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May 25, 2007

Variation on Super Size Me

Filed under: General — Michael @ 12:14

A friend of mine, Joe Williams, just started his own variation on Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me. Joe notes that Spurlock started off as a fit, healthy, active person who went dormant at the same time that he started his McDonald’s-only diet, so he naturally gained lots of weight and became unhealthy.

The variation: Joe starts off out of shape and begins a vigorous exercise program at the same time that he starts to take in at least as many McDonald’s calories as Spurlock did: over 4000 per day. You can follow his progress at

The bad news from Joe: so far in the first four days he has gained five pounds.

May 13, 2007

Coyote Fracas

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — Michael @ 16:54

The Trip

Late last Saturday afternoon, Kaelyn and I took the dogs for an off-leash hike at an area east of Pasadena in the dry bed of the San Gabriel River. Partway through the hike, Kaelyn got a phone call from Amy, somewhat distressed over an incident Amy’s beagle-mix, Annie, had just been involved in: a Cujo-dog had pinned Annie to the ground by the neck, and Amy needed advice on dealing with injuries Annie may have sustained. Amy lives close to the area in which we were hiking, so we decided we would stop by her place on the way home and check on Annie.

About three-quarters of the way through our outing however, we hit a snag that would have us tending to our own dogs. Single-file on a narrow trail (Bravo and Dekker leading the way, with Linus, Reggie, Etta, me, and Kaelyn further back), we all heard a little racket ahead. I looked up and saw only a puff of dust where Bravo and Dekker had been… and Linus’s butt tearing forward to check on things. All three of them were quickly out of sight around a couple of curves in the path, and then Kaelyn and I heard something that we do not hear when the dogs chase rabbits: barking.

The two possibilities here – coyote and feral dog – both cause understandable concern, and Kaelyn and I ran up the trail to see if there was anything we could do. I pushed forward, and Reggie and Etta excitedly stayed ahead of me for a good part of the run. Every fifteen yards or so, I would make it through a curve only to see more clouds of dust leading to the following curve. By the third curve, I passed Reggie and Etta, and somewhere around the fifth curve, I saw it: a ball of mixed fur with twelve legs and three mouths, snarling and rolling along the trail and into and out of the bushes. Bravo and Dekker had engaged a coyote, and Linus was trying to find a way to get involved without getting snapped at.

I came upon them so suddenly that I was on top of the mass as soon as I knew it. They rolled back up the path, past me, Reggie, and Etta. Once the ball stopped rolling, I could make out the coyote (about the same height as the whippets, but maybe ten pounds heavier), which was caught between Dekker and Bravo. Dekker gets credit for being the smarter one here (or the less stupid) because he had a firm grip on the coyote’s right-rear leg while Bravo and the coyote had hold of each other’s mouths and heads.

Kaelyn caught up to us, came over to our side of the bundle, and secured Etta. Reggie meanwhile did something that I would have to consider almost cute if it were not for the serious situation: seeing that the coyote’s teeth were busy dealing with Bravo, she snuck up to within inches and almost took a nip out of it. But the ruckus was too rowdy for her to move all of the way in. Instead she got close and then jumped back as soon as she thought it too dangerous. She did this two or three times before I could grab her and pass her to Kaelyn.

Then came the tricky part of getting everyone separated without getting myself bitten. (Spoiler: I made it out without a scratch.) To do this, I had to wait until the bundle spun around so that the rear end of a whippet was nearer to me than the coyote’s teeth were. I knew if that arrangement did not come up, we would just have to wait until the coyote was through fighting for its life. It took several hour-impersonating seconds, but Bravo’s butt finally qualified, so I grabbed it and got ready to pass him between my legs to Kaelyn. That left Dekker as the only one holding the coyote, which now had its mouth free and wanted its hind leg to come loose too. Luckily, Dekker did not insist on holding on to the leg once the teeth got involved, so I was able to pass Bravo back and grab Dekker’s rear end too.

To my surprise, the coyote was able to get up and attempt an escape. But now Linus was ready to do his more aggressive version of Reggie’s probes. Choosing not to take on Linus, the coyote ran through a gap in the bushes; Linus considered following, but instead paid attention to shouts from Kaelyn and me and did not pursue. The coyote found a hole in a fence on the far side of the bushes and made off into the distance.

Injury Assessment

Dekker had a hole in his cheek and one in a hind foot, Linus had some scratches on his head, and Bravo was a complete mess, bleeding from his shoulder, the upper part of his head, and his chin. But no one was in such bad shape as to need carrying, so we hiked the remaining half mile to the car. I dropped Kaelyn off at Amy’s house to check on Annie, and then I took the dogs home for a more thorough look at their injuries.

At home, Dekker’s foot wound looked worse than it turned out to be. I don’t think he ever limped on it at all, and I cannot now tell which foot it was that got hurt. We put three staples in his cheek but could not handle a chunk of skin that hung from the corner of his mouth. It took a vet to patch that part up on Monday. Linus’s couple of scratches disappeared in his black fur, not to be seen until scabs came off a week later, revealing fresh pink skin underneath. Bravo, from his time at the business-end of the coyote, was another story. First of all, I had to clean him up so I could tell the difference between coyote blood and whippet blood on his white fur. Once cleaned up, I could see a pea-sized piece of torn muscle through the hole in his shoulder’s skin. He had lots of holes on his head and a swollen chin that would not stop dripping. With the muscle damage and the chin/mouth problem, I knew I needed the emergency vet to take care of him.

I laid out towels in the truck to protect the upholstery and took Bravo to the emergency veterinary office, where they clipped his fur away to evaluate his injuries. The veterinarian on duty, Dr. Andreou, looked at all of Bravo’s external wounds and determined that Bravo needed surgery to take care of the damaged muscle and to put a drain in his leg. Dr. Andreou also knew that he would have to do some deep investigation of Bravo’s mouth and, as he was to be anesthetized for the work on his shoulder, the vet could best do the thorough oral evaluation while Bravo was under. Dr. Andreou also pointed out something I had not noticed: Bravo broke a tooth (his upper-left canine) by clacking it against a coyote tooth, no doubt.

Bravo made it through the hour-and-a-half procedure cleanly and came home with a rabies booster shot, antibiotics, and pain medication. The swelling in the chin was caused by a salivary gland that the coyote ruptured by biting through Bravo’s lower jaw. Bravo got many dissolvable sutures inside his mouth and some conventional stitches on his head and shoulder. He now, one week later, wonders why he is being kept on leash for our walks. Our regular vet wants to keep Bravo on antibiotics for a little while longer to see if the exposed root at the end of the broken tooth will seal up on its own. The salivary gland is causing no problems at all, and Bravo’s appetite has not diminished whatsoever. Now I think he is getting sunburned in the backyard because of his shaved head.

Kaelyn took some post-surgery photos, but these are all after he was cleaned up. He was even more messed up right after tangling.
Bravo in recovery

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