A carnage was narrowly averted on Roseberry Common today. There was I jogging along the enclosed track to Hutton Woods, Kirby, the dog, was ten metres or so ahead and ten metres further on in front of the gate were four roe deer, happily grazing away. I shouted “down!”, and amazingly she did. But on hearing my voice the deer went into panic mode, head butting the stock fence in vain attempts to get through. Why didn’t they just jump it? It was only a metre high and they must have cleared it to get onto the track in the first place.
They tried left, they went right and they tried next to the gate and then one finally decided to dash past me on the track. A couple went right and I grabbed a photo. A third went left, straight into where Kirby was still patiently sitting. That was her cue, my command forgotten and oblivious to my shouts.
She has caught the odd myxied rabbit before and once a pheasant when it tried too to fly through a fence. When she’s alone with me I have no concerns controlling her near sheep. She’s given up on grouse, a waste of energy. Deer are no contest, she’s no match for their speed through the forest. But what does one deer do, it runs straight into a corner.
We have always thought Kirby had a soft bite, from the Labrador in her, bred to avoid tearing game birds when retrieving them after being shot. Now Usain Bolt would have been impressed with my speed in closing the gap. She cowered, mouth full of fur; the Jezelbel. Do dogs feel guilt? The deer scarpered off down the track to rejoin its mates and I tried to recover from my oxygen debt.