My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dogs & Deer in our Peaceable Kingdom :-)

Our various dogs and resident deer have always enjoyed a harmonious relationship. We've sometimes jokingly called our place "Almosta Ranch," but I think I'll change that to "Ahimsa Ranch!" :-)

Here are some very recent photos of Punky and the girls on the patio. Punky hangs out there frequently because she knows it provides a good chance to cajole treats out of me, and the girls go out there in the winter and bad weather to go potty. And so worlds you'd think would collide merely mingle merrily instead, because that's just how it's done here at Ahimsa Ranch! ;-) ...

It was very cold out, so Tess and Josie wanted in NOW!
Punky seems to be studying their technique for getting inside.

Another very cold morning. Willow also wanted in NOW! But I asked her to wait just a second so I could take this picture. She's such an agreeable girl, she obliged me - just not very happily!...

I love her "I can't believe you're making me do this" look,
and Punky's friend peeking in from the far left of the photo!

This peaceful co-existence has gone on for years. The following pictures are of Jane Doe, the incomparable matriarch of the white-tail clan who share this place with us. We last saw Jane in Feb '08, and while we think and hope she may have just relocated after the wildfire that destroyed their prime habitat behind our house the previous August (especially since several members of her family disappeared at about the same time), we miss her presence greatly every day. She was especially special.

Here Jane and Willow engage in a friendly competition for alfalfa cookies, while Jane's young son Peanut looks on (don't worry, he got some cookies too!)...

Nom, nom, nom - everybody loves alfalfa cookies! :-)

No, your eyes do not deceive you... that's Jane in the dog run with two members of our former pack o'dogs (now abiding at the Rainbow Bridge*), Tater (L) and Pris (R)...

Pris & Tater's ho-hum nonchalance ~ just too cool for school.

Jane usually followed us around while we did our morning and evening chores, and on this particular morning BW had left the dog run gate open for a few minutes while he went to get something, and in waltzed "herself." I happened to step out onto the deck to ask BW something and saw Jane there instead, so I grabbed my camera. I needn't have hurried ~ she made a habit of it after that, often following us through the gate. (She'd follow us into the garage sometimes too, but usually just a few feet. Garages are scary!) BW used to joke that one day he just knew he'd come home from work to find Jane reclining on our sofa, eating bon-bons and reading trash novels! It wouldn't have surprised me. Though I think Jane would have been reading something classier and more sophisticated. :-)

And here are Jane and Willow, starring in a home movie. I made this video for my friend Annie in France (which is why you'll hear me addressing her in it) because she loved the photos of Jane I'd been sending her and told me she'd never seen a deer in person...

All of us at Ahimsa Ranch wish all of you
a gentle day among sweet friends!
(And plenty of yummy vegan cookies to share, too!). :-)

*P.S. Even if you already know about the poem "The Rainbow Bridge," I encourage you to check out the link I provided. It takes you to a very touching production of the poem. (Though I dislike the use of the word "pet" and its implied ownership of a fellow being, I do love this poem!)

And Molly - I'm almost certain I saw Bruno! :-)


  1. Oh wow - how fantastic to have those beautiful creatures come so close to you. I do love that pained expression on your lovely dog's face with the deer lurking in the background. Priceless!

  2. Yep, I miss Pris and Tater, too ;-).

  3. Ok Laurie,

    You've got me crying at my work desk watching the rainbow bridge video. It reminds me how truly special our relationships with other animals are...and I really hope that's what happens when we go.

    I love the pic of Willow...such a perfect expression, she definitely looks like she's ever so slighty annoyed and chagrinned at having to put up with you.

    Punky, Peanut, and Jane are so gentle and curious...I love how they munch on alfalfa cookies with your girls!

    Hope you have a sweet and gentle day too. :)

  4. Ah, Laurie, that last sentence made me cry a bit, but in a good way! <3 I love the Rainbow Bridge poem and hope that there is indeed a place like that for all animals.

    I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed this post, especially the video of Jane and Willow! And Willow's look in the picture with Punky. LOL!! She definitely looks irked at you for making her wait. Punky looks like she's thinking about following all of the pups in, too. After all, that's where the treats come from! So much cuteness that I could just burst from it.

    We're having sub zero wind chill weather all this week. I guess the blizzard that hammered most of the country wasn't enough!

  5. I wish my dog were as calm - he sees a dear and instantly goes crazy barking through the windows and scaring the deer off.

  6. Barbara ~ It sure is!

    "Pained expression," lol - that's a perfect description. She was definitely feeling put upon, but that's what happens when you're such an adorable model!

    Spud ~ Aww, that's sweet of you! We still talk about them (and all our other furbabies who have crossed over) all the time ~ they left us with so many wonderful and funny memories. And I miss your Phantom, too!

    Rose ~ I'm sorry! If it's any consolation, it had me blubbering too, but at least I was home alone! :-) It's very moving, and I love what you said about what it reminds us of.

