In the mouth of madness.

by Justin

I wish I was cool enough to write about the Sam Neill movie.

Before I begin the tale, I want to clarify one thing. A note on responsibility: I erred in a dozen ways in the course of the following events. I was reckless and irresponsible, naïve, and altogether an idiot. While the animals acted according to instinct and, therefore, cannot be faulted, I was brazen enough to create a situation riddled with potential hazards. I believe I learned several lessons. And I feel incredibly lucky for escaping largely unscathed.

Long Island, NY – A large square field, some 50 yards on each side, marks the end point of most every morning walk. It affords not only ample space for reckless running, but clean sight lines in every direction until either forest or buildings reclaim the landscape. From dusk until dawn, the field belongs to the deer. They graze and lounge, cluster on the edge of panic, and do whatever else deer do under the cover of night.

Icarus (my whippet, newcomers) and I typically conclude our walks with an inspection of the entire perimeter of this field. The purpose here is to check the whereabouts of deer – most nights they sleep in the open spaces, and then retreat into the woods just after sunrise. More often than not, however, a few will linger along the edges, dragging their hooves and nibbling at tall grass. So the dog and I secure the perimeter every morning: I whistle loudly to announce our presence; Icarus bounds along with occasional high jumps so any creatures can catch his scent and steer clear.

The deer in these parts lack a healthy fear of canines. Whether from lack of exposure or a cultivated feeling of security, the instinct to fly in terror from just the rumor of a dog has been dulled. In an attempt to dull my dog’s opposite inclination to chase, I have walked him within 10 feet of the bravest beauties. So long as they stand their ground, curiosity tends to trump madness. Should they run, however, his world goes red. And so we secure the perimeter.

Once I am confident that the wild is aware of us, I let the pup off leash so he can stretch his legs and do what he was born to do. Most mornings, this means a raucous round of Frisbee. A German neighbor named Icarus “the most sporting hound around” after seeing these daily exploits. After nearly a month of these routine frolics, the system of deer-dodging has proven successful.

Yesterday morning, I cut a few corners – or rather one specific corner of the field entirely. The sun was high in the sky, the land featureless and flat, and I deemed the field secure. I let Icarus loose. Read the rest of this entry »