Friday, May 27, 2011

Deer Attack

Holy Smokes, my dog could have died.

There I was, enjoying a beautiful walk along a creek in Duluth, Minnesota, in the heart of a city neighborhood.  My dog, a fluffy border collie, and my friends little mix dog, got scent of a deer.  This happens a lot in Duluth because we are overrun with them, to the point that they are almost vermin.  Ask any gardener, or person who has struck one with a car or bicycle, they are a hazard.  Little did I know what a hazard. 

So, there I was, trying to call my dog off the scent.  I had seen the deers tail, and it was only about 20 feet away through thickish brush.  I hoped I could call Jack off, rather than the deer running forever and having to wait for him to give up and come back.  There were no roads for several blocks, so I figured it was safe enough.  Little did I realize that the deer was psycho.

The little dog came back, but Jack did not.  I put a bell on him for just such a situation, and I could hear that he was quite close.  Next thing I knew, the deer was back.  And Jack was on it's heels.  Then the deer turned towards him, and I figured he would run.  He did, but only a little way and then circled back.  Next thing I know the deer is charging him.  CHARGING, like it wants to kill him.  He scooted off a bit, but circled around again.  At this point I was getting seriously worried and seriously involved.  The little dog had the sense to ditch out on this situation, and was safely in her owners arms.  Not my dog, he was hanging in there for no reason I could figure out.  She was charging, he was dodging, and then he was going back for more.  I was flummoxed.  What you have to realize is that my dog is a total wimp.  He is scared by every dog he meets, as well as puppies, and even bunnies.  He has never attacked anything in his life, beyond a mad dash at a squirrel, and why he picked this moment for glory I will never know. 

So there they are, charging, dodging, and finally faced off only about 15 feet from me.  And my dog is not doing the intelligent thing, as a 200 lb animal with very sharp hooves and a manic look in it's eye stares him down.  He's looking like he is going to run at it again, and she's looking like her dearest ambition is to put a hoof through his skull.  I had already been yelling to him to come, and now I started yelling at her to go.  I ran off the path and into the brush, waving my arms, swearing, and telling the deer to go away.  Okay, I suppose I was screaming at the deer.  And at my dog.  I recall calling him stupid, and telling him to come, once again.  He crouched down, which was good, and she looked at me with that same skull crushing look, which was BAD.  Having never been scared of deer before, I decided not to start now, and raised my arms over my head while making loud, slow progress towards her.  She still did not move and kept giving me that look.  Fortunately for me and the dog he decided to slink a bit closer to me, and while keeping any eye on her I grabbed him, leashed him, and dragged him out of there.  She still did not run, and still kept looking at us with attack mode in her eyes.  We left, she stayed.  And I began to figure out if my dog had gotten hoofed in all the charging and dodging.  I didn't think so because there had been no yelping or whimpering, and he is a big yelper and whimperer.  But still, he has a lot of fur, and she was right on top of him, so a ways further down the trail I stopped to assess him fully.  No injuries.  No getting off the leash either, for a long long time.

So, now it is mental assessment time.  It was a strange situation.  One I have never run across before, and I've met lots of deer.  My guess is there was a fawn hidden around there somewhere, or maybe even two, since she was so pissed and the travel pattern of dogs and deer was very random.  That seems the most likely scenario, the other being that she had some form of deer rabies.  There was no foam at her mouth, and she looked VERY healthy.  I am going to go with option number one.  But who knows, the herd in town has gotten so huge and out-of-control, maybe they've just decided they own the place.  Whatever the answer is, I will probably never know.  But what I do know is that my dog, my sweet, shy, intelligent dog, is not getting off his leash for a very long time.