The Coyote, the Copywriter, and her Domesticated Canine

Finding assurance in unexpected encounters

Posted in Nature on September 17, 2015

I worked from home the other day allowing me the luxury to take a walk with my dog at 4:30 in the afternoon. We took the usual route, through the park where I pause to throw the ball for my pup, entertaining both her and the homeless man resting nearby in his torn sleeping bag, then across the street, and into the 68 acre green space just three blocks from my house.

We turn onto the dirt path along the grassland’s perimeter to avoid cyclists and walk beneath the rustling oak trees and creaking eucalyptus. I breathe deep, looking out across the meadow that parallels the path, trying to let the stresses of work go and just focus on the moment at hand. As I exhale and turn my gaze forward, I see a dog the color of the meadow’s golden dry grass, standing in the middle of the path just 20 feet away, off-leash, no owner in sight. Its ears stand up, alert, and it turns its face to meet my gaze. Coyote.

The coyote crossing our path.

The coyote crossing our path.

It stares calmly towards us - just watching and listening. We do the same. None of us move, not even my dog who usually erupts in quivers of excitement, hackles raised, her breath shallow, when another dog approaches. But she is still, unconcerned, almost disinterested in this wild animal that looks unnervingly like her. Their silhouettes are almost identical, their pointy ears too large for their small, slender faces, and their legs long and skinny as a fawn’s. A minute passes, maybe two, or maybe just a few seconds that stretch with the immensity of the moment.

My pup, a cattle dog mix, showing her wild side.

My pup, a cattle dog mix, showing her wild side.

The chance of one of these unexpected encounters is why I take walks along quiet dirt paths or along the shore and the harbor’s edge. To look in the eye of a wild creature, so sure of its place in the world, for a fleeting moment that dissipates like a daydream with the padding footsteps of the coyote back into the brush or the splash of a harbor seal back beneath the waves, is both arresting and comforting.

Asphalt smothers habitats, fences divide landscapes, and buildings replace open meadows and marshes, yet still the wilderness exists on the edges, adapting to our altered landscapes as best they can. It’s diminished but still surviving and reminding us of its will and strength — of its right to be on this land we’ve tried so hard to tame.

We’re in this together — the coyote, the copywriter, and her domesticated canine — and I try with all my might to convey this to the sleek, blonde animal that stands in our path.

I am on your side, I’m rooting for you to thrive in the fragmented, semblance of nature we’ve left for you.

The coyote turns slowly, steps deftly through the fence, and sits in the shade of an oak tree. She watches us a moment more, then relaxes onto her side and falls asleep.