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Woman searches for lost dog after coyote attack

MEDFORD — A local woman in the midst of moving to the East Coast has nine days to find her four-legged best friend after a coyote attack last weekend.

Augustine Colebrook was camping Saturday night with her 14-year-old daughter, Abigail, and friends near Willow Way and Stewart Avenue in south Medford when her Jack Russell service dog, Cricket, took off after being injured in a fight with a coyote.

A feisty, 12-pound dog, Cricket cried out in the night.

"I had tied her up like I usually do, and my daughter was up later than I was. When she went to bed, she undid the dog to climb into her sleeping bag, and she always stays right next to us," Colebrook said.

"I woke up at 4:45 a.m. to this death scream. It was the most horrible sound I have ever heard in my life. It was very pre-dawn light, so it was hard to see at first, and then I saw the coyote and Cricket fighting about 20 feet from me. When I screamed, they both took off."

Cricket initially hid under a car but then ran away, stumbling on her front legs every few steps.

Dan Ethridge, assistant wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said coyote attacks are not a frequent occurrence. He was aware of coyotes living in the area where the incident occurred, he said.

Nocturnal in nature, coyotes range from 20 to 40 pounds, standing an average of two feet at the shoulder.

"It is kind of uncommon to have coyotes in and around people, but in the last several years, it's becoming more and more likely for them to be closer to actual cities than in the country," he said.

"Larger cities have them in their parks, so they're becoming more noticeable. They're typically night wanderers. We don't get an awful lot of calls on coyote attacks. But we do get them two to three times per year."

Ethridge contacted Colebrook to get details of the attack.

Colebrook, who has been searching neighborhoods surrounding the area where her dog was attacked, said she was struggling with not knowing the fate of her tiny companion. A regular at the Biddle Road Starbucks, Colebrook said her dog rarely left her side.

"A lot of people know her. I sit and do my computer work at Starbucks at Barnes and Noble. She's just a sweet little dog who doesn't even need a leash. She's so well trained," Colebrook said.

"I know she was terrified. I don't think she could have survived, but I hate not knowing. I can't stop looking and thinking maybe someone picked her up."

Cricket is nearly all white, with a brown and black head and a single black spot on her right haunch.

Anyone with information about the missing dog is asked to call Colebrook at 619-341-4729.

— Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Augustine Colebrook and her missing dog Cricket. [Submitted photo]