Canine Detection Test #4

Date:  Apr. 28, 2013
Location #1:  large, old cemetery reported to be very active
Time:  8:10pm
Weather:  13C Winds out of the west at approx. 12 km/h to 15 km/h, high clouds

NOTE:  Some of the photos used in this report are blurry because I was trying to keep control of the dog’s leash while taking the photos at the same time.

I took the dog to roughly the center of the cemetery. I had her out of the car and was just preparing to walk westward, when a large male coyote approximately 50 feet to the north walked past us, looked at us, and then continued moving east. Having no understanding about wildlife, and obviously perceiving the animal as another dog, Glimmer became very excited and tried to greet the coyote by pulling hard on the leash. The coyote did not challenge our presence, nor did he bare his teeth or issue any type of vocal response.  He merely sat and watched us.  I calmly but quickly got the dog back into the car, keeping an eye on him as I herded her inside. Once she was safely inside, I turned to look at him, and saw that he had gotten up and was moving southward at a slow walk.  As he walked, he continually turned his head to look in our direction.  This behavior was explained when his mate appeared approximately 60 feet to the south of the car, after I had gotten in and closed the door. I decided to try moving to a different section of the cemetery, but as I drove, I observed that the two coyotes seemed to be following us.  Not wanting to cause any stress or risk a close encounter with the unusually calm pair, I decided to leave the location and got to a different one.

Location #2: older, smaller cemetery
Time:  9pm
Weather:  9C Winds out the north-northwest at approx. 15 km/h to 20 km/h, high cloud

After experiencing the coyotes at the first location, I decided to do a preliminary drive-through of the second location to ensure no coyotes were present. Finding the location free of wildlife, I then got the dog out of the car and we began our session.

  Photo 1  Glimmer appeared to be drawn to a few different headstones. One in particular had her attempting to dig down into the ground at the base of the stone with her nose. Thinking there was a wrapper or some other debris there that had caught her interest, I moved her away so I could examine what she was so intent on getting at. There was nothing there to explain her behavior, and she was not attempting to eat grass or any other natural flora.

 Photo 2   Several times, the dog pulled hard at the leash to get to a spot that had caught her attention. However, I attributed this to the fact that she was at an unfamiliar location full of new scents, sights, and sounds. At one point, she approached a headstone that was obscured by the branches of a very large bush. While she was sniffing the ground at the base of the headstone, she suddenly jumped, startled by something. Examination of where she was showed that one of the branches had touched her. This nervousness is also attributable to her being in a new location.

  Photo 3  However, the dog did exhibit an unusual response to a large, tall, cross-shaped headstone. She sat down approximately 10 feet away from it and just stared at it for several seconds. When I tried to bring her to it, she shied away, refusing to approach it. I waited for close to a minute for her to either try to leave the area, or approach the headstone, but she did neither. So, with a light tug on the leash and the command to come, I began moving forward again. Though the leash was slack, suddenly, the dog began coughing. She needed water. I took her to the car to attend to that, and then we moved to a different section of the cemetery for the final test of the evening.

Photo 4 Near a group of headstones close to the east entrance the dog suddenly became alert to something I did not see or hear. There was enough light remaining that I was able to tell there were no coyotes or rabbits present. However, within seconds of observing the dog’s stance, I heard coyotes in the distance.  I attributed her behavior to having heard them before I did, and ended the session.

Due to the time of year, the likelihood of coyotes showing up in almost any location that seems suitable for these field tests is very high. This makes consistent testing very challenging, and thus, new locations are being sought so this research can continue safely.  Anyone in the Calgary area who is able to assist with this is asked to please email me at  Please put “canine field testing” in the subject line.  Thank you.

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