Rhodesian Ridgebacks

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Coyotes & Coy-Dogs

Is That a Coyote?
by Diane Jacobsen

There was the one complaint that I had about male RRs when we had sheep. They would go out, chase and knock down both the coyotes and local stray dogs. If the dogs laid there, they did no more than mark them and turn their backs as if leaving something undesirable and beneath their dignity to mess with. If they fought, they were in for the long haul until the other dogs quit. Once they bellied up, they would do the same thing, mark and ignore.

Now the girls were another story. They were there for the business end and the ego trip was not on the agenda. If it ran, they caught it. If they caught it, it stayed until I caught up. They would keep it there dead or alive, did not seem to matter to them as long as it was there for me. The males would back them under those circumstances but if just two males, then kiss the losers good-bye. They would just run them off and the culprits would leave under whatever power they had left.

When I lived in Glen Ellen there was a pack of Coyote X Dogs that ran in the hills behind us. It started with a lone Coyote bitch that made the rounds with an assortment of male dogs and whelped a litter just down the side hill from our neighbors. They were so close, the neighbors could hear the pups suckling and playing but never found her den. Actually they never looked for it. I told them that they should get the trapper out and get the pups before the dam got to teaching them but they were brand new to the country living and of the "nature will balance" mindset.

As the pups grew, the dam moved them and they were not seen for about 6 or 7 months. Then after a rash of sheep kills, a neighbor was out walking with her beagle and assorted little dogs when she came across a deer kill that the Coy-dogs had pulled down. She went to look at it but was stopped by her hysterical Beagle, who was charging forward and retreating to her, then blocking her path. She heard a low growling from where the Beagle had been charging and was confronted with the whole pack of coy-dogs and dam. One was a GSD X, another obviously a Beagle X and the remaining 3 looked like Coyotes but were bigger in body mass than their dam. Her little snack dogs had left for home so it was her, the Coy-dogs and a 15" Beagle. 

She grabbed a long stick and waved it at them, which held them away momentarily but they were not scaired nor were they impressed. She backed away from the kill area very slowly and down the road towards her house, the only thing keeping the coy-dogs at bay was the Beagle and the stick. They followed her right up to her house and once inside with the brave snack sized crew barking threats from the safety of the house, she went for her gun.

By the time she got loaded and back to the front of the house, the GSD X was the only one visible and he sat on the ridge, just out of range and howled at her. She took her gun out on her walks after that and she said that she would occasionally catch a glimpse of one of them but never a clear shot. They would follow her on her walks, every day for about two weeks but never show themselves. Then they left the area.

That really presents an interesting conflict of hereditary instincts. The wariness and cunning of the coyote and the dogs natural instinct to be with humans. It could have gone either way. One might have been amiable to human contact and the next not wishing contact in a friendly manner. What it did produce was an animal that lacked the natural respect of humans that the Coyotes have and the wish to avoid them. The leader who was obviously the young male GSD X, was not impressed with people at all nor was he afraid. He would have willingly attacked our neighbor lady had she turned and run.

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