Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Being Human

This is not going to be a pleasant post.  I'm writing it in the hopes that sharing the experience will help in getting it out of my head.  Perhaps some of you will wonder that I got so disturbed about this, you will think me overly sensitive.  Frankly, dear readers, I will welcome that indictment.
I took the boys to the big county park down in the valley this morning.  I like to mix it up, give the dogs a different walk, new sniffing territory.  We're about halfway around the perimeter of the park, walking on a broad swath of grass between the river and a large wall of rock that runs for several hundred feet.  You can walk along the top of this escarpment, though today I chose to walk by the river.  Ahead of us, 100 feet or so, I see a woman and two border collies.  I can't figure out what they're doing, but honestly, at that point I didn't really care as she was far enough ahead of me.
But, instead of the woman and her dogs walking on, they seem to be focused on something against the rock wall.  As we get closer I see to my horror that the woman is allowing her dogs to torment a young buck.  They have the creature pinned into a small niche in the rocks and are nipping and worrying at it.  The deer is quaking violently, its eyes bulging with fear.  The woman is smiling.  And, as if that's not creepy enough, she looks like a sweet, kindly grandmother: attractive, dressed casually but well, pleasant smile, and will probably go home after the torture session and bake cookies for the grandkids.
It made me sick.  Just writing this is making me sick.
I shorten the dogs' leashes so they're right against my legs and shout, "Stop it!  What are you doing?"
She notices me for the first time and gives me this look like I'm a lunatic and how dare I accost her, but before she can speak, one of her dogs lunges forward and takes a real bite out of the deer's leg.  And let me say this--as I fight the tears--that deer cried out like a child as blood began running down its foreleg.  I take a few steps toward her though I'm staying out of range of her dogs and the terrified wild animal and shout, "What is wrong with you?"

Just then the other dog jerks the leash, she overcompensates, pulls it toward her and for a tiny moment, there is an opening.  The buck doesn't hesitate.  He leaps over one dog, clearing it by about ten feet, lands and bolts in one frantic balletic movement.  But as he heads straight for me, he realizes there's another human with dogs in his path and darts to the side, bounds over a shrub and falls straight into the river, which is raging from two days of torrential rain.

I hear the huge splash, the flailing, and run to the embankment just in time to see the deer being swept downstream.  I know they can swim, the difficulty comes with climbing out.  There's nothing I can do.

Spinning on my heels, I turn to the woman.  "You've probably just killed that poor deer."

She looks at me blankly.  Seriously.  Like she just doesn't understand my words.  Then she says, "It was just a deer."  And she walks away, apparently secure in her belief that tormenting another living creature is okay in her book.  Because, hey, it's just a deer.

For me, being human some days is a heavy burden...


  1. That's a horrifIc story...sorry you had to witness that.

  2. Macabre...

    Border Collies are, by nature and training, herd dogs. They were doing what they were bred to do. Like it or don't.

    I have Aussies-Chevy and Whistler both were certified champions in herding trials back when. Be that as it may, I'd not let any one of them chase a random creature for sport-mine or theirs. That woman was a sadist.

    1. I didn't blame the dogs; I understand the instincts of the breed. It was totally the woman.

      I think I need a vacation...