Sunday, March 4, 2012

A coyote, a tennis ball, and a very big dog!

A wild eastern coyote approached the invisible fence barrier with a tennis ball offering:
All photos courtesy of Charles Dean,  Clarkston,  Michigan
(Clarkston is a small city in Independence Township, Oakland County, Michigan)

I am a skeptic when it comes to many wildlife talesmany are illusions of reality.  
 Not this one, for Charles Dean captured detailed images of what some might
call "the beast in the garden" but others view the beautiful intriguing interaction between two
 adult coyotes and his domestic 80 pound Saluki  (Royal Dog of Egypt) with awe.  
 The photo (above) made the  newspaper and stirred a mix of reactions. One reader wrote me 
to say "Coyotes are so smart using the tennis ball to lure the dog into the woods".
 I agree on smart. Coyotes are highly  intelligent, well adapted to life near humans, and for
 better or worse are learning our ways  faster than we learn theirs.  There is something else 
I should share.The Saluki is one of the earliest domesticated breeds of dogs. They are perhaps
the fasted breed in the world. In the Middle East they  hunted gazelle and jackals.
So what is the coyote doing? 
 Based on what I know about wildlife and the expression on this coyote's face that all 
dog  lovers recognize, this coyote is having a bit of fun and wants to play.  And this coyote has
 figured out the pink flags marking the invisible fence are a barrier for their frustrated 'playmate'. 
Coyotes playing with objects and  teasing humans is not new. California coyotes steal golf balls.

FACT: Coyotes, like all wildlife can be defensive if threatened.
FACT: Coyotes should never be fed.
FACT: Never ever run from a coyote.
FACT: Coyotes are in every county in Michigan.

Will a coyote eat a stray cat or small dog? It happens. But vehicles pose far more threat
to pets than coyotes.  Coyotes have killed two humans  in the United States in the past 100 years 
in  highly  unusual circumstances however The Center for Disease Control states there are 
4.7 million dog bites per year in the US, with 800,000 Americans needing hospital treatment and 
and average of 16 deaths from dogs.
I am thrilled by the image captured by my not so far away neighbor Charles Dean and the
two coyotes that come calling at the fringe of wildlands and urban living. The tennis ball
offering reminds me of humans looking and smiling at primates in the zoo.  And when I hear
coyotes howl and yip outside my home tonight in Brandon Township I'll smile and
 think of tennis balls and a coyote with a sense of pleasure and perhaps sense of humor.


Blogger Sherrie V said...

There is a wonderful novel by Michigan author Dayton Hyde called Don Coyote. It says for ages 10 and up, but this adult loved it.

March 4, 2012 at 2:48 PM 
Blogger Michelle Allen said...

Coyotes are a valuable part of the ecosystem, even though there are some that do not believe that.
They can, and have befriended dog and man.
For the farmer that does not properly protect his animals, they can certainly pose a problem. We have not had an issue with them here on our farm/rescue.
We have even raised some pups up to be released.
Sherrie, I love Dayton O. Hyde, not only for his stories, but also for his work at the horse sanctuary that he founded.
Jonathan, I would love to meet you sometime when we are in the area. Wild Oat Animal Rescue does vaccine clinics throughout the year, and in the past, we were at the Ortonville TSC. We won't be there this year, but will be somewhere near there soon.

March 9, 2012 at 7:40 PM 

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