In A Pickle  

Coyote encounters

My blood ran cold when Tig’ger disappeared from the front yard. Perhaps she caught the scent of a deer, or was lured by a coyote or dognapper.  

Three hours later, we were reunited though when a kindly woman named Gwen, stopped my straying dog that had been romping in the fields and on the golf course nearby.

She had been out of sight as I drove around frantically looking and calling her. Tig’ger must have gotten tired of her newfound freedom and jumped into Gwen’s vehicle, and was taken to a nearby vet clinic. 

The dog tag identified my pet and a city pound employee phoned, saying she was safe and sound, ready for pick up. There wouldn’t be a fine because it was Tagger’s first offence. 

Sadly, some people aren’t lucky enough to get their four-legged furry friends back that easily. In our neighbourhood, some animals have gone missing permanently, especially cats. There are a lot of coyotes around the suburbs. 

The people who used to own our house had a cat that snuck out one night and was found the next morning, critically injured on their doorstep. 

The feline somehow escaped the jaws of a coyote and made it home, and its human family rushed it to a veterinary hospital for emergency surgery. The many wounds were stitched up, and it survived. 

I was unaware of this at the time, and little did I know that danger lurked at dusk when I took Tig’ger for a walk, once again using my mobility scooter. We just arrived at the edge of the forest when she sounded the alarm. 

She barks and howls like a coyote when she gets distressed, and at least four coyotes answered her. 

They were nearby, hidden in the thicket, but she could see and smell them and was growling, bouncing and doing her woo-woo, yipping bark, a noise likened to that of a crazed yodeller.   

The coyotes seemed to be taunting her, one of them sounding just like Tig’ger as it mimicked her bark. No wonder the indigenous people call the coyote a trickster.  

Tig'ger was getting frenzied, while I was getting nervous — they were very close and were trying to lure Tig'ger into the trees where the pack would have finished her off for their evening meal. 

I hung on tight to her retractable leash which as she raced back and forth in semi circles. 

At one point, I thought they were going to come out onto the road. I could hear several coyotes in the distance, to the right of me, answering their call for backup. 

I brandished a slingshot threateningly, but soon realized that I could not use it to defend us without tying the dog’s leash to the scooter first.  

But by the time I could get a marble on the end of the slingshot’s pouch and aimed, they would likely have been on top of us. 

Instead, I bellowed at them, doing my best Fog Horn Leg Horn impersonation of "Ah Shaddap." The prairie wolves suddenly fell silent, so I grabbed a hammer out of the back of the scooter and drove off. 

Tig'ger's leash meanwhile was drawn up close against my leg, as she lunged and howled, while trying to twist around to face whatever was behind us.

I kept looking at the rear view mirror, but it was getting very dark out and the mirrors were useless. 

I chided myself for being afraid, aware that coyotes are generally not that brave, and thanked God for that. 

Still, I couldn’t help but think of the young woman in Cape Breton in 2009, who was killed by two coyotes.

Some animals attack if a person shows fear, or runs away from the danger, as the predator’s chase instinct kicks in. Or if the creature is starving, sick, or rabid. 

However, experts are baffled at the rising number of coyotes assailing humans.

Most of the time though, people are bitten by these wild animals while trying to protect their off-leash dogs that run unawares into the jaws of the awaiting wild canids.  

Other coyotes lose their fear of humans by either the direct or indirect feeding of them and sometimes will confront individuals walking their dogs on leashes and/or will stalk small children. That happened in Airdrie, Alta., at a Christmas Light up Festival in 2018.  

A six-year-old child was attacked by a coyote that lunged at him but couldn’t sink its teeth into his neck because of his heavy winter clothing. The boy was unscathed, and his dad fought off his attacker. 

With these news stories flashing through my mind, I was aware of the danger we were in.

Hence, I used my best secret weapon in my meagre arsenal, a loud booming voice that normally scares the hell out of humans and critters alike. 

Moments later, this human and her dog duo travelled a few blocks away unharmed and much to my relief a police car drove by, slowly. I felt safe.

Fast forward three months, having nearly forgotten about our scary coyote encounter, we went out once again at dusk. 

I could hear coyotes howling, yipping, and screaming behind us, on top of the hill, in an open field, and closing in. 

I scooted home, put my dog into the house and then grabbed my Monster Sound Superstar, Bluetooth speaker and went looking for them on my scooter.  

Three neighbours were standing on the road, looking into that same field, as they had heard the ruckus too. Apparently. there were four coyotes, but they ran off at the sight of the human pack. 

I played coyote sounds on my phone, amplified by the mini speaker, figuring that wild canids would think there was a rival group answering, and would permanently drive them off. 

Since this incident I read about Kyla Nelson who reported recently on Castanet that she had a terrifying encounter with a wolf that repeatedly charged after her and her dogs at Black Mountain.

It made me realize what a truly close brush with death my dog and I had had.

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel is a Kelowna writer.

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About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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