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Coyote Bait on a Stick

(AKA "Gus")

But first, a little background...

Last summer the neighbors – the ones who give me drinks (like the oh-so-yummy smoretini) – got a dog. Correction, they SAVED a dog. You know, one of those rescue-type deals where everyone feels warm and fuzzy inside for not having purchased their canine companion from a nasty breeder (like I did).

So this snotty little Mister Warm & Fuzzy came into the neighborhood. No, for real, he was snotty – he had rabies or something. Just kidding, it was kennel cough. Either way, he was quarantined for a while. Anyway, so he's a black cairn terrier mix. You know, like Toto! Oh, and guess what? That was his name.

Well, of course most NORMAL people (read: more creative than neanderthals) don't appreciate dog names that are cliché. So the neighbors – let's call them "Dick and Jane" – decided to rename him "Gus." Because, honestly, who doesn't love a little shaggy dog with an old man's name?

(I forget what "Gus" is short for...I think originally it was August but they changed that. For some reason I find myself listening to Loreena McKennitt while I write so it has to do with something Scottish...)

I think Zada assumed he – Gus – would be just like our other small-dog neighbor (Hoy) who's scared of bigger dogs. Not so...this newcomer small dog has SASS. And proverbial balls the size of Kansas. He sees Z running towards him – a 70-pound bundle of lean muscle, sinew and wolf-like stance – and what does he do? Why, stands his ground and jumps up on her to say "hello!" when she gets close, of course!

Needless to say, she was a bit stymied. But, since that first meeting they've become fast friends...our "yappy hours" are now somewhat daily occurrences and I know both dogs love running around together. Z (ever the Fetching Queen) gets a little frustrated when Gus (a normal terror...I mean, terrier) doesn't play by the rules and steals her ball or stick and won't bring it back.

He's so concerned with the having of and the CHEWING of the stick that when I've tried to get it away from him he'll hang onto it even if I lift it into the air...dangling, suspended from only his teeth by a death grip that could put a bulldog to shame. (Pssssst: that's the "on-a-stick reference :) Also, when Z's running around with HER stick, Gus will invariably launch himself at it and in spite of her spinning efforts will acquire the tip of it and wind up chewing vigorously on his end while she resigns herself to holding it at perfect terror – I mean terrier – height for him.

Okay. So on to the meat and potatoes of this random story: Gus has become coyote bait. Literally.

What? We live in St. Paul, Minnesota. "How on EARTH could a cairn terrier mix come into contact with a coyote?" you ask. Simple. It's Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom behind Dick and Jane's town home (they have The Corner Lot next to The Woods). They've got it all: squirrels, song birds of all varieties, rabbits, ducks, deer, turkeys and recently...a coyote.

No lie. This coyote has been sighted by several people in our town home complex...but never before (since I've lived here, anyway) has the Canis latrans been spotted so frequently or so CLOSE to Dick and Jane's house as in the past couple of months.

Last week I was getting ready to go to work and Zada barked – yes, barked! – out the window. I assumed Gus was out and she wanted to join him, but nevertheless I looked out the window and to my utter surprise saw a coyote standing plain as day on the edge of the woods across the road. Right THERE. In broad daylight.

It seems our very own Wile E. has formed some sort of hunting ground/territory that encompasses our small patch of St. Paul and he likes to make his daily rounds. Of course, now that Dick and Jane have Gus this poses somewhat of a problem. Kind of like a fast-food problem.

See, they like to tie Gus outside on his tie-out so he can partake of the outdoors and get some fresh air. Nowadays this is sort of worrisome to them since, you know, there's a coyote around and according to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge): "Urban populations of coyotes have been known to actively hunt cats, and to leap shorter fences to take small dogs. In particularly bold urban packs, coyotes have also been reported to shadow human joggers or larger dogs, and even to take small dogs while the dog is still on a leash."


So they've been keeping a close eye on Gussy while he's staked out but this evening at yappy hour Jane told me a scary story. This morning while Gus was tied out, Jane heard him barking. Not his normal, happy-go-lucky yapping, either. She said this was a "warning bark." She rushed to the patio door and saw her little Toto – sorry, GUS – standing at the edge of their patio, barking madly at a coyote that was less than 20 feet away. Not only was said coyote that close; he was slouching in for a little snack...Gus.

My brave Roadrunner whipped open the patio door and clapped her hands frantically, which sent Wile E. shooting off into the cover of the woods...Gus was safe.

Scarily, this is a real threat to little Gussy (aka Coyote Bait on a Stick). I'm not a small-dog person but damn, he is CUTE and he's so chock-full of attitude and energy you have to love him. When I told the story to Clint, he said maybe Dick and Jane should call someone about "re-locating" the coyote. I think he's right. At this point, it's not cool to see a wild canine that close...namely when it's stalking your pooch. Plus, we don't really want to put our names on the waiting list at the Great Minnesota Get-Together for a new creation.

Seriously, and all jesting aside, I think it's time for Mr. Coyote to find a new home. I mean, how can I stand thinking my favorite furry neighbor could come to harm???