Part of me is saying “Really? That’s your subject for today’s Post?”, and part of me is saying “Why not? It’s a good story!
To set the scene: The Town of Oakville developed around the mouth of a creek (river), which was typical of many settlements a few hundred years ago. As the town expanded, more of the creek became part of suburbia, and we are fortunate to be within easy walking distance of “our” creek!
From what I understand, a lot of natural wildlife within the urban area will gravitate towards the creek… which makes a lot of sense, considering the ready supply of water and a variety of potential food sources. We know that rodents will “run the creek”, and I once came face to face with a deer. There is apparently an urban fox population sharing our town with us and, more importantly to today’s Post, a large coyote population. We also have our fair share of large aerial predators, but they are of no relevance to this story!
A number of Ray’s walks will include at least some portion close to the creek (which could well be 80-100ft below us). We have noticed, relatively recently, that Ray can go rather “strange” when close to the creek. Whereas he usually has his nose to the ground and obviously checking out scents, he will generally maintain our direction of travel. When he goes “strange”, his nose is skimming the ground, but I am not sure whether he knows that we are still there! He also tries to follow scents that take him in circles, backwards, and often he becomes very focused in a very limited area.
He is obviously scenting something which is causing great interest. In my earlier mentioned encounter with a deer, Ray was with me and just seemed to be in awe at the size of it. There were no indicators of aggression or fear from Ray.
I am leaning towards coyote scents, simply because their population here is apparently far greater than the foxes, and they are two animals that, as far as we know, Ray has never encountered.
Another factor important to this story is our Town’s habit of protecting the lower foot or so of young tree trunks (presumably from damage from the nylon cords from trimmers) with large plastic piping. There would be probably be a 2″-3″ space between the trunk and the inside of the pipe. (I am up to over 400 words and have not even started the story!)
Yesterday, we took Ray out on his walk and decided to incorporate some shopping. We decided to detour back along a road that runs parallel (and high above) the creek. There is a point where the road turns and offers the first view of the creek, and on that turn is a small park area with quite a few young trees.
Ray will always go off the sidewalk and onto the grass in the park area because he finds interesting scents there, and decides to leave a few himself! He had been sniffing around for a few minutes when he went “strange”! He suddenly became seriously focused on a scent and did numerous “figure eight” patterns as he tracked it around. As coyotes are pack animals, I would guess that perhaps a few were up in that park area the previous night.
We just patiently waited for him to decide to move on, and move on he did… but over to a young tree. He again became very focused, and was clearly analyzing the ground around the tree when he suddenly stopped and raised his left back leg over the top of the protective plastic pipe. He was a little unsteady at first, perhaps due to the height, but it looked as if he decided to rest his left back foot on the top of the pipe to stabilize himself.
My initial reaction was “Is he really trying to pee inside that pipe?” That theory was quickly destroyed when I saw poop falling to the ground! This poses some interesting questions:
Was he trying to poop inside the pipe just to give me a challenge? Did he intend to pee, but changed his mind? Why would he poop from a peeing position?
There are no answers of course, but… Really?