Last Thursday evening, just as it was getting dark, Timothy Tranter was outside with his nine-year-old dog Nikita.
He was behind his house on Field Road — he lives in what was once the principal’s house of the former Virgil public school —and she was around the corner of the house, in the driveway, when he heard a commotion. He ran around to see what was happening, and discovered Nikita screaming. A coyote had her gripped tight between his teeth.
“I picked up a chair and threw it at him — I didn’t know what else to do. He dropped her and just sauntered off across the street. He wasn’t scared of me at all.”
He has seen a coyote in the area before, and has since heard several stories from his neighbours who have seen the same coyote wandering around the residential neighbourhood.
“It seems everyone has a story about this one coyote,” he says. “Everyone seems to know about it. I had to find out about it the hard way. But the more I talk to people, the more I learn about coyotes.”
Nikita is just a “wee dog,” a 10-pound rat terrier, and is “totally lucky to be alive,” he says.
“If I’d been somewhere else, just a little further away, she would have been gone when I got there.”
There is no fencing around his home, and he and Nikita walk everywhere together. On the sidewalk she’s on a leash, but when they take a stroll through nearby fields and orchards, she is not.
“This caught me completely by surprise,” he says. “Things are going to change for me for sure. I guess I was too trusting. I didn’t think they’d come right up my driveway.”
He says with COVID, “so many people have new dogs and puppies. I’ve seen many of them around, going for walks. People have to be aware of how close the coyotes are coming to our homes.”
Nikita was fortunate that the coyote got hold of her by her back end, causing some puncture wounds, but not to any organs. She was still in shock when he took her to the veterinarian, who gave her antibiotics to be sure her wounds won’t be infected.
“I’m happy she’s going to make it,” he says. “I’m just hoping she heals well.”
In just a few days, he added, “she seems to be doing better than me. I can still hear her screaming. But dogs are resilient. She seems pretty good.”
Tranter says he understands coyotes are being displaced as more subdivisions are built, but he was still surprised at how tame this one seemed. “He wasn’t one bit scared of me.”
Nikita might be small, he added, but she thinks she’s fierce, guarding her property when other neighbours and dogs walk by. “She’s a little 10-pound watch dog.”
He’s called the town to see if anything can be done about it, but he is learning that isn’t likely to happen.
He will be watching carefully over Nikita in the future, and urges others in the area with small dogs or cats to do the same.
The provincial ministry of natural resources says since coyotes are opportunistic feeders, small pets such as dogs and cats may be seen as prey. “It is advised to watch them carefully if your dog is in the backyard, and don’t allow cats to wander the neighbourhood.”
Fact sheets entitled
Coyote Proofing Your Property, Encounters with Coyotes and Protecting Your Property can be found at ontario.ca