{coyotes and rabbits and dogs, oh my!}

Last week I reported a bee invasion at the hummingbird feeders. After several attempts to restore backyard harmony, I was left with only one reasonable option. Down came the feeders. I lament time lost, as well as the toll of effort, but I learned a lot about the birds and bees.

Our urban wildlife challenge continued this week, however, and could have been more startling and destructive than our concern for bee stings.

Do you remember this photo?

coyote walking up the street

The nearby San Gabriel Country Club provides a fertile habitat for a variety of wild species we would like to avoid encountering on a morning walk. Pets and small children are a constant concern when coyotes are on the prowl, and our pet rabbit, Pinky, is one of those concerns.

When Zena very unexpectedly came to us as a rescue we had to move Pinky from the gated backyard to the front yard. We knew there were risks, but with limited location options, we provided her a condo, complete with upper story safehouse, and did what we could to be alert.

Pinky in her condo

This has been our “plan” for almost three years, but this plan was severely tested this week. We discovered coyote tracks patterned throughout the rose bed and leading right to her cage. What were our options? Try the backyard? With the dog?

Sometime late Sunday morning Jay got started. He took the cage apart to relocate it while also finding the necessary materials to create a solid surface bottom–rabbits can tunnel out before you even know they’re digging.

We had to relocate a few backyard plants to make space for her very ample condo and then once placed we worked to provide enough cover to shield her from the late afternoon sun.

Then came the moment of truth.

Zena knows Pinky. Zena doesn’t pay any attention to her in the front yard. Zena is gentle…


Who knew she could jump right on top of the cage and begin ripping, tearing and chewing the wood frame? I’d have taken photos or video as proof but I was involved in a small animal emergency rescue.

For the sake of reputation, we are fortunate there were no human witnesses to our madness. Zena was snarling and viciously barking at poor Pinky, holed up in her safe house. If rabbits are frightened by human shrieking sounds, then I also contributed to her terror.

How did we spend the rest of the day? And by “we,” I really don’t mean me.

Jay patiently took the cage apart,–again, relocating it back to the front yard while also creating a solid surface bottom–oh never mind! Just reverse all the previous actions!

We have compromised and added to our nightly routine. We already check on Darwin and make sure he’s safe, monitor Zena’s many routines and generally just make sure all animals are secure.

Now we’ll transfer Pinky to a portable night cage and secure her that way. What we get ourselves into!

Although animal and home garden routines have been a little bit “much” this week, I still managed to make my weekly pilgrimage to the Huntington Botanical Gardens. I’ll share more from the Japanese Gardens soon.

And we did have some rain this week. It didn’t linger, but my garden enjoyed a lovely and very needed bath. And without the softened earth I seriously doubt we’d have seen the coyote tracks in the rose garden.

I hope this next week provides just a little less backyard wildlife excitement.

I prefer observation to participation!


44 thoughts on “{coyotes and rabbits and dogs, oh my!}

  1. Andrew Reynolds February 22, 2016 / 9:31 pm

    That’s a story. We’ve been seeing more wild animals coming down out of the hills to our urban environment. Last week a neighbor found a skunk.

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:05 pm

      Skunks are perhaps the worst! We had a family of them living under our house several years ago and it was just dreadful. I think I’d rather have the coyotes, quite frankly.

      • Andrew Reynolds February 24, 2016 / 9:35 pm

        Especially if the coyotes would eat the skunks…

  2. Eric Tonningsen February 22, 2016 / 10:04 pm

    Poor Pinky. With two dogs who go absolutely ballistic over both the wild rabbits and coyote that thrive in our village, I totally get your challenges. It’s almost a non-ending cycle around here in terms of who is preying on whom. Maybe I need to consider an urban based condo for my sanity. 🙂

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:08 pm

      It’s interesting, Eric, that I fancy myself such an animal lover and have at times wondered if I would have enjoyed living on a farm or at least more rural environment, but then I encounter such a comparative simple “wildlife encounter” and I realize how much work that would really be, and I’m sure I would find the challenge overwhelming!

      • Eric Tonningsen February 25, 2016 / 9:50 pm

        I did the urban/suburban life for many years. And loved it. I’ll take the “wildlife encounters” and all of the beauty and mystery that accompanies it, any day now. It sounds as though you have a nice (maybe ‘interesting’) blend of both, Debra. 🙂

  3. Cathy February 23, 2016 / 12:30 am

    Oh my goodness! Who would have thought that Zena would react that way! I am glad you have found a solution now though Debra. I suppose coyotes are your equivalent to foxes here, which occasionally wander into our village to inspect the chicken coops and rabbit hutches! Hope this week is a bit quieter for you all, and I look forward to seeing more of the botanical gardens. 🙂

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:20 pm

      It’s been many, many years, Cathy, but when my children were young our pet rabbit was killed by a fox. I really don’t know how many species may be living in that golf course, but I suspect there are more creatures than we typically think about!

