He started the week hanging out across the street at my neighbors. The horse (we call him Ghost) that is boarded in their pasture was so frightened by the monster moose that he went through/over a barbwire fence trying to escape it. Ghost didn't stop running until he was about five or six miles down Highway 33! The Sheriff's Department was able to corral Ghost, but weren't able to contact the owner, so I was asked to go and pick up the poor animal.
Kid 3 spent 30 days last summer working with Ghost to calm him down and get him more catch-able (he's kind of high-strung in the best of times!). They really bonded. She is still the only person that typically has no trouble catching him. Even with that, however, I was amazed at how happy Ghost was to see Kid 3 when we arrived at the corral where the Sheriff's Department had managed to contain him. He walked right up to her and lowered his head. The look of relief on his face was almost comical!
Fast forward to yesterday. The moose decided to expand his horizons. I walked out my back garage door and found the moose lying down just behind my willow trees. Those of you who know our dog Lexi know that she is super friendly and a bit of a wuss--the cats boss her around.
When I saw the moose, I expected Lexi to run and cower behind me. Instead she turned into Lexi the Defender! She did not like that moose and did not want him on our property. She barked and growled and mock-charged him twice, driving him across the backyard, then paused and looked at me for guidance. I'm pretty conscientious about teaching my dogs to not chase wildlife, but in this instance I was motivated to make an exception. I have too many little kids running back to the barn to risk having a moose move in permanently.
I injected some excitement into my voice and told Lexi to "Get 'im!" She looked back at the moose and then glanced back at me with a look of astonishment, like she was saying "Really? It's ok to chase him!?!" Then she charged at the moose one more time. He bolted off around the house. Lexi chased him to the edge of our property, then voluntarily returned back to me. She acted so proud of herself!
Later in the day, the Fish and Game guy tried to dislodge the moose from my neighbor's backyard. Apparently the moose just ran circles around their house. When the moose finally had enough, he came over to my house. Lexi drove him away a second time, down to yet another neighbor's.
I went out to talk to the Fish and Game officer and helped him get in touch with the owners of that house. He needed permission to go on their property. Once permission was granted, he started walking back behind the house to try to spook the moose again. Partly in jest, I offered to allow Lexi to help. I was surprised when he shrugged and said, "Sure, she's doing a better job of chasing him off than I am!" Sure enough, as soon as the moose sighted Lexi, he took off at a dead run. The officer said Lexi did a good job of staying out of kicking range and not trying to bite at the moose, which is a major concern when dogs and wildlife interact.
We hoped that might be the end, but Mr. Moose was back again today. Check out the video at the bottom of this post of how the herd reacted to his presence!