Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Re: Ginger bitten by a coyote

After I cleaned Ginger’s wound I saw that there had been a puncture; which continued to ooze; so I took her back to the vet at 16:30. It had been two years since Ginger had a physical; so the vet did all her usual things as well as check the bite. The vet felt her all over and said “perfect.” I don’t know if one can tell from the photos but Ginger is in excellent condition. And her weight was svelte 98.3 pounds.

The vet gave me some Cephalexin. I’m to give ginger 1000mg twice a day. One of the possible side effects is vomiting; which Ginger did on the front lawn this morning. I don’t know if the capsules were part of that or not. The vet didn’t think the coyote bite was serious but inasmuch as one tooth did puncture her; not only must Ginger take the antibiotic for 7 days but I must apply a warm compress twice a day for from “three to five days” in order to allow any foreign matter to ooze out.

While this event was unsettling, I long ago considered it as a possibility. In considering other dog breeds, at the top of my list was always a dog’s ability to handle itself against feral dogs and coyotes. Trooper, my previous Ridgeback was my template. He did all things well in those circumstances. Ginger was our next Ridgeback after Trooper. She did not live up to Trooper’s standard; so I contacted the breeder and she sent me Sage as Ginger’s “bodyguard.” Obviously Sage didn’t do her job yesterday, but we have been around coyotes so much lately that Sage probably no longer considered them a threat – if she ever did. She really isn’t much of a body-guard.

All yesterday added to my (our) understanding of River coyotes is that on some occasions, they will not run from the girls but will stand their ground. I strongly suspect that this coyote had pups in the area. Can we avoid being bitten in the future? I think so. She has been howling whenever we got too close for the past two or three weeks; so in the future we’ll take that howl as a warning to veer away from wherever she is. Will she come after us to attack us (or Ginger) again? I don’t think so. She herded us out of her area as she once did my son’s Airedale Winston.

I say “she” as though it was the same coyote, and I think if could have been. Winston was born 5-11-2003 and was three years old when he had the coyote encounter. Winston wasn’t bitten but he was “herded” away from something. Winston did the wise thing and allowed himself to be herded. Ginger’s desire to play with the coyote was not so wise.

We have had an unusually wet winter and spring; which has meant that we have seen many more rabbits than usual; which might very well mean that many more coyotes will come into our area to hunt the rabbits. I can’t be sure, but I suspect that if we keep away from the area she howls in then we will be okay.

Will I decide to give up on the river and leave it to the coyotes? No, I don’t consider this bite to be anything unanticipated. Ginger was not seriously hurt and hopefully she will be more cautious around coyotes in the future. I have a little Walther P22 hand gun that I may carry for a while and shoot to (hopefully) frighten the coyote away if need be, but I doubt that I will have to use it. Notice in the photos that the coyote stayed well away from me. She was herding us away not trying to attack us again, and she was much further from us than she was from Winston back in 2006 – if it was the same coyote.

While this incidence isn’t going to change anything insofar as Ginger, Sage and I are concerned it may seal Duffy’s future. Susan was leaning toward letting him go with us to the river after foxtail season is over, but the idea of a coyote near Duffy is a bit spooky. Logically there is no reason for that to happen inasmuch as the river has an abundance of rabbits nowadays, but Duffy weighed 17.8 pounds the last time Susan weighed him; so Susan may just keep him home indefinitely.

Well, perhaps another thing has changed. I’ve begun to wonder if I need to get a guard-dog for both Ginger and Sage. There is a breeder up in the mountains north of us who breeds “working Airedales” which he uses for hunting game of all sorts. My son once described what would be expected of such an Airedale at the river, and the breeder thought one of his Airedales would be perfect. Ginger and Sage (at ages 8 and 6 respectively) are both in excellent physical condition, but their conditioning will wane as they get older. Perhaps it is time to get them a body-guard.

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