I had taken Thurman (Thurman!) on a long walk that began before sunset and ended up lasting until that in-between, electric blue period when the sun is down but it’s still light out. And on this particular block of my neighborhood, I spotted a single, unattended dog sitting in the middle of the sidewalk a few houses down. It was staring at us, and soon enough Thurman was back staring at it.
Now this is not an unusual occurrence in Atwater Village. I think it’s been five times now that I’ve come across someone’s dog walking leashless and carefree, and it’s been five times that I’ve had to contact and ask, “Hi, do you know where your dog is?” And since this particular dog was large and unusual-looking—at least as far as what I could see at a distance, without my glasses on and with the evening getting darker—I figured somebody, somewhere would probably want it back. So I took a few steps toward it (and Thurman did too, because that’s how leashed life goes), and this stranger dog took an equal number of steps away, then sat back down and resumed staring at me. This happened again and again, and I wondered if it thought I was playing a game. I whistled, and the dog only reacted by perking up its ears. I called and it just looked at me.
So I started walking slowly toward it, and it kept moving slowly away, keeping the distance between us more or less even until it reached the point where the dog tired of this game and trotted away speedily, making a righthand turn at the corner. I wondered if I could catch up to it before it got away for good, and so I hurried behind it, ending up at the corner just in time for a mom-looking lady in jogging clothes to meet me. She looked horrified. “Oh my god, did you see that coyote? It walked right past me like I wasn’t even there!”
So yeah, it wasn’t a stray dog missed by its owner. It was a coyote. It was walking itself. And while I wasn’t terrified of the coyote the way this woman was—coyotes, after all, usually don’t bother humans, and Thurman is bigger than the biggest coyote I have ever seen—I feel like it was worth noting how little distance there is, practically speaking, between a poor, little lost doggie who needs to be taken home and a coyote who already is home and is wondering what you’re doing and why your dog is on a leash.
There is probably a moral or at least a metaphor in this somewhere.