Great Barrington — The mystery of the canine beast seen roaming downtown Great Barrington on Halloween morning has been solved.
West Stockbridge resident Kristin Piasecki, who works at Barnbrook Realty on Main Street, posted a photo on Facebook yesterday with the caption “enormous wolf/coyote hybrid runs through downtown Great Barrington.”
The grainy photo, taken by Piasecki on her iPhone, shows an unusual but happy-looking canine bounding on Tuesday morning down a Main Street sidewalk without a care in the world. The post promptly went viral, eliciting some 80 comments, 43 reactions and 117 shares as of mid afternoon today.
Given that it was Halloween, the photo immediately prompted speculation that the beast was a so-called coywolf – a hybrid of a coyote and a gray wolf – or a coydog, which is a combination of a coyote and a domestic dog. The Edge then shared Piasecki’s photo on its own Facebook page, reaching almost 4,000 people, generating more than 80 reactions and volumes of additional conjecture.
Piasecki said her husband, Jon, a noted landscape architect, was convinced that the beast was indeed a “wolf/coyote hybrid,” though perhaps “mostly wolf.” Others thought it was merely a garden-variety coyote. Another branded Piasecki’s grainy image a “bad Photoshop” effort, an accusation she quickly shot down: “Nope, it’s not. I took the photo.”
Others wanted to have fun. One commenter, in deference to the spirit of the ghostly holiday, asked, “Is that the dog with the mask on?” Another apologized: “Oh sorry, it was me. I was just out for a run. Didn’t think anybody would notice.” Another noted that the wild beast appeared to have a collar and tags.
Witnesses said the beast paused in front of Barnbrook Realty on the east side of Main Street, then crossed the street in the direction of Rubiner’s and approached a man and his small dog on a leash. The owner, Joe Tracy, and the little dog promptly sought refuge in Gorham & Norton.
That prompted Piasecki to crack that the beast must have been “happy to be out and looking for a quick bite!”
“That was my dog Taeya and me,” Tracy, who also works at Gorham & Norton, said on Facebook. “I saw it running towards us and thought it was just someone’s dog off leash!”
The Edge then received a tip from someone who was familiar with the mysterious canine. The person said the coywolf was actually a domestic dog named Arrow who has been identified as an American Indian dog.
The American Indian dog is thought to be highly intelligent and closely resembles a wolf. The breed is considered to make an excellent family pet “when properly socialized,” according to PetGuide.com.
The dog lives in Great Barrington. The owner, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Edge that 12-year-old Arrow wanders away and “trots through town from time to time, and luckily I’m always called or greeted at my door by a friendly GB neighbor.”
She wondered aloud why so many mistook her dog for a coywolf: “It’s clear that not only is he walking around with a collar, but he’s literally trotting around with his tongue hanging out. I don’t think coyotes run around like that.”
Over the past year, his owner said, Arrow “manages to sneak under the fence of my fully fenced and gated yard while I am home and he is happily playing outside, despite our continuous attempts to modify the fence.”
Arrow never barks, which might be one of the reasons why it takes longer than usual for her to notice when he leaves. But when that happens, friends and neighbors are quick to call her, the owner says, adding that “Arrow is an extremely unique dog.”
“His overwhelmingly kind and adventurous nature, though, are what really sets him apart from other animals,” the owner said. “We joke that he is human with genuine facial expressions.”