As many adventures begin, it started out as a sleepy guy walking his dogs early in the morning before coffee. The before-coffee issue seems, in retrospect, to be crucial. Caffeine imparts an added sense of alertness that would’ve been helpful.
We turned left out of our driveway. The dogs had their noses down hunting for scents. I quickly texted my daughter in Minnesota about COVID-19 stuff and then began the slow process of waking up.
An adventure is defined as an endeavor in which the outcome is uncertain. Hold that thought.
All three of us were facing forward, enjoying another beautiful Santa Fe morning.
Then, for no particular reason, I glanced behind us. And there she was.
A young coyote following Maisie, about 10 feet behind. My first thought was, “Wow, that is a well-groomed coyote!” I didn’t get the chance for a second thought because both our dogs turned, saw the coyote, and mayhem commenced.
By mayhem, I mean both dogs leaped in the air against their leashes, barking like mad. It seemed to me appropriate for Toby to want to go after the coyote.
After all, that was what his breed, Great Pyrenees, is all about.
They even have an extra thick coat around their necks to protect them from wolf attacks. Ten-thousand years of evolution. On the other hand, although big hearted and believing that she is a fighter, Maisie, our Chihuahua mix, gets points off.
Every small being (dog or human) knows that the goal is not to fight a larger animal. So, the first step is to distract them. You say, “Hey, look at that!” pointing behind them. Then when the big lug turns away, you run like hell.
This was basic high school training if you were 5-feet, 5-inches tall.
The dogs were yelling, “Come on, bring it on!” But the young coyote, Zen-like, just stood her ground. That kind of calm makes me nervous.
We started slowly backing up. By that, I mean I was tugging on our dogs, both of whom were on their hind legs, straining against their leashes.
As we slowly moved backward, the coyote followed. She kept about 10 feet away.
I was on alert, that horrible “I’m not awake” adrenalized, a feeling that firefighters know all too well.
I was worried that the coyote was going to make a dash for Maisie.
In this next part, it is essential to see me as the hero rather than the dope who dropped the leash.
In my defense, the leashes were tangled, and in trying to sort them out, I, for a second, let go of Maisie.
But that was enough. Free, she tore after that coyote who, startled, booked it up the arroyo with Maisie on her tail.
They quickly disappeared.
I thought: “Release the Kraken!” Not the lame “Stop the Steal Kraken,” but straight from the lips of actor Liam Neeson in Clash of the Titans.
I let go of Toby.
He, in full Great Pyrenees form, galloped up the arroyo, leash flying behind him. And I ran after them.
I found myself sprinting up the hill, saying to myself, “Wait, I don’t run!” And yet I did for at least 20 seconds. I was impressed.
Panting, hands on knees, I called Maisie’s name. I figured Toby could watch out for himself. A few minutes later, Maisie came trotting around a tree and right up to me. She seemed unhurt and kinda proud.
But now, we had to find a dog who was an escape artist, who came from a breed known to be relentless about tracking their mortal enemy: coyotes.
As we headed uphill, my phone rang. It was an Angel neighbor, Amanda. “Toby is at our house, just heading down the driveway towards your house.” I thanked her profusely, and Maisie and I headed for the road.
A few minutes later, Toby casually walked out of the arroyo, dragging his leash. If he was human, he would’ve been dusting off his hands and saying, “Mischief managed!”
Yet, there was one more obstacle to overcome — explaining to my wife, Laurie, why her dogs were covered in cactus needles and exhausted. So, of course, I regaled her with the tale, noting every detail, except, as you would expect, the leashing-dropping bit.
As I’m sure you would agree, what would be the point?