Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Old Coot and the Coyote

That's one of maybe 1000 or more coots at Lake Balboa, at this time of year. However, in this story I'm the old coot. Just thought you might not know what a coot looks like!

I got to Lake Balboa at dawn, as usual, and walked Molly around. We played a lot of tennis ball chuckit on the field on the first lap. A chuckit is an amazing tennis ball launching device that works wonders for feeble throwers like me. I always have it with me at the lake. It's about two feet long, with a cup to hold the tennis ball and some kind of aerodynamic engineering so it goes really far.

(photo from a year ago- wish I'd had the camera with me today.)

On the second lap, I took her out on the field and practiced some of the things we'd learned yesterday in obedience class: off leash healing, and distance downs and sits . I tried some find-its throwing food about when she was running off after the tennis ball and she liked finding them on her return.

I put her on a really L O N G distance down stay and then called her. She came running right to me. As a reward I threw the chuckit tennis ball one more time. As she was running back with the ball, she suddenly stopped and looked away. She never stops on her way back with the ball.

And there was a beautiful, solo, coyote staring at us, and then walking straight towards us but still at a distance. I told Molly "down-stay" as I rushed to her to get the leash on. She lay down reluctantly. The coyote was still approaching us. I waved the chuckit stick at the coyote and used my exorcist voice to scare it off. It didn't scare. It was small but it was bold.

We headed towards the sidewalk. I kept looking behind me and the coyote was still approaching us. In fact it even flanked us, which was creepy. Then it seemed to change its mind, and moved off. I saw it it stick its nose in a hole and pull out and eat something wiggling, in one gulp. I thought they chewed first!

Molly was much bigger than the coyote. I could tell she knew it wasn't a dog. She wasn't flipping on her leash the way she might have if it were a loose dog. But she was wary of it, and it was a wonderful way to start the day, exciting, a little scary, a taste of the wild.

Here's a link to an earlier Lake Balboa coyote encounter. That coyote was much bigger.

and here's today's cute? baby picture. The reason it's blurry is baby on the left rises up to intimidate me when I approach! The combo of white feathers and black skin is extra weird. Silky chickens have black skin, but surely James Brown the giant dove hasn't mated with a chicken!


Namowal said...

Wow, a coyote encounter!
When I lived in a (then) rural area of Anaheim I sometimes heard them but never actually saw them.
Maybe the coyote (and the one you met last summer) is one of those wild animals who have lost their fear of humans, perhaps thinking of them as a food source to mooch of off. Not that they're tame- just bold and aggressive.
That has to be weird for Molly, I wonder if the fact that the coyote was doglike, yet not a dog, was unnerving?

Linda said...

Molly is so good!

"I tried some find-its throwing food about when she was running off after the tennis ball and she liked finding them on her return." This is my kind of activity. (The finding, not the throwing.) She must LOVE going out in the morning.

How far is it around the lake?

Incredible how the baby birds change every day.

Sally said...

Namowal, it's weird they'd approach us, as the lake is loaded to bountifulness with coots, geese and ducks. In Colorado we rarely see coyotes.

Linda, it's about a mile and a half around the lake, and I usually just do it twice, but when clothes feel tight I go for the third lap.

sal said...

The photo of Molly with the tennis ball is one I'd like!