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Ring Smells Trouble or Coyotes In The House

Story ID:8350
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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Ring Smells Trouble or Coyotes In The House…
By Chuck Dishno
October 13, 2012

As many of you know, my Dad was a cattle rancher in the Big Hole Valley near Dillon, Montana. Born in 1884 he grew up in the harsh times and ranch work was all he knew.

One of the things he had to help with was to keep the predators away from the cattle, especially during calving season. Coyotes were a particular menace as they worked in packs to bring down the young calves. Pop said they would shoot them on sight whenever possible but like the wolves of today, they stayed far enough away to be out of rifle range. The alternative was to trap them

When Pop lost his ranch due to the Great Depression, he moved to Oregon with my Mom. This is where I was born in 1934.

Pop didn’t talk much about his past life in Montana but he had a large satchel where he kept pictures and papers that I found out later were all he kept from the earlier days. I was always fascinated by this satchel and would watch Pop take it out frequently and go thru its contents. I never questioned his motive but on occasion he would take out a picture or two of his cattle spread and his favorite saddle horse, Whiz-Bang.

Pop never told me not to go thru his bag but being of the curious nature I couldn’t resist. When I was about 11 years old, I was rummaging thru my parents closet and came upon that elusive and intriguing satchel. It had snap latches on the top and it wasn’t long before my curiosity came to a head. I slowly opened it and found many interesting pictures and mementos from his past including a 32-caliber revolver that I had seen before.

Pop was at work in the woods so had all afternoon to do my snooping. I left the gun alone, as I knew I would be in big trouble if I brought that out.

One thing did intrigue me though. It was a small bottle, about the size of a hair oil bottle with the little hole in the top. When I opened it up and took a sniff, I about gagged, it smelled horrible and I couldn’t wait to get the top back on. The label said, “Coyote Scent”. I put it back in the satchel and for the next hour I went thru old pictures and even the original deed to his ranch in Montana. I felt a little guilty, about as guilty as an 11-year old boy could, but I felt I had learned a little more about my beloved Pop. Something I knew he wanted to share but was reluctant to bring up because of has perceived failures. This meant nothing to me and I was proud of the old man. Pop was 62 at the time.

Our house, 3-bedroom home with kitchen, dining room, large living room and for the first time in my life, an in-door bathroom. All the floors were covered with nice linoleum, which Mom kept polished to a high shine.

My dog at that time was Ring, Shepherd mix that had lost his left paw in a coyote trap. Ring and I were about the same age and I think he was filled with that 11-year old curiosity too. Probably the reason he lost his front paw. He loved to roam outside and had learned to open the front door by himself. The door had a thumb latch and Ring would stand up, hit the latch with his good foot and push the door open. He would then turn around, put his nose back of the door and slam it shut. I take credit for teaching him this trick.

I had no sooner come out of Pop’s closed when Ring burst into the house. He had only gone a few steps when he ran over to me and began to sniff my hand. You would have thought I was holding a large beefsteak. This puzzled for a while until I realized I must have gotten some of that rotten smell on my fingers. I immediately went to the bathroom and washed off off. Ring calmed down but was still sniffing the air looking for that elusive smell.

When Pop came home, I wanted to fess up to my transgressions but as Ring had calmed down and wasn’t about to rat on me, I decided to wait a day or two as I still had some more exploring to do.

The next day, I went back into the closed and the satchel to do some more exploring. Soon that bottle of coyote scent riveted my attention and its effect on my dog, Ring. I just couldn’t resist so I opened it up, this time holding my breath and touched my finger to the small hole in the top. I then went out to the living room and touched my tainted finger to a spot in the middle of the linoleum floor. I had no sooner done this when Ring came home from his daily rounds of Bly searching for a good dogfight or a willing lady.

As soon as Ring slammed the door he immediately started sniffing the air and soon zeroed in on the invisible spot on the floor. Invisible to his eyes but not his nose. As soon as he had checked it out he started to roll and roll he did. He put his head on it and slid back and forth then rolled over on his back He seemed in ecstasy and would get up and start all over again. This went on for at least 15 minutes until Mom made me stop and lock Ring in one of the bedrooms.

A few hours later, Pop came home and was wondering where Ring was. Ring was usually right there to greet him. Pop could hear poor old Ring scratching frantically to get out. He told me to let him loose which I did but instead of jumping all over Pop as he usually did, He headed for that invisible spot on the floor. When he started his rolling antics, Pop was visibly shaken saying he had seen this before and Ring, in his advanced age was having a fit. He tried to calm him down but Ring would have nothing to do with that and continued to roll.

Pop said that he didn’t want to see him suffer and told me to get his rifle out of the closet. He said there was nothing to do but to put Ring out of his misery. I started crying and fessed up to what I had done. Pop laughed and told me to get a wet towel and wash the spot off the floor. As soon as I did, Ring calmed down and greeted Pop in his usual way.

Pop seemed relived that he could now share part of his past with me and over the next few months he open up his valise and told me about many things that he was reluctant to share for fear that I would have a lower opinion of him.

As for the coyote scent, Pop said that it was used to attract coyotes to the area where he had set the traps. I asked him why it smelled so bad, and he laughed saying that he wasn’t sure what was in there but he always thought it was pure coyote pee. He said that what ever it was it sure worked and helped keep the coyote population in check. I’m sure Ring whole-heartedly agreed since he had lost his paw to a trap a few years earlier.

Soon all was forgotten and life went back to normal, except for Ring who continued looking for that stinky, elusive coyote for the next few days.

Ring died of natural causes a couple of years later at age13. I’m sure Ring went to Doggie Heaven and St. Bernard asked him to check the Heavenly Gateposts for any coyote scent. I believe Ring performed his olfactory task to perfection and Pop was waiting for him on the other side where they could relive the many happy hunts and fishing trips they shared over those 13 short years.

I have written many stories about my first dog, Ring and invite you to read them.