Yesterday I went for my first run of the summer… recovering from a foot injury, I decided to take the dog out for a run/walk on the area rail trail — the Paulinskil Trail. We have run it probably hundreds of times. It’s flat and pretty well maintained and has always been a nice place to run. I usually run the same area, close to home and a short drive. We pass some horses or bikers on most runs and my wild husky/shepherd mix has finally gotten calm to the point that she will sit on the side of the trail (with me holding her) and let them pass.
But yesterday we didn’t see anyone! After about a mile and half we turned around and headed back to the car. I don’t know why but at one point I turned around and looked behind us. To my surprise there was a large coyote on the trail following us. I yelled at it. Misty looked at it, but didn’t pull or bark or anything. With squirrels she usually nearly rips my arm off. But with coyote, she stayed close and didn’t pull at all. My yelling did nothing. It kept approaching.
The closest house was on the other side of the coyote. Behind me was a mile of trail with nothing.
What to do?
I looked around, picked up a long branch as I walked backwards, yelling at the coyote and yelling for help.
How far away? I would say 30 feet when I first saw it. But when you’re scared, accurate measurements are questionable.
My phone — had died the day before and was in the car.
I kept moving backwards, yelling — continuing to yell for help. And to yell at the coyote.
It yelped, howled. Was it calling more? Talking to us? What was its intention?
I always thought coyotes were pretty skittish, but this guy seemed to have no fear. Granted he/she wasn’t charging us, just following us.
I kept moving backwards, carrying my branch, yelling, terrified.
I slammed the branch down on the ground. It broke. Oh my goodness…. what now?
I found another, longer, but not as bulky. It was all I could think of.
We kept moving. He kept coming.
There’s a place on the trail where there’s a cutout. You have a wall on one side. On a run several years earlier I had heard something up on that wall but never saw it. When we got to the cutout, the coyote ran off the trail into the woods.
I turned and we RAN, suddenly my injured foot could run pretty fast. We got through the cutout and to the other side. Past it about 100 feet and turned around to see the coyote back on the trail behind us. Okay, he’s stalking us, but I had put some more distance between us.
I kept yelling.
Finally we emerged out of the woods to a property with a house. I yelled and yelled — “is anyone home? is anyone home?” A man came out.
I went to the house and soon the coyote came out of the woods about 500 feet from us in a field. It stood there, watching us.
Grateful, this kind man gave me and my dog a ride back to the car.
I learned — there are lots of coyotes in the area. They are getting bolder. I was lucky.
Did my dog protect me? Well, I think so. She kept circling me. She didn’t pull to get away. She didn’t challenge the coyote at all. She stuck with me. Listened and we made it out.
A day later, I remain shocked and very thankful.
Addendum September 11, 2014: I did some research on coyotes and their behavior. I posted on another blog and have received great information from the women at these two blogs: