We first saw her when she stood wide eyed in the middle of our small street, too paralyzed to move. We often have deer grazing in our back yard, or passing through our neighborhoods. So to see deer on the street is not unusual. But to see a baby this size without her mom was highly unusual. We assumed Mama deer was nearby with bated breath, eager to be reunited with her fragile fawn.
After several minutes, the fawn finally stepped slowly to the side of the road and we passed on by. I glanced in the rear view mirror and was so surprised that I stopped the car again. The girls and I turned in our seats and looked back to see the baby step back into the road with stuttering steps. Suddenly the neighbor’s dog was coming toward her. “MOM!” Charis whispered in a panic, afraid for the deer.
“Just wait,” I said.
“Mom, what’s he doing?” Salem asked.
This hunting dog did not bark, nor was his head hunkered down or his fur raised. He was in no way on the prowl. Instead he paused slightly near the deer and then trotted slowly down the road. He stopped every few steps, looked to see if the deer was following, and then trotted a few more steps. This process continued until the deer was off the street and vanished up a wooded driveway.
We turned the car around and slowly edged back down the street to glance up the driveway where we had seen the dog then the deer disappear.
They stood there, face to face, about a foot apart, as if deep in conversation. The sound of our brakes interrupted their pow wow. They both looked at us, student and teacher, and then back to their conversation.
“Am I crazy, or are you two seeing what I am seeing?” I asked the girls.
“Mom, that dog is helping the baby deer,” Salem said quietly.
We sat in awe of the moment.
That was more than a month ago. And you see the now-growing doe meandering, eating, sleeping on the property where the dog lives. The other day she was playing in the field where the horse was. Before that she had a little deer poop in the dog’s back yard in broad daylight. The dog is always nearby overseeing, protecting.
One day I came through and saw the dog farther away from his home than normal. We all immediately began seeking the deer. We knew that she had wandered off, again. He was bringing her back to his home. We don’t know how long she will stay, or even make it. But I’m not sure that is the point.
This has done funny things in my heart. Funny things about “who is my neighbor?” Funny things about this God who cares for the sparrows and evidently the orphaned fawn as well.
More strikingly it has stirred funny things about innocence of the young. Are we taking a posture of protecting the young among us? Are we doing whatever it takes to prepare and position them to live and thrive? Are we actively moving them out of harm’s way? Even to our own sacrifice and inconvenience?
It may be a cold world out there. But this noble dog has provided a warm place for the fawn down the way and he has thawed some places in my own heart as well.