The first time that I heard this pack of creepy dog things it was last spring. I had just begun opening the windows in the house and hearing the night sounds of our new place. Naturally, the first time I heard them I was frozen with terror by what sounded like a group of cackling ghouls. What I heard in the wee hours of the morning was eerie laughter. It seemed to move closer then fade back into the distance with such speed that it could only be supernatural…like that creature in the woods on the way to the Pet Sematary, you know…the one Stephen King wrote about – The Wendigo. I quickly called myself an idiot after I realized that I was listening to coyotes or coydogs but there was a minute there when I was freaked out.
I’m more comfortable hearing street noise and traffic than I am with wild animals. It’s ridiculous really, since I lived on a farm as a kid, surrounded by 200 acres of woods, fields and animals. I should be able to adapt again, right? I grew up in the Adirondacks for crying out loud! As I ponder this, I recall that I wasn’t overly thrilled with going outside in the dark at night as a kid either.
When I was about 14, my brother once took me along to go raccoon hunting. I loved my brother dearly (still do) and even though we are two entirely different people with completely different interests, I thought I’d step outside of my comfort zone. You know, look at life through my brother’s eyes for a few hours. BIG mistake. Raccoon hunting was not fun for me. It involved a yowling hound, a gun and hiking through woods in the dark. What the hell was I thinking? I had been hoping that he’d bag a raccoon in about a ½ hour and we’d be able to call it a night. It wasn’t meant to be so easy. We traipsed through a field and into the woods, through the woods and into another field. By that time, “Crash” the annoying, barking coon hound had run so far ahead that we could barely hear him. I kept asking my brother why we didn’t bring a light and he eventually began telling me to shut the BLEEP up.
At some point during our miserable woodland expedition, we heard howling and yips from what sounded like 20 dogs. I stood frozen in the middle of a field edged by forest and timidly asked my brother, “Whh…whhhhaaa…what” that sound was.”Coydogs”, he responded and kept walking. I quietly flipped out as he kept trudging through the field cursing his coon hound. “Do they bite?” I stammered. No answer. I ran to catch up to him, suddenly wanting to jump on his back. “DO THEY BITE?!” Now, by this time he was probably sick of listening to me say that I was cold, tired, scared, the mud was ruining my designer boots, the prickers were going to rip my Guess jeans, why didn’t we bring beer?, don’t we have a flash light?, where are the raccoons…do you shoot them?, exactly how far away from home are we?, do you know where we are? and do we have to walk all the way back? I have to chuckle when I recall his eventual response that yes, yes packs of coy dogs will attack a person, especially small people. They can smell your fear, he said with a sneer.
Having grown up and put some serious distance between myself and nature for several years of my adult life, I find myself back at square one. Most nights, when the dog requires her final walk, I try to quietly sneak off to bed and leave Dave and his bravery to the task. More often than not, he catches me halfway up the stairs and slyly asks me if I plan on walking my dog. I take a deep breath, grab the pink leash, call the dog and make Dave promise to stay by the door and watch us in case that Wendigo comes crashing out of the woods. So far, so good.
The Wendigo is a creature that has long resided in Native American folklore. Mostly in the Algonquin and Micmac tribe folklore. http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/10278 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendigo.