"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Stand-Off

Our quiet and mellow spaniel, Shoeless Joe, hangs around in the yard most
of his days. He finds shade whenever possible. He does a bit of roaming to
visit the neighbors who often feed him yummy treats.
His roaming is casual and nonchalant, with sniffing and easy wanderings.

This morning we watched a super-alert doe stepping nervously around our backyard.
We realized she was eyeballing our Shoeless who, in turn, seemed oblivious to her presence. She followed his every movement warily.
We are crazy about the deer that live in close proximity to us and don't care if they eat our flowers or drink the birdbath dry. They are pretty and shy--usually.

There is one season when these does become aggressive and that is now.
Late spring is the time when the new babies are born.
These mothers leave their newborn fawns in the cover of trees and bushes
and then step away to protect them.
(Do you recall the movie "Bambi" when he was born in a thicket?
One of my all-time favorites!)

Apparently Shoeless was too close for comfort for this Mama.
She showed her displeasure by stepping closer and closer to our threatening little dog,
stomping a warning with her delicate front leg on the ground and lowering her head.
He didn't move a muscle as he has been taught not to chase the deer even though he wants to. However, just whispering the words, "Go get her!" would have sent him flying!
He has no desire to catch anything, just get things moving.
His genes were bred for flushing birds.
It took great restraint for him to lie so still as she approached him.
But, he finally had enough of her attitude and turned to face her directly.
The stand-off stare was on!
After a minute or two Mama backed off, turned and carefully retreated into the trees.
Shoeless stretched out in the same spot and fell asleep.

A short while later we were thrilled to see the reason for all the fuss.
This tiny, spotted fawn tottered next to her mother, a bit wobbly and hardly visible above the long grasses. Mama licked her and kissed her and all was well.
The black and white threat had passed and the proud Mama relaxed for the moment.
I ponder one thing...how does a mother deer communicate with the baby to never leave the safety of the thicket while she is out foraging and guarding?
They don't talk like Bambi's mother did to him. Once out into the open, these babies stay right there next to mama's side.
We human mothers could stand to learn the trick when our little ones are out in public!

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