People say that we are like our pets. My dog, Bridger, has been exploring these woods with me since puppyhood.  As a Vizsla, he is hard-wired for searching and finding.  It’s amazing to watch him grid-search a field, nose to the ground, at a full run.  We didn’t teach him this.  It’s in his DNA.

 

 

Bridger seems to enjoy exploring these woods as much as I do.  Over the years, he, too, has honed his observation skills.  On more than half of our trips out, he will suddenly reappear bounding out of gleefully the forest, prancing like a show horse, with some new toy in his mouth.  We have a collection of things he’s brought home: a Kong, several Flippy Floppy frisbees (these were probably Bridger’s, to begin with), a Chuck-It ball, a variety of stuffed animals, a tug toy, a Kong Squeez ball (It squeaks.  He’s manic about it), and a rubber snake.

 

 

Bridger was on a sunny trail winding through a prairie, not an unexpected place to find a basking snake. I rounded a bend and saw him shaking the snake vigorously in his mouth.  The way it was moving, I thought it was real!  I sharply called him away – to find, much to my relief, that it was a rubber snake.

 

 

 I surmise that these dog and child toys have spent some as coyote toys, which explains their location here in the woods.  Most of the toys are no longer whole.  They all have a lot of teeth marks in them.  One of my neighbors was lamenting the loss of her horses’ second fly mask.  She said that she just knew the coyotes were stealing them.  It turns out that Bridger had found some pieces of fabric the week before in the prairie behind her house.  I showed her a picture of the black material and mesh he’d found – yep, that was her fly mask.  Mischievous coyotes!Horse's Fly Mask

 I would love to watch the coyotes sneak off with these treasures from backyards under the cover of night.  And then to witness them play and frolic with the excitement a new toy evokes.  On a rare occasion, I’ve glimpsed this behavior in my own backyard – play bowing and hopping around with my dog.  Coyotes are not so different from the canines that share our homes.

 

 

 I wonder if it’s the smells on the toys that make them so easy for Bridger to find or if it’s the smell of the coyote’s activity – the pheromones of play – that draw him in.  At any rate, it’s definitely a favorite hobby and a well-developed skill of his.

 

 

 

 

In this way, we explore the woods together.  Each excited about the new things we find out here, reading the stories of the forest with our own, unique sensory skills.  In this simple pleasure, I am like my dog and he is like me.

Fabric scraps
Simple Joy