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Man’s best friend: Joel Parker Whitney’s pet coyote

Rocks, Rails and Ranches
By: Gary Day, Special to the Placer Herald
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Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a three-part series on Joel Parker Whitney’s coyote. Read the first here.

Joel Parker Whitney published this article in the Sportsmen’s Review of Cincinnati in 1904. The notes in the text are mine.

“The natural taste for killing and fresh blood, and his great success in the turkey line, were unfortunate for our pet, for as the salmo salar fisherman returns with pleasure to the capture of the fontinalis, so did Dingo yield to the attractions of the barnyard fowl at home; and thus forever closed the youthful episode of his free range, and since, with the brief intervals of breaking away from his moorings, he has polished the hard ground from a central stake over an area of some forty feet in width, as his bright chain well attests.

(Note: The salmo salar is an Atlantic salmon and the fontinalis is a brook trout. Fishermen may know that it is more pleasurable to fish for brook trout than for Atlantic salmon.)

“Adjacent, and sufficiently near for a handshaking, lives a large raccoon, similarly attired with collar and chain, and both are on friendly terms, excepting at feed time, when the experience of Jack, the ’coon, has induced him to insist upon having his meals served separately.

“This system applies also to the dogs, including a bull-dog and stag-hound, which suffer injury if too intent upon the development of their sniffing qualities about the lunch counter, and the cry of distress which occasionally goes forth from the neighborhood of the cold meats is far more amusing to the looker-on than to the wailing canine musician.

“In fact Dingo, now fully developed and most expert in battle, is ready for a scrap at all times. It is his great enjoyment and he exercises his ingenuity to get dogs within the fatal circle of his domain. He will play with those who have the honor of his friendship, but woe betide any passing stray dogs, or those he is unfriendly with.

“The passing strange dog, be he large or small, is sure to become the matrix of Dingo's cast, and may at exit well murmur the reminding words of Addison: ‘Na-ture formed me of her softest mold.’

As a scrapper, Dingo is the Jeffries of his arena, and will quit his food quickly for a rough and tumble, and although there are many dogs which could vanquish him, he has never yet encountered a canine of his mettle and power.

(Note: James Jeffries was the world’s heavyweight boxing champion at the time of the article.)

“Almost invariably, when he has broken his chain, he has immediately celebrated his freedom by an assault upon some one of the collies, and, while several will join in mutual defense, he will by his rapidity and dexterous action clear the field in short order. He will then return to the kitchen door for larder filling, and allow himself to be secured.

“He has never bitten any person. As to canine antagonists, he has often been seized at the back of his neck by fighting dogs, but invariably upon being so seized has turned his head with wonderful celerity, ena-bling him to seize the lower jaw of the attacking dog by a grip of his own, which seems to be very discouraging to the latter, judging by the instant hold-breaking.”

Read more about the adventures of Dingo, Joel Parker Whitney’s coyote, in next week’s Placer Herald.