So yesterday I took Mr. Moose out for our weekly run in the lemon orchard. Typically we go about a mile and a half, I take the tennis ball launcher and Moose gets double or triple the mileage out of the deal. Very rarely we might see a runner or another dog walker on these adventures. The solitude is the key ingredient here – Moose is a hand grenade on a string. He sees another dog, even at a good distance, and he explodes in a twisting foam-flecked frenzy of flashing teeth and murderous barking.
Midway through our walk I spotted a canine shape move into the road about a half mile ahead of us. It seemed more dog-like than coyote-like and it watched us approaching. Mr. Moose was focused on the tennis ball and did not seem to notice the watcher in the road.
Eventually the animal ahead slipped off into the orchard. When we passed the point in the road where I saw the creature, I looked over my shoulder and noticed that there was in fact a coyote shadowing us about a quarter mile back. Mr. Moose was still oblivious at this point.
But on our return, right after I chucked the tennis ball and sent Moose a-running down the dirt road, I saw a coyote dart into the road not more than fifty feet away from me. It ran straight for me so I yelled at it and chased it back into the orchard.
Unfortunately, by this time Mr. Moose had spotted the coyote and he ran off in hot pursuit. I lost sight of both animals as they raced off down the rows of lemon trees.
For about fifteen minutes I went up and down the road whistling and calling but I could hear nothing. So I decided to head back home figuring that one of a couple things might happen. Moose might catch the coyote and fight the animal. My money would be on the 70 lb. very muscular dog. Or the coyote might lure Moose to its pack, in which case I might put odds on the coyotes. Or the coyote might elude the dog, and a tired and beaten Moose would eventually find his way home.
What I did not expect to find was that the dog and the coyote would be enjoying each other’s company at the bottom of the hill near our house. I’m still not sure what the interaction was. I came across the coyote standing in a clearing, barking madly at the sky. Moose was a short way off. The coyote saw me and started to run – Moose chased after. But when I called Moose to my side, the coyote followed. And the coyote continued to follow us up the hill after I put the leash on the dog and started heading home.
It looked to be a young, and very thin coyote. And maybe it was just looking for a good time. Or maybe this is part of a coyote’s sly and tricky way of finding a meal. But toward the end of the adventure I wasn’t more than twenty feet away from the animal, making it the most unusual coyote encounter I’ve had to date.