KILLERS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Nobody imagined we’d ever see this: at 3:00 in the afternoon, a wolf-size coyote standing on a backyard wall.
Our daughter, Tracy, lives in a nice neighborhood with yards enclosed in high block walls. Tracy’s niece, Christy, happened to be sitting in the family room when she glanced out the window. “There’s a coyote up on your wall,” she said calmly.
“What!” Tracy shouted and ran for the door leading to the outside. Her small dog was out in the yard, barking furiously and running toward the wall. Not away from it, toward it--as though this tiny snack on legs could scare away the intruder.
Running like the athlete she is, Tracy screamed, threw up her arms, and continued shrieking as she raced toward the wall. Beside her was Ollie, a black-and-white Cavashon, a virtual movie star of a dog. Clearly, the coyote had a choice between jumping down to grab the movie star, or jumping off in another direction. With Tracy in full-ferocity mode, he chose to leap in in the other direction, and disappeared into a neighbor’s yard.
With that, Tracy’s life changed. Coyote stories poured in—about two coyotes on a remote ranch who grabbed two small dogs and ran off with them. Reacting fast, the rancher shot one of the coyotes, who then dropped his prey. But the other beast, with the pup in his jaws, kept running. They never saw their pet again.
Meanwhile, the ranch owner nursed the injured dog back to life. Once more able to run outside, he was still in danger. A month later, the second coyote came back and got him.
About a year ago, at dusk, I was driving down the largest street near our home when I spotted two huge coyotes trotting along the road ahead of me. I followed them into a cul-de-sac and honked, and the two darted into a neighbor’s yard. I’d forgotten all about them until the disaster on our own street. At dawn, two weeks ago, our neighbor let her dog outside on her driveway to do his morning business. Even as the neighbor watched, a coyote swooped in and grabbed the dog in his teeth. She was devastated.
Now that we know coyotes have a memory, that they operate in pairs and are willing to stalk their prey for however long it takes, that they are not averse to appearing in the daytime, or even with people nearby, Tracy no longer lets Ollie come and go in his own yard. Every two hours she takes her pet outside—on a leash—and she’s closed her doggie door for all time.
In one terrible moment, Ollie became a house-bound prisoner. But Tracy is determined to keep him alive. To those who know her current situation, it’s clear that losing Ollie would be another disaster, more than she could endure.