During Pup Season, Coyote Whisperer Warns of Canine Encounters

coyote.kessler

If you’re a pet-owner, you may have already heard about the small dog that was attacked by a coyote near Stern Grove last week. Turns out, it’s pup-season for coyotes. This is the time of year when — just like us! — stressed-out mama coyotes are introducing their progeny to life in San Francisco.

Coyotes roam in many San Francisco’s parks and open spaces, although the coyotes in Bernal Heights are exceptionally creative and stylish. Of course, we Bernalese are world-famous for our fondness for dogs, and lots of those pets also roam free here. So during pup season, Janet Kessler, creator of Coyote Yipps, a blog about San Francisco coyotes, shares this wisdom about coyote-canine interactions:

It is coyote pupping season again! During pupping season there is more potential for dog/coyote encounters and possible confrontations. By following simple guidelines we can prevent most encounters and we can be prepared for any inadvertent encounter that does pop up.

San Francisco has several dozen coyotes living in the city, mostly in nuclear families. They’re in all of our major parks. Because most folks in San Francisco have dogs or cats, and because there are pups in some of the parks — pups would be about 4 months old now — it is a good time to brush up on coyote behavior and the guidelines necessary for peacefully coexisting. The information applies in any park where there are coyotes, whether or not there are pups.

Coyotes are out most often when it’s dark and when we humans aren’t around. However, most folks now realize that it’s not uncommon to see coyotes out during the day — they are not nocturnal animals.

Coyotes live in family units, not packs of unrelated individuals. We have a number of coyote families living in the city of San Francisco. Coyotes mate for life, and both parents raise the young and watch out for their safety — we’re talking about real family life here. It’s hard not to admire a species that puts so much effort into maintaining their own monogamous relationship and into the care and safety of their youngsters. Parents play with, bring food to, groom, defend, lead family outings, teach, tease and discipline their youngsters, not so differently from the way humans do: coyote life is about family life. Each family claims a territory from which other coyotes are kept out. This insures that there will be enough resources for the family unit.

How to get along with coyotes? Treat them as you would any other wild animal, such as a skunk or raccoon, by moving away from them and keeping your dogs away from them, which can only be done by leashing up! Leashing will keep your dog from chasing a coyote, and it will keep your dog close to you, thus discouraging a coyote from coming in closer to your dog. Coyotes will do their utmost to avoid humans and human encounters, so the issue isn’t about you. However, although they’ll shy away from people, they may give territorial messages to dogs who come too close, the same as they do to any other non-family coyote who might potentially threaten their territorial claims: this could result in a nip to your dog’s haunches — cattle-dog fashion — to get the dog to leave the area. And small pets may look like any other prey to them: so please leash your pets in known coyote areas and don’t allow them to roam free. Coyotes have been spotted wandering through virtually every park in San Francisco.

Everyone with a dog should know how to shoo off a coyote who has come too close — it’s know-how that’s needed just in case there’s an unexpected encounter. Simply harassing a coyote with screams, flailing arms and making yourself look big is often not effective. Coyotes get used to this and eventually ignore it as meaningless and quirky human behavior. It’s best actually to, 1) approach or charge towards the coyote, and to, 2) do so menacingly as though you’re out to get them, by eyeballing them with eye-to-eye contact and yelling “SCRAM, get out of here!” Often, your piercing gaze into their eyes alone is enough to get them to move on.

However — and this is an all-important caveat — if they absolutely do not move, it will be because pups are close by. In this case, it’s best to keep the peace by respecting their need to keep you out of the area they won’t move from: just back away rather than provoke an incident, without running. If one follows you, turn and face the coyote — he’s unlikely to come closer with your eyes glaring at him. However, if he just stands there, again, try charging in his direction as described above to get him off of your tail. As always, prevention is the best medicine — always keep your distance in the first place.

