She's Big, she's Bold, she's Nocturnal and Imperturbable.
She showed up on the deck outside my glass bedroom door at 2am recently, her fur sparkling in the moonlight. The shape of her body somehow so obviously not a dog.
As my puppy growled and I sleepily grabbed for the rifle, I knew that I couldn't ever really hurt her, all shining in her wildness under the stars. But I was determined to scare her properly with the cracking sound I hoped her species knows and fears in their bones.
Soon after she did a come hither move at dusk in the ravine below the house, beckoning the puppy towards her side of the canyon. When he came running back a few moments later I could breathe again. Coyotes hunt in packs, but lure dogs towards those packs, and neighbors believe this big-as-a-german-shepherd-bitch coyote has a nest of pups a few slopes over and down the ridge.
A few evenings later Leonardo (smart as Da Vinci) and I went for a before dinner walk. The lupin was in full bloom, filling the air with a scent like warm grape jelly. Leo ran after the ball again and again and I figured its powerful magnet would keep him close.
Suddenly the wind changed, blowing directly toward us. Leo lifted his head, dropped the ball and took off like a shot down the canyon. When I looked over I saw Coyote Girl again, ready for her close-up, sitting in the lupin on the edge of the slope. Just looking our way, and mysteriously beckoning. A canine siren with the sun setting behind her.
As I hollered over and over for my dog to return, he ran closer and closer to her, approaching and retreating, up and down the slope, thrilled and in love. Finally I saw him run the last several yards straight towards her.
My heart sank and I dropped to my knees...then...she lunged at him. With an impressive yip from Leo and a bursting cloud of dirt he whirled and spun back down to the bottom of the canyon. Was he injured? Would I be bushwhacking down through the lupin, poppies and tall grass to rescue him?
Real waves of relief flowed over me as he came racing back up the hill. I grabbed his collar and knelt beside him, yelling at the Big Coyote Bitch still perched on the opposite slope. "Go away!" I shouted, again and again, as forcefully as I could. She watched me hold my puppy close for several moments, and at last she turned, looking over her shoulder at us, with curiosity or disdain, and disappeared from view.
Leo had a tasty bone, and I had a very large glass of wine that evening. Despite the fear or perhaps because of it, meeting Coyote Girl stimulated an instinctive, ancestral kind of knowing, helpful for more domesticated creatures like people and dogs. I know she knows that Leo is loved, and I know Leo knows she's not a suitable playmate! In the magnificent setting we enjoy here, we really can get along.