Sunday dawned beautifully. A tinge of humidity inspired me to get the morning constitutional under out belts early. Purse, water bottle, cleanup bags, check. Loaded Oakley into the car and drove to the forest preserve with a long road that skirts its unpopulated west side.

We walked through the stand of oaks and maples into the wide open prairie restoration where the road traces long lazy curves across the land. Oakley sniffed, left messages for other dogs. I thought of nothing in particular and everything in general under the high pristine blue sky.

Oakley froze suddenly, and I felt watched. I looked around to see if another early morning was taking up our rear. No, it wasn’t. A young coyote stood about fifty feet behind us. He regarded us with curiosity.

I would have done the same; however, Oakley took his protective stance in front of me and shot daggers at the coyote with his eyes the way that all canids do when they are ready to rumble. Great. I put myself between them to distract Oaks, but he wasn’t having it.

What did I have to defend us? My purse with the water bottle hanging off the strap on the left; a well-filled cleanup bag and leash attached to 75 pounds of muscle in the right. I picked up some reasonable-sized rocks, escalating myself into a sight worthy of a slot on “America’s Got Talent.”

Coyote continued to stare at us from a respectful distance. Then he took a step forward.

“You leave us alone, we leave you alone.   You try to hurt us, I hurt you. Understand?”

I swear he shrugged at me like a human adolescent saying “whatever” before rambling off into the bush.

Admittedly, I was shaken. Coyotes have had their local habitat disrupted by subdivisions planned for the convenience of humans with no regard for nature. However, one too many stories of dogs getting mauled by their wild cousins do send a few chills down the spine in a face to face encounter. 

I did feel remorse for what I said, but I was in no mood to become a statistic.