When the shepherd met the doe

Pen Park visit

This past Saturday, we took Pyrrha back to the lovely, large park for a brief hike in the woods. This time, we brought the long (30-foot) lead, because I was not eager to have a repeat of the recall-failure fiasco. The long lead seemed to work pretty well, and in some senses, it was a nice test to see how much she’d stick with us if we moved on ahead of her. It’s clear that we have an extremely nose-oriented dog, and all of the wonderful smells in the world are often way more interesting than we are. Still, whenever she would catch up with us and come when we called, we’d praise her warmly. (It would have been more effective, I’m sure, if we’d had bits of hot dog on us…)

Pen Park visit

It was a very muggy afternoon, but the majority of the trail we took is heavily shaded and winds along the river, so we had a pleasant excursion. We didn’t encounter any other dogs, to my surprise, and we only saw a few humans in the distance. It would have been a largely uneventful walk, except that on the way back…


… Pyrrha found a doe.

She was calmly standing in the clearing, foraging for plants. Both dog and deer FROZE as soon as they made eye contact.

And they stayed like this for what must have been three full minutes. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it felt like an eternity, watching these two animals, completely frozen, locking eyes with one another, barely breathing. Guion and I were even getting a little bored. “OK, which one of you is going to make a move??”

Squaring off with a deer

It was the doe. She flicked her ear, and then took off. And so did Pyrrha. And then so did Guion. This was one instance where that 30-foot lead was a very good idea. Interestingly, Pyrrha chose to run along the trail, parallel with the deer, possibly to keep a clearer eye on her and possibly because she herself was a little frightened. The deer took off up the hill and we had to restrain Pyrrha. She started to whine and dart around us in circles, clearly ready to resume the hunt.

Post-deer chase

As Guion walked back to me, his eyes were wide and bright. “Did you see that?” He asked. “She acted like a DOG!” I laughed. Indeed, she did. It’s always something that we celebrate around here.


5 thoughts on “When the shepherd met the doe

  1. Lovely story – good you had the long lead! Deer will awaken even the quietest dogs – my Irish Wolfhound had her final run at a deer aged 8 – She began chasing a doe – I lost sight of her and then suddenly a huge stag bounced across the path ahead with Lyric about 6 ft behind. It was incredible and lucky that her domesticity prevented a final lunge for the stag which could have gouged her. Sadly her heart was never the same and she died 6 months later.

  2. Great story! Ever since Nikita was a little pup, we called the deer we see outside “Big Doggies”, so when she hears us say “Big Doggies” she runs to the window to watch them. It is funny to watch as she runs from window to window to get a better view! We love all the funny things that she does! Pyrrha is such a beautiful dog and we enjoy reading your posts about her.

  3. We’ve had a few deer encounters on our hikes, too! Now the dogs wear bear bells so that deer and other animals can hear us coming from a distance and be less visible. My husband still swears his right arm is two feet longer after a Morgan and deer wildlife encounter! lol She wears a thirty foot lead when we hike, too!

  4. That must have been really neat tp see a deer on your trails.
    I hope you guys get to see more!!!
    We usually just see bunnies on Long Island.

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