By Alice Liles
Alice’s note: This story first appeared in my blog The Bright Lights of Muleshoe on January 3, 2019. You never know what you might see in the middle of the night sometimes.
Porche Dog just had a fit a couple of weeks ago one night barking at something out in the pasture. This is not unusual, as she takes her guard dog duties very seriously and warns us of unwanted or unexpected visitors, but her insistence that something was out there this time made me decide to check things out.
I bundled up, grabbed our big flashlight, and went out to see what she might be barking at. As I shined the light out into the pasture and past a large elm tree right outside the fence, two bright greenish eyes flashed back at me! She had treed a fox during daylight hours one time, but I really expected this to be a stray cat. But of course I was curious as to what she had scared up the tree, so I walked closer, all the while keeping the light pointed at the subject in question. I stopped about fifteen feet away from the tree and could see what looked like a less than frightened fox staring back at me.
Bill happened to be gone for a few days, so I thought I would take a picture of the intruder and show him how Porche had bravely defended her territory. I went back into the house for the camera while Porche kept the animal at bay in the tree.
When I came back with the camera, I realized I only had two hands to balance a rather large camera and hold it steady for the picture while also keeping the flashlight pointed at the subject matter for a clear shot, no small feat, I was to discover.
But I managed to take several shots in hopes of getting at least one good one, considering the camera/flashlight balancing act. I stood there watching it a few minutes more, and the little animal looked calm and sleepy and in no hurry to come down out of the tree.
But then when I came inside and loaded the pictures on the computer and saw more closely what I had taken a picture of, it hit me.
This isn’t a fox; it’s a coyote!
I studied the picture, looked again and again, and concluded, yes, that’s a coyote. Who knew they could climb trees!
So the next day when I talked to Bill on the phone and told him about it, he assured me it wasn’t a coyote and said to show the picture to Derrel (Embry) when I take the dogs for their morning walk at the golf course and see what he says.
So I did. I took a picture of the picture with my phone and trotted over with it the next morning to see what Derrel would have to say. I said nothing as I showed him the picture. He took one look, and without hesitation, simply said, “Coyote.”
I knew it all along! I know they come up to the house because I have also caught the glow of their eyes when they are standing outside the fence on the ground when I have taken the flashlight out to investigate other barking tirades. And we hear their otherworldly yelping often, especially in the winter when the sounds carry on the cold air.
I have no idea how long he stayed in the tree. I didn’t go back out to check later that night and the dogs settled down after we came in. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see one in this tree, or any tree, again.
But it was an interesting sight that night.
I wonder if Wile E. Coyote ever climbed trees?
Thanks to Derrel Embry for helping me identify this little critter.