I walk a lot in my quaint little neighborhood. I guess you could say we live in a valley (our neighborhood name even has the word Valley in it). It’s very hilly and woodsy and we live at sort of the bottom of the neighborhood valley. So walking in this neighborhood gives me quite the work-out as I have two good hills to climb (three if I choose a different route which I alternate on).
There are several other “walkers” in this neighborhood—neighbors who walk dogs and stroll children and others who like me are just out to get the exercise.
We see lots of wildlife here— deer, turkeys, hawks, owls, foxes, raccoons, opossums, snakes, turtles, etc. You get the picture.
I’ve come to know one elderly man up the street from me, Mr. M., who over the years has walked his many dogs. Most of his sweet pooches have passed on and he was down to one cute little black schnauzer mix named Max. I usually stop to chat with Mr. M. and to give little Max a pat on the head. Mr. M.’s a nice man who just underwent a shoulder replacement and the surgery was hard on him. He’s told me about the physical pain (he didn’t have to as I could see it in his eyes). He’s told me about his physical therapy and in all frankness has told me that if he had to do it over again he would probably choose NOT to undergo such a horrendous surgery at his age (upper 70s).
I was thinking one day that I was grateful that Max has been there for Mr. M. during what has been a difficult time for him. Max comforts him and gets him outside for those daily walks I’m sure.
But I was out walking one day last week and was passing Mr. M’s house. He was at the end of his driveway doing some trimming and he stopped me as I went by. He informed me that Max had escaped and gotten away from him a few days back and had run down in the little gully near the cul-de-sac next to where I live. He said Max took off running into the woods next to the gully (Max even at his geriatric age of almost 16 liked to chase squirrels and cats) and he could hear his barking for about an hour. And then Max’s barking went eerily and deadly silent. Mr. M. had looked for Max for days and saw no sight of him. He asked me to keep an eye out for him but then told me he was pretty sure a coyote had preyed upon Max. He ran a missing ad in our local News Chronicle that week offering a reward for Max’s return.
My husband and I kept our eyes peeled opened for Max but never saw even a sign of him.
I was out walking yesterday and was stopped by another neighbor up the road who told me that Mr. M. had found Max’s remains in the woods he had run into. I don’t know how he found Max as those woods are very dense. Poor Mr. M. I know he’s devastated. Poor Max. I’m afraid Mr. M’s fears about a coyote getting Max were spot-on.
My husband and another neighbor both spotted a coyote on our street recently. The neighbor told me that it must be very hungry to be brave enough to be wandering in broad daylight right in a residential neighborhood. The coyote crossed the road right in front of my husband’s truck and then hung around in somebody’s front yard for a while. There have been two other dogs I know of who have disappeared from our street in recent years, both geriatric, and who a coyote would most easily choose as prey. My two kitties are strictly indoor cats but I do let them out several times daily on our screened-in porch to get fresh air and to play. My husband recently put a stronger latch on the door to reinforce it some (mainly because little Nugget learned to open the door and was getting out— I finally caught him in the act, and though he was staying close to the porch we couldn’t have that). Who says cats aren’t smart? I find myself checking on the cats a little more frequently when they’re out on the porch because I know if a coyote REALLY wanted to, he could get through that screened porch with little to no effort and it makes me nervous.
I’ll sure miss seeing little Max on my walks and I’m so sad his life ended in the way it did. I’ll pray for Mr. M. during his time of grief.