"Crap," I thought. The poor dog had probably been spooked by the fireworks over Navy Pier (Chicago is a magical city and we have fireworks twice a week all summer. That's what the highest sales taxes in the nation will buy your city. Enjoy the show!) and had gotten away from its owner. I parked the car next to Lincoln Park, just south of the zoo, and started chasing the dog, whistling and calling out "Here puppy, here puppy." This is the universal dog call, obviously.
I chased that sucker for over a half an hour. The park was pretty much abandoned and very very dark. This showed a lot of bravery on my part, as ever since reading about that tiger that escaped from its cage in San Francisco and bit the jackasses that had been taunting it, I have had a secret fear of walking at night near Lincoln Park Zoo. Every time I walk Coop there, my imagination goes into overdrive and I fully expect to see an escaped lion or seal or gorilla at the top of every hill. I somehow managed to put these entirely rational fears aside and chase this dog through the darkness, because honestly, I am a hero. That's all there is to it.
Well, when I finally got close to it, I noticed an odd collar around its neck. That made me take a closer look at the dog and I realized that it was not a dog at all but a coyote.
I know this is the point in the story where you are shaking your heads and sighing and calling me a liar, or at the very least a person with an overactive imagination. I got back in my car and called back the friend I had been talking to before the whole chase began, and he was also very skeptical of my findings.
"So wait a second. Your plan was to chase this dog, catch it, put it in your car with your own dog, bring it back to your apartment overnight and try to locate its owners in the morning?"
"Exactly, except it wasn't a dog... it was a coyote!"
"Hmm. So you got out of your car, blocks away from the intersection where you witnessed a shooting in June (Oh, by the way, readers, I witnessed a gang shooting blocks from my house in June. Come visit Chicago!) to catch a strange dog in the dark. And it was a coyote. Hmmm." The last "Hmmm" sounded like he thought I was either on something or needed to be on something. I was very offended and so was Cooper, who would have appreciated an overnight house-guest, even if it was a coyote.
Other people, after hearing my story, assured me that I lived in the heart of the city and the odds of me stumbling upon a coyote were very small. I started imagining that it had escaped from the zoo and that the story was being covered up so people didn't know that lions and tigers and bears and coyotes were now invading our streets. I started looking for newspaper stories about dead people found with giant bear teeth marks in their head, but so far, no luck.
THEN, today, I read this article in the Chicago Sun-Times. It says that there is a coyote family living in Chicago, centered in Lincoln Park, my neighborhood. Oh boy, I love it when a major newspaper validates my crazy stories! And I am extremely happy I didn't catch the coyote and bring it in my car, because I am sure Coop would have been a delicious snack for it, and washing blood out of upholstery is really a pain in the neck.