I looked up from my work in the kitchen this morning to see a deer in our backyard. That in itself is not unusual, although I try to discourage them from grazing on my flowers inside the fence. The unusual component, I realized, was that the dog was outside in the same fenced yard.
He’d been out for his morning constitutional, and was lying on the deck, surveying the kingdom. Breakfast would happen when he came back to the door to come in. This, the dog who is completely food-driven, whose stomach clock can tell time to the minute, and he was lounging outdoors, unfed.
He’s 65 pounds of mixed-breed fluff. He’s appropriately territorial when someone comes in the driveway or to the door. Some days he loudly proclaims his ownership of the road that goes past our house, should someone dare to jog there.
This morning, as on many mornings, he was just hanging out for a little fresh air before breakfast. But now he had a visitor.
Mrs. Deer, who seemed to be quite in the family way, was inside the fence and perhaps fifty feet away from him. Her ears and posture were alert, moreso than one would usually expect, and the two were facing one another.
She began walking toward the dog with slow, deliberate steps. Her glances went back and forth between me in the window and the dog on the deck. She kept advancing. As she got closer, her steps became stamping and her belly seemed even more round. The dog, meanwhile — still lying down — just looked around the yard as if it were any other day. Birds were singing, bees were buzzing. The deer may have worn the cloak of invisibility, for as interested as he seemed in her.
She came closer, and the dog looked over his shoulder at me as if for some explanation. Sorry, babe, I got nothin’. Then he looked puzzled. He wanted breakfast…. but there was someone here to play with. So conflicted!!
Finally, he stood. The deer stayed. They did a little head-bobbing at each other. He went in her direction by a few steps; she stayed. He wandered back up to the door. She stayed. The dog made another circle down toward the deer, and at their nearest I would guess they were 15 feet apart.
Finally the dog, clearly deciding that bits of kibble were better than playing with…. or perhaps eating…. his new friend…. came up to the door as he does every day to be let in for breakfast. I opened the door and the deer stayed, perhaps wondering if there was a serving of kibble for her, too. Then at once, the deer was gone without a movement or a trace. No silhouette in the woods, no snapping of twigs or rustling of leaves. Just gone. Perhaps she had the cloak after all.
(c) 2020, J. Cools