Three o’clock in the morning is really, really early! But I was awake. The dogs were barking like mad and as I trudged to the kitchen window I thought for sure my eyes would behold a moose in the yard in front of the dogs. They like our property. Lots of good stuff to eat and there is a particular patch of dirt where it’s not unusual to have four of five of these giant beasts, kneeling and licking the ground. Must be some good minerals there.
Nope. No moose. It could have already passed through and so I gave the familiar command “Quiet!” and the dogs settled down. Just as I was drifting off, the dog yard erupted again. Oh good grief.
This time I headed out the door to try and see what was going on. And yes I remember to put some pants on this time. Now there is a lot that can get a group of dogs excited. Rabbits. Foxes. Moose. Loose dog. Neighborhood dog yards being noisy. Earthquakes (even if we don’t feel them the dogs are very sensitive). Ravens. Basically anything out of the ordinary. Except for wolves. The dogs get eerily quiet in the presence of wolves and all that is heard is the rustling of chains as they pace nervously.
Anyway, I didn’t see anything and thought my group of canines were being buttheads so I started to head down to the dogs. And that’s when it moved. A very large bull moose. Right in the middle of the dog yard. Actually standing right next to Gump.
Now Gump is not the brightest bulb on the tree. But he is sweet and has so many funny quirks that I simply adore him. He has chewed a hole in the side of his dog house and every once in a while he exits through the hole. The problem is that he entered through the door and now his chain stops him from going anywhere. Gump loves to run in circles and so this silly dog will not let being tangled stop him. He’ll run these tight little circles until I come rescue him. And no he has not figured out that if he goes back through the hole and then out the door he will have his entire area back.
So there was the moose. In Gump’s area. And there was Gump. Running tiny little circles and barking for all he’s worth. I think the moose laughed.
Having a moose right in a dog yard is a very bad thing. They can get agitated by all the noise and stomp dogs. They can get tangled in a chain, panic and stomp dogs. Either way the dog(s) get stomped. A land owner has the right to shoot the moose in defense of life and property, but even that gets sticky. If you kill the animal you must report it to fish and game who investigate to ensure it was a legal kill. Then you have to gut the animal and a local charity comes to salvage the meat. In the end you are left with injured or dead dogs, wildlife Troopers investigating your actions and a big pile of guts. It’s best to try and discourage the moose.
I woke Darrel up – why should he miss all the fun? We went back down to the yard with the slingshot. For a brief moment I flashed back to the David and Goliath Sunday school lesson. Now don’t laugh. The slingshot is awesome. It allows us to hit the moose on the rump with a stone or large pellet. It stings. It startles them. They don’t like it and they run away.
Now this moose was a bit more stubborn. Darrel got him right on the butt and he trotted to the back of the yard and started to graze. So another stone was volleyed and the moose had had enough. He headed off into the trees.
Last year all the dogs were in Juneau working for a living. There were no dogs in the yard and I guess the moose got used to hanging out there. We neglected to send an eviction notice to this one I guess.
After the moose was gone I sorted Gump out, rubbed his butt and he happily began running in circles. And we went back to bed.
About an hour ago the dogs were barking again. I checked it out and had the wonderful privilege of watching a cow kneeling at the mineral patch, with her days-old calf standing at her side. He or she sure is a cute little thing. All legs. Wobbly. She’ll hang out around here for a bit. She’s safe from predators when she’s near the dog yard. I just need to make sure I don’t get between her and her baby!
Here’s a short video clip from January. It was dark so the image isn’t stellar but this was right outside our door. I am about 20 feet from this young bull. He is inches from the dogs. A few minutes later we had to drive him off because he tried to stomp one of the mutts.