This happened 11 years ago, when moose sightings were rare. We see them often now. Teena and Snook were our dogs, who somehow managed to escape from the house whenever they thought I was going for a walk. Both dogs are gone now, but we have fond memories of their years with us. Like this one…
A Wild Walk
Snook has not forgotten his near-death experience with Big Bert, the Great Pyrenees at the neighbouring farm, half a mile up the hill. Ever since that day, Snook has refused to go that far. He will set off eagerly with me and Teena, and trot along happily till we get to the bottom of the hill, or perhaps even partway up the next one. Then he’ll start making a curious half-whining, half-barking sound as he slows down, eyes riveted to the St. Louis’ home ahead, and shortly comes to a halt. Moments later I’ll see him making a beeline for home. It’s a shame, because the little dog loves to go walking with me, and this means he goes less than half a mile before turning around and going home.
Well, today I decided Snook was going to get past Big Bert and accompany Teena and me on our walk. As soon as he started whining, I picked him up and carried him… a long distance as it turns out. Snook is small, but deceptively heavy with his stout little body, small head and short legs. He resembles a Corgi. He rested quietly in my arms, but alert and ready for flight, as I carried him past all danger. There was no sign of Bert, and when we were safely past, I was relieved to set him down on the road. He wasted no time in trotting off in pursuit of Teena.
Meanwhile Teena was not far ahead of me, watching something moving by the bee boxes at the edge of the woods. Suddenly I saw what Teena saw… it was a skunk, big as life, prancing around the bee boxes!!! And Teena, totally ignorant of what she was in for, tore off after it as if it were a cat. She was also totally oblivious to me, standing in the road with my hands clapped to my head, yelling at her at the top of my lungs to come back. Teena is a great little dog, and generally obedient. Her biggest fault is her compulsion toward chasing anything that moves. I have seen her take off after robins and other small birds, sheep and goats, cows and horses, llamas, deer, foxes and even a moose. Once she takes off after something, nothing will bring her back till she chooses to end the chase. I watched helplessly as she took off after the skunk. Which, by comparison, seemed unperturbed. Several times I saw Teena start into the woods after it, stop, shake her head, turne toward me and then back to the skunk again. Finally she came to me… quite unscathed and smelling like a dog. Well! Talk about relief!!
That skunk followed a course parallel to the road, just inside the woods, so it was an ongoing thing for several minutes, keeping Teena from taking off again.
While I was yelling at Teena, Snook must have thought I was yelling at him, because he assumed a submissive air and all but rolled over on the road for me to pet him. I was surprised that he did not follow Teena, because he loves a good chase too.
The next few minutes were uneventful as we walked down the hill. A pair of mallards in the slough surprised me by not flying off in a dither. A single frog gave a few half-hearted ribbets. We walked on up the hill. A mile north of home we turned west. I could hear a tractor labouring up the road we had just exited, but it was several minutes before it got to the intersection. I turned to watch where it went, and saw it turn east and then into our neighbours’ other quarter. It was followed by a white speck bobbing along. Aha! Big Bert! Perhaps if we didn’t take too long before going back home, Bert would still be with our neighbour and the tractor, and I wouldn’t have to worry about preserving Snook’s life on the way past their place again.
I turned forward to resume walking again, and saw both Teena and Snook standing motionless in the road just ahead of me… both staring diagonally across the field toward to a point further ahead on the road we had just turned off of. And there… was a moose!! He had heard the tractor coming, and was beating a hasty retreat across the road toward the woods. No, perhaps I should reword that. He was ambling nonchalantly across the road toward the woods. That was a surprise. In the year and a half we have lived here, that is only the second time I have seen a moose. No one else in the family has seen even one, although both Ian and I had seen moose tracks in the muddy road lately. This moose was about half a mile north of where I saw one last year.
The dogs decided not to chase the moose, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
So. A skunk and a moose within the space of fifteen minutes…
We walked on to a roadside slough. I took a detour down the grassy bank to peer into a culvert, which has all the signs of being occupied by some small creature. Teena was quite interested in that culvert last time we went by there, and I had to practically drag her away. Today she seemed to have forgotten all about it, a she darted here and there exploring.
I saw Snook just ahead on the road, again standing alert and poised for something. Suddenly he disappeared, I knew not where. I heard an odd, sharp bark, which was repeated several times over the next minute or so. A fox?? I scrambled up the bank and headed west toward the bush where I hear something crashing around in the underbrush. I could see nothing as I passed the trees. Teena headed for the field, and I was about to do the same, thinking I would find Snook and his quarry in the trees. But before I could do so, I saw Snook chasing another Snook way off in the middle of the field, kicking up clouds of dust behind them. At least, it looked like another Snook. It was similar in colour and roughly the same size as Snook, but not as heavyset, and had a long bushy tail.Yes! It was a fox!!
Well! A skunk, a moose and a fox, all in the space of half an hour??!! Have you ever have one of those days when you wonder, what next??!!
I kept going to almost the two-mile mark from home. But Snook had started his whining again, and I know the Nadeau’s have a Black Lab… so I stopped short of their lane and turned homeward. The walk was uneventful from there back to the slough. Snook disappeared, no doubt looking for the fox. As I waited for him to answer my call, I heard a scuffling in the long, dry grass, and then… saw a field mouse run the length of a fallen tree to safety. Teena, taken by surprise, just stood there staring at it.
Our neighbour was still working in the huge field as we turned south toward home, but I saw no sign of Big Bert. Oddly enough, Snook did not whine as we approached their farm from the north. The wind was blowing toward us such that I would have thought he could smell the big dog. He didn’t stop close enough for me to pick him up this time. He just kept trotting along with Teena, both dogs glancing frequently to their right as they went past. I didn’t hear Bert till I was almost to the bottom of the hill past their place. I heard one bark, and was not even sure it was Bert. I turned and saw him making his way across Mr. Jenkins’ pasture. I spoke to him, and he only came so far and stopped, watching us. Teena and Snook were well ahead of me and didn’t even know he was there.
I was still in shock over seeing a skunk, a moose and a fox all within less than a mile, and in a half hour. I suppose to some people that may not seem so unusual. But in all the time we have been living here, I have never seen a skunk, I have seen a moose only once before, and foxes are a rare sighting. To see them all at once like that was a real highlight, and not likely to be repeated any time soon.
© Willena Flewelling