    Have you ever seen the film, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill? There's a scene near the end when Mark relates his interpretation of a story about a waterfall (but it's really about life, death, and afterlife) from Suzuki Roshi's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. You can read it on his web site, over on the left side of this page. I love the imagery of The Rainbow Bridge and find it comforting and hope that's what happens next too. But the Zen Waterfall story as told by Mark Bittner really resonates with me. In an interview with the filmmaker (which I won't share here in case you or anyone else haven't seen the film yet, because the interview contains a spoiler!), she says this: Mark developed a broader understanding of consciousness by including the animal world, not just the human world, in his thinking, and he developed ideas about death that grew from this understanding. The "Zen Waterfall" story is central to the film, and many people have told us that it gives them a sense of peace when thinking about the death of a loved one, animal or human, as well as when thinking about their own deaths. Since this story also helped me understand death better, it's very satisfying to hear that it does the same for others.

    I thought you might like that. :-)

    I didn't realize Willow was giving me the stink-eye when I snapped that photo. Only saw it when I downloaded it, and I just burst out laughing. She's a funny kid! And I love all the interspecies cookie-munching scenes too. :-)

  7. Molly ~ Geez, I didn't mean to make you guys cry! But as long as it was in a good way, that's okay. :-)

    I'm so glad you enjoyed this post! Jane is really quite something in that video, isn't she? She had star quality. :-) And Willow, as sweet as she is, could win a prize sometimes for Best Dirty Look! LOL And who can blame Punky for wanting to come in too? Not only is this where the cookies (and apples, pears, carrots, broccoli...) come from, it's nice and warm in here! We've been bitterly cold (and got about 18" of snow) this week too. I don't know if you end up with our weather or not, this winter's been so loopy, but if you do then you'll be pleased to know that we're heading into a warming trend starting tomorrow that's supposed to have us back in the upper 40s by Friday. I'll try to push it your way!

    Jamie ~ That's too bad! Tess would get pretty excited over the deer when she first came to live with us, especially when they'd come up to the dog run fence, and she even chased some once on one of our first hikes (BIG no-no!) She'd been badly abused, then badly neglected on the end of a chain before becoming part of our family, so we couldn't blame her for being so jazzed about everything in her new life, but she learned quickly that her behavior was not acceptable. It only took a couple of times of firmly telling her no before she settled down. I think knowing she could feel secure here with us, and getting lots of love and attention for the first time in her life, helped calm her down too.

  8. that was such a cute video:) i really liked the dog-cam shot though, that pup was VERY patient!! you are so in tune and appreciative of nature. keep these posts coming ok? they are so calming and gentle.

  9. Laloofah -- find it amazing to see dogs and deer commingling. I thought dogs were natural predators of deer.I think you and your husband have a special touch when it comes to animals.

  10. DD ~ Thank you for your very sweet comment, and I'm glad you enjoyed the video! Yes, Willow is a very patient girl. :-) I'm glad you enjoy these nature and critter photos and find them calming. The deer are a very soothing presence; I've had tension headaches melt away just by spending time with them. I'll do my best to keep these sorts of photos coming - the deer are certainly keeping up their half of the deal by giving me lots of photo ops! :-)

    Barbara ~ I know, critters can sure be full of surprises, can't they? I don't know how unusual the relationship and behavior of our dogs and deer are, but I have an even more amazing example for you. My neighbor Vistara (who hosted our Thanksgiving Feastapalooza, you may recall) used to have a beautiful wolf named Makwi, who would contentedly sit on Vistara's deck while the deer came up for treats. The deer would be milling about all around him, but Makwi and the deer would simply ignore each other. I watched this scene from Vistara's dining room many times (but sadly have no photos of it), and just loved it. Makwi was so funny - he'd ignore the deer (and wild turkeys who would also gather under the feeder by the deck), but if Vistara and I were eating popcorn or baby carrots on the deck, Makwi was terrible about stealing them! Many a time he'd snarf an entire plate of carrots, and he'd eat the whole bowl of popcorn (complete with nutritional yeast, lemon juice and cayenne pepper!) if we left him alone with it for a minute! :-)

    I don't have any photos of Makwi hanging out peacefully with the deer, but here is one of him singing to Vistara and me. :-)

  11. I have seen Parrots of Telegraph Hill, but must check out that link as I don't remember the Zen Waterfall part. Thanks for the link....

    interspecies cookie that should be in the Olympics.

  12. I just read the waterfall story, it is a wonderful way of looking at it, and I do believe in that myself.

    My husband follows Paramahansa Yogananda, and while I don't actively follow devoutly like he does, I've read a lot of his writings and it seems his tradition has the same idea. He says that we are all just drops in an ocean and it's an illusion that we are all separate.

  13. Hello my friend....
    That Punky cracks me up...always the looks of curiosity on the face. Ahimsa Ranch indeed. I'm sure that means something I don't get, but I'm going with it.
    Fun post today; glad I got a chance to stop by. Appreciate the recent kind words on my photos.
    Hope you and BW and the critters are staying warm.

  14. Rose ~ I love that film. In fact, I'd forgotten to add it to my list of favorite movies on my blog profile till I mentioned it in my comment, so have rectified that.

