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Fido doesn't know from wildlife.
"What the heck?!?" Fido said.
We were out at Twin Lakes a couple of days before Opening Day of the fishing season.
There wasn’t much in the way of thick growth in the forests—mostly gray bark on the aspens—and there was plenty of snow on the hillsides.
The day was gray and white, with a changeable sky above, piercing sunlight for less than a minute, then thick gray clouds scudding by, above and behind Crystal Crag.
That’s when the coyote trotted by, not 20 feet away from us.
For the first time ever, Fido was speechless.
It wasn’t the first time Fido had seen a coyote.
Last fall we were walking around our neighborhood when three of the scroungiest looking coyotes you’ve ever seen came lollygagging up the road.
“Now I understand where ‘Coyote Ugly’ comes from,” Fido said, under his breath. “Yeesh! They’ve never heard of brushes?”
But Fido didn’t chase them. If anything, he positioned himself to flee. He didn’t let them out of his sight. When they began to howl and yip, you’d have thought Fido had run into space aliens instead of distant cousins of the canine family.
And so it was last week.
At first neither of us saw the creature. Fido is particularly weak in the eyes, as many dogs are.
He sees movement, sure enough. Sometimes when we’re driving, he mistakes things like baby strollers for dogs on a leash. He then lets fly with a torrent of protective barks, howls, yelps and growls from the backseat, usually right into my ear.
Once he’s close enough, though, he realizes his mistake and gets almost sheepish about his untoward behavior.
But this was no baby stroller.
He caught a movement in the brush and snow and that stopped him. Then his nose went into action and he found the coyote, standing among the aspen brush against a backdrop of snow.
And then … nothing.
The two stared at each other, nothing more. Fido was more wary than the coyote. After all, we were on the coyote’s turf so there wasn’t much that Fido could be protective of. After a time, the coyote seemed to shrug off the encounter. He turned to walk up the trail. He went into a slow trot and then disappeared.
Later, Fido and I talked about it.
“Why didn’t you bark?”
“I don’t know,” Fido said. He scrunched his eyes, as if in deep thought. “I knew it was a dog, like me, but then again, it wasn’t a dog like me at all.”
“Please go on.”
“Maybe it was me. Maybe that coyote didn’t know what to make of me, either, but that doesn’t make sense. If the coyote didn’t know what to make of me, wouldn’t he have growled at least?”
Fido wanted to know what I thought about it.
“Fido, the way I figure it, there is a certain way of the wild. Jack London had a good bead on it, but most of us don’t. Just as soon as we get used to cars and honks, drills and jackhammers, we step into the woods and there are not only different sounds, but also a whole different set of rules.”
“You buy that?”
“I don’t know, Fido, you asked what I thought.”
“Hmm,” Fido said. “Let me ruminate on this.”