I hate them. They torment my dog. They stand outside of our fenced in yard and look at her with their hungry eyes and I know they want to eat her. But she is safe within our gates. I hope.
But when we go out for our morning walks in the orange grove beneath our home, they are there also. Not always, but sometimes. And they watch her. From a distance usually. Hoping that she will see them and run to chase them up the grade behind my house. But today was more.
Today, as soon as we left the house to start our morning walk she was aware of them. Sniffing and tracking and tracking more. The hair on her back lifted in alert. Her nose to the ground and her movements clear and deliberate as she wound her way along their scent. Till finally she stood straight up and stared into the distance.
They're in there I said to my husband who had joined us on this morning. She knows it.
And so we called her to us quickly and walked another way. Out away from the brush and trees of the hill and towards the open space of the grove. We thought she was safe. The light was getting stronger as the sun rose from over the Topa Topa Mountains and we were close by her.
But then, turning back the way we can, but still in the grove of oranges, a coyote came out from behind a tree, up through a ditch that circles the land, and went nose to nose with my dog for an instant before turning and running away.
This is what they do. They send a weaker female down to lure their prey back to the pack. They send her down to entice my dog to chase her back to those stronger than this one, lone female is. In the hopes that my dog will follow her to then be surrounded.
And so this female, she ran nose to nose with my dog for an instant before turning and running away. And my dog ran after her. Barking and running to catch this elusive new friend.
And my husband, ran after her, too. This female coyote used as bait.
As I ran along the path, calling in a frenzied voice for my dog, he ran into the trees after the two, to also chase this female foil. And scare her away.
My dog came. Almost right away. To the sound of my voice. Thank god.
But her body was tense with focus. She wanted to run again. After this other pup-like creature that she had seen. And so I held her close till the hair on her back lay flat and her eyes looked in another direction other than the one she had just gone to.
My husband came out of the trees. Our savior.
How smart to think to run, in diagonal towards the female that had tried to lure my dog away. He is always good that way. At seeing a situation and reacting to it in an instant. A fast thinker. I do not know what I would have done without him there today. I do not want to think what could have happened to my dog.
For a while, before today, I was walking with a leash on her. Well, not at first. At first, for many months she walked free, just like today. But then, back a few months ago, the coyotes were out a lot. Outside our fence at night and in the grove and across a pasture not far from where we walk. And not always in the early morning dawn or the end of dusk when all hidden creatures come out. There were times when they would appear midmorning. Eleven o-clock. When you'd think they would be in their den and not out trying to take my dog away from me.
But they are hungry and thirsty and coming down from their home high in the mountains above where we live. And so I began to walk with her on lead. To keep her safe. Even though she comes when called. Or stops and waits for me to catch up if she walks to far ahead. Because she likes to be close. And know that I am there.
When she gets focused in on something so deeply, as she did today, I have to sometimes call and call for her to come. But I don't worry because we are in a safe place.
Except that we are not. I am reminded of that again this morning.
And so we will again be on guard. With leash and collar and treats in hand. To remind my dog to stay close. And to remind me to be aware.
It was a sad walk today, on this, a friggin' freezing morning.