Photo: Reed Bundy and Cooper.
Let’s call it the Bow Road Incident.
Reed Bundy and his four-year-old black Labrador Retriever Cooper were on their usual route around the Burbank neighborhood at 6:45 a.m. about 15 minutes before sunrise on Friday, Oct. 27.
Bundy, who lives with his wife and kids on School Street, and Cooper were swinging around Bow Road onto Randolph when they caught the sharp panic cry in the still morning air.
“We heard a woman screaming ‘Hey! Hey! Hey!’ over and over again,” he said, noting that high pitched yelling was “really out of the ordinary, especially that early in the morning.”
“At first I thought she was trying to get her dogs under control,” said Bundy. But as he and Cooper turned the corner, they saw the senior woman but also came face to face with a coyote, one of two on the street. While the second was lurking some distance away on Randolph, the first – a large animal bigger than Cooper – was no more than 10 feet from Bundy. But its attention was not on them, but the pair of small Pomeranians was hiding behind the older neighbor’s legs less than five feet away.
“This coyote was coming right at her dogs, stalking them and ignoring her,” said Bundy. “It looked like he was ready for a snack.”
Usually, Poms don’t realize just how small they are, and have no fear challenging bigger dogs. But the coyote made the two quiet and anxious. “She had her dogs on a leash and was trying to move away, but the coyote was not backing off,” said Bundy, who has seen a coyote one time previous in Belmont near Beaver Brook at the Waltham line.
When he saw what was happening, Bundy started yelling while Cooper was strongly pulling on his leash “more curious than anything.”
“Cooper’s a very social animal, but he was approaching what was happening like he knew he had to be careful,” said Bundy.
The Lab’s move towards the canine was enough for the bigger coyote.
“When they saw Cooper, that spooked them and both ran off into a backyard,” said Bundy, who took the woman and her dogs – all three quite shakened – back to her house.
“Honestly, I’m glad I had [Cooper] with me as he allowed me to be a little bit more forceful yelling at them,” he said. “But it was unsettling, to say the least.”
Bundy gave a statement to the Belmont Police and also rang up John Maguranis, the town’s long serving Animal Control Officer of the incident.
“I know [coyote sightings] have come a big issue in town and I wanted people to know what happened,” he said.
The Bow Road Incident came less than 12 hours after Maguranis gave a public talk on coyotes and how people should interact with them. Residents can see a rebroadcast of the talk at the Belmont Media Center. Part of Maguranis’ discussion was on resident and pet safety when encountering a coyote.
A simple precaution for dog owners to know is keeping pets leashed at all times. Coyotes have a healthy fear of humans, so keeping your dog close by should keep coyotes at a safe distance. When letting your dogs out in your yard, always turn a light on and look out there first. Never let them out without keeping an eye on them if you don’t have a fenced in backyard. Large breed dogs are somewhat safer in regards to surviving an attack, but not small breed dogs.
Maguranis said that coyotes have been spotted in almost every area of town. So despite being far from wooded areas where they have their den, a coyote on Bow Road shouldn’t be seen as an unsual event.
For Bundy, the encounter Friday morning “has made me more aware that coyotes coming to our neighborhood is not going to change and probably only get worse.”
“It’s all about awareness. If you have a little dog, kept it close by and maybe wait for the sunrise before letting [your dogs] out,” said Bundy.
As for Cooper, “he was the hero today. He certainly earned his keep.”