“Coyotes As Neighbors” is a YouTube video presentation which explains relevant coyote behavior — including their intense family lives and territoriality towards other canines, be they dogs or other coyotes — plus guidelines for keeping us all, humans, pets AND coyotes, safe and worry-free. The video includes two demos on how to effectively shoo off a coyote who has come too close. [There’s also a Spanish version and a Mandarin version.]

Here’s what to look for: Janet also shares this video of a female coyote in San Francisco acting distressed because of the presence of dogs:

PHOTO: Top, Janet Kessler

Bernal Neighbor Creates Eco-Friendly Bags For Doggie Business

barkbag1

Neighbor Ron created a new product for dog owners, and he wants to offer you a neighborly discount:

I’ve been a Bernal resident for almost 3 years now (moved from North Beach), and I absolutely love the neighborhood. Being a dog enthusiast my whole life, I was thrilled to be moving into Bernal Heights where dogs and people seem to live in perfect harmony. A couple years ago, toxic plastic bags were being discontinued in favor of BYOB and paper bags, which cut into the supply of bags to pick up after your pets.

The pet stores around the Bay Area still sold plastic bags for dog owners, and I decided to search for a different solution. After conducting some research, I decided the problem could be solved with en eco-friendly dog waste bag, made entirely out of natural materials.

Bark Bags are made from corn starch, and they’re non toxic and designed in San Francisco. We are on a mission to help dog owners Reduce their Carbon Paw Print by picking up after their pooches with eco friendly bags.

Click here for 5% off and Free Shipping: Use the code Bernal

PHOTO: Neighbor Ron

This Lovely Bernal Dog Needs a New Home

elf

UPDATE: Neighbor Ben says Elf is on track to have a new home in Bernal Heights. *Whew!* The original post follows…

Neighbor Ben hopes to find a loving Bernal home for a sweet doggie named Elf. He explains:

Hi Bernalers.

Our sweet Bernese Mountain Dog, Elf, needs a new home and we’re hoping to find someone in Bernal to re-home her. Our 1yr old daughter has developed a very bad allergic reaction to dog dander/saliva and despite our army of air filters and efforts to segregate her from Elf, her symptoms have not improved. We’re in a state of constant vigilance trying to keep the baby from touching the dog or crawling through an area where Elf has slept… and the stress is overwhelming, and it’s not an ideal situation for Elf either. So, we’re hoping to find Elf a great home in Bernal – so that Elf stays somewhere familiar… and so that we can (ideally) take her for an occasional walk.

Elf is a sweet, gentle, 7-yr old Bernese Mountain Dog. She’s in great physical shape – no hip problems – and no other health issues. She’s on the small side for a Bernese at 70lbs. When you meet her, you’ll think she’s just a young pup because she’s full of energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity. After an initial burst of energy when you come home or someone new arrives, she quiets down and then likes to laze around the house. She’s a big fan of walks to Bernal Hill and, if you’ve got a good pocket full of treats, has amazing recall. She’s very well potty trained, doesn’t mind a stay in the crate for a few hours, is great with kids, and generally is an all around awesome dog. Her one downside is that she love to engulf socks!.. especially little kid socks. So, you’ve got to keep socks out of reach.

If you’re interested, please email xxxxxxx and let’s arrange a walk on the hill or a weekend visit for you to get to know her to see if it’s the right fit.

Lost Bernal Dog Navigates to Familiar Mission District Bar

Foundluna

If you were tuned in to Bernalwood’s social media channels yesterday, you may have seen the appeal to help find Luna, a Bernal Heights dog who escaped from a caregiver’s yard in the Panhandle while her owner was out of town traveling. A frantic search effort was undertaken, and there were reports that Luna had been seen along the Embarcadero and in the Mission.

Happily, Luna was found late yesterday afternoon after wandering in to a familiar watering hole. Cassie tells Bernalwood:

Thanks so much for posting about the dog. Luna was found yesterday evening at a bar in the Mission called The Sycamore that her owners frequent. Smart pup. She was reunited with her owner last night. We can’t believe it and are so relieved.

