ASSIGINACK – Honora Bay’s Janet Moore has had several encounters with wild animals while at the family’s camp six miles outside of Manitowaning over the years, including one with a big mama black bear and her cub, but nothing prepared her for her recent daylight encounter with a coyote intent on making a meal out of Cooper, her tiny but feisty border terrier mix. But the hungry coyote hadn’t reckoned on tangling with an Island girl.
Ms. Moore and Cooper recounted their encounter to The Expositor while the valiant little dog recuperated on the couch in their Honora Bay home.
“I had gone to our camp to spruce things up a bit, we have family coming up, so I was getting things in shape,” she said. “I go all the time by myself. I have had close encounters with bears.” That can be a bit of a challenge when walking with seven-year-old Cooper, even though he weighs in at a mere 14 pounds. “He doesn’t know he is little,” Ms. Moore laughed. “We got him when he was 12 weeks old, he was sort of a rescue.”
The incident that nearly cost Cooper his life took place around 9:45 am. “We had gone up around seven,” she said. Wildlife is pretty common at the camp and they had recently live-trapped a groundhog that was making a nuisance of himself under the camp. Cooper set out to patrol the fence perimeter as was his wont. “He’s a bit territorial,” admitted Ms. Moore.
Ms. Moore was busy tidying things up inside when she heard Cooper give an uncharacteristic little yip.
“I thought he might have tangled with a chipmunk,” she said. “I went out and hollered ‘Cooper!’”
That’s when she saw what it was. A large coyote had Cooper grasped by the neck and the feisty little dog was not going quietly but crying pitifully all the same.
Ms. Moore immediately fetched her rifle, but taking a shot was not easy. “At first I couldn’t shoot at the coyote because I couldn’t tell where Cooper was,” she said. “The grass was really high.” So she sent a shot into the mixture of poppies and grass nearby, then another over the coyote’s head. That was enough for the coyote to drop Cooper and bolt for cover. A last shot found its mark, but Ms. Moore didn’t find out until a couple of days later, when her brother discovered the carcass of a large coyote.
The encounter surprised Ms. Moore as it took place in broad daylight. “I knew there were coyotes around, we sometimes hear them yipping up in the hills. I guess there must be a den up there somewhere,” she said.
The size of the coyote was quite startling. “They do seem to be getting larger,” said Ms. Moore, who suggested she believed it was likely some kind of mixed breed. “It was really big for a coyote.”
At first Ms. Moore thought that Cooper had managed to escape the encounter relatively unscathed. “I just saw a little bit of blood around his collar,” she said. “He was soaking wet from the grass because of the rain yesterday. I couldn’t really see his neck, so I thought maybe it wasn’t so bad.”
Once Cooper was inside and she could coax him up on a chair, Ms. Moore was able to examine his injuries more closely. It still did not look terribly bad. “There wasn’t a lot of blood,” she said.
Calling her husband Russ, Ms. Moore told her husband about the incident. (Mr. Moore is probably best known on Manitoulin as a welcome sight behind the wheel of a tow truck.) He didn’t hesitate.
“Russ said ‘no, take him to the vet, because something like that could get infected’,” she recalled. “So, it was off to the vet.” Ms. Moore and Cooper have been regular visitors to Island Animal Hospital.
“He had lacerations around his neck,” said Ms. Moore. “The biggest at the back of his neck about two inches long.” The veterinarian told her Cooper was lucky he has such a strong neck.
Cooper is now resting well at home, not too much worse for wear given his close encounter, but he has three medications to take. He was having difficulty swallowing at first and, like many pets, doesn’t want to take his pills. “I have been hiding them in little pieces of cheese, but I think he suspects something is up,” said Ms. Moore.
She said that even though she has spent a good part of her life growing up in the bush, Ms. Moore said that she was still taken off-guard by the attack.
“I think it is important for people to know that something like this can happen, even in broad daylight with people around,” she said. “You have to keep an eye out, it happens so quickly.”
Thankfully for Cooper, Ms. Moore keeps her rifle near to hand, isn’t easily rattled, and knows how to use it.
As for Cooper’s current status, as of Monday he was still not out of the woods. “He has a bit of an infection to deal with, so we are keeping a close eye on it,” said Ms. Moore.
Ms. Moore is a former clerk with the Northeast Town and has performed a number of weddings in her capacity as an officiant.