The world fundamentally changes the first time you hear a pack of hunting coyotes in full voice. At least that was River’s experience last night.
I took River (and Pflouff) out to pee at 1:45 this morning. The coyotes were across the street at our neighbors’ place, raising holy hell. Our neighbors raise alpacas, and although an adult alpaca (especially one in a paddock with her buddies) isn’t likely to be on the menu for coyotes, a baby cria could be. Our neighbors are intelligent people, though, and their entire property is surrounded by 5-wire New Zealand fence — very hot electric wire nicknamed “coyote fence” for a reason. So the coyotes surrounded the pastures they couldn’t reach and made a nuisance of themselves.
No lights at the neighbors’ house, so they might have slept through the whole thing. Not River. When he went outside, his whole body went on hyper-alert. Pflouff ran to the front, ready to confront the intruders if they dared to come near her fence. River ran back inside. I had to carry him back out and shut the door to get him to pee. When we went back to bed, he couldn’t settle. He sat up, alert and listening, for an hour and a half until the coyotes left.
I don’t blame him. The first time I heard them, I thought we were being attacked by banshees. The sound a pack of coyotes makes is eerie, otherworldly. When dogs bark, they bark at the same time, but they bark their own individual pattern:
Dog #1: Bark bark growl snarl bark!
Dog #2: Growl bark whine bark bark!
Dog #3: Woof growl bark woof growl!
Coyotes are different. It’s as though each one barks the same pattern, but each starts the pattern a fraction of a second later than another:
Coyote #1: Yip yip bark growl yip bark
Coyote #2: Yip yip bark growl yip bark
Coyote #3: Yip yip bark growl yip bark
Coyote #4: Yip yip bark growl yip bark
It gives a terrifying, echo-like quality to the singing that adds to the impression they’re all around you.
I’m not worried about River. He was fine this morning, and he’ll learn through experience that the coyotes won’t come near our dog fence. He is small enough right now that he *could* be a coyote dinner, but that won’t be true for long, and it’s not likely he’ll be harassed with me, Pax, and Pflouff around. The coyotes are annoying, but they’re not stupid!