  4. Otto von Münchow February 23, 2016 / 1:22 am

    You have gotten your hands full with animal challenges, haven’t you! Sounds like a lot of effort went into making Zena’s life safe. May thinks quiet down!

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:22 pm

      Our week of moving the rabbit every night after dinner has started a new routine we can manage, but I am wondering what we’ll do when we travel! I will need to poll my friends to see who would like to have a rabbit stay with them from time to time. Before we considered the coyote dangers I just had friends stop by and feed her!

      • Otto von Münchow February 24, 2016 / 9:14 pm

        It’s always a concern with you have animal friends and you are going on a holiday. But I see that having a coyote in the backyard makes it even harder. Good luck!

  5. Chatter Master February 23, 2016 / 2:39 am

    Good stewards. You are wonderful stewards of the animal kingdom.

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:25 pm

      Thank you, Colleen. I do believe that if we take these animals in we are responsible for them! When I was upset I blurted out, “What are we going to do with this poor rabbit?” My husband very quickly added, “I’ll tell you what I’d LIKE to do with it!” LOL! Then he very patiently took care of the situation, but he was more than a little frustrated!

      • Chatter Master February 25, 2016 / 5:04 pm

        I get the frustration. But I know what you mean about caring for them. I won’t get a pet because I know I am not hear often, or long enough to give them the attention they deserve.

  6. Kate Crimmins February 23, 2016 / 7:34 am

    Oh my! That could take up the whole weekend. Poor Pinky! And wow! has Zena grown!

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:27 pm

      Zena has grown, hasn’t she? She was undernourished when she first came to us. When we do have her groomed and her hair cut back in her “summer cut,” she does look smaller, but overall, she eats really well and the Vet has asked me to lay off the treats! LOL!

      • Kate Crimmins February 25, 2016 / 5:51 am

        Compared to the first pictures she looks like a huge mountain dog, but beautiful!

  7. Jim Stewart February 23, 2016 / 7:35 am

    Do you think it’s possible that Zena was reacting to coyote smell on the bunny house? But dogs will be territorial.

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:28 pm

      That’s a good question, Jim. Zena really went berserk and acted so ferociously I think it is possible she could detect the scent of coyote! I hadn’t really considered that! I wonder!

  8. lifeonthecutoff February 23, 2016 / 7:51 am

    . . . and I thought we had wildlife problems! Yikes. Actually, I’m wondering the same thing Jim mentions; whether or not Zena was reacting to coyote smell.
    Coyote are are growing concern here. They are bold, even in the city. (Chicago) and during daylight. We are pretty certain that it was a pack that took down the two doe earlier this winter in the back. It was a gruesome sight. We figure the doe were sleeping and the pack had stalked them, waiting for the right moment.
    Jay is a good guy. 🙂 and I admire how you tend to your pets, Debra.

  9. Slow Happy Living February 23, 2016 / 8:38 am

    Poor Pinky! She must have been terrified. Having unwelcome visitors in the middle of the night must be very difficult for her also. I hope she realizes that you and Jay are doing everything you can to keep her safe.

    I had to remove all my bird feeders several years back because I couldn’t make them rat-proof. It’s probably a good thing there are no feeders here now, as a Sharp-shinned or Coopers hawk (I can never tell the difference) is a regular visitor to the tall fir across the street, and he hunts the entire neighborhood from there.

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:42 pm

      Oh my goodness, Penny! Rats at the bird feeders! I would never have even thought of that. It’s so interesting to me how challenging it is to interact with the natural world. I think we want to help and enjoy the animal kingdom by providing more food or shelter or some level of support and then those actions bring unintended consequences! Bees or rats! LOL!

  10. Andra Watkins February 23, 2016 / 8:54 am

    If reincarnation exists, I hope to come back as one of your pets. Ha.

    I’m glad Pinky survived.

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:43 pm

      Andra, you win the prize for the best comment ever!

  11. nrhatch February 23, 2016 / 8:57 am

    What a weekend for Pinky, Zena and you.
    Jay is a keeper!

