Okay, I know we chose to live in the mountains, and part of that experience is the frequent encounters with wildlife. Despite having had multiple dogs, our Evergreen house was often in the path of elk and deer that came right up to me while I gardened, and black bears that used our property as a pass-through to get from the neighborhood back up to the woods. Foxes had been known to harass the dogs on occasion, which caused quite a fuss. But nothing compares to the moose on the loose around our mountain house now.
At this house, at an elevation of 9200 feet, it’s the moose that cause the issues. We live in a neighborhood with the word ‘lakes’ in its title, which may have a bearing on the moose population, but there isn’t a lake in sight of our house. I was shocked by how enormous moose are when first I saw one standing in the yard. Its shoulders cleared the 5-foot fence and its huge head and rack left me in awe. In the first few days of our Daisy dog’s new home experience, she encountered a big bull moose that sauntered across the property, making her wild with objection. I’m not sure what the attraction is, but moose seem to love hanging around our property. A couple weeks ago, a pair of young moose had a great time licking the salt off a car in the driveway and even grew so bold as to lick the kitchen window. Most of our windows do not have curtains, so Daisy’s unobstructed view gave her ample opportunity to race from space to space, barking wildly and leaving nose prints on the glass. I do a lot of glass cleaning.
One would think all that barking and efforts at intimidation would make this area inhospitable, but it seems that more and more moose come every week. There are moose on the loose and Daisy is not amused. Just yesterday was a big day for Daisy and the moose. First, let me explain the lay of the land: There is a fence around the immediate area and a dog door that Daisy can use to access the outside fenced area. She can see through the chain link fencing and, of course, her keen sense of smell alerts her before her eyes lock onto any threat. Generally, Daisy is allowed to come outside of the gate to run around the unfenced area while we walk down to the garage or go start the car to warm the engine before taking off. And, of course, she is outside of the fence when we head out for a car ride. It was on the occasion of being invited to come along to start the car that Daisy got a whiff of moose in the air. One whiff and the challenge was on. Instead of prancing at Hubby’s side back and forth to the car, Daisy took a sharp turn around the back of the fence to undeveloped land, barking wildly at a high pitch. The snow is deep back there, but it didn’t stop Daisy, who bounded through it in leaps, all the while barking, her hackles raised and her tail stiff.
She stopped just a few feet from a big moose that had bedded down among the trees. At Daisy’s approach, it rose to its feet, facing off. Daisy took a menacing stance—foolish behavior against any wild animal, but particularly unwise when facing a moose. Moose are dangerous. They have been known to stomp on threats with deadly force and to butt with their giant antlers when they have them. This moose seemed to be female—thankfully too early in the season to have young. Had she been protecting her young, this story would be one of loss, as Daisy surely would have charged her last charge.
The scene quickly got out of control. Hubby was calling her and clapping his hands, but Daisy wouldn’t stop barking long enough to hear him. He came up to get the whistle, but unlike dogs we raised from puppies, Daisy has had no whistle training. The high-pitched chirps did little to break the spell. I stepped out onto the deck, cupped my hands and called her, but all my calling and cajoling fell on deaf ears. I had a second-story view of the whole scene as it unfolded and my heart was in my throat thinking I’d soon be witnessing Daisy’s demise. All the while barking ferociously, Daisy would lunge at the giant animal. It stood its ground and then would move forward toward her, which would send her reeling backward, yelping as if she’d been harmed. We’d call frantically, hoping to get her attention, but she was stubbornly ignoring us, her focus laser-like on the moose. Hubby was trying to get closer, but not too close lest the moose turn its attention on him. Getting anywhere in the vicinity was slow going as every step he took sunk deep into the snow up to his knees. Calling and frustrated, we began to despair that Daisy wouldn’t give up until she decided to and no amount of coaxing would make a difference. All we could hope for is that we would get her attention in one of the tiny windows between barking frenzies and somehow convince her to leave the scene and come to safety.
This back and forth of frantic calling and heated barking went on for more than 15 minutes, and to say it was tense would be an understatement. Finally, and only because she wanted to, Daisy heard my call and came around the fence to join us. We were relieved to put her behind the fence for the few minutes it took for Hubby to change into dry shoes. Then, with the car still running, we put Daisy on a leash—just in case the moose was still lurking close by—and guided her to the back seat of the car. She watched the car windows closely for any sight of that pesky moose. And now we’ve learned another lesson: keep Daisy on a leash outside of the fence until we know for certain that no moose are on the loose. Come spring, this new rule will become a matter of life and death for a dog that seems unaware of her own mortality, as they will have young and become twice as dangerous.
Later that night, Daisy slept the sleep of the weary, paws twitching, emitting little woofs as she undoubtedly dreamed of her exciting encounter with moose on the loose.