Folks who live near coyotes and have pets that go outside must be alert and stay with the pets when they’re outdoors. Protecting a pet becomes even more important when it’s a little tiny thing. Coyotes eat rabbits and rodents and other little critters, so when they see a cat or a Chihuahua or a Shih Tzu, they don’t see a beloved pet; they see a much-needed meal. It’s the call of the wild and the survival of the fittest and pets don’t have a lot in the way of self-defense. It’s up to the pet’s people to keep Muffin or FiFi safe,
There are coyotes where I spend my winters. We hear them howl in the early morning and around sunset and sometimes in the wee hours of the night. We see them too. We often see them in broad daylight darting between parked rigs and running through the creosote bushes. It’s against all the rules to feed them here, but we suspect people are doing it anyway because why else would we see them crossing our road in mid-morning?
The Man is careful when he lets Jerico out. Although Jerico weighs 35 pounds and would fight to the death if necessary, he doesn’t spend time outside unsupervised. They’re not your friends, we tell him when we hear coyotes howl and Jerico’s ears perk up.
I went to the laundry room one Friday in late March. I just had a few loads to wash, and the day was sunny, so I decided I would dry the clothes on the line. I’d only been to the laundry room once before (and I’d walked over that time), so I wasn’t sure where to park. I did some driving around before I figured out where to leave the van.
As I was driving, I saw a tiny white Chihuahua outside a rig across from laundry room. I don’t know if the dog was tethered to something or just loose and trained to not run away, but it stayed where it was as a woman strode from that rig, crossed the street, and went into the laundry room.
I parked the van and hauled in my laundry just in time to see the woman fill the last of the six washers. I knew the laundry room was small, so I wasn’t surprised to find I’d have to wait to get a washer. I sat down with my notebook so I could write while I waited. The woman who’d taken the last washer tried to chitchat with me a couple of times. While I answered politely, I was more interested in writing than talking.
After half an hour, the woman took her clean clothes out of the washers and I put my dirty clothes in. She put some clothes in one of the dryers but siad she was going to hang most of her things in the sun to dry.
My clothes had only a few minutes left in the washer when the woman came back in the laundry room. She looked a little dazed. She said her dog had been attacked by something. She said the Chihuahua had a gash in its neck.
Probably a coyote, I said.
She said she hadn’t seen what had attacked her dog, but said again its neck was wounded.
I don’t think a javelina would attack a dog, I said and the man who’d just started his clothes washing agreed. He said he’d never seen a javelina in the RV park.
What’s a javelina anyway? the woman asked.
It’s an big, ugly, pig-looking thing, I told her, but I don’t think one would attack a dog. It was probably a coyote, I repeated.
I’ve never seen a coyote around here! she exclaimed. I hear them, but I’ve never seen one.
I see them all the time, I told her. They run around during the day out here.
I don’t know if the coyotes stick to my park of the RV park and not hers or if she just never noticed them skulking around. Their coloring does help camouflage them in their desert environment, so maybe they’d been near her place but blended in so well she hadn’t recognized them for what they were.
She said again she hadn’t seen what attacked her dog. I don’t know if she was in her rig and her dog was in the yard when it happened or if she was hanging clothes with her back to the dog. She acted as if she didn’t want to admit a coyote had attacked her pet, but as I told her, I don’t know what else could have attacked it that way.
I also can’t explain why a coyote grabbed the dog strongly enough to leave wounds but didn’t kill it or run away with the Chihuahua in its jaws. Maybe the dog was particularly feisty and fought back hard. Maybe the woman approached just soon enough to thwart the attack. Whatever happened, it was the woman’s–and the dog’s–lucky day because the dog lived through the ordeal.
The woman said she’d put Neosporin on the wound, but was concerned about rabies. I suggested she call the local animal shelter and ask for advice. At that point the washers were stopped and my clothes were clean. I loaded up and headed home to hang everything on the clothesline.
The next morning when I went to the office, the park manager said she hadn’t heard anything new about the little dog, so we assumed no news was good news. I suspect the woman was going to keep a closer watch over her dog after the coyote attack.