Into the Wild (Mama Bear Style)

Saturday night we had quite the scare over here in the Griffith Park section of Los Feliz.

Kristen and I went over to a friends house for a little b-day get together and game night. We got home around 1-1:30. I of course, geared up for a quick puppy walk before bed. I leashed up little Whitney and Mitchel and we headed outside to take a stroll by the moonlight.

Usually, when I take them out at night, I walk them up the street a little bit to an open field adjacent to the Griffith Park entrance. The reason I go there is #1, they like to go to the bathroom over there and #2 there is enough lighting over there to see what I’m doing... and to see what the puppies are doing. It’s really hard to pick up poop for proper disposal when I cant see the poop. So we often walk over to that open field.

The problem with that field is that it’s adjacent to a small wooded area thats basically an easement between the park and another neighborhood about 200-300 yards up a hill, to the north of this field. It's no man's land. Coyotes live there.

We’ve heard the Coyotes before. They wail and whine every once in awhile. Sometimes the sound of a passing police car will incite a “call-and-repeat.” Sometimes we can hear what sounds like a blood thirsty mele. We’ll hear those sounds and can only imagine who’s cat or dog just got snatched by the pack. We’ve SEEN those Coyotes before. We’ve spotted one or two of them from our patio as they run across the street, in the dark, from one of the park to the other. One time I was walking the pups across that field and I had this strange feeling that we were being watched. While the field has adequate lighting, the wooded easement area does not. Its very dark over there on the edge of this park with the exception of a few stray rays of street and moon light. So we walked across, the puppies pooped. I picked everything up and looked back into the darkness and saw the outline of a big animal, with big pointy ears, just standing there. Still as the night. Looking right at us. It was eery, but I wasn’t really that worried. Coyotes aren’t really going to mess with people, and as long as the puppies are walking right next to me, we are okay. I’m like the Mama bears with her cubs.

I mean, look, I’m not out there to test the theory and taunt Mother Nature, but it really is the best place to walk them at night and like I said, I’m not that worried about the Coyotes messing with us.

So, Saturday night. I’m walking across the field with Whitney and Mitchell and its now about 2AM. Much later than their usual night cap. Mitchell pooped right away but Whitney was taking her time. I was about to give up on her and just accept the fact that she didnt have to go. We headed back towards the apartment building. Just as we reached the edge where the grass meets the sidewalk, she decides to let it ride. A couple of firm little nuggets I might add. I whip out my little baggie and scoop the poop.
Now that we’ve taken care of business, I just have to drop the rock in the nearest garbage can. The problem with this particular spot is... its not close to any garbage cans. The closest receptacle is back on the other side of the field. To drop the rock in there would mean we’d have to back-track. At this point I’m thinking I’d rather back track a tiny bit than carry a hot bag of poop all the way to our building. So we head in that direction.

One of the annoying things that Whitney and Mitchell tend to do is they will start rough housing while we’re walking. The rough housing turns into a wrestling match which turns back to rough-housing eventually into a full-on demolition derby. All while I’m standing there holding on for dear life. They fly back and forth. get twisted up in a scrum. Sometimes its like I’m not even there. These two go at it full force for 5-10 minutes sometimes.

So on this particular night, at this particular moment, Whitney’s feeling good, light and happy. She wants to play. Let the chaos commence. Back and Forth. Forth and Back. Puppies bodies coming and going from all sides. All I want to do is get us over to the garbage can. CLOSE to the garbage can, so I can drop the rock. Dispose of these plastic-wrapped, firm little nuggets that are burning a hole in my hand.

I’m trying to walk across the field, keep a tight grip on the pups... and the poop.. keep an eye out for the coyotes and then suddenly, Mitchell finds himself under my footstep.

Its one of those things that I see develop in slow motion but can’t avert. My foot comes down and clips the poor little guy. I don’t know if I stepped on his tail or his paw, but I got him, and I got him good. He lets out a yelp and a wail and then a series of whimpers that echo through the park, down the street... and into the dark.

