Just this past week, shortly after dusk, Dan and I were out enjoying an evening stroll. Suddenly, a short distance away, we spotted what appeared to be a stray dog wandering alone in the street. My animal-loving (and worrying) side kicked into overdrive, as I quickly scanned the dark streets looking for a nearby owner. But, something about this animal's body language and posture seemed "off." The way it carried its shoulders close to the ground and the stillness of its stance made me stop, momentarily, to reassess the situation. Was it lost? Was it a stray? Was it going to attack? Did we need to run? "That's not a dog, that's a coyote," Dan said. With this new information in my brain, the dots suddenly connected and I realized Dan was right... that was an urban coyote, roaming the South Tabor streets of Portland! Apparently, urban coyotes in Portland are a thing! With our plethora of urban greenspaces (including Mt. Tabor, in my own backyard), it's only natural that coyotes wander around in the spaces that used to be belong to them and their wildlife friends. In fact, spend the day and night walking along any street in Portland and you'll come across birds, rats, moles, raccoons, squirrels, etc. But, contrary to popular myth, there's no need to be afraid of coyotes. According to the Audubon Society of Portland, coyotes are nocturnal animals, most active between dusk and dawn, with breeding season occurring from January to March (which may explain our January, early dusk sighting). And, as it turns out, coyotes actually help eliminate small rodents... such as Portland's ever prevalent and problematic rats! Coyotes generally shy away from people. If you see one—and if it sees you—it will likely only check you out from a distance. Unfortunately, because coyotes are predators, that means they may prey on small pets left unattended outdoors! They apparently also like food stuffs available in garbage cans, compost bins, and outdoor pet bowls. What can you do to cohabit peacefully with our urban coyote friends, while still keeping your furry children safe? Well, begin by making sure you're not giving coyotes easy access to those food stuffs I mentioned above. Also, and most importantly, don't let your small pet out, unattended, at night. For this reason, I only agree to watch your cats INDOORS while you're away. Otherwise, I can't guarantee their safety... and my number one job is to keep your precious pets alive and well.