This one’s for book two.
I have a wonderful leash designed for walking two very strong dogs side by side. A waterski-like handle attaches to a rope that attaches to two bungee-like cords that attach to my dogs. There are three swivel mechanisms to prevent the dogs from twisting up the leash, although nothing to prevent the dogs from getting the other’s leash trapped under their leg, or walking around me so that my legs are tied up, but mostly we’ve been successful with this leash.
During Snowmageddon 2012, when I’d had the leash about a week, Leo stretched his bungee out by lunging mightily at the university women’s cross-country team that had the gall to run en masse on the narrow trail we frequent. A few months later, he chewed partially through the rope, but it’s still strong enough to hold him (I’m pretty sure) and anyway, I tend to keep a hand on the leash very close to his harness, to keep him right next to me throughout the walk. Helps manage outbursts against bicycles and joggers.
This week, during my writecation, I’ve been walking the dogs in the late morning (in part because I’m lazy and like to lounge on the couch for a few hours, and in part because we can avoid bicycle commuters that way). Yesterday, I saw a deer with two white-spotted Bambi fawns in a neighbor’s front yard. I backtracked to get a better look and wished I had my camera. Leo noticed them. The deer looked at us, we looked at them, and then we were on our way.
This morning, I was walking on our street when I saw a man with a beagle waaaay up ahead. On my left, a man was weed-eating his lawn. I don’t know this man, but I’ve met his girlfriend, who recently adopted a shepherd named Rudy. We see her walking Rudy a couple of times a week and crack up every time, because really, what’s cuter than a six-month old German shepherd bouncing along beside his owner? But I was concerned primarily about the beagle, so I crossed the street with the dogs and when we reached the opposite sidewalk was startled to see a deer right there, fully exposed on the front lawn of someone’s house.
Oh my god. It’s a deer. And a little fawn, thought I, and both of my dogs, who started to bark. Mia had come around the wrong side of me, so her bungee was wrapped around my legs. I held on tight to Leo’s end of the leash, below the frayed part, and untangled myself, fully expecting that by the time I had the leashes straight, the deer would be gone.
But no. The deer in this town need to be more afraid of stuff. Momma Deer just looked at us, and I swear to god, actually took steps toward us. My dogs are barking. I’m holding my ground. I look over my shoulder to Rudy’s dad, who has turned off his weed-whacker, and complain, “They won’t run away!” He nods and says, “She has two babies over there.”
After way too long, I decide to abort and go back the other way. I try to guide my dogs away, across the driveway of this house, but the deer keeps coming toward us. Then, finally, she runs away from us, up the driveway and into the bushes… and my dogs go after her, with me attached by the water-ski handle.
I’ve planned for this. Mia (the perfect one) once pulled me off my feet when a dog startled us all by barking from behind a fence. In case of emergency, if both dogs started to run away and it wasn’t safe for me to drop the leash and let them go (let’s say there was heavy traffic, or they were about to run off in the woods after a deer and her fawn), I would fall to my butt and hold onto the leash for dear life. I could still be dragged on my butt, but I thought it a more strategic position than falling on my face.
However, we were on gravel, and while I thought to myself, Here’s where I should fall to my butt, I did not, and instead fell forward on my hands and knees (with Rudy’s dad watching!!) and let go.
Since I knew I had an audience, I turned back and said, “Now I’ve lost them.”
I wasn’t actually worried about losing the dogs permanently, but as I made my way toward the bushes, which led to a wooded path, I heard screaming.
Oh shit, they’re killing the deer. Or her fawn! Oh god, why didn’t the deer run?
Just then, the fawn bolted past me, like a freakin’ cartoon, back toward the house. I heard a thrashing that must have been her mother trying to get around a chain link fence.
My dogs stood in a small clearing and I realized the screaming was just Mia whining because she was tethered to her brother and couldn’t get to the deer.
They looked at me. But Mom, the deer!
“C’mon!” Keep the voice, light, encouraging.
Mia whimpered again as Leo tugged on his end of the leash and they climbed over a fallen tree to get back to me.
“You guys are craaazy.”
I brushed myself off, got hold of their leash, and because I love a punchline, called out to Rudy’s dad as we approached the sidewalk, “Well, that was exciting.”
His next door neighbor, who was standing on the porch, said, “I’ll bet.”
What’s that supposed to mean? Does he think I have vicious deer-eating dogs who shouldn’t be allowed in public? Or does he hate the deer because they eat his roses?
We carried on with our walk, and when I saw an orange tabby cross our paths, I said, “You do not want to be here. Better run, little kitty.”
That’s right. I’m the crazy bitch who threatens neighborhood cats.