Friday, March 7, 2014

May the Best Pups Win


           There is nothing like the sound of a coyote howling, unless it is the sound of a coyote with pups just learning to howl. If you’ve never heard the babies, it’ll curdle your blood. Eeriest thing you’ll ever hear as it sounds like human babies left out in the wild (not that I know what human babies would sound like left out in the wild, but the first time I heard this sound this is precisely what I thought I was hearing).

            I came in late from a taxing day (and I mean that literally…I know now why they call ‘em taxes). A morning full of last minute number-crunching and an afternoon of bookkeeping meetings had left me depleted, so I was looking extra forward to just getting home to the babies.  By the time I got bowls cleaned and food ready it was past dark, so I suited up in the ol farm jumper and headed out to the precious lot of faces looking up to me from the gate.
            I had just gotten everyone fed and was down on the ground playing with the pups waiting for Rosey to return from her usual evening check of the perimeter when TJ went off like a banshee. I stopped to listen, thinking I’d heard an ambulance…Turns out it was not. TJ was doing his job and turning ferocious for having picked up the distant cry of a mama coyote teaching her pups to howl.
            It was suddenly clear why Rosey had bolted so quickly to check the back lots. One dog in; one dog out. These two are a team when it comes to protection. Meanwhile, I’ve got three pups crawling all over me, chewing on toys and being their adorable puppy selves …until ~~
            TJs snarls, his guttural growls interrupting our play. In seconds, all dogs have teeth showing…the little ones mostly playing, but their play turning aggressive as if to say “If this is how it’s done then we’ll do too.”
            It occurred to me then, as I witnessed my older, wiser dogs teaching the younger, innocent ones, that somewhere out there, on a lone, crisp night, a mother coyote was instilling the same to pups she loves as much as Rosey and I love ours.
            I know it’s nature…part of the circle of life. But it is also why the Pyrenees breed exists, after all, goats have basically no defenses save to hear quickly, run fast and jump on something if they can, none of which is too much for a coyote.
As for those coyote pups vs Rosey’s all I can say is, may the best pups win. (And of course, we know which pups are best.) My bigger dream would be that we all live in peace, but given the nature of these creatures, I’m not taking any chances til we get there.

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