The first time I saw a coyote, I didn’t know anything about her. I just knew that she ran when I came around. If something runs, I am bound to give chase. It is just in my chemical make-up:

 

Run…Chase.

 

She looked like any other dog I have run across. BUT, she smelled really different. I wasn’t quite sure why there was any difference. So, I kept following her.

 

Eventually, she led me to where her family was. They were a tight-knit group. I always dreamed of that when they took me away from my mother, brothers and sisters. I was really cute as a puppy, but then I became big and that woman didn’t want me around anymore. I didn’t feel very good at the time, either.

 

Back then, I was thrown into the back yard to fend for myself. Well, the guy did feed me. It wasn’t exactly predictable, but I did get enough that I couldn’t be considered an abused dog. I think I was neglected, however.

 

No one there ever thought of MY needs: My need for a routine. My need for lots and lots of exercise. My need to be left alone when I wanted to be left alone. My insatiable curiousity. Oh, yes. I was the child that no one had time for.

 

Even when I ended up with the woman who treated me well (her name was Kelly, but I never thought of her that way). Other people all but ignored me. Maybe it was because I ignored them? The little pets and/or treats that they gave me were never as interesting as the dead things or other smells that I could find in the woods.

 

I was the black dog. I always used that to my utmost advantage. I could disappear in a nano. Blink? I was gone.

 

I learned it all from that coyote. I chased her for a mile over a pasture and into woods. I liked her smell. I could not figure out why she looked like so many dogs I’ve known, but she smelled really different.

 

She led me to her tribe.

 

Whoa!

 

They didn’t seem all that friendly. Hey, I realized, I was chasing after one of them.

 

“Sorry,” I said. “I just ran after her because…well, she ran.”

 

The coyote pack just looked at each other. They looked at me as if I was there to kill them. One of them finally told me that I looked like a black wolf. Although a wolf had not been around for decades, they seemed to remember it.

 

“I’m not a wolf,” I told them. “I am just a dog that wants to live in the wild…but with the comforts I am used to.”

 

Huh? All of the coyotes looked at me like I was crazy. But, I had learned the secret of their amazing smell --- they were eating wild, dead things!!

 

I realized that I just had to follow my nose and/or a coyote to find the wild, dead things they were eating. Maybe I could smell like them!!

 

So, I had a goal.

 

Follow my nose.

 

Coyotes seemed so fun. They were free. They did what they wanted to do (at least that is how it seemed to me). There was order when there weren’t humans to mess it up. With humans, sometimes I was the leader, sometimes I was the follower. No. In coyote terms, there was one leader and many followers. I could know what I was supposed to do!

 

So, I followed their trail wherever it went. Sometimes there were many humans around, other times we were out in nowhere.     

 

It didn’t matter. I could smell them.

 

All I wanted was to smell like them. To live like them. To be one of them.

 

It was difficult. They really didn’t want to think about the spoiled dog that I am now. They told me stories about family members dying in the cold. Dying in the dark…alone.

 

I kinda got to know all of these coyotes and I would leave messages for them when/if they came around. I just peed on bushes and ground that I was pretty sure they would find. I was pretty sure that they were calling me whenever I got to Mac Forest. Those coyotes wanted me to join them, though I can’t explain why. I think I was the link between the dog world and the human world.

 

Oh, those coyotes were enticing. They were fun to chase. At least 90% of the time, they led me to an amazing spot. Usually, there was a dead thing to munch on. I really liked that.

 

I liked following coyotes. I followed deer sometimes, but once I found coyotes, I thought they were amazing. They looked so much like me (at least like others I had seen), but they had such a different life.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I liked my privileged life in suburbia. However, coyotes were so interesting. However, I liked that couch that was always waiting for me when I got back home. Oh, the pull!

 

I often would follow the trails of my coyote friends. I got to know a lot of them by the smell they left on a trail. Some of them I knew so well that I could not ignore that smell, no matter what. I had to go find them. Often, they would lead me to one of their kills or I would find an older kill. I didn’t care. I ate it anyway. Soon, I thought, I could smell like a coyote.

 

I never did quite make it. They let me hang with them for a little while, but it was always obvious that I wasn’t really one of them.

 

But, that was okay. I still got to go home to my couch.

 

It was funny how Kelly was always waiting for me in the parking lot when I got back. Sometimes, even when I didn’t go back to the parking lot and I thought I had found this great new home, she would mysteriously show up and take me back with her. I could never figure out how she found me.

 

It was so fun to romp around in the woods. I met so many interesting creatures! Once, I came upon this gigantic cat that was sitting in a tree. There was a dead deer hanging off the branch she was sitting on.

 

“Hi,” I said. “How is it going?”

 

“You know, stupid dog,” said the cat, rather rudely I thought. “If I weren’t full from eating this deer, I could eat you.”

 

Hmmm, I thought as I quickly moved on, that thing wasn’t very friendly.

 

Once I came across this smaller animal with prickly things all over it. I came up to sniff it and it shot those prickly things right into my nose!! Again, I thought, that thing wasn’t very friendly. I ran away and tried to get the prickly things out. I removed a lot of them, but there were some that stayed. Kelly took me to this place that I don’t like very much and they took them out for me. I liked them that time.

 

Another time, I got this really strong smell of something. I went down to the creek to see what it was. There was a very large, hairy, brown thing there that I had never seen before! I barked at it and it went “grff.” It was kind of scary so I only did this a couple times before I decided it was probably best just to leave it alone.

 

Squirrels were fun, in a pinch. Mostly, I left them for Ursus. He seemed to get really excited about them for some reason. I didn’t like them because they never seemed to move very far and they always stayed up in the trees.

 

Bunnies were more fun. They had a really strong smell and they stayed on the ground. I never caught one, but I never really tried. They were just fun to sneak up on. They were really wary so I would quietly tip-toe to them to see how close I could get.

 

Oh, and raccoons! I almost forgot about them! They were great fun. I could corner them and we would get in these really fun back-and-forth rallies. Kelly always seemed concerned that I was going to get hurt or something. But, the raccoon and I knew it was all in good fun. I did, anyway.

 

There was a particularly fun raccoon once. I don’t think it was fully grown. It was about 7 am on a Sunday morning. I chased it under a deck. We fought back and forth for a long time. I barked. It hissed. Then, Kelly showed up once again to ruin the fun. I heard her vaguely calling to me, but I was busy. Then, she threw a rock in between the raccoon and me and it startled me just long enough that the raccoon got away. Darn! As I was leaving I saw a man and a frightened-looking little girl staring out of the door to the deck. I don’t know what the big deal was.