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Jean McDermott is a freelance writer and professional muscian.
The dogs had to cross their legs for 12 hours while other, larger animals had run of the yard.
I never take them out of the front door off-lead for good reason. Sofia would be off and hunting in a flash, and Ole has never had a Close Encounter of the Moose Kind and I really didn't want him to get squished in his first up close and personal experience. In fact, it's not my goal for him to have an up close and personal experience with a moose, regardless that he is a moose hunting dog. He has no training for that, and it's illegal in the United States anyway. Suffice to say that I take my guardianship of these fuzzy friends (the dogs) very seriously and aim to keep them safe.
So as we neared the backyard gate I was telling the dogs, "Hold ON, stop PULLING me!" and I realized that there was something there. A big, brown, log-like something. And then an ear moved and so did we! Straight back into the house!
Look at this and see if you would have noticed this, if it hadn't moved:
Does that look like an animal to you? Do you see the moose?
Do you see the differance? That's a 1500 lb or two-ton or so Mama moose bedded down about twenty feet from the back yard gate.
Back in the house I went to my one tiny (only 14" wide) windows and started trying to see if she'd just given birth. Moose calves are very cute! I would love to see a wobbly new one! Of course if she had a new calf that would make her extremely dangerous, probably as dangerous as she could possibly be.
After squinting and staring I wasn't sure, but that there might be yet another moose out there in the trees to the right of Mama. See if you can see it:
No? Want to try again? While I was peering out my dirty window and taking pictures (it hasn't been above zero enough to wash windows yet) Sofia was going cuckoo banana nuts and talking in that intensely piercing and deep-throated whine that said, "MOM. A MOOSE. PLEASE."
Ole, the official moosedog, had misinterpreted my pointing at the window and thought I meant for him to jump through the window. He'd bounced against two hard panes of glass, hit the floor and looked at me in total confusion and fear and would not come near the window again. Poor Ole! On the other hand, I doubt he would have seen anything but two logs if he'd looked. Sofia has those coyote instincts and can see a beetle 100 yards away, I swear! You know how they say cats can see things we can't? Sofia can definitely see things we can't. And she'll chase them, too!
Meanwhile, little Stealth Moose revealed herself!
She wasn't the wobbly newborn I was hoping for, but rather the size of a Shetland pony and quite cute and fuzzy. I just wanted to rub her muzzle. But since I didn't care for Death By Mad Mama Moose, I wisely stayed inside and took pictures, while Sofia kept up a steady commentary.
Moose eat sticks. They don't eat grass and hay will kill them. I insulated my septic tank this year with spruce branches instead of hay.
She knew someone was looking at her.
The calf worked her way toward her mama.
Eating sticks is bound to make you thirsty! A mouthful of snow is the only way to get water in the winter.
What are YOU looking at?
Mama moose got up out of her nice snow bed eventually, but she never walked toward the house. She stood up and immediately vanished, as only moose can do. I could post another picture of her in the woods, but all you would see would be trees.
Meanwhile we waited overnight for the dogs to be able to do their thing. Pee walks around midnight in the front of the property seemed safe enough, but the more important business had to wait until morning. Thank goodness I have such good dogs who can hold it and be patient and wait!
This is one big reason why I need a back door. Of course if they show up again and the dogs really need to go out I'm going to go out there and bang the tambourine and hope to scare them away. If that doesn't work I'll shoot a shotgun round into the air. If that doesn't work then I guess we'll have to wait!
Some moose are skittish and the tambourine works. Other moose don't even care if a dog is barking, a car honking, a gun shooting, whatever. They are the giants of the forest and the only threat they see are bear and wolves. Unfortunately they see dogs as wolves and will chase and kill dogs if they see them.
I've been held up on the road and in my driveway by moose who just look at me blandly when I've honked, yelled, and even gotten out and waved my arms. I love them, but they are huge and they know it!
About a decade or more ago I worked for two years with developmentally delayed adults. It was an experience that stuck with me. I remember how difficult and yet how rewarding it was. I remember the quirky personalities of the folks for whom I was a life coach. Some folks needed to be taught, step-by-step, how exactly to make orange juice from a frozen can of concentrate. Others were able to do those kinds of things, but tended to be socially inept, and needed to be constantly reined in and coached about the polite way to talk to a woman, for instance.
Some of my co-workers preferred to work in institutional settings, with those who were so unable to care for themselves that virtually everything had to be done for them, and a one-word communication from some might make their month! I couldn't do that. It was too taxing and depressing, and having raised one child I was not really desirous of changing adult diapers. I am amazed and grateful for those people who can work in such a setting.
The guys I worked with, (for the most part they were men), were engaging, funny, exuberant and really had a love of life. They all had jobs and lived in their own apartments. One was very, very hyper, one had seizures all the time, tiny seizures. With most workers he had big seizures but with me, he didn't. My bosses assigned me to him a lot, for this reason. Another worker told me that she'd worked with him for about a year, and he'd been making great progress, then had a major seizure. When he'd recovered, he didn't know who she was and everything he'd learned was gone. Boom. Just like that.
One young man was interested in photography. This was before digital cameras were affordable and in vogue. His parents felt he had a aptitude for art, and indeed, he did really enjoy visual art quite a bit. I brought him art books, photography books, and we looked at the photos and talked about them. His parents, who were very much involved in his life, bought him a camera and hoped I could teach him how to use it. So for days we'd sit and I would show him, over and over, how to load the camera with film. Then we moved on to how to take pictures (this camera was fairly automatic) and then again back to loading the film and what to do when the film was ready to take out.
Somehow the subject of mental retardation came up, and he was adamant, "I am NOT mentally retarded!"
I remember how very firm he was about this. As it turns out, he'd been deprived of oxygen at birth, he wasn't Down Syndrome, of course, and I knew that. But I think he thought that mentally retarded meant Down Syndrome.
No, hon, there was an accident and that's what happened. I remember the terrible regret I felt thinking about how one minute he was a normal baby and the next he was damaged.
However I've been thinking about teaching him how to use the camera (he used it brilliantly, by the way, in the end) and how he didn't want to be labeled. Anyone could understand not wanting to be labeled. Anyone could understand his desire to be respected for what he could do, and not what he couldn't do.
I might not need someone to show me how to use a camera, but if I needed to built, say, a rocket, or a computer, or use a GPS unit, (heck, there are some microwave ovens that I find almost impossible to figure out), then I would need someone to sit down and teach me how. I'm not mentally retarded, I just have the intelligence that I have, and whatever level of brilliance I achieve, has everything to do with having a caring, patient person teach me what I need to know.
We aren't that different, no matter how "smart" we are.