Wiley coyotes. No kidding.

Okay, so about the coyotes that live in the canyon in my backyard. Even though they are shameless gobblers of perfectly good house cats, I would nonetheless hereby like to offer the following reasons to admire the San Diego Backyard Canyon Coyote (wileyus eaturcateous), gleaned from countless hours spent sitting on my porch watching nature’s widescreen TV.

They’re gutsy. A Tyronasauraous Rex couldn’t scare these coyotes. I see them all the time calmly patrolling around people’s backyards, like they’re the property owners, and people are just an inconvenience they put up with because it saves them the trouble of having to raise their own cats. They prowl around people’s homes, assessing possibilities, noting future potentials, testing door locks, peering in windows, making taunting faces at pet dogs. Kicking over lawn furniture. Hotwiring cars. It’s just wrong.

They’re as smart as dogs. Or as dumb, or something. But not long ago, I looked up from a book I was reading on our patio right into the eyes of a coyote sitting in the brambly dirt maybe 60 feet away from me. His ears were fully perked up, his black, unblinking eyes were staring right at me; clearly, he’d been sitting there wondering whether or not he could take me. Having just lost a cat to possibly that dastardly dingo, I looked around for something to hurl at him. Finding nothing, I dashed into our apartment and grabbed a few tangerines. Back outside, I respotted the coyote—who hadn’t moved an inch—wound up, and let fly a bullet of a tangerine that, unfortunately, sailed about four feet over Psycho Lassie’s head. But instead of responding with, “Whoa! That blind guy’s throwing fruit at me! I better get outta here!” the creature turned and leapt—arching, bounding leaps—in the precise direction the fruit had flown. Near the spot where the tangerine hit ground the animal then stopped, legs locked, and began rather wildly looking about himself. Finding nothing, he then spun and bounded right back to where he’d started. He sat, and began starting at me again—this time with what I couldn’t help but notice amounted to near-manic anticipation.

He wanted me to play fetch with him!

I was just … I couldn’t believe it. For one, talk about adding insult to injury. First he, or one of his pals, eats my cat–and then he wants me to entertain him?

Determined to restore order to universe clearly gone insane, I took dead aim at Rover of the Wild’s head, and let fly another tangerine. Boing! Off he bounced again toward my woefully errant projectile. Losing it again in the thick dry grass, in moments my new freak pet was back at his starting point, wide-eyed and practically praying I’d throw something else for him to chase.

I almost hit him with the next one. Maybe if I’d calmed down a moment before I threw it.

And, of course, off he shot, having the most fun he’d probably ever had in his life. When, tangerineless, he returned, eager for another go, I went back inside my apartment.

I’m still trying to figure out what exactly happened there. And until I do, I’m not leaving this apartment.

Tomorrow: Besides being nervy and disturbingly dog-like, our canyon coyotes are also handsome, have strong family values, and deeply encourage people to go to church. Seriously.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Staceyjw

    Too funny, and so true.

    My "cottage" is on the backside of a 5 acre property in Normal Hts and has canyons- 2 local, 1 freeway- on 3 sides. The first week I lived here I woke up to the coyotes on my porch- at first didn't know what it was, but it was super creepy. They were checking out the new neighbors, probably seeing what new animals they could eat (I've got 6). I'd been warned by neighbors who told me the coyotes come up to eat all their chickens every so often, and get the occasional cat.

    I had lost a cat right when I moved in, and sadly chalked it up to another coyote dinner. Surprisingly, several months later there was my cat sitting in my driveway- dirty, but fat and alive. How he has managed to live out there for so long is baffling (one other cats has made it several years outside 24-7 too). They live in trees and in crevices.

    This whole property is unique and a little weird- secluded, past where the street ends (Copley ave @ E.Mountanview). It is all wild around the houses (no grass). Perfect coyote territory, and I hear them often.

    Another cat of mine got lost, but later found out in the neighborhood (eventually she did run off again, and hasn't been back yet, so they may have gotten her in the end). So I sympathise with cat owners here. Letting them out makes me crazy, but keeping them in makes THEM crazy…

    Anyway, just wanted to relay my (not funny like yours) SD coyotes stories. You would love my porch- it feels remote. Its super creepy to walk the dog at night- he won't go outside alone, I guess he knows what's lurking in the brush.

    Who would've thought the city could be so much like wild kingdom???? And I won't even start on the lizards, snakes, hawks and other critters!


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