The One Job I Need An Alpha Male To Do

I have two small dogs, one extremely brazen coyote, and a need for an alpha male eager to urinate in public. Anyone up to the task?

Perhaps I should explain. We live in a rural community in Los Angeles (yes, there is such a thing), high up in the Santa Monica Mountains where houses are sparse and mountain lions, deer and coyotes run wild. Mostly, coyotes. We have lived here for about 25 years in peace with our wildlife, with the exception of the occasional rattlesnake that finds its way into the house. War is declared on intruding rattlesnakes, and like in every war, the species with the better weaponry is the victor.

But now we have a new problem. Due to a construction site down the road, several packs of coyotes have relocated to our property. I get that their home is being destroyed; I just don't recall inviting them to mine. Coyotes have established a coyote trail that runs through my backyard. There is one coyote in particular who is particularly brazen, bringing his kill each night to my front deck (where, I might add, he doesn't clean up after himself) and sunbathing in broad daylight in my back yard. When I bang pots together to attempt to scare him off, he looks at me like I'm sounding a dinner bell.

I mentioned I have two small dogs, right? This coyote is so bold that I'm fully expecting him to ring the doorbell and ask my dogs to come out and please bring the salt shaker with them.

Now, we are careful dog owners, obsessively cautious. We don't keep pet food or water dishes outside, we keep our garbage cans secure, and we never ever ever put food out to encourage the coyotes to come around so we can watch their cute antics or delusionally think this will spare the lives of a few wild bunnies and gophers. We also always walk our dogs on leashes.

But I admit to liking things better when the sighting of a coyote was an occasional event instead of a daily occurrence. And with two teenagers and a husband who refuses to share my level of worry about things, I live in fear that someone will slip up and open the door for a pooch to go pee and in a flash, a coyote will have his lunch catered.

Please don't suggest something like shooting bb guns at the coyotes. That's just not us, OK? Ditto for putting out poison so that they can suffer a slow death. I respect that they were there before me, but that still doesn't mean I want to sacrifice my companion animals to fill their stomachs.

So, what to do? It is against the law in California for trappers to relocate wildlife. They trap and kill. This is oddly one of those crappy Sophie's Choice situations for me. I don't want to kill anything, coyotes or otherwise. But more than that, I don't want to be afraid to open my back door at noon.

My most-trusted vet, Dr. Lisa Newell of Malibu Coast Animal Hospital, offered this solution: Have an alpha male urinate in the places the coyotes are trespassing. "No, I'm not joking," said Dr. Lisa. She suggested that peeing into a cup and spreading it around the yard also would work -- although that appealed less to the alpha males in my house than just going au natural. For the record, several male friends offered to join the pee party in case my husband's prostate failed the occasion.

What is it with men and urinating outside? I remember one soccer coach who would line the boys up facing the bushes before a game "because it's faster if they all go at once" he told me. And on any car trip of more than an hour, I am bound to see some guy pulled over to the side of the road and "watering the weeds," as my husband calls it. On our trips overseas, we used to play "Spot The Pee-er" much like we would play "First To See Snow" on our driving trips to ski.

So basically the news that the best defense against marauding coyotes is an alpha male marking the territory as his own was met with great joy in our household. There was a brief debate on whether my not-quite-through-puberty son technically qualified for the task -- his is apparently still juvenile urine and may not be alpha male-ish enough -- but since this clearly became a bonding moment with his Dad I just kept my doubts to myself.

The last frontier? That likely comes only when the neighbors call the police.

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