Tale of Tails: Tino & the Deer
In our continuing series about Tino and his mischievous run-ins with various critters, our next installment is about Tino & the deer. This happened many years ago – Tino was in his prime, probably about 4 years old. We frequently ran & hiked in a place called Cherry Canyon in LaCanada, CA. It was a fairly big, very hilly open space area with many running trails.
We had a couple of trails we ran regularly, but this particular day, I decided to take a trail we don’t usually take just to give the dogs a different run. The trail looped around and up the opposite side of the main hill connecting at the top and looping back around to a more common trail. You can see from the map that this is a fairly large park, but situated in the middle of Los Angeles and bounded by neighborhoods and a couple of freeways, so not total wilderness.
We usually let Sally & Tino off leash when we were running. This was over 10 years ago, there were no strict leash laws and both of them were pretty reliable on their recall – with the exception of coyote sightings. But I knew it was late enough in the morning that the coyotes wouldn’t be out, so I let them off leash. Everything was going fine as we ran up the hill. Then we came to a hairpin turn with Tino out in front, I couldn’t really see what was ahead, but all of a sudden I hear crashing in the bushes and see a huge animal dart across the trail in front of Tino. It happened so fast, I couldn’t even see what it was clearly, other than it was big (it was a deer).
Sally was right next to me, so I grabbed her, but Tino was off racing after the deer like his life depended on it. Unfortunately, deer don’t stick to the trails – he was off in the underbrush, with Tino right behind him and with me trying to run after them both. Within a second, it was pointless, they were long gone, I couldn’t follow them in the heavy underbrush and besides, who knows where they went. We were on the east side of the trail system and they were headed west – there was a lot of open space ahead of them. I know Tino, he’s not going to stop – he lived by his wits for at least a year in a similar park not too far from here. Would he end up like that again, abandoned & on his own in a park, or would I be able to find him?
Sally and I race as best we can up the hill, calling for Tino the whole time, but getting no response. We get to the summit and hope that we can somehow see him or hear him, but still nothing. We walk down 30-40 yards on each of the trails, but I know they aren’t on the trails – they are in the brush and who knows where because I lost sight of them a good 5 minutes earlier. Sally is pretty good at tracking Tino and we’ve had to do it in the past when he’s chased after something. But usually it’s a rabbit and they don’t go to far – they usually zoom right back to their rabbit hole 20 yards away, but the deer – he could be in Ventura County in 10 minutes. Sally was no help. She sensed that something was amiss and that Tino was nowhere around, but she didn’t know what to do either.
I’m in tears, Sally is perplexed and I’m trying to figure out what to do. I don’t want to leave the area in case I see him or hear him, but I have no cell phone or any way to contact Steve and the car is a 20 minute hike away. Sally and I sit there 5 minutes, 10 minutes, probably 15 minutes when suddenly I see Tino pulling himself up to the summit from the far western cliff (that runs down to the 2 freeway).
He’s panting like he just ran a marathon, grinning from ear to ear, and comes loping right to me to tell me of his big adventure. He knew exactly where I was – he was headed in a straight as the crow flies path, headed right back to where he had left us.
Needless to say, I was filled with relief and he was full of pride. I doubt he ever caught up to the deer, but he sure gave it a hell of a chase and had a wonderful time being a dog. He stayed leashed on the trail from then on.