Ask a Terrier: Budleigh Takes a Walk on the Wild Side

Hi Budleigh!

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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dear Larry,

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.

<b>Highly perceptive dogs can sense the subtlest clues of wildlife in their backyard.</b>
Highly perceptive dogs can sense the subtlest clues of wildlife in their backyard.
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.


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8 thoughts on “Ask a Terrier: Budleigh Takes a Walk on the Wild Side

  1. Our back yard abuts a large field and is separated by a fence. My nine pound dog goes running out there, barking what’s what at some unseen creature. I’m probably a minority here, but I love spotting coyotes. They get lots to eat in that field, so I don’t have a knee-jerk reaction of “it’s going to eat my dog!” especially when it’s on the other side of a fence. I’m with Nanook.

    1. Like you, Suzette, I don’t really worry that a coyote will eat my dogs. Budleigh’s a terrier, so usually carries a hidden switchblade. And although Brisby is less aggressive, he has never missed a meal. Nor some of Budleigh’s meals. Nor food scraps that fall from anywhere. The coyote that carried him off would suffer a muscle pull at best. More likely a double hernia. dj

  2. Switchblade, hmm… Budleigh probably gets patted down at every airport! But seriously, where DO you learn to lope? Great advice, Budleigh.

    1. Budleigh says:

      Of course I get patted down, Janine. Who wouldn’t want to pat me? I’m like a therapy dog, as long as it’s all about me.

      As for loping, that’s a hard skill. Frankly, I’ve barely mastered “cavort”.

      Best, Budleigh

  3. Budleigh, Budleigh, Budleigh. I can assure you that the coyote admires you. As in, thinks you look like a great dinner. I’m bigger than you are, weighing in at 50 lbs, at least if they weigh me before I drop a poop. And, I’m a very well coordinated fellow, if you don’t mind me saying so, myself. And, I can jump high with the springs on my feet (who put them there, I do not know). But, I just saw a coyote jump a 6′ fence without even a running start. I’m not sure if the lifeline is for you or your giant, but I suggest you stay way from Wylie. Your buddy in the Holy Order of Squeaky Balls, Jake

    1. Budleigh says:

      I’ve seen coyotes leap 6-foot fences too, Jake. But I think they need special software. Or an app. Maybe WiFi. I don’t know what those are, but my Yelly Giant says they can do anything with computers. Was your coyote carrying a laptop?


  4. Learning the meaning of Canis Familiaris might change my life, Budleigh. Those scientists are even smarter than I thought they were! What a great perspective on the dangers we giants get all worked up about. Do you think when we were sitting around our back yard fire pit with our dog, and heard coyotes howling all around us, we needed to be worried? She was an old dog and I’m no spring chicken.

    1. Budleigh says:

      There was no reason to worry, Molly. The backyard fire pit represents what separates the wild coyote from the refined canine – that being toasted marshmallows. Dogs love them ‘cause they’re gooey and stick to the paws for days, providing an ongoing source of nutrition. Coyote’s can’t grasp the appeal of any treat so lacking in blood and viscera.

      Did I use that word right, viscera? I think it means “snackies”.


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