Having spent the better part of the last week recovering from a minor toe surgery I've literally been chomping at the bit to get out and DO something - anything! Thursday - day seven - brought my feet back into closed toe shoes. I can't describe the joy this gave me. Closed toe shoes meant I was one step closer to being able to do things with the horses and dogs. My poor animals had been consigned into the care of my parents. I couldn't even properly play with they dogs, they, unfortunately, are boisterous players. And sandals are a classic no-no around horses. With an open wound already on my foot, I really didn't want to create another...
Yesterday, quivering with excitement (me, the dogs, everyone!), I carefully adjusted my bandage, stretched out a sock, slid it ever so cautiously over my foot and made my first attempt at getting my foot into my hiking boot. I figured this would be the easiest to try with its big toe area and foot support. With some careful, careful wiggling it slid in. Tentatively I took some test steps. It wasn't the most comfortable feeling but if I was gentle and took it easy, manageable.
Pumped I grabbed my treat bag, leashes, dog whistle and dogs. We were going to the Grazing Reserve! I figured giving the dogs some freedom to run would make up for my slow pace and neglect the previous week. Taking my time I stutter stepped, having discovered the hard way if I stepped funny on the uneven ground my toe would catch on the boot causing a leaking sensation and increased ouch factor. We meandered our way through the field. Taking the time for frequent recall practice. (Ryder is amazing - Diva, well, we'll keep working...) We had began looping back towards the staging area, and I was cautiously navigating the huge and rugged hills, tying to stick to the cow paths. The dogs were streamed out in front, sniffing and running, having a grand time.
When I heard a bark behind me. Jolting I did a quick visual. One, two, three black bodies all in the opposite direction of the bark! Swinging around I looked behind me. There on the hill I had just descended stood a coyote. Barking and trotting towards me. Gulp.
Now, as a country kid and resident I've frequently heard the "Don't be scared of it, it's more scared of you." adage. May I say horse hockey!! I clapped my hands, blew my dog whistle in the most shrill annoying sound I could get it to produce, hollered, and gestured. What did the coyote do? Why, it came closer! Still barking. Picture this - at this point I'm still a good hilly mile from the staging area. It's me, my three dogs and an assertive coyote. Trying to look confident I sped up. Flinching every time my toe met an unyielding bunch of grass I began taking the most direct route away from the coyote. At this point the coyote starts to howl!
The hair stood up on my arms and neck. The dogs finally notice our companion and start to run towards it. Tessa leading the way barking ferociously. The coyote continues towards us, barking once again. Calling the dogs off I began to really gimp it. One leg doing a big stride, the other doing a hobble hop. I tried clapping and yelling, gesturing towards it. All of which earned me another howl. Keeping my dogs close, we kept a steady pace. Ryder, who is so sensitive to me, began doing his jump and look me in the face routine which means I need to chill out and slow down. He kept himself by my side until my wheezing stopped. He didn't leave until we lost sight of the coyote and I had relaxed.
That bloody coyote followed us for close to a 1/2 mile, gradually distancing itself as we continued. Because I was taking the most direct route away, I was off course for the staging area (having traveled West instead of South West.) Adding to the distance was my sudden need to stay on high ground. Nothing like feeling like prey to keep you from loosing the sight advantage. Every clump of grass became a vicious coyote out to get me!
Needless to say, I'm not feeling too keen on another relaxing hike with the dogs. Perhaps the dog park would be a better option...