    I like your idea ~ interspecies cookie munching ("ICM") as an Olympic event. Finally, an Olympic sport I could actually qualify for! LOL And wouldn't the ICM teams be fun to watch as they marched in during the Opening Ceremonies? :-)

    I'm somewhat familiar with Paramahansa Yogananda's life and teachings, and sometimes enjoy the guided meditations and other meditation info/aids on the SRF web site. How long has John been a follower? That's pretty cool!

    As far as I've been able to tell, that Zen Waterfall/drops in an ocean/illusion of separateness idea runs through all Eastern religions, philosophies and teachings. I do believe it (though I find myself forgetting it all to often!)

    Sue ~ Punky does always seem to wear an attentive and inquisitive expression on her face!

    Of course ahimsa means something! :-) I was aware some of my blog readers may not know what it means and may wish to learn, which is why I linked the word to a site that gives a fairly in-depth explanation of it. (But anyone who wants to read some simpler definitions can click here.)

    Our temps are supposed to start warming up today, and be well into the 40's by tomorrow and for several days thereafter. I hope to take the dogs on some hikes at last, starting today. It'll be quite a slog through all the snow, but we've been hikeless quite long enough!

  15. That's a million-dollar photo of Willow. No, actually, it's priceless.
    I haven't watched the video, yet, and based on what Rose said, I think I'll wait and watch it later. I cry at everything so I need a more "convenient" time. One of my favorite books ever was Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda. I've read it more than once, and I think it may be time for another read.

  16. Andrea ~ Thank you ~ priceless ~ I think so too. :-)

    I know what you mean. I didn't used to cry at anything, now it seems I choke up if not outright weep at nearly everything! Pretty sunrises, beautiful music, even several scenes in "Love, Actually," including the opening credits! And it's a romantic comedy, for crying out loud (no pun intended, lol)! Though it has its share of pathos, no doubt. I was caught off guard by this Rainbow Bridge video, though... the poem alone doesn't make me cry anymore (having read it so many times, I suppose), but the combination of the poem, the music and the illustrations did me in. Hanky time!

    Okay, that does it - at the risk of becoming what my friend rift calls a "book piggie," I found Autobiography of a Yogi at my local library and put a hold on it. That means I'm now reading Miracles of the Holocaust and The Annotated Alice, have holds on Autobiography of a Yogi and Archy and Mehitable, and have requested my library purchase Crazy, Sexy Diet and the Crazy, Sexy Cancer DVD. The first one was a gift from Adventure Jo, the rest were recommendations from blogger friends. If there are any more good books out there I should be reading, please don't tell me! (For a while). :-)

  17. Love your photos and it is so cool to have such beautiful creatures so close to you! And I too think we are all one and our idea of separate identities is just a myth--we are all part of something much larger. Anyway, as usual, fantastic photos!

  18. It was very nice to revisit Jane. She's special to me of course since I got to meet her and feed her myself. Has it been that many years ago! She was a special girl and I'm hoping she's happy in whatever new home she found for herself.

    I had skipped the rainbow bridge link at first but since you repeated your entreaty to visit it, I did and it was beautiful. I can't wait to meet Holly again on it. Just two nights ago, Jim and I were looking at our scrapbook of her.

    I did look up the Ahimsa ranch reference right away. Thanks once again for adding those easy to use links to those words many of us might not know - so nice!! I do agree it's a perfect name for your ranch!!

    That was a fun video of Jane. I'm surprised your camera didn't have slobber all over it. She was a frisky girl!

    Stay warm this week and thanks for taking such good care of the critters.

  19. Jo ~ I'm so glad you got to enjoy that special experience with Jane! I just happened to come across those photos the other day when looking for something else (they're in the files that were backed up before our old iMac crashed, so they're not very organized nor easy to find, but at least they're there!)

    Here is the one of you feeding Jane and here is another one of you with Jane, Bucky and Peanut that I just love.

    Thanks for making use of (and appreciating!) my ahimsa info link(s)! I am happy to provide links like that to additional info even though it takes more time to find the web sites, especially since I really like and often make use of links like that when other bloggers provide them. And I'm glad you did take a look at the Rainbow Bridge video, it's so touching!

    LOL - I'm surprised my camera lens wasn't cover with wet-nose smears and deer drool too! :-)

    We'll definitely be staying snug and taking care of the critters over the next few days - gonna be wicked cold and snowing here again!

    xoxo! :-)

  20. Thanks much for linking those photos of me with Jane and friends. Good memories!

  21. Thank you for pointing out this post to me! So cute! I love how Peanut is always looking on from the background like he wants to join, but is too shy. Reminds me of Rudolph!

  22. Jo ~ You're very welcome! :-)

    Eva ~ I'm glad you enjoyed this post! Peanut was always shy and very sweet that way. Unlike most bucks, he'd usually let the girls eat first. He seemed surprised the first year he had substantial antlers and the does would shy away from him at the hay pile - his expression seemed to say, "What? What did I do?" (And they said, "You grew scary pointy things on the top of your head, and when you lower your head to eat you point them right at us!") :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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