A Walk With the Barking Dog

I drifted through doing chores this morning, feeling slightly disjointed after a few days away from the routine.

I arrived home last night and settled these three into their new digs. Two will stay, one is still en route to his new home. He’ll be here for a few days before moving on to be with my good friend Liezel at Pilgrim Farms.

After chores I headed out for a walk with the house dogs. I was seeking a long walk and headed across a pasture I have not visited all winter.  I hastily grabbed the camera before heading out. Maybe there will be some interesting snowscape, I thought.

About midway along we scared up a coyote and watched him race away to our left. BJ was the only dog who spotted him and watched him go, the others were heads down scenting his trail.

A few moments later a sharp, short bark behind me brought me to attention. Mr. (or Mrs?) coyote had circled back behind us.

I turned to watch him, and moved in his general direction. He was being very vocal so was not concerned about staying out of sight or mind. I had to constantly keep the stock dogs in check as they badly wanted to race off and give chase. The coyote alternated between approaching and retreating. We maintained a shared distance between us and he shadowed our walk, yipping and kiyaying the whole time. We travelled together for a spell.

I dipped out of sight and put a little distance between us. He was still kiyaying. I turned back in the direction of his sound and headed to the top of a hill to lookout from. He had already made the same move. He was perched on a hilltop, sighting us.

His presence on this morning gave me much to think about when I finally turned away for the walk home.

I don’t have a fear of the coyote, nor any shred of hatred for the ‘barking dog’, as so many ranchers do. I do have concern for my girls,... my ewes,... their lambs. Chances are the coyotes will get a few of my animals this year.

I am perched between elation at such a rare glimpse of a canine so beautifully wild, and the hard fact that I have chosen to raise livestock in this coyote territory.

I feel the tinge of regret over the recent loss of Willow and Glory, guardian dogs here for the purpose of attaining peace and coexistence, and killed at the hands of a bitter neighbour who has room for neither of those in his life.

And why a walk with a coyote on this morning? This, the first morning with the pups. I feel hope, skepticism and amazement that the newly arrived fur balls bumbling around at my feet today, could be a link to that peaceful coexistence.