Friday, May 2, 2008

See Deer, WILL run....will run fast and far.....


I have some time at work as Friday winds down in the last hour of the workday so I'll share the story behind this picture.
Last Saturday evening the weather warmed to the 50s from the 30s earlier in the week so I had a good reason to take Henry out for a run in our favorite location. It's a nature preserve that's open to the public and it's only about a 10 minute drive from the house. The front part of the area has mountain bike/hiking trails meandering through it and the back part has some less traveled trails. I keep Henry on the leash in the front part and once we get to the back section I let him off leash and boy does he enjoy running....and running....coming back to check on me....more running.....checking the swamp area for critters....checking back with me (I give him treats every time he comes back so he knows good things happen when he comes back) and oh, yeah, he runs some more.
The area is well wooded with hills and wetlands so wildlife is abundant but in the other 20 or so times we've taken Henry to run, the wildlife has seemed to keep far away (except for a woodchuck that was in the swamp...former woodchuck). This particular evening (note: first time taking Henry to the area at dusk, normally it is mid afternoon) we went through our normal routine of walking on the leash until we reached the back section. I let Henry off the leash and was keeping him within 10 feet of me with treats but after about 5 minutes of this I looked up in front of us and saw a couple of white tails bouncing through the woods, up the hill and away from us. Just as I was trying to persuade Henry back to me so I could leash him his ears perked up, the nose went in the air and he caught the scent of the deer. He took a quick glance at me and TOOK OFF RUNNING!!! Up the hill, through the woods and in two seconds I lost sight of him.
Heart dropping...stomach tensing...how far will he run and how long before he comes back???
I followed his trail up to the top of the hill and started calling for him and whistling (his cue to come back to check on me). This time the cues didn't work.
20 minutes gone by...no sign or sound of Henry.
I make the call to Sarah that our dog has gone chasing deer. She grabs our spotlight (I at least thought ahead and put some super reflective bands around Henry's neck that I usually wrap around my ankles when riding my bike) jumps in the car and heads over to help.
She calls when she gets to the woods and gets directions to my whereabouts. I told her my general location and to listen for my calls and whistles for Henry.
45 minutes have gone by (seemed like hours) and I'm on top of a hill at the intersection of two paths and I can look down the hill to see the usual path of our travels in case Henry decided to go back to where he knows to look for me.
Starting to loose my voice and whistling ability, I decide to climb a pine tree for a better look and hoping my voice will carry farther for Henry to hone in on where I am. I get about 10 feet off the ground and happen to look down one of the trails....
I see some movement that looks like a dog trotting!!
I holler HHHEEENNNRRRYYY!! I see the dog's head pick up at the call. Our Henry has returned!!!!
He must have been well worn out from chasing the deer that are much faster than him (hopefully he figured this out and won't chase them again, but not likely) because his tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth and he just trotted the 1/4 mile back to me.
After I got him back on the leash I called Sarah and told her "I have our dog" and both of us sighed a big relief.
I didn't really worry about Henry not coming back, the question was will I have to stay the night in the woods waiting for him to come back.
I did hear some gunshots shortly after Henry took off running so I had a small fear that a drunken redneck with three teeth wearing a dirty flannel shirt over top of his BBQ rib stained wife beater tank top decided to shoot at Henry for chasing deer. Luckily my elaborate imagination was incorrect.

I'll still take Henry to the preserve, actually took him back the next day, but I WON'T go back at dusk when the deer are most active.
I did see deer on the next day but luckily Henry was still rather tired from his exploits the day before and was keeping close to me. I leashed him and walked the opposite way the deer was heading. For good measure, I picked up a big stick and started hitting it on the trees as we walked so the wildlife was well aware of our presence.
It's time to invest in a small cow bell for Henry to wear from his collar.

1 comment:

alli-lou said...

He is so cute!!! I hope that he and Lily can meet sometime and play :-D
-Allison