A Shiba is Not...A Coyote

Every morning we take Misaki out for a quick jaunt and sniff around the neighborhood. It's early, since work begins early, so it's a quiet time. Most of the time the sun is just cracking the horizon and people's alarm clocks for the most part haven't started to beep.

We see all sorts of cats in the neighborhood at this time of day, which apparently means there are quite a few that spend the nighttime hours skulking around the neighborhood (not our three crazies, they stay inside).

A couple weeks back we saw an animal in the street about a block away. As we got closer to it we thought it was a dog - roughly the size of an Alaskan husky - but then it started to lope off. Loping is a distinctive trait, so we pinpointed it for a coyote almost immediately. The coyote wanted nothing to do with people, Misaki showed almost no interest in the coyote, and after a couple more brief glimpses that same morning we haven't seen it since.

I should note we live in typical suburbia. It's a neighborhood with average size yards, sidewalks, and a grocery store a few blocks away. However, farmland is only a couple miles away, so it's not like we live in the middle of the city and seeing a wild animal is completely out of the question, just rare.

We joked about the coyote, about how it seemed so out of place. It seemed shy and it was fairly small - really about the size of a large shiba (supposedly they average from 15-45 pounds) or a small husky, with long, thin legs, a fluffy tail, and a coat various shades of brown. It probably took a wrong turn, got lost, and now was having a devil of a time getting back home.

A week later I heard about this story of a Shiba in Kentucky who had been mistaken for a coyote by the local Humane Society and released into the wild.

I urge you to read the whole story, it's unreal. For someone who supposedly should specialize in dogs to confuse a Shiba with a coyote is pretty sad.

Wifey and I joked that someone better not think our little Misaki is a coyote - we'd have to set them straight quick. Preferably by telling them to get on the internet and clicking this link so they can figure out what a Shiba really is.

Then we saw these flyers posted all over the neighborhood the other day and that joke got a ton less funny (click the picture for a bigger version that may be easier to read):

Holy crap, panic much?! Yes, you should stay away from coyotes in the wild, keep your kids safe, your pets safe, all that stuff - but isn't this a bit overboard? Doesn't this just cause people to react a little stronger than is really necessary?

I mean, all of those suggestions people should be doing anyway - we do have plenty of raccoons in the neighborhood attracted by all the same things.

And as for packs, coyotes predominantly hunt in pairs. They also primarily eat small animals, of which the common housecat would probably be a nice, easy snack. Just another reason to keep your cats in the house. I mean, I know my cats would be hard-pressed to have to do anything on their own outside.

A couple days later this sign popped up in the small park we walk through every day. This is a more official kind of notifcation, from the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation Department (again, click for a bigger, more readable view).

This document is much more measured and balanced - it's common sense. Then again, shouldn't all of this be common sense?

Apparently not, so in the spirit of my previous post about what exactly a Shiba is and is not, here are two pictures. One is Misaki, one is a coyote. Note to the Kentucky Humane Society - they look nothing alike.

Misaki the Shiba

A wild (and apparently annoyed) coyote

I'll be posting more of these types of pieces as it becomes evident they are necessary. Misaki enjoys doing her best to educate the world.


  1. Very good write-up. We too were shocked by the Kentucky incident, mainly because no coyote is going to tamely go anywhere with a human. That should have been a big sign right there. Even a skittish Shiba is more tame than a wild coyote. And yes, double-coat, pointy ears are the same, the eyes are very different in color and the coat color is different and so on and so on.

  2. Yeah - maybe the chances are slightly higher if the Shiba is a sesame, but I'm still not buying it. Pure laziness on the KHS' part. Or they need to screen their volunteers better.