Sheep and Wolves, Dogs and Coyotes

The Wild Side of Yellowstone
Stuck in Customs / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Last November I let our dogs out before bed.  On this night, one dog returned immediately, and all alone. Since this dog is the one who likes to tarry, it struck me as strange.

When I stepped out on our deck, I heard an eerie, strangled cry. My husband and I grabbed flashlights and ran outside. By the time we got to the fence that divides our yard from the woods behind us, the missing dog came limping towards us.

We knew he’d tangled with something, and as the night wore on we realized his injuries were severe. Thanks to the aid of the emergency vet clinic, today Digory is alive and well. His fur covers his scars. He’s never been an energetic dog, but he snuggles and wags his tail and does all the endearing things he did before, mainly bringing our family joy.

Once his fur was shaved and we could examine the bruises, it appeared that a coyote was the culprit. We assume the coyote was in the process of dragging him into the woods when we got there. It’s likely our approach spooked it enough to drop the dog and run away. And who knows, hearing our voices may have given Digory the focus to limp out to us, rather than collapsing in the woods in shock.

I felt quite guilty for a couple of weeks after that. I had heard there were coyotes in our neighborhood, but assumed they’d stay in the woods. For reasons that seem ridiculously naïve now, I never thought they would come close enough to the house to get our dogs. Why would they bother with a 15-pound dachshund when the neighborhood is thick with squirrels and rabbits?

I’m no longer so foolish. We no longer let our out alone after dark. I know the danger, and I know they need our protection.

But I’ve also grown paranoid. One night I was out with the dogs when I heard an animal snorting about 20 yards away. I went tearing through the yard, broomstick in hand, only to discover about six deer (who soon ran away from the crazed, stick-wielding woman).

Coyotes are a lot like wolves. Scripture likens false teachers to wolves, and warns shepherds to be on guard. For a church leader to ignore such a clear warning in Scripture is foolish. But like all humans, our leaders make mistakes. Once a leader has seen how much damage a false teacher can cause (especially if they feel they were too lax), they may react too harshly to someone who actually posed no threat.

The woods behind us was cleared this winter to make way for new construction. I was starting to relax a little. Surely the coyotes are gone now. Then a friend who lives on the other side of the cleared woods warned me that there are two foxes in the area. I had heard their cries, but assumed it was a barn owl. The cries are actually similar, but I now know the difference. Foxes are smaller than coyotes, and I don’t think one would want to take on one of my dogs, but I’ve been wrong before.


  1. says

    It is so important to discern leaders these days. With my second marriage (I was a widow), I entered a Reformed Presbyterian church and learned to discern by God’s Word and by seeking counsel of others. Before that my evangelicalism let me be so lax.

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