Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I don’t know how to start this story. I’m not even sure I should tell this story. But it’s so surreal; I don’t want to forget it. And also, if Lola is ever found abandoned by the roadside, I want you to know why.

The scene: we’re in the Malheur National Forest on a paved interpretive path. This isn’t on a secluded trail, deep in the forest in a place where I might take my dogs for a run. This is just a simple loop around some ancient trees at a rest stop where we’ve stopped for a potty break.

Sarah and I are walking the loop. She needs to get some energy out. The dogs are walking ahead of us. They need to get some energy out. Mike is in the car reading the map.

As we walk, I notice lots of droppings. At first, I think they must be of the horse variety. As I look closer, I realize they are much too big and spread out. They must be elk poop. Big deal. I just try to keep Sarah from stomping in it.

So we’re walking and gabbing. When suddenly, a horrible scream shoots out from the trees. The scream is followed by Lola, Lola in full pursuit. We freeze. My brain is trying to puzzle together what I’m seeing.

Source of the screaming: an animal, an animal larger than Lola. This animal is spotted, could be a deer. Wait. It is not a deer. This is an elk. A baby elk. Quick! Where is mama elk? Mama elk is retreating into the trees. OK. Must stop Lola. Yell at Lola. Does not work. Must grab Lola. Not easy. She’s too fast.

The next few minutes are a blur. With one side of my brain, I’m keeping an eye out for mama elk: she’s hiding deep in the trees. The other side of my brain keeps tabs on Sarah: she’s safe on the trail with Sancho far away from the action. With my entire body, I’m attempting to wrestle Lola to the ground - Lola who has gone into Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom takedown and kill mode.

Baby elk runs in circles but is not very strong yet. Must be only hours old? A couple of days old? Uncertain. The fur is dry.

Lola displays all sorts of primitive hunting instincts. I’m horrified. She keeps breaking free of my grip. Damn dog! I secretly wish mama elk would come out of the woods and teach her a lesson. Insanity!

There is no way to adequately describe this situation. Baby elk screaming. Lola crazed. Sancho and Sarah staring, just staring. Mama elk hiding in the woods. Not sure how long this goes on. Too long.

Finally, I wrestle Lola to the ground and grab her tightly by the collar. Then, the weirdest or an even weirder thing happens. The stunned baby elk walks to Sarah. Sarah reaches out a hand and pets the calf. I stop her. I don’t want our scent on the baby.

From here, I gather Sarah and begin dragging Lola back to the car. A backward glance shows a dazed, exhausted but seemingly uninjured calf standing on the trail. We break into a run. Mosquitoes have shown up suddenly.

Oddest afternoon of my life. Hands down.

Bad, bad dog with most intense hunting drive:


At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lola may get recruited for elk patrol in Golindrinas. I know a man who is using his dogs to chase them out of the alfalfa fields, and as you know he has developed a soft spot for dogs.


At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very intense moment!


At 6:19 AM, Blogger Marti said...

very surreal indeed, a great story though. can't even imagine what would have happened if we were there with our crazy one... glad you are all safe and sound.

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. If she had gone after a buck, I bet Hal would be up there to adopt her in a flash. Come to think of it, you may be able to offload her to his Dad, since Dad lives near you...

Casey and Maddy used to chase cattle at Sunol Regional Wilderness. I tried to explain to them what one kick to the head would do, but they didn't listen.

I'm glad you didn't get arrested. Hunting fawns, out of season, no tags, using dogs... You could get some pretty good fines.


At 6:04 AM, Blogger Jonzie said...

Oh dear, the hunting drive, we know something about that.
The funniest part for me was Sancho and Sarah staring :)


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