE!" before it hangs up on him.

The girls were off and running.  I was screaming.  They turned back, got within a few feet of me and I was about to grab Coulee's collar when she turned around again, and started running.

The coyote ran back to the grass area and was heading up a bank.  Coulee was losing speed (probably due to her feet) so Lacey ran out in front.  Once Coulee realized she'd never catch him, she started to come back.  It took Lacey a few seconds to realize she'd lost her back-up, but when she did, she also came tearing back.  The coyote stopped, turned, and started to give chase.

Lacey was running with all her might straight back to me but the coyote was gaining fast. I could see him lining up to bite her and all I could think was that she was about to be mauled.  I started running towards them (I'm still screaming.  I haven't stopped since the whole thing started).  We got within about 8 feet of each other when the coyote pulled up short.  He was almost at her side when he stopped. He had overlapped her but I think hadn't bitten yet because he wasn't quite at the right spot.

I grabbed the girls by the collars and started walking quickly back to the car and yelling "Git" over my shoulder.  Thankfully that was as far as he went.  He laid down in the sand and just watched us.  I took this last picture when we were in the safety of the trees (with the parking lot just behind us. You can see him as a tiny speck in the sand (just below and to the left of the tree) and the grassy bank he led them up.  The whole coyote encounter started just to the right of this picture on the far edge of the grass area.

I think I was in a bit of shock on the way home. I alternated between giggling and crying.  LOL.  I kept giggling over the image of Coulee chasing the coyote with her giant red frisbee draped over her head.  She has her priorities you know!


Andrea said...

Ok, that is a little terrifying! I remember seeing a fox in our neighborhood while walking our ever fierce shih-tzus (ha). I had that same brain fade of "what do I know about fox?" run, walk, crawl...eeek!

Taryn said...

First....what a gorgeous coyote! Truly beautiful.....that said, how incredibly bold of him. I am surprised he would have come so close to a human and a dog as large as Coulee.....Lacey on the other hand is probably fair game (literally!). I am amazed you were able to call your dogs off their pursuit. My dogs go absolutely apeshit over the foxes around here, so a coyote would probably bring on the same "must pursue at all costs" mentality.

I can only imagine what Marlin must have been thinking after hearing that brief phone call.

You made me curious so I had to google it:

If a coyote approaches, appear as large and threatening as possible. Make
aggressive gestures (moving arms and legs), shout in a low voice, and throw
rocks, sticks or objects. Never run; coyotes, like most canids, like to chase
moving objects. Coyotes are naturally timid animals and will flee when
confronted with aggression.

Taryn said...

Oh, and will you continue to walk there now or was that close encounter enough to keep you away?
Sounded pretty scary to me!

Jennifer said...

Oh wow! What a frightening experience! Glad it all turned out well.

acd6pack said...

Scary! I was speed reading to get to the end to make sure everyone was okay, then went back and read it again. We've been lucky in that we've never had such a close encounter but have come close to a Momma bear and cubs, a lone bear, lots of deer (and a few chases with me yelling "leave it"), moose and foxes. Luckily, none of the wild animal were overly interested in us. Please be careful out there! Beautiful area - love the pictures!

Paws on the Run said...

Yes he was gorgeous. That is why I was snapping pics as we walked away - but that was before he started hunting us down. :)

I'm not sure if I'll go back. I've seen coyotes in almost every other place we've walked. This is the first one that chased us like that, but it is also the first time the dogs chased one too. We were followed once before somewhere else and I was with one other person and 5 dogs (3 of which were Coulee's size) and he never got close, but he followed us for quite some time.

So I think I'll go back. I might get an air gun or something to make noise. And I'll definitely carry leashes from now on.

WigglyZack said...

Complete nightmare. I am so glad you guys are ok - talk about heart attack. Zack would have run to the coyote thinking it was a dog and I would have never been able to get him back. I don't think I dare take him out there again to that beautiful beach :(

Charlene and Storm said...

wow proper scary! glad you guys are all ok x

Charlene and Stormy

K-Koira said...

Wow, yeah, scary. Sounds very similar to what happened with Koira last summer, only we were on a paved walking/biking trail and she actually was bitten by the coyote. From that experience, I was told that a coyote behaving in that manner is likely a mother with a den nearby, but it seems a little late in the year for that.

Deirdre said...

Hey Wendy,
Reminds me of the time we were walking our pack of dogs down in the north side park and we were "chased/followed" by the coyote all the way back to the cars. That was scary enough but at least our dogs at the time were just as scared and walked swiftly back to the car within 2 feet of us the whole time.