Friday, August 8, 2008

Bloody Nature

The thing about dogs with (mostly) white fur is how vividly blood shows up.

In absolute accordance with her instincts, her breeding and her inclination, Daisy has brought me birds, moles, squirrels and rabbits and I have been consistently ungrateful.
Then she and Bruno did their best to bring in venison and I was not calm, not collected, and not phlegmatic about the ways of nature. (I was distressed, hysterical.)

We were sitting in the garden discussing matters of great importance (bees, blueberries, Beat literature) when I heard barking and the sound of a deer in distress. It is a sound not unlike a baby crying but deeper in tone, more feral, and you only need to hear it once to know it forever.

Reine took Leda away, inside, hopefully out of earshot.

I rushed to the scene, as it were, and found both dogs in mortal battle with a fawn. Not a new fawn, more like a teenager. The fawn was on the ground, bitten and bleeding, and Daisy was fastened onto her haunch. I screamed and screamed at the dogs to back off, let go, with no effect at all except to summon my neighbor. (Another story.) Finally I was able to grab hold of Daisy and get her away, knowing that once I got Daisy away Bruno would back off, being the beta dog he is and the milder of the two. But Bruno did not immediately back off and it wasn’t until my neighbor took hold of Daisy for me that I was able to get Bruno leashed as well. Meanwhile, the injured fawn slunk into the tall grass to lick her wounds. And die? I don’t know.
Incidents like this reinforce just how out of whack this habitat has become; and how insane it is to have herds of deer roaming these river towns so close to the city, where the deer’s only predators are my dogs and cars, and where I can’t put an injured creature out of its misery. Not that I would know what to do with a gun, but that’s the idea.

As Reine later pointed out, my panic & fear were not unmixed with guilt, for I am far more likely to wish the deer elsewhere, dead & gone, than I am to fight for their tick-bearing, garden-decimating lives.

Leda (2 years old, with a vast vocabulary for the animal kingdom) was the sanguine one. “Daisy scared a fawn, Daisy scared a fawn. The fawn was scared. Daisy was scared.” She repeats this again and again, constructing a version of events she can understand, making sense out of the noises.

CSB pointed out, correctly, that I was crazy to interject myself between the dogs and their prey, because they could very well have turned on me. Thankfully, they did not. But I wasn’t thinking. Like them, I was operating on instinct. Though it’s not entirely clear to me what that instinct was.

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