Stella, our black lab/border collie, I have already discussed here, at least in terms of her disinterest in deer. Mouse, our chocolate lab puppy, is eager to bark at anything if you can call it to his attention … but he has a puppy’s attention. Pointing doesn’t work for a dog; you point and they look at your fingertip with casual interest. “Hm,” they think. “He’s singling out his forefinger. I wonder if it’s food.”
They’ll chase the hell out of a ball, though. If I could throw a ball at the deer, they’d chase it right off, every time. Sadly, I can throw far but not straight.
Then Bridgette bought us a tennis ball slingshot.
Her plan was this: I would run (clothed or nude, just all of you shut the hell up.) out into the yard, calling puppies to play. I would fire the slingshot at the deer present, which I do with fair accuracy. The dogs, not noticing or not interested in the deer, would chase the ball, growling at each other as they race to it, as is their habit. The deer, misunderstanding what was afoot, would bound away, fearing for its life. As a possible bonus, perhaps the dogs would enjoy seeing the big ol’ deer running away, and get to enjoy that part of the game and start it up on their own.
We trained for two days with the tennis ball slingshot. It’s kind of fun for all three of us. The dogs get to sprint for distances, fight over the ball, and I get to play with them without running around in the 100 degree heat. We trained a couple of times in the dark, shooting the ball by flashlight, just to get them used to the idea. Now, they don’t wait to see the ball, they watch the direction I’m aiming and, when they hear the “thwang” of the bands releasing, they just shoot off as fast as they can, assuming that they will be able to find the ball when they get there.
It worked perfectly, the very first time. And the second. Not finding the ball, scaring the deer.
Normally, when I shoot a deer with the slingshot, it jumps and runs a few steps, then settles down. Damned annoying human. Not dangerous, just annoying. Eventually, they leave just to get shut of me.
A pair of growling & running dogs, though, strikes sheer terror into it’s salad-stealing heart, and the first deer broke through brush in an effort to get away and was around the house and gone before the puppies could figure things out. The second deer, an hour later, looked up to see two dog barreling right down her throat, leapt backwards, jumped the fence, ran across the field, jumped the second fence, and was trotting away when we lost sight of her. Her comrade didn’t wait to experience the dogs, she just followed suit.