Gretchen was a Dachshund, not a Mini Dachshund, but smaller than normal for a registered Doxie. She loved the outdoors, particularly where she and her people had just moved to. A wide expanse of green lawn, held in by a short white picket fence, was all hers to roam, roll in, chase balls, and even to sit and gaze at the great forest beyond.
For the first few days, while the household was in the usual turmoil of moving in and getting settled, Gretchen would take her favorite toys outside and lie just inside the fence. The forest held many strange and wonderful smells for her to sniff, and perhaps, even to daydream a bit about where...or who...or what...those smells came from. Her tiny black nose would crinkle up and go a mile-a-minute, trying to track down and isolate each whiff that came to her.
Then one day, something more than a smell came up to the fence. Gretchen stood up and backed slowly away. She didn't bark. The something was large, very foreign to the little dog. She wasn't afraid, just wary. Her female person came out of the house, walked up to her, and said, "It's okay, Gretchen. It's just a deer, a doe, and she won't hurt you."
Her person picked Gretchen up and stood watching the doe watching Gretchen. The doe's nose twitched, she stretched her neck out over the fence and seemed to sniff the air. Satisfied that there was no danger on the other side of the fence, she turned and slowly moved away.
The next morning, Gretchen went out to lay in the sun on the deck. She had hardly laid down when something caused her hair to bristle. She growled low in her throat as she walked down the steps and over to the fence. She sat down, and stared at what was in front of her: 6 deer, 5 does and 1 buck. The buck reached over the fence as far as he could. Gretchen stood her ground. He st--re--t--ch--ed
over the fence a little bit further. Gretchen moved a couple of inches forward. The buck reached towards her with his long tongue, barely missing her twitching little nose. Gretchen moved again, and this time, the buck's tongue reached her nose. He swished his tongue around and around while Gretchen stood stock still. Then, the buck drew back across the fence and moved away. Each of the does came forward, stretched their necks across the fence and touched Gretchen's nose. When the last doe had touched her, the small herd moved back into the forest.
For the next several years, the same does and buck came every morning and evening to the fence, as Gretchen's people kept fresh hay for them to feed upon. Each year, one or more of the does brought their new born fawns to feed, and when they were old enough, they too reached over the fence to touch the little brown dog's cold, wet nose. Summer, winter, rain, shine, or snow, Gretchen went outside to spend time with the deer.
Then one day, Gretchen's life came to an end. She died peacefully in her persons' arms as they cried over her. They decided to bury her next to the place in the fence where the deer had come to visit, day and evening, year after year. They made a grave for her, and planted a small tree in the center. Then, they stood back and watched as the deer came to visit again. Only this time, there was no little dog to greet them.
The next morning, Gretchen's persons were standing on the deck when the deer came for their breakfast and their morning visit with Gretchen. Once again, she wasn't there. The buck walked over to the grave and sniffed around it. He leaned hard against the small picket fence. Again and again he pushed at the fence. One of the does came over to help him. They pushed. They pushed again. The fence gave way, and the two deer walked over it to reach the grave. They walked around and around the grave, while Gretchen's people watched in amazement. Then the rest of the small herd came over and walked around it. A moment more, and all of the deer laid down, surrounding the grave. They paid no attention to the humans watching them, stunned by what they were seeing.
After more than 1/2 hour, the deer finally rose, finished eating, and faded back into the forest. Evening came, and once again, the deer went to the grave, walked around it, and laid down in a circle.
For the next few months, day, evening, through hot sun, cold rain, and deep snow, the herd of deer went through the same routine, never missing a day. Then, sadly, Gretchen's people moved away, content only in knowing that their beloved companion was kept safe by the deer who loved her.
This is a true story, told to me only today by two of our best friends who came to visit and bring a new toy to our injured Corgi. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you felt the same awe ( and got the same goose bumps) as I did upon hearing it...the love of "wild" animals for one so small, not one of their own.