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 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.