Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Strange Tale of Dog and Deer


This is a true story:
A couple of days ago I was walking along a logging trail on a nearby mountain with my dog Chance. After a sweaty and buggy uphill climb we finally reached the top, a large clearing overgrown with weeds, brambles and small trees. As I was scanning the leaves for small disturbances indicating a bird, Chance took off into the woods. After a few minutes I heard a distant yelp. Fear or pain? I called him back with no response. I heard nothing further. While waiting for him to return I noticed two small birds in the undergrowth nearby, two foraging Ovenbirds who paid little attention to me.



Suddenly, to my relief, I saw Chance trotting through the thinning forest about 50 yards off on my right. With his white coat and large black patches he was easy to spot. As he approached the clearing I expected him to turn toward me, but instead he continued straight on.

I should say a few words about Chance: He is friendly to all creatures except small furry things. Having been bitten as a puppy by an older dog, he is timid with other dogs and, if we encounter any on our walks, he clamps his tail between his legs until they have proven to be friendly. He has not met up with larger animals such as cows or horses. He has never seen deer at close range, only at a distance running across the field next to our house.
What happened next keeps replaying in my mind as if on a stage: a few steps behind him an adult antlerless deer was keeping pace with him. Chance continued to make his slow way through the weeds and low brush, stopping  at times to sniff  or examine something. The deer too stopped moving and resumed his pursuit as Chance moved on. Chance, seemingly unaware to his strange escort, did not once turn around. Soon both disappeared into the woods at the opposite edge of the clearing.

A couple of minutes later I saw the deer again, standing, as if posing, straight ahead at the edge of the plateau framed by two trees with  the sky as a backdrop. After a minute or so the deer walked off, stage left, and Chance reappeared from the woods on my right. Did he circle around behind me?

I had had a clear view of the entire strange spectacle but was so mesmerized by it that it never occurred to me to lift up my camera and and take a picture. So nothing to document it. I am still totally perplexed, still can't make any sense of it. 

A unedited preview of the peacable kingdom?


Jan Bruegel "Paradise" ca. 1620

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24 comments:

  1. interesting story...I wonder what that deer and your dog were up to?

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  2. Your Ovenbirds are lovely to see Hilke and they appear as rarities over here after lost birds get caught up in stormy weather... usually in the Scilly Isles.
    The story about Chance and the deer is wonderful and I can understand you just watching the whole episode...thanks for sharing your tale.

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  3. An amazing encounter Hilke.
    I think I would have just watched it all unfold too, and forgot about taking pictures.

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  4. A wonderfully perplexing story Hilke, a bit haunting really. Chalk it up on the long list of things we might never understand.

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  5. Lovely story Hilke!Big hug to Chance from me and Ira and Swing:)

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  6. Nice photos of the birds but the story of your dog and the deer is really special. Wouldn't a world like that be wonderful!

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  7. Great photos and a great story!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  8. I got chills from reading this post. You were given a gift.
    Very nice captures of the Ovenbird!

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  9. very wonderful and neat thing to witness

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  10. Hi Hilke

    That is quite the story, really interesting. You can only wonder what was going on. Lovely that it had such a peaceful ending.

    Regards
    Guy

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  11. Beautiful post and wonderful images. Well done.

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  12. Interesting post nice photos.

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  13. Hilke, those little birds are so sweet nut much more so your story about your dog and deer. Odd friendships happen in the animal world as elsewhere. I wonder if he would find the deer again if you tood him back up there??

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  14. Great capture of the Ovenbird! Such a fascinating story about Chance and the deer! By the way, Chance is a fine-looking dog.

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  15. I often forget to raise my camera when I am watching something beautiful unfold before my very eyes. A lovely story and excellent shots of the Ovenbird Hilke!

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  16. What a weird spectacle!
    Never heard or seen anything like it.
    Our crazy Dachsen sometimes takes off (in Hungary) after those big guys and comes back hours later (we more than once gave up on her).
    Weird :)

    Love the shots of the Ovenbirds and Chance though. Lovely!

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  17. What a sweet story! I hope you took pliers with you into the woods, though. Just in case a porcupine engaged with Chance or by chance. Our foolish dog once stood down a moose in our yard. The moose was ten times the size of the moose,but the dog thought he could drive him away anyway, if if the moose were merely a pony! Wonderful Ovenbird pic, too! They are hard to capture in the dark woods.

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  18. Thanks for your thoughtful comments! Yesterday I took Chance back to the same area. When we entered the clearing a deer leapt up and bounded off into the woods. Chance pursued it for only a short distance. So repeat of the extraordinary event.

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  19. Lovely birds and a cool story about your dog Chance and the deer. Maybe they have become friends now.

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  20. Spooky!

    You cant the real stuff like this while sat indoors watching TV......

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  21. What an interesting story, Hilke. Great Ovenbird images too!

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  22. Amazing story Hilke. One of those truly unique experiences that only nature can give.

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  23. The little bird looks so cute on the top shot!

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