Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hare-Raising Story

What I am about to write has nothing to do with border collies. But it is a "one for the book" story because my oneforthebook teammates have approved it as such.

These days I show up for work early. I start at 7:00 AM, which means I am walking up to the office at minutes before seven o'clock, and right now that means that grey area just before daylight. We call it the "predator hour" in Sheep-Ville, for good reasons, as that's when the coyote and other predators like to hunt.

I was walking up the sidewalk to my office building yesterday morning, not 30 yards from the door that I enter. Around our office complex there are lots of trees, hills, landscaping and other cover that makes it prime for wildlife. We often have deer, wild turkeys, and other animals sharing our parking lots and sidewalks with us, which makes for interesting views out the many windows. Yesterday a very large bunny ran excitedly across the sidewalk and almost smashed into my shins. The bunny had long ears and big feet and was in high gear. I thought to myself, "it's weird that bunny had no fear of me" and trudged on closer to the office building, my mind in the clouds.

A second or two later, I realized why our bunny was on the run. Behind it was a coyote at top speed with its ears forward and head up searching for the nearly lost prey. The coyote had taken about as much notice of me as the bunny had, i.e. none, as I walked almost up to the glass and steel office building by now. Finally the coyote saw me but didn't stop running. The coyote was not more than about 20 feet from me so I just stepped into its shoulder like we would step into a border collie to slightly push it off its sheep. The coyote swung out in a smooth away to me flank and continued on down the parking lot searching with its head up for the bunny (who by now had disappeared into the thick trees surrounding the parking lot).

I was not more than 10 feet from the door of the building at this point and wondering what excitement had crossed my path so quickly that was over with so fast.

My office mates and I have seen a coyote several early mornings trotting confidently across or down the streets of the office complex. There are some abandoned buildings, plenty of tree cover and bushes, and probably lots of habitat for all kinds of animals, small and larger. There are wine grapes to eat when in season and a small lake up the hill for water and other critters. There are all the elements for wildlife to exist. I would be thrilled if all of the coyotes in Sonoma County could congregate at this office complex and leave our sheep alone in other parts of the county. Wouldn't that be grand? Come to think of it, no one at my office has seen any of the wild turkeys lately...oh dear.

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