I fell to the ground. I’m out there walking my puppies at 2AM in an open field and I’m down. I tried to adjust my landing foot to avoid stepping on Mitchell. In doing that, I lost my balance and toppled over. Still holding on for dear life... to each leash.... to the bag of hot diggity dookies... all I want to do is just throw... that shit.... away.

So I’m down on my knees and all I’m trying to do now is console Mitchell. Whitney is fine. She is just looking at the both of us. I pull Mitchell closer and pet him for a few seconds. I’m telling him its gonna be okay while he curls up under me as if to say he’s sorry for getting under my feet. A few more seconds of petting and emotional support and suddenly... I get that feeling again...

I shoot to an upright position, turn around to face the dark edge of the woods and here they come. The hair stands up on my night. My heart jumps up into my throat. Three full sized Coyotes emerge from the easement and they are running full speed. Makes perfect sense actually, they hear Mitchell squeal and whimper and to them it sounds like a kill. NO WAY they’re missing out on THAT action. What the F%%% am I gonna do? Can’t say I’ve ever been in this position before... and remember... it’s 2AM... there is NOBODY out here. Nobody but Whitney, Mitchell and Me.

So I take it to em Mama bear style. I show my teeth and I scream. I’m waving my arms and I’m stomping my feet. Now I’m looking like Ray Lewis, doing my warrior dance. I’m shouting and growling, jumping around. I’m pitching a fit. Putting on a show.

Whatever I’m doing, it works. All 3 Coyotes go from full stride to full stop. Like dead in their tracks STOP. Now we’re all standing there... about 100 feet apart.... Mitchell and Whitney perring at these beasts from behind me... and we’re all staring each other down. I look around for a rock to throw and there’s nothing. What we have here.... is good old fashioned stand off... at 2AM... in an empty park.... 500 yards from our apartment. I’m still feeling a little threatened. The Coyotes have stopped but they ain’t going anywhere. They’re hungry and they answered the call. So I give them one more blast of Ray-Lewis-Mama-Bear and the Coyotes turn and start to walk away... looking at me like I’M the crazy one.

Hey... crazy works... I highly recommend it. Speaks a language that transcends race, gender and species.

So the Coyotes disappear into the darkness, the puppies are freaked out and my heart is pounding. I don’t know if the puppies are more freaked out by the pack of wild, hungry animals coming to EAT them... or my demonstration of disturbing behavior. A masterful defense if I do say so myself.

Okay, now that THAT’S over with, we back out of there.... nice and slow. Once again, we reach the sidewalk. I can see the entrance to our building from here. All I want to do is get there, go inside and curl up under the bed. I’ve still got the puppies. I’ve still got the POOP. I’m scouring the area, looking for any signs of trouble... and suddenly... I get that feeling again....

Just when I thought it was safe to keep walking WOOSH! I’m SERIOUSLY thinking another pack of wild dogs have descended upon us from the other direction. For a second there I think I’m done. I think we are all done.

WOOSH! Like thieves in the night... .A pack of cyclists enter frame....  like its no big deal. An ARMY of hipsters on ten speeds and fixed-gear bikes come rolling through. I never saw or heard them coming. Must have been a hundred of them. Scaring the living SHIT out of me.... and making me incredibly happy at the same time. Something comforting about a gang of cyclists flying by us on an empty street at 2 o clock in the morning.

Sure beats Coyotes.

So Mitchell and Whitney get back to business and start barking at all the bikers as they breeze by. A few of them look at us... one crazy looking white dude and two tiny little scrappy puppies barking and lunging with all their might. They hipsters smirk. A few of them chuckle and shake their heads.

Thrown in a couple of horn honks and bicycle bells ringing in response and all was right with the world again. We walked back to the building. I finally disposed of that bag of poop. Without get ANY on my hands... which is pretty amazing. We went upstairs and curled up under the bed.

(Aaaaaand... scene)

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