Why the CoyoteVest works

Why the CoyoteVest works

My little dog Buffy was pretty ferocious. She was only about 10 pounds but she had sharp teeth and a strong bite. If you snuck up behind her and grabbed her leg or tail, she would spin around so fast and bite the heck out of you instantly -- drawing blood for sure. I learned this the hard way. She was also very good at barking -- if there was anything she did not like she would start yapping like crazy.

When she was killed, I never heard her bark. She never saw what was coming or what hit her. The only sound she was able to make was one loud yelp, and then I think it was pretty much over. When I heard that yelp I looked around and saw her dangling from the mouth of a large coyote. The coyote was holding her by the neck, much like a mother carries her pups. But the coyote’s mouth was fully around her neck, and she seemed lifeless. I think the coyote probably gave her a violent shake and broke her neck and the yelp was her last breath. By the time I saw what was happening she was not putting up any kind of struggle and the coyote had her body perfectly balanced in his mouth. All four of her legs were clearing the ground and the coyote was running away at full speed. I'm a good sprinter and took off immediately to rescue her. But the coyote ran up a steep hill and into thick brush were I could not get through or see where they went. I tried to think of what to do but nothing worked. After hours of searching it got dark and we had to give up. We spent the next week combing every inch of the surrounding area, trying to find a sign of her, but we found nothing.

Over the next few days/weeks/months I kept replaying the incident in my head. I know that coyotes are generally afraid of humans, yet this coyote carried out his attack just feet away from me and in an area where there were dozens of people nearby. There was some risk for the coyote, but I know that coyotes are very clever hunters and this coyote must have felt that his plan would likely work and hunger justified the risk. The coyote knew that none of us had a clue we were being stalked and that he had the advantage for an ambush. He knew that Buffy was just the right size and he could easily grab her by the neck and mortally wound her -- and she would not be able to do anything about it. He knew that I was far enough away that he could make his escape into the brush before I could intervene. The plan worked.

So I started to think about anything that could have been a point of failure for the coyote -- something that would have messed up his strategy and made the attack not work. Obviously screaming at the top of my lungs and charging as fast I can with my hands waving like a madman did not stop the coyote or cause him to release Buffy. What if I had a gun? I would have had to draw and aim my weapon inside of 5 seconds and shoot a moving target that was running away fast -- with the possibility that I might shoot Buffy.  In reality a gun simply would not work -- you would have to be the fastest draw in the world with perfect aim.  That’s just not going to happen -- your dog will be dead before you can even fire a shot.

So then I realized if Buffy had been wearing a real spiked collar, the coyote would not have been able to wrap his mouth around her neck. But he could try and avoid the spikes and grab somewhere else - so my spike collar just kept getting bigger and bigger. With each new design I would say -- "yes, but I want more". Eventually the CoyoteVest emerged with stab-resistant fabric and spikes everywhere. I know that if Buffy had been wearing a CoyoteVest the coyote would not have been able to wrap his mouth around her neck or her back and he would not be able to lift her easily. The tactic of grabbing by the neck and delivering a violent shake would not have been an option for the coyote. 

So as an alternative tactic, the coyote could have gone for her tail or her legs, but I think she would have spun around and probably bit the coyote in the face -- she could do some damage with those sharp little teeth. She would have barked and growled and I would have come running. If the coyote tried to lift her from her legs or tail part of her  body would be still be dragging on the ground and that would have slowed the coyote up enough that I believe I could have caught them. She would probably have to go the vet for stitches -- but she would be alive. The coyote might need to get some stiches too -- but nobody will be taking the coyote to the vet and they could die from the infection. Which is why I believe that coyotes don’t like to get in fights -- they just want to kill their prey instantly with no fighting.

Another choice for the coyote would have been to go for her head, but that would have left her front legs and claws and her body free to struggle violently in an effort to escape and she would have tried hard to bite the coyote back -- perhaps inside the coyote’s mouth. And the spikes on the collar of the CoyoteVest are not far away so the coyote would need to be careful not to get poked in the eye during the struggle. I'm sure Buffy would have made a lot of sound and I would have heard it and I would have come running. Again, if part of her body was dragging on the ground the coyote would not be able to run away at full speed and I think I would have caught them. She would be in bad shape, maybe even losing an eye, but she might still be alive.

I thought a lot about some kind of helmet or crown that could have absolutely protected her head -- but I just can’t think of anything that would actually be practical to wear on a daily basis. This is when I first thought of the CoyoteWhiskers -- at least I could occupy the space above her head with something that would make it more difficult for the coyote to strike there. Plus she would get an instant of warning if she felt the whiskers moving and that might help her counter attack.

The last thing I can think of is that the coyote could have tried to knock Buffy over and attack her belly or throat. But if she was wearing the CoyoteVest I'm not sure how he could do that in an instant sneak attack. As soon as Buffy realized the coyote was there she would have barked and/or growled like crazy and I would have heard it and come running. If the coyote did manage to flip her over, he better think of some way to carry her away fast because I'm coming in hot to save her and I'm as serious as an angry gorilla. All the while she will be fighting back as best she can -- but she could end up with life threatening injuries.  I feel like this is the least likely scenario because it is just not a winning strategy for the coyote -- in fact it is very risky to hang around in one spot if an angry human is nearby.

So now when we go out my dogs always have a CoyoteVest on. I have peace of mind because I know I can defend them against a coyote anytime anywhere -- and it seems much more likely that I would get a chance to do that before one of them was killed instantly like Buffy was.