I had been separated from my group.
I saw the animal with an untidy grey-buff coat, somewhat slender but imposing, wolf-sized, unquestionably moving in my direction.
The correct advice jumped through my thoughts: Don’t run. Stay with other people. If alone, wave your arms and look big. I glanced sideways to ascertain whether the other people I’d been with were within range. No.
I ran—a this-isn’t-really-running run. The coyote matched my pace, coming closer. There was no getting away. I thought I might well be chewed up momentarily. I imagined the wounds, the emergency room. With my whole being I would strive to turn the media to call for understanding and respect. All of this flashed through my mind in an instant.
Now, the coyote-wolf was at my hand. I averted my eyes, so as not to be a threat, and blanking out my own fear. My hand swept over the muzzle of the being in charge of my immediate fate. And the being paused, having felt my hand, and looked at me closely, and then moved off. I felt a surge of emotion—of awe.
Who would have the temerity to try to tame such an animal, to make such beings belong to us?
“I just saw a coyote-wolf hybrid.”
The person I told, some official in the area, asked, “Did you chase the animal off?”
“No. I ran. And that was no good, so I stopped. We got close enough to touch. I didn’t plan to—there is no reason for alarm.”
The official answered: So-and-so would have just loved to have seen that coyote-wolf. I left my story to be told and woke up, knowing. That is exactly how I’d behave. With that coyote-wolf, at least.
Image: Eastern coyote, from ForestWander.