The difference between dogs & coyotes Part III

This is more of an anecdote than a comparison post, but it illustrates Charlie perfectly, and gives a great example of the coyote mind.

Those who’ve read my book may remember Mark, otherwise known as “Moustache.”  He’s back in town for the season and comes by often, sometimes stopping to visit, sometimes just driving by on his way to Mike’s.  It took about two weeks of consistent back-and-forth travel for Charlie to get accustomed to Mark’s diesel truck, but Charlie added it to his mental list of Safe & Known Vehicles (which consists of my truck, Mike’s trucks, and now Mark’s).  When Mark drives up and Charlie is outside, Charlie runs along the fence beside him, or sits on the slope of a hill calmly watching him go by as Mark talks to him out his window.

However.  Sometimes Mark has a passenger.  It could be his wife, or it could be one of the hunters he is guiding.  Each and every time Mark drives by with a passenger in his truck, Charlie hides himself.  Mark has told his companions, “there’s a coyote in there,” and apparently everyone thinks he’s a liar.  All they see is Chloe running towards them, focused and barking – she has proved herself to be a seriously awesome watchdog – and no sign of Charlie whatsoever.  No ears poking up behind a sagebrush, no tail disappearing behind a hill.

This became a fascinating study for Mark, who has trained and worked with dogs his entire life.  He was blown away by Charlie’s awareness and acute perception, by his human-esque calculations, by a behavior pattern that displayed cognition and discrimination the likes of which he had never seen or heard of with any dog.

He began planning ahead to observe Charlie observing him, and realized that the moment his truck came into view of Charlie’s pasture area, it took Charlie a millisecond to check out what was going on in the front seat.  If he just sees Mark through the window, Charlie runs up to meet him.  If he sees two forms, he immediately hides himself and flattens out, always watching but never seen, until they pass by.

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