Clever drinky doggy indeed. Whew!

PHOTO: Luna, once lost, now found

Reminder: How to Protect Your Dog from Foxtails

foxtail2e

wildfoxtail1

Neighbor Hugh of Precitaville writes:

With the beautiful weather we’ve been having, the foxtails are out in full force on the hill.  I’m now pulling at least one out of my dog’s paws after each walk.

You ran a great article in 2013 about the dangers of foxtails.  I remember reading it and then literally the next day having a foxtail go up our dog’s nose. When he got home and started sneezing blood, I knew exactly what was going on and was able to get him to the vet quickly. I’m quite sure that without your post I would have been a lot more freaked out. Since they’re back in force and a lot earlier this season perhaps you could run this post again?

Great idea. Foxtails are showing up early this year because of the droughtpocalypse, so let’s reprise the foxtail wisdom shared by Bernal neighbor and veterinarian Nicolette Zarday for Bernal canines (and the humans who love them):

If you own a dog, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. If you have a dog and you don’t know about foxtails, keep reading.

Foxtails are small plant awns or seed-bearing structures, usually of the genus Hordeum. Starting in the Spring and continuing through the Summer, plants shed them indiscriminately. We started to see a steady flow of foxtail cases in our veterinary practice mid-April, right after several days of heavy winds which helped yank the awns from their plants and spread them far and wide.

Foxtails are shaped like a badminton birdie, but with a pointy instead of a round end. They also have tiny barbs along their shafts. All this adds up to a unidirectional migration pattern; they go in but they don’t come out. The most common problems we see with foxtails are wounds in the paws. Often the owner will just notice a swelling between the toes and think it is a growth or a tumor. After piercing the skin and entering the body, foxtails can actually migrate up the leg, if left untreated. We also see foxtails in noses, ears, and eyes very often.

The most dangerous exposure occurs when dogs inhale them. This typically happens if a dog is porpoising through a field of foxtail plants and inhales one, mouth wide open. As the dog takes a deep breath, the foxtail bypasses all the normal barriers, so they can end up in the lower airways of the lungs. These can be difficult to find, require extensive and expensive treatment and surgery, and are often fatal. Other places foxtails have been found, in many cases post-mortem, include the brain, spinal cord, urinary tract, and abdomen.

Fortunately for dog owners, foxtails usually represent a minor health hazard, although the expense of having the foxtail removed by a veterinarian (usually under sedation or anesthesia) can be considerable. For us vets in northern California, foxtails are simultaneously the bane of our existence and a significant source of income during the spring and summer. I even heard about one veterinarian who owned a boat named “Foxtail.”

So, what can you do to protect your dog?

  • If it is a long-haired dog, keep the coat short during the Summer, especially the feet. There are groomers who will do a “foxtail cut” if requested.
  • After each walk, check your pet thoroughly and remove any plant material.
  • If your dog suddenly starts sneezing uncontrollably, squinting, or shaking its head during or immediately after a walk, there is an excellent chance a foxtail is involved. Call your veterinarian’s office.
  • Do not allow your dog to run through fields of tall grass that contain these plant awns. (This is what I worry about most.)
  • Check your backyard for plants that shed foxtails, and remove the plants completely.

There are plenty of these nasty little dudes on Bernal Hill, so keep an eye out!

Related/unrelated PS: Last week, Neighbor Nicolette sent Bernalwood this urgent personal appeal:

Geoff and I are looking to buy a house (we’re currently renting) in Bernal. Our timing is terrible. If you hear of any of your neighbors who plan to put their place on the market, we’d love it if you would put us in touch.

PHOTOS: Tabletop samples, Nicole Zarday. Wild foxtail from UCSC

 

Bernal Neighbors Co-Found High-Tech Veterinary House Call Startup

familyshot.pronto

Against the backdrop our our recent neighborly conversation about pet etiquette and urgent pet care, Bernalwood learns that a team of Bernal neighbors have banded together to launch VetPronto, a new pet-tech veterinary startup.

