41: Three Does in Tow

41: Three Does in Tow

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That!

Three Does in Tow

Prowling his own quiet backyard or asleep by the fire, he is still only a whisker away from the wilds.

~Jean Burden

It is a snowy late December afternoon. The fire in our living room fireplace is blazing, roast chicken is in the oven and the Patriots football game is on the TV. A perfect scenario.

I get up to check on the roast, breathing in a blast of contentment as I open the oven door; the aroma of fresh rosemary and thyme fills my senses. “Cooked to perfection,” I boast to myself.

Moving over to the large picture window in the living room, I look out. The snow is coming down hard with thick flakes steadily falling in front of me.

“Look how gorgeous,” I say to my husband, Jack, who looks as though he is just about ready for his second nap. He stands up, stretches and then joins me at the window.

“It is gorgeous. The sunlight is hitting the snow-covered branches, perfectly highlighting the trees. It’s almost like a movie set,” he says. With that he puts his hands to his mouth and shouts, “Cue the deer.” Within minutes, three does peek out from behind the trees in my neighbor’s yard across the street. We laugh, not so surprised, as deer are a daily occurrence in our rural neighborhood.

We watch as they approach our house and stop right outside our window. Calmly munching on some pachysandra, they seem so sedate, so comfortable, as if they know they are expected and safe.

Suddenly, one of them looks up and signals to the others. They stiffen, each taking several steps backward, all looking in the same direction. Jack and I look around, concerned. A coyote has been spotted in the neighborhood and we are afraid it is near. If it were, it would probably be sick and hungry.

The three deer take a few more steps back, then look at one another as if to ask, “What should we do?”

All of a sudden, Jack says, “Look.”

I look, but don’t see what he is seeing.

“Look, there by the oak.” He takes my head and points it toward the tree, but lower.

“There,” he says, “walking towards the pachysandra.”

I look and see our neighbor’s cat, a longhaired Maine Coon named Gizmo. He is marching right at the deer. Walking straight toward them purposefully, almost as if he is on a mission. The deer move back a bit more and then stop. Gizmo stops not two yards in front of them. Then, almost in unison, the three does take two steps forward. Then, Gizmo takes two steps toward the does. The four just stand there, staring each other down. It’s a standstill.

Finally, Gizmo marches right by them. The three deer look at one another for advice and then the largest one turns toward Gizmo, following him past the side window of our living room.

Jack and I are surprised by this turn of events. We run to the back window to see what is happening. There goes Gizmo, tail up, marching along with a leader-like attitude. I don’t know what he is thinking, or what mission he has, but he seems to have a devoted following as we see all three deer come up the rear.

They march single file, through the thickening snow, around the side of the house and down a newly set trail to the nature preserve behind our house.

Jack and I run upstairs to see if we can follow this adventure from a higher vantage point. “There they are,” I say, pointing toward the entourage. It is getting darker and increasingly hard to spy. The four disappear into the woods.

“How adorable was that?” I say.

We go back to our roast and our game and sigh at the marvels of animals in the wild, figuring that is the end of that.

The next day the snow has stopped and the landscape boasts a new, clean appearance. I look out the back dining room window at the vast white clearing and see three sets of large tracks coming from the woods. I follow the tracks from the woods toward the house. As they get closer I notice a fourth set of smaller tracks running parallel. Impossible, I think. Gizmo couldn’t possibly have spent the night with those deer.

That evening, as the sun is beginning to set, I look out and see our little family of deer across the street. I smile and turn back towards the kitchen when something catches my eye. There, across the street, I see a big ball of gray fur, jumping up and down, swatting something with his paw. Gizmo is throwing what appears to be a field mouse up into the air, over and over again. To his right stand three deer watching intently as if thoroughly entertained. When the show ends, he marches the three does toward our house.

They cross the street and enter our yard. The deer seem to acknowledge me looking through the window, but Gizmo can’t be bothered. He is the leader and as such has to maintain an air of dignity, importance, and command . . . with his three does in tow.

~Jeanne Blandford

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