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:44 pm

      Jay is a very patient man! And a hard worker! 🙂

  12. Heyjude February 23, 2016 / 10:55 am

    heavens this makes my pet-sitting adventures seem quite tame! And I see you should have plenty to share with me during next month’s garden challenge: wildlife in the garden! Hadn’t even considered coyotes 😀

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:53 pm

      We do see evidence of raccoons and some smaller wildlife, but fortunately I don’t run into the larger ones very often. I’m looking forward to the wildlife in the garden challenge! 🙂

  13. Stacey February 23, 2016 / 3:40 pm

    Oh dear! What an appropriate title for your blog post! Your husband sounds like my husband when it comes to those kinds of things – I have the ideas (and they’re good ones!) but let’s face it…he is the one usually executing the ideas 😉

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 8:59 pm

      You made me laugh with your analysis, Stacey! You’re so right! I hadn’t thought about it so clearly, but you’re absolutely right. I have the ideas, and I agree with you, mine are good, too, but poor Jay bears the burden to execute them. LOL! He’ll appreciate you comment. 🙂

  14. Kristy February 24, 2016 / 10:04 am

    We too have a coyote that frequents our backyard. I can only imagine the chaos of your day! Glad all are well and continue to be well. Your pictures are just lovely. I really enjoy seeing the colorful flower photos – especially this time of year. 🙂 (Here in Poland it’s not much different than Chicago! Gray, gray, gray!)

    • Debra February 24, 2016 / 9:05 pm

      You mean you traveled all the way to Poland and it’s still winter? LOL! I am glad your travels will be extended long enough to enjoy some spring and summer, Kristy. 🙂

  15. aFrankAngle February 25, 2016 / 4:30 am

    You are truly an urban Merlin Perkins.

  16. restlessjo February 25, 2016 / 1:42 pm

    The trouble with having a kind heart, Debbie 🙂 And Zena looks such a sweetheart! Who’d have thought?

  17. ChgoJohn February 27, 2016 / 5:52 am

    The care that I’ve given every pet that has shared my home is far different at the end of their stay from when the arrived. I don’t know how it happens but bit by bit, what was once a normal care routine develops into this time consuming “thing”. I won’t go into the details but I will say that Pinky — and Zena, too — are lucky to have selected yours as their forever home.

  18. Karen February 27, 2016 / 6:18 am

    I’m sure you wish your life was a little more uneventful. I can just imagine the scene with Zena on top of Pinky’s cage and a few screams from you.

  19. Mustang.Koji February 27, 2016 / 4:04 pm

    Bees hoarded the feeders? Amazing. I had no idea they would do that since they obviously are pollenless.

    And your closeups! How vivid and sharp! I viewed large and they were stunning. I also see we share three of the same plants. The one I don’t share with you is the cactus that’s budding.

    But your poor husband!!!! I hope he got an extra special dinner!

  20. 2e0mca February 28, 2016 / 5:15 am

    We get Foxes in our garden from time to time but as we don’t have any outdoor pets, they don’t cause any concerns. Sadly, a friend of mine does keep chickens and foxes raided to devastating effect last year 😦

    I wonder if Zena saw Pinky as a threat to her status with the family? You did say she is neurotic. Maybe she see’s the back yard as her territory? I hope your solution works out ok for all.

  21. reocochran March 1, 2016 / 9:44 pm

    Oh my, Debra! I was on the edge of my seat! We have had dogs who ignore rabbits but our cages were on tall stilts which we had to bring a stool out each time youngest children wanted to feed.
    My now grown daughter’s two boys had a “Pinky” for nearly 9 years. It had a stroke, seemed to come out of it, then one school (and work) day he died. They thought Pinky was a girl so his name was already used awhile before bunny got old enough to see his anatomy. Presently, male bunny is named “Beastie.” 11 year old grandson is gentle, let’s him out and puts him back into cage. Now 7 year old is rowdy and nearly always gets bit. 😦 Hope all is peaceful on the animal home front. I admire your patient husband!
    The flowers are pretty, cannot wait for flowering fruit trees, Debra. ♡

  22. thefolia March 12, 2016 / 10:54 am

    Oh my you certainly have your hands full Debra! I hope both you and Jay were able to accomplish a observational status instead of one involved with participation in your lovely garden these days. Happy observing!

    • Debra March 14, 2016 / 9:38 pm

      It is now a part of every evening to transfer the poor bunny from one cage to another. At the rate we’re going in taking care of our animals, we may never be able to leave for a vacation. LOL! But for now, the garden is peaceful. Thank you. 🙂

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