By Sue Murphy
I’m sending this column out as an open apology to my neighbors.
I take my dog, Dave, out for a walk on my street every morning, but I use the term “walk” loosely. It’s really a quarter-mile smell-fest.
Dave is a champion smeller. He considers it his job to smell every fallen leaf, every blade of reachable grass. Usually, he is a happy smeller, using his walk to simply take in the olfactory scenery. He is interested in birds and squirrels, pinecones and grass clippings, pretty much everything he comes across. You can see his mind working as he motors along on his little legs: “Cooper’s yard – yes; Molly’s yard – yes; UPS man – last Tuesday; trash truck – two streets over.” Sometimes, he sniffs, pauses, sniffs again, and all but shrugs his shoulders. “I don’t know … pizza dude?”
Lately, however, Dave has been a dog on a mission. Apparently (as evidenced by their calling cards) a group of deer has been jumping our 6-foot fence every night and meandering around the backyard. Dave takes this as a personal affront and is keen to track the intruders. I’m discouraging the quest because I’ve seen the mini-herd around the neighborhood. They are a large, muscular bunch, so this would not be a Bambi experience for Dave. In my worst case scenario brain, I picture him running at them full tilt, causing the deer to panic and careen into the fence, breaking one of their slender legs, which would force me to call animal control, who would come and … well, I don’t need that. Consequently, I try to distract Dave from his mission with more concrete travels, but sometimes when we venture forth in the morning, there are hoof prints on the front lawn. Dave sets about following the trail across our yard and strains on the leash to carry his investigation onto other people’s property.
This is a problem because I do not allow Dave to go into other people’s yards. If you are finding doggie calling cards in your grass, you can be sure that it is not Dave because I keep him curbed at the curb. The deer, however, run through the yards with impunity. Given his limitations, Dave moves slowly from one curb to another, craning his neck as far as he is allowed, his nose at full sniff. This comprehensive sniffing process takes a long time, leaving us frozen in front of a single house for minutes on end. After a while, it gets embarrassing. Okay, I get embarrassed. I try to hurry Dave along, and eventually, because I am bigger, I am successful, but Dave does not forget, and next time around, he starts sniffing anew.
I guess what I am trying to say is that if you see me standing in front of your house for what seems like a creepy amount of time, know that I am not casing the joint. It’s just Dave in smell mode.
The best solution would be to keep the deer from coming into my yard to begin with. Not wishing the deer any ill, I’ve started with a non-toxic soap approach. I read that deer find the smell of an Irish spring shower offensive, so I have hidden bars of green striped soap in my backyard bushes. A lot of them. So again, my dear neighbors, an apology. If this scent proves to be overly refreshing as it wafts into your confines, I will de-soap, but then we’re back to Dave staring at your house.
This is a first world problem, I know, but deer me, life gets complicated.