Ask a Terrier offers professional advice from Budleigh, a licensed dog.
How worried should I be about my dog versus wild animals? Our big backyard is right next to a forest preserve. Sometimes Nanook , our tough guy, zooms out the back door and charges all the way to the rear fence, barking wildly. The trees are pretty thick, so I can’t tell what’s there. But I’ve seen enough horror movies to suspect it’s something terrible. Nanook returns when called, but he’s not happy about it. I want him to be careful, but I don’t want him doubting his manhood. Doghood. You know what I mean.
Thanks for your advice. Larry, Sheboygan, WI
OK, let’s all stop ignoring the touchy issue of wild animals and squarely address what I call the “coyote in the dog park.”
That is to say, Oh m’God, there is a Coyote in the Dog Park!
Recently I was walking my Giant through the neighborhood and was examining a particularly interesting pile of leaves when he shrieked like a chew toy, then yanked uncomfortably on our lifeline.
And just a quick word to Giants about the lifeline: Don’t call it a “leash”. That’s offensive. It’s like calling your dog a “mutt” instead of a “genetically diverse fur-enhanced co-worker.”
Sorry, but it had to be said.
Anyway, my Giant yanks too hard, so I perform my fake choky sound, “Ah-HACK! Ah-HACK” that makes him feel guilty. But he only tightens his grip. I’m about to lodge a protest with his ankle when I spot the object of his concern: a proud coyote loping casually across the soccer field, regal of bearing, prideful of heritage.
Really makes one wonder. Where do you learn to lope?
Out of a sense of cross-species good will, I thought I’d follow him, maybe say “Hi”, share a pee. Instead, my Giant dragged me to the nearby gated dog park, shouting warnings to those inside that a coyote was loose, to be careful and watch their dogs!
I’ve never been so embarrassed.
Look, Larry, you Giants are worriers. But have faith that we dogs know how to choose our friends. We’re not puppies anymore. Well, except for the puppies.
Admittedly, some animals are wilder than others. And a few tend to be a bit slaughter-y. But dogs are cunning, canny and remarkably resourceful. Remember, our species name, Canis Familiaris, is Latin for “My harness has a pocket!” Scientists don’t just make those up!
I’m often invited to speak to wild animal herds, packs, and the occasional pod. Flattering, yes. But I’ll cancel an event if I find the clearing strewn with piles of fresh, bloody bones. Or there’s no bottled water. That’s just common sense.
Dogs are smart, brave, and proudly independent, Larry. So trust that Nanook knows what he’s doing and loosen your tight grip on that lifeline.
But don’t let go! It’s getting dark and kinda spooky out here. Also you haven’t given us dinner.