Neighbor Joe writes:

Hi. My name is Joe Waltman and I recently moved to Bernal Heights (north slope) with my wife (Lindsay) and two kids (Maddie – 6 months and Will – 2.5 years).

I wanted to let pet-owning Bernalese know about our company, a house-call veterinary service called VetPronto.

We would like to think that house calls are more convenient for the owner and less stressful for the pet. If your furry friends need to see the doctor, please consider a VetPronto house call. And, if you have any questions about your pet’s health, we provide free answers from licensed veterinarians here.

Folks seem to be digging it on the Yelp, and VetPronto even got a fancy write-up on TechCrunch:

A new company looking to make it more convenient for pet owners to see their local veterinarian, VetPronto, is now live in San Francisco. A member of the Y Combinator Winter 2015 class, VetPronto is offering on-demand house call veterinary services for dogs and cats, allowing customers to skip a visit to the clinic or just see a vet at a more convenient time – like on evenings and weekends, for example.

The company was founded last spring by Brian Hur, Joe Waltman, and Soren Berg, the latter two who previously sold their email marketing company to Twitter. Meanwhile, Hur is a former Microsoft systems engineer-turned-vet.

“Once I got into the veterinary industry, I noticed there were a lot of gaps in technology all the way through,”Hur explains. “And since getting out and practicing medicine, I’ve really focused on bridging those gaps and making sure that veterinary medicine can be upgraded for the dot-com era.”

A practicing vet since 2011, Hur did the first 100 or so VetPronto appointments himself, before the company contracted with other area veterinarians. Today, it has five vets working part-time and is soon adding a sixth to serve its customers in San Francisco, which is the startup’s main geographic focus for now.

Here’s the pitch video:

PHOTO: Neighbor Joe Waltman and family, via VetPronto

Ask Bernalwood: Is Stealing from Recycling Bins OK? Is Precita Park On-Leash?

Bernalquestion

Neighbor Elizabeth is a newcomer to the Dominion of Bernalwood, but she arrives in our lands with a sincere desire to embrace the ways and customs of the Bernalese people. Specifically, she has two questions:

My name is Elizabeth, and my husband and I (and our two dogs) moved to the neighborhood just about 5 weeks ago. We are loving it so far! I have a couple of random questions and I figured I would send them your way, if you don’t mind…

Recycling Theft — this seems to happen extremely frequently. I see the same people doing it like clockwork. Recology makes it sound like it is a huge deal, is illegal, etc. What is the community’s position towards it? Are we indifferent to it happening? I know there are MANY more issues the SFPD has to worry about… But I wanted to get someone else’s perspective. From what I have read it does ultimately drive up the cost to residents, not to mention it is pretty creepy.

Precita Park — I have noticed signs everywhere stating that dogs are to be on a leash… But no dogs ever are, in fact it seems to be exactly where dog owners bring their dogs to take them OFF the leash. I don’t feel comfortable letting my dogs off-leash given it’s a new area, proximity to traffic, etc. — and it can be a little frustrating when an off-leash dog runs up to my dog who is on a leash.

Two very random questions, if you have any thoughts, I would love to hear them.

Elizabeth sent her questions yesterday afternoon, but last night she sent this alarming follow-up:

How incredibly ironic that I emailed you today… Our beagle was attacked tonight by an off-leash dog in Precita Park. (She is currently at the emergency vet having surgery.)

Yikes.

Formally, Elizabeth’s questions are matters of law, but in actual practice the answers are determined by Bernal custom and social norms. And since opinions on such things may differ, it seems appropriate to open the questions up so all Bernalese can provide Neighbor Elizabeth with the answers she seeks.

Please take to the comments, and with kindness and Bernal generosity in your heart, please answer her questions based on your own neighborly expertise.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics