First of all, I must apologize for my long hiatus from this blog. It is amazing how much time can pass when one is busy! At least now I have a story to tell. We just recently made our own Youtube channel, and I feel one of the videos should be explained in greater detail than what I gave in its description there.
A couple of years back, I was living in a downstairs apartment in Estes Park, Colorado. I had my dog, Dashiell, with me. We had an enclosed yard, with a high enough fence to keep him safe inside and other creatures safe outside. It was a pleasant winter day without too much wind when we were visited by a small herd of deer that frequented the area of town we lived in. Though, I think some explanation for this story is due.
Dashiell is a German Shepherd mix of some kind, with more black over his body than purebreds,
Dashiell, soon after we adopted him in 2009.
and a little more svelte than some purebreds I’ve met in the past. My mother and I adopted him after he arrived on an Oklahoma farm from unknown origins.
Our guess was that he was about three years old when he came to us. Someone had loved and cared for him, as he already knew the standard commands of “sit,” “stay,” “down,” et cetera. We immediately started training him for our home. After six months on the leash, we had taught him the difference between right and left, which comes in handy when walking him through a forest on a leash. Too many times with other dogs did I find myself and the leash tangled around a tree, occasionally with one of my legs involved.
“You keep pointing that thing at me! I think it must be a treat.”
We have now had Dashiell about six years. I have learned he doesn’t like walking through puddles, or up sandy hillsides like we tried to do at Great Sand Dunes National Monument. When he is outside our yard he generally follows his nose at such a rapid rate that I must keep him on a leash so that he doesn’t wander into traffic. He has taught me a great deal about himself, and myself.
Dashiell is a gentle dog, for the most part. When he was younger he wanted to scare off the thunder and lightning when a storm would rage. He lacked any fear of inclement weather. Fortunately, with some more dedicated training, he’s ceased chasing thunder. Winter is his best time of year, by far. Watching the look of joy on his face when he’s jumping through snowdrifts as tall as he, is a joy to behold for a dog-mom.
Things brings me back to the day of the deer visitation. My apartment sat at the edge of a small field, and I was surrounded by neighbors who had lived in the area for a number of years. Some of these neighbors would feed the local deer. This, not only being illegal, is something I don’t recommend. Wild animals are just that: wild. They have instincts and intelligence and can fend for themselves. Creating a dependence upon us for winter food is not in their, nor our, best interests.
A small herd of about ten deer would come through the unfenced portion of my yard on a regular basis. They would peer at my door sometimes, their ears forward, and then go back to their leisurely grazing. This day, however, Dashiell was already outside, his first day out since wounding his foot and getting a few stitches in between his peds.
Dashiell will only occasionally bark at wild life. Usually it is a curious bark, his version of “Hey, who are you?” If it is a coyote, he tends to be more aggressive, but still curious. “This is my place!”
When the deer arrived, Dashiell was excited, but not aggressive. For some reason, he seemed to show a particular curiosity towards one particular deer. I did not find out if it was a male or female, but the deer looked young. Dashiell bounced and danced, hardly ever making a sound. Between Dashiell and the deer was my fence. I grabbed my camera, put it on movie mode, and started recording. I do love my camera, but being built primarily for still pictures, its microphone isn’t ideal. I very nearly punctured my upper lip with my teeth trying not to laugh at the spectacle of Dashiell trying to engage this deer in a game of Wild Tag.
I was very glad for this fence. The other members of the herd became the peanut gallery at the corner of my apartment. Dashiell and the deer played for upwards of fifteen minutes, many of which I filmed, while the peanut gallery looked on. They seemed somewhat annoyed, at least to me. They sometimes stared at me, stared at their friend, stared at Dashiell as he bounced back and forth across the yard.
Never once did I believe that Dashiell was into harming that deer. Nothing in his body language displayed aggression, or hunger, or viciousness. His tail wagged too freely, his bounciness, even with a wounded paw, was too jubilant, and when he did bark, his voice was too playful and his volume too soft. If he did growl, it was with a closed mouth. He did not bark like a dog defending his property or his owner, with lips pulled back and teeth bared.
Dashiell was just having a good time, as, apparently, was the deer.
I will admit I was concerned a few times when the deer came forward to meet Dashiell, that the deer would try to get through the fence, or forget it was there and crash into it. This could have meant injury to either the deer, Dashiell, or me, as I was standing fairly close and filming. It didn’t happen, though. The deer and Dashiell had a good little visit and romp, my fence and I survived unscathed, and the herd of deer eventually walked on.
Watch the video here: Dashiell and the Deer
Dashiell and the Deer play in the backyard.