I was talking to my Dad once and he told me that I was six years old before I learned to stick my hands out to prevent major damage when I fell. I was both a clumsy child and a very slow learner. I wasn’t upset when my Dad told me this. In fact it explains a lot about me.
It certainly helps account for the reason I was chased into my house this morning by a moose.
We live in a small town in Eastern Idaho, surrounded by the Teton mountain range on one side and other smaller mountain ranges on two other sides. We don’t live in town, but about 7 miles out in the country. As far as the moose are concerned that doesn’t really matter – they’ve been known to trot through town as well – but they do prefer open spaces. Which is why I frequently check the yard before I let our dogs out. This particular morning I did not.
We have a 170 lb Newfoundland, 80 lb Yellow Lab and 6 lb Chihuahua. The Yellow Lab and Chihuahua were already outside when our Newfoundland started to bark to go outside. He is a sweet and lovable giant of a dog, but not terribly intelligent. We affectionately call him Doof.
Doof - our lovable, but not terribly intelligent Newfoundland.
I thought he had to go to the bathroom really badly. When he continued to bark after he went outside I realized – in my non-caffeinated brain – that there was probably an animal in the yard. We get moose and elk on a regular basis. In my pajamas, bare feet and without my glasses on, I went outside and peered around the edge of the garage.
There is no such thing as a small moose. Even blurry they are incredibly large. Especially if they are about 200 feet away.
Female moose - relatively happy and more than 200 feet away.
That’s when the chaos ensued.
I would also like to insert at this point that I think there should be a cosmic rule that no life and death situations should be allowed to happen before 7am.
I started yelling for the dogs who were doing doggie things like barking at the giant female moose and protecting their territory. Dogs feel that protecting their territory is their duty. Moose do not take kindly to this type of thinking. Especially when they are being barked at.
She put her head down and charged the Yellow Lab. The Yellow Lab never listens to me. I stopped yelling at the dogs and started screaming for my husband. He came out on our second story deck and hollered. The Yellow Lab always listens to him.
Yellow Lab who does not listen to me
I got the Yellow Lab inside and slammed the door.
Then I had my brilliant thought.
I needed to take more action in this situation.
I put on my husband’s shoes – 4 sizes too big – and went outside. With the moose, the Chihuahua and the Newfoundland.
I’ve lived long enough – and in this part of the country long enough – to know that a) the moose was really unhappy and felt very threatened with a large dog still barking at her b) I knew not to walk into the open – I stayed next to my husband’s pick up and c) I know Doof. We call him that for a reason.
I was at the end of my husband’s pick up. Doof about 15 feet away from me. The moose maybe 15 more feet beyond.
The Chihuahua became irrelevant at this point. Not that we don’t love him. We do. But he can fit under objects like pickup trucks.
Our Chihuahua as a puppy. Not much bigger now and easily able to fit under a truck and away from a rampaging moose.
I yelled for Doof, my husband (behind me at the door, in his boxers and nothing else) yelled at me and the moose lowered her head and swiveled her massive body.
Luckily for me, my thought process has sped up in the past 36 years.
I immediately decided that Doof should face the consequences of his actions on his own and turned around and hightailed it to the door. In my husband’s shoes – 4 sizes too big. Without my glasses and still unable to see clearly. I was able, however, to see the whites of my husband’s eyes and hear him screaming. Very loudly. At me.
As soon as I got within reach, he flung me inside, leapt in behind me and slammed the door. I turned to see the BACKSIDE of the moose as she rounded the truck, still chasing Doof. I figure she’d been less than 5 feet away when my husband flung me inside.
Doof underwent a spontaneous shift in thinking. It occurred to him – as he rounded the end of the truck with a very irate moose a hoofbeat away – that perhaps antagonizing animals 6 or 7 times his size is not the best idea. He continued on around the pickup and we opened the door when he reached it – sans rampaging moose this time. We let him in and shut the door.
The moose – hackles still raised – stood in the yard for several more minutes before continuing on her walk.
We went upstairs. The clock read 6:50 am. That’s when the new cosmic rule occurred to me. My husband offered me a cup of coffee. Which I declined, citing the adrenaline still racing through my system.
It’s highly likely that this incident will somehow make it into one of my books. What about you? Any life or death experiences lately?
(**This incident happened about 2 weeks ago, but I was suddenly inspired to write a blog about it and did so shortly after the moose left the premises.)