The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

July 20, 2013

COLUMN: A dog, a deer and an uneven lawn

Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — Millie was barking at something away off in the distance. I was mowing. I stopped to look but saw nothing.

Millie always has a reason for barking, she’s good that way, but sometimes it’s Bigfoot, sometimes just leaves blowing around. I let it go and resumed mowing.

I heard shouting. I quit mowing. It was Judy. She said Millie was after something in the woods. I went to investigate in our utility vehicle.

I found Millie nose to nose with a baby fawn, a spotted little fellow, all legs and ears. Millie wanted to play, but the terrified fawn didn’t know that. I didn’t see the mother, but knew Millie was in for it if she came back to check on her baby.

I gently called to Millie, so as not to excite the situation. Millie was having none of it. She barked away. Every time the fawn ran, Millie cut it off. The little fellow finally made a break for it.

I heard Judy calling. She couldn’t see us because the barn was blocking her view. I shouted back that it was a baby deer.

Then everything changed. The little deer shot out across the open ground beyond the barn, in full view of Judy up on the porch. Millie went flying after, hot on the deer’s tail. They were both running flat out, doing about a hundred, maybe more.

“This should be good,” I thought, knowing Judy and her natural protective nature towards all living critters, especially baby deer. I took a sip of bottled water and sat back in the seat.

The scene arranged itself thus: There flew Millie after the deer, from my left to right. I was parked under the shade of a cedar tree, observing.

Away across the lawn, Judy came bounding down the porch steps two at a time into the sunlight, hollering. I say hollering, but it wasn’t hollering. I could say screaming, but it wasn’t screaming either, although it was bloodcurdling.

It was like one of those old time air raid sirens, the kind that start off low and rise and rise in pitch as the handle is cranked faster and faster.

It sounded like this: Millieee, No! Millieeeee Noooo! Millieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I’m probably leaving off some of the eees there, but you get the impression.

If somebody was to be standing on the courthouse steps in Palestine hollering like that, there would be 911 calls coming in from Westwood. That gal has a voice that carries, I’ll allow.

Judy had hold of what appeared to be a whole limb off a tree, and had it in both hands above her head, like a Samurai warrior. She went sprinting after dog and deer.

I have never seen her run that fast or maintain a siren scream of such volume and amperage. I looked off to the right and dog and deer had shot under the barb wire fence and were halfway to the pond.

The scream muffled. I took a sip from the water bottle, put it back in the holder, wiped a dribble off my chin, and looked left. Judy had tripped and fallen face down in the lawn but hadn’t stopped screaming or let go of the tree limb, which I noted had green leaves on it, so I guess she must have leaped up and snatched it off a low branch somewhere between porch and lawn.

It must have been uncommon hard to express murderous intent at a dog and maintain good eye contact with ground obstacles while brandishing a tree limb, but she managed.

Before I could go render aid, Judy was back up and underway. A powerful desire pump my fist in the air and shout “You go girl!”, came over me, but I thought better of it and said nothing.

Quite frankly, I feared for the dog’s safety if Judy got a hold of the hound with that branch. I threw the machine in gear and took off after them.

We got down there in a hurry, me just behind the limb waving lady, the dog just ahead but looking back with her tail between her legs and running away from Judy more than at the deer.

Millie at this point was probably conflicted, taking the shouting as encouragement but distracted somewhat by the look in Judy’s eyes and of course, that tree limb.

The little fawn was still in the lead, but faded fast and collapsed in a heap.

Judy distracted Millie just as she was near enough to clamp jaws on Bambi. I came skidding up behind, to sort survivors.

Judy reared back with the tree limb, meaning to knock the stuffing out of Millie like a ballplayer swinging for the bleachers, but missed, and the limb spun her around and she toppled backwards.

Leaping from the vehicle, I grabbed Millie by the collar and hustled her to the safety of the back porch, an uphill run of 150 yards. Millie was glad for the retreat, I think.

Judy and the baby deer kinda laid there together unresponsive while we were gone. Both came to their senses about the same time.

Judy helped the little fellow to its feet and it ran off, sweaty and breathing hard, but unharmed.

The mother deer came running up from the shadows of the tree line and the baby went right to her. The pair disappeared into the forest.

Judy crawled most of the way home, gasping, completely spent. It took her two days to get her voice back.

We see the fawn and mother now and again, away off along the tree line, but they keep a safe distance from the house.

Millie thinks she saved the day and is still waiting for her medal which shows you how a dog’s brain works.

Judy blames me for scaring the fawn with the noise of the utility vehicle, triggering the whole episode.

Me, all I know is I never got back to mowing that day and my yard is now at different heights and I’ve got to do it over all at once or I’ll be mowing every day for a month trying to get it leveled off.

All in all, it was a typical Saturday at the farm. Sunday, a baby goat appeared out of the same woods and was surrounded atop a big stump by our donkeys, who were braying and he-hawing just as we were ready to leave for church.

But that’s a different story.


Michael Thomason is a local business owner.