January 17, 2014

Surrounded by a Pack of Coyotes

If you're new to my blog you might be thinking, wow she sure is random. One day it's a recipe, the next it's a take down your bathroom door how to. That's why I love this space because it's a reflection of what I like to call my eclectic personality. I write what's on my mind and heart; I write about things I've just got to share. My goal is to encourage and inspire others to create happy, healthy and enjoyable lives. That being said I feel it's important to bring awareness to coyotes; you never know when you might encounter one!

I've heard the yips and howls of coyotes many times. I've also even heard wolves in Minnesota and Maine. The sound is pretty eerie especially the closer it gets but I've never been afraid. I thought they would always keep their distance from humans and that they were nothing to worry about. Actually when I lived in Pennsylvania our neighbors who recently moved from New York City asked if they should be worried about coyotes and if they would attack. I couldn't help but laugh and I reassured them they had nothing to worry about. Now I'm thinking I didn't give them the best advice. 

We are blessed to have an amazing trail system right behind our home here in Colorado. 
We frequent this place as often as we can, even when it's snowy. The dogs love it! It's about 5 miles from our front door to the top and back. 
Last week we went for a walk on these trails. It was a beautiful day and very quiet. We actually didn't see one person the entire way up the mountain which I'm not used to. It's possible that people weren't interested in tramping through the snow and it was the middle of the day. That day there was still snow on the ground but I was working up a sweat because it was such a warm day. 
We have often heard coyotes while walking these trails but that's always been in the evening. During this walk we heard nothing, it was so peaceful and I loved the silence. We made it to the top and started making our way back down. The dogs were running ahead like usual. Blanca was ahead and off to the side and Princeton was on the trail straight in front of me. Princeton is the smaller of my two dogs and he's very energetic.
Because of his herding instinct he literally runs in circles the entire time down the trail. He has great difficulty slowing down even when we call him to us. That's why when he stopped and sat down in the middle of the trail I was concerned. I kept walking toward him thinking maybe he saw a person or another dog on the trail. I kept looking and thinking what could he possible see. As I got closer to him I realized there was a dog just a foot or so in front of him blocking the path. Except this wasn't just a dog, I quickly realized it was a coyote. I called Princeton to me but he sat paralyzed. Blanca ran up beside me and kept her body in contact with my leg in a very protective stance.

In case you haven't figured out already I allow my dogs to be off leash. Overall they are great listeners and I feel it's healthy for them to have freedom. We do have one shock collar that we use for the dogs. We just use the warning tone on the collar and even though one dog wears the collar both respond. 

I usually wear a pack even though it's just a walk out my back door so that I can store the dogs leashes or have something to put my jacket in. When I saw the coyote in front of me I turned to get the leashes out of my pack and I saw another coyote behind me. I then realized that we are actually surrounded by a pack of coyotes. I pushed the warning button to get Princeton to come to me and he did. Then I took the leashes out of the pack and threw them on the ground. The leashes have a chain collar attached to the end so that the dogs don't pull. The sound of the chain hitting the ground made the coyote in front of me start to pace back and forth on the trail. He never broke eye contact with me. He was very intimidating and didn't seem like he wanted to let us by.  I leashed up both dogs so that they were right beside me then I screamed at the coyotes and raised my arms. This broke up the circle and they started to slowly move above us. That was very disturbing to have coyotes above us but I prayed and just moved forward down the trail. I do believe they tracked us most of the way down. I kept the dogs leashed and close. 

This really shook me up and I realized that I didn't really know what to do in that situation. I didn't know if yelling was the right response or if that would make them defensive? I can't believe I was so naive about coyotes. When I got home with the dogs I realized that I dropped the remote to the shock collar. I was so upset with myself because I couldn't even remember at what point I dropped the remote and it's not good that I wasn't thinking clearly in that kind of situation. I have a plan for all kinds of bad situations but I never thought about coyotes. 

I've done some research since then and have learned a lot. Such as coyotes actually aren't afraid to come near humans because they are getting more and more use to them. They will attack your pet. Coyotes attacking humans is less common unless of course they feel threatened. A lot of the information I read you can find at Project Coyote and Lakewood Connect. I was surprised to learn that Coyotes mate from December to February which can make them a little more aggressive.

Here are some ideas of how to prevent an encounter with Coyotes:

Here's what to do if you actually encounter Coyotes:

I bought another collar with a remote so now both dogs have a collar and one remote works for both collars. We have been asked many times how we trained our dogs and I have to say it's the collar. We've only had to shock them once and from then on we just play the warning sound. They actually behave much better when we just put the collar on. If you're interested in a collar for your dog this is the one we use.  

                                                                                                    

We like it because it's durable, waterproof and you can connect multiple collars with one remote. Yes I do get a benefit if you click the above link and purchase the collar. I have to keep this blog up and running somehow. 

Our new shock collar and remote arrived so I took the dogs out on a walk today, we hadn't been out since I lost the remote. I kept thinking the entire way up that it would be nice to find the remote since it's a pretty pricey gadget and it would be nice to have a back up. I even prayed that I would find it. There are two large rocks that are split in the middle of the trail which is a pretty distinct spot, I thought it would be nice to find it laying on top of the rocks but it wasn't there. We reached the top where there's fork in the trail. I decided to stop and take a picture of the trail signs thinking about putting it on Instagram. When I put my phone up to take the picture I saw the remote hanging from the sign! 
Only in Colorado would this happen. In other places I've lived I would expect one of two things to happen #1 it to be left on the ground and covered over with snow or mud  #2 someone would pick it up so they could sell it. It seems like here in Colorado most people are on the same wave length. Almost everyone I meet has a dog or at least loves them so it's very dog friendly. People overall are down to earth and laid back. People get outside as often as they can and live as self-sustaining as possible. People are friendly and care more about their surroundings. Thank you Coloradans and to whomever placed my remote on that sign! 
So do you have any wild animal stories to share? 
Have you ever had a close encounter with coyotes before? 

6 comments:

  1. Coyotes? Oh No! So thankful you are ok and the pups. Thank the Lord for His tender mercies and answered prayer. Thank you kind person (Angel) for placing the remote on the trail post.

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  2. LOL. I only encounter two-legged animals in the city luckily. I would have been so frightened if I'd been there. If I were you, I'd also carry some type of stick with me on the hikes. BTW, I have an internet friend who lives in Fort Collins and she often goes on walks with her dogs. I'm going to ask if she's ever seen coyotes in her area. Oh, and glad you found the remote or your camera did!

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  3. Here in Massachusetts we have many coyotes and they are in city areas as well as the country. They will take small dogs and other animals from yards. They are also rabid, some of them. You are well advised to be careful.

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  5. I'm looking this up because I just escaped a pack of coyotes this morning. I was in a local city park in San Gabriel CA at about 12am, when I noticed 3 coyotes were circling me and planning an attack strategy! I started running and two ran off to the sides while the other was chasing me directly. I just kept running and screaming behind me. Two of them chased me all the way to the parking lot! I went back to Valley Blvd. for a bit while talking to my dad on the phone, and then decided to try walking to the missions while staying on the other side of the street. When I passed the park again, I saw a guy standing by his car in the parking lot. He said he came to jog, but he heard them yapping at each other and saw them wandering the grass. He said he saw four of them!

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    1. I'm reading lots of sites that say not to run, and to maintain your ground and back away slowly, but how do I do that when I'm surrounded?

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