Once again I try and counter someone’s fear this time in front of my house. I feel stupid and frustrated in my attempts as this woman is walking down the street at a fast clip. We have both reacted to the sound of a coyote crying loudly and plaintively, and for her it is the voice of a killer and to me it is reassuring that I can hear Coyote’s call close in the canyon below. I am curious and want to record the sound. I was wondering where they are this time of year.
The woman is out for her morning walk and starts rushing down the street and spots me and tells me she hates that sound and I say “I don’t”. She tells me how they killed a dog on La Playa and how her mother saw a coyote attack a deer. I comment that seldom occurs but feel an obstacle I create between us because for her the fact that it happens at all means she wishes they were eliminated from the hood and she is frightened.
I stand and realize I am fearful myself because I am trying to defend the future of coyote. I know urban coyotes kill cats, dogs and a child was killed many years ago that became the poster story of coyote’s demonic endeavor. The intersection of domestic and wild, territory, ours and theirs, and how we both inhabit the landscape is ever present and a challenge.
Finally I stop, and I look at her, she at me and see her blanched complexion. I become aware of my attempt over the last week to confront fear and confusion in the emotional life of someone who is not me, has another reality, and soften realizing I am doing it again.
Finally I say to her I know Coyotes can be hard on cats but they will not attack you and she says “that is good to hear” and continues up the road.
I often wish people would not walk down this end of our dead end street towards the canyon because of the small corridor we have for coyotes, turkey, deer, owls, hawks.
Where I once lived in New Mexico a couple moved into the complex I lived at the far end of for six years. They had a tiny dog. We lived in a rural more removed area not urban. The dog was a hostile pest, and would run at my dog’s legs. Lupine rarely responded but if she did the little dog would bark madly, and run back onto their porch. But a dog with wolf in her like Lupine is going to be the big bad wolf given anything she does.
Lupine prior to this would lie out front and because of her presence less wild animals would wander into the complex but the woman wants my dog confined. One day I hear Lupine whining, a short time after the woman is in a panic, her little dog is gone. I let Lupine loose and quickly she goes behind their place. I follow her, and realize coyotes snatched the dog.
It is a late autumn afternoon and maybe the coyotes were freer to come down at the end of complex without Lupine roaming the length of the land. The dog should not have been let out of the house this time of year to roam unattended but it is sad her little companion is gone no matter how much of a nuisance the dog could be.
Lupine lived for nearly eleven years. During that time I saw mostly little dogs go after her. Some of the dogs even walked under her for protection or affection. She was either adopted by these dogs or maligned. On walks I experienced more fear of small fierce terriers in attack mode as they slipped out of their owner’s hands towards us then any large dog I might see in the distance.
Because of Lupine I learned more about wolves, coyote, rescues, sanctuaries. I understand both the prejudice and entrancement with wild animals. There is a range of naive adoring of these animals, and also a lack of decent information about them thus allowing them to be continually misunderstood. But today I am also adding to these problems with my attitude towards this woman’s discomfort about coyote’s cry.