I THOUGHT THE COYOTE WAS A DOG. It came walking down the middle of the road toward me and Buddy the Dog.
I had decided to walk Buddy later in the day than normal. I have been working on trying to wrap up the Gospel of Matthew for the Casual English Bible, and I ended up working late. I usually find it hard to pull myself away from the work and take care of the other chores.
It was dark enough that I brought a flashlight with me, though it never quite got dark enough to use it.
We made the last turn, walking off the wooded trail and onto the sidewalk in the Kansas City suburban subdivision where I live. We were about 20 or 30 yards from turning onto the street where I live when off in the distance I saw what looked like a runaway dog trotting down the middle of the road.
I’ve seen plenty of runaway dogs while I’ve been out with Buddy, and I usually try to catch them. Once, I spent an hour or more trying to chase down two runaway dogs. I caught one of them and someone else caught the other.
I quickly realized this was not a dog I wanted to catch.
This was a coyote. It looked to be nearly as big as Buddy, who is a Labrador retriever a bit overweight because someone keeps feeding him treats.
I can’t remember ever seeing a coyote this large.
What good’s a pocket knife?
I didn’t think of it at the time but I did have protection in my pocket: a buck knife with two blades. The longest blade has a cutting edge of about an inch and a half.
I have read that this is about the length of coyote incisors. They have four, and a total of 42 teeth.
I was outgunned. I brought a toad killer to a dogfight.
I froze. Buddy did not. He was all in. He jerked at the leash and growled at the coyote.
“You’re with me, Buddy.” That’s what I tell him when someone approaches and I want him to walk beside me instead of sniffing away on a long leash.
Sometimes Buddy listens to me. Not this time.
He pulled and yanked and jerked, growling all the while.
The coyote continued right up the middle of the road until he was directly across from us, no further away than the sidewalk is from the middle of a two-lane street in a subdivision.
I was trying to make no threatening motions, but I couldn’t stop my jaw. It dropped before I realized it.
I know the coyotes rarely come after people and generally behave in a skittish manner.
This coyote was not skittish.
The coyote did not break the rhythm of his trot.
He treated us the way I treat people with purple hair in the mall.
He noticed us and kept going.
He turned his head toward us, then turned his head away. A few yards past us he veered off the road and onto the walking trail that lots of people like to walk.
It’s a dark trail at night.
I’m going to try to stop work earlier in the day. I don’t want to be walking on our fun and familiar wooded trail with a flashlight in my hand as it catches the reflection of a pair of canine eyes looking at me from behind 42 teeth.
When trouble comes our way
There are a lot of Bible verses to give us advice about how to handle trouble.
Some don’t work with coyotes.
“Don’t worry yourselves about anything. Pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6 Casual English Bible).
But when I say I froze, that doesn’t mean I prayed.
I wasn’t thinking, “Jesus, Jesus.”
I was thinking, “Coyote, Coyote.”
And, “Keep going. Keep going.”
There is a Bible verse that works for coyotes, I think. And I like the verse very much.
“I will answer them before they even call to me” (Isaiah 65:25 NLT).
Free signed books
If you live Stateside and haven’t received a free book from me, send me a note in the comment box or an email. All you need to say is “free book,” and I’ll know what you’re talking about.
I’ll select five at random (drawing names out of my fly-fishing cap). I’ll send the winners a short list of books from which you can select the one you’d like. I’ll sign the book for you and mail it out.
All free to you.
Peace to you.
Steve, I need to say more than just “free book”…. I always enjoy your posts and never fortunate enough to win a free book – but I have no problem purchasing them because I love your writing that much! Perhaps this time I shall be blessed with one of your free books. Thank you Steve.