‘Dynamic duo’ rescues coyote pup from cactus
The Sun City West resident was leaving her home when she noticed a small puppy running across the street. “I was worried about it and thought it was someone’s pet,” she said. The pup crawled under some bushes “and it kind of curled up and stayed there.”
She kept checking and, at one point, the pup was gone. However, in walking around the side of her house she discovered the puppy – not a neighborhood pet, but a young coyote – was in her back yard, covered with cholla cactus.
“It looks like he ran into the cactus headfirst,” the 85-year-old retired schoolteacher said. The pup’s face was covered by huge cholla clumps, at least six or seven of them. Sizable pieces also had adhered to his back legs and, on his right foreleg, the cholla clumps were imbedded in his shoulder and at his knee.
Distraught, Maxwell went down the street, saw a neighbor outside, and told him about the situation. “I knew my neighbor was trying to get in touch with someone to help, and I just went back home, sat at the window and watched that little thing,” Maxwell said, a tremor in her voice. “He’d get up and tumble around with all those chollas on him, and it was just so heartbreaking.”
The mother coyote was aware of her baby’s plight, Maxwell added. “She kept coming back and holding a vigil in my back yard,” she said. “The mother would walk all around that little coyote, and she must have known she couldn’t do anything about it. Finally, she just laid out on the gravel on the courtyard and watched that little one and was there for quite some time before she wandered off.”
Maxwell kept watching the baby. “It finally struggled out of my back yard up to the golf course and it headed up to the first tee,” she said. “I was so worried someone would run over it or hit it with a golf ball. Then, a young man from the golf course came along and he stopped there. I watched him get on his phone and call someone, and soon another young man joined him.”
The two men, Pebblebrook Golf Course maintenance worker Jose Soto and Assistant Superintendent Shawn Bordine, “were able to get ahold of the little rascal,” she said. By that time, the young coyote had drawn quite a crowd, including a member of the Sun City West Sheriff’s Posse, a Maricopa County deputy sheriff – and the coyote’s mother, who had returned to the scene.
“We saw her across the way, and we could see her coming back across the golf course,” Maxwell recounted. “The deputy sheriff was saying, ‘Watch out for the mother; watch out for the mother.’ But I don’t think she would have been violent. I definitely think she knew what was going on – that they were trying to save her baby. I think that’s why she came back around and was close by, so that they could get the little coyote back to her.”
Giving herself a bit of distance, the mother coyote sat and watched as Soto and Bordine worked on her baby. Soto, who wore heavy leather gloves, held the pup still and attempted to keep him calm while Bordine wielded a pair of Channel Lock® pliers, pulling the larger cholla pieces loose, then used smaller pliers to extract the individual spines.
“Jose and Shawn did such a good job,” Maxwell said. “They were very gentle. Gosh, I don’t know how long it took, but it seemed like a long process. Of course, the golfers were coming by and had paused their game to see what was going on.”
The pup was amazingly calm throughout the ordeal, Bordine noted. “As Jose held him, I was able to pull stickers out of his mouth,” he recounted. “He didn’t bite or make a sound.”
When all the stickers had been removed, Maxwell said, the two men walked in between some of the houses so they could deposit the pup where he would see his mother. “It ran to her, and followed her and its siblings back across the golf course.”
Maxwell wasn’t able to count just how many others were in the coyote family, but the pup was clearly happy to be back with his clan. “I was so intent on watching the pup in danger that I wasn’t really focused on that, but I think there were about four other pups,” she said. “I love the wildlife, and I don’t like to see anything suffer. It was so hard for me to watch. I was so thankful to those two young men for what they had done.”
Later that day, Bordine saw the rescued pup with his father. “Dad gave him a couple of licks, they played, and then ran away,” he said. “I’m glad we were able to help, because I hate to see an animal down. It would have killed me if we didn’t do anything. I have a dog, and I would want someone to help if my dog was hurt.”
This is not the first time that Bordine and Soto – now being called “The Dynamic Duo” by their coworkers at the Recreation Centers of Sun City West – have come to the aid of wild animals in need. Last year on Pebblebrook Golf Course’s 13th green, the pair rescued a red-tailed hawk that had fallen out of the nest and was too young to fly.