The desert hones our awareness of life’s perils and how quickly those dear to us can disappear. One morning last month in the Nevada high desert, while our dogs explored within sight, my husband poured spring water, spooned French Roast and set a pot on a Coleman burner. When the coffee was ready I contentedly sipped the creamy bitterish liquid as he straightened to scan the horizon. Suddenly taut, he shaded his eyes. “What’s that?” Moments later I saw them, too: pert, gray, tall-eared, sleek–in an easy run. One coyote advanced to flank our dogs while the other hung back, preparing to attack–or drive our hounds over the rise, where a pack awaited. We called and our hounds, not always obedient, hastened to us.
Not a little ironically our adopted hounds were bred for scent and sight; yet when we led them to the car that morning and locked them safely inside, they were both still oblivious to the coyotes.
A few days after this incident we returned home to California where I performed an internet search on coyotes and read this, published by Online Nevada Encylopedia:
Prior to the arrival of European people in North America, coyotes were found only in the central part of the United States and in northern Mexico. However, today coyotes are found from Alaska to Costa Rica and from coast to coast in the United States. The main reason for this population expansion is that coyotes are extremely adaptable and can become accustomed to almost any habitat type. They even have the ability to live in association with humans and can inhabit urban environments such as Las Vegas and Reno. The coyote is now one of the most successful and widely distributed predators in North America.
Sipping my coffee (wishing it were trail coffee,) with the hounds warm and fed at my feet, I pondered the implications of the information in the context of our plans to relocate to the desert. God willing, our hounds–also bred for speed and endurance–will demonstrate adaptability too.