False Pretenses

👤Joanne Campbell 🕔Nov 25, 2013

This afternoon, I was pouring hot water for tea when my dog started barking. Out the kitchen window, I saw the neighbourhood deer standing squarely in the middle of our tiny lawn, facing the patio door at which Dog was barking furiously.

Deer, who was waiting for Dog to notice her—and unafraid because she’d done this many, many times before—took two steps toward the door and extended her nose toward the noise. Dog, who doesn’t understand that Deer is an expert dog-button-pusher, barked off to a different window. Disappointed, Deer withdrew a step. Dog bounded back; Deer re-engaged and stepped forward. Changing tactics, Dog raced up the stairs; perhaps she thought she could ambush Deer from an open bedroom window.

With Dog shrieking at her mutely through the glass, Deer mentally shrugged and moseyed off toward my dormant lilacs and berry bushes; with Dog safely contained inside, she could browse on any juicy yard buds she wanted. She didn’t count on me, though. I opened the door and showed her what Hyah! meant. She stood and stared at me, wondering why I was able to address her so. It wasn’t until I was a bush-length away that she realized I meant business. Insulted, she took a step back. I persisted. She turned uncertainly. I persisted more. She bounced off into the aspens. I bounced inside, pleased at my power.

Too late as always, Dog thumped down the stairs. Now that Deer was gone, I put Dog out on her lead so she could sniff and bristle at opportunities lost.

Dog isn’t allowed out without a lead, you see, because Deer would entice her to play and, doggish creature that she is, Dog would follow her deep into the woods. She would eventually return, a conservation officer on her tail waving a fine for me, the owner of this deer-harassing dog.

Creatures pretending to be something they are not are numerous in this neck o’ the woods.

In this case, the deer is an interloper that stimulates a territorial reaction in the dog. She also promises to be a tasty tidbit should the dog ever be lucky enough to get close enough to take a bite. She’s a creature that should be wary of dogs, and flees at the first whiff, never mind a woof!  

But this deer is a poseur. Far from haplessly wandering into the dog’s yard and then fleeing at the first warning, she brazenly steps up to the gate and pushes it open, then waits for the dog to notice. She knows the dog will be furious that she’s there, but she doesn’t care. She knows she’s safe. That dog can’t get her. The dog’s exit is blocked by the door, and the ideology that prevents the door from being opened. The deer enjoys provoking the dog’s impotent, raging response. Confirming the dog is powerless, the deer feels free to wander over and eat the yard greenery, at least until one with the power to open the door does so and chases her off.

Deer are cute and all but I much prefer my dog. Ideology I have to live with, my dog I love to live with. The deer, well, I’d like them better if they didn’t eat the greenery that I depend on for a) sustenance and b) aesthetics. They can hang out in their own forests, provide entertainment for wildlife aficionados and meat for wildlife eaters. I just don’t like them in my back yard, provoking my dog and messing with my stuff.  

Shoo deer. Go back to the woods where you belong.