This will be the last story we share in remembrance of our wonderful LGD, Tundra, who recently died…
Elk are obviously not predators and are not dangerous to our livestock (except a bull elk during rut, or a cow protecting a calf, but inside the barnyard our animals are not effected by those situations). But what they can and will do is jump into the barnyard and steal the hay from the livestock. Deer can as well, but for the most part the mule deer around here are much more cautious and timid than the elk are.
Whenever the elk would come through the property and approach the barnyard fence, investigating the possibility of some free hay, Tundra would charge the fence and bark like crazy, keeping them back from the fence and usually causing them to move along quickly.
Occasionally, we have had curious elk, usually yearlings or two-year-olds, that will just stand about 5 feet from the fence and watch Tundra with their ears perked forward. He would continue to charge the fence and bark and they would watch him with interest. It seemed they knew he couldn’t get them, and that they were interested in what he was and what he was doing. It drove Tundra craaaaazy. He hated it and would get more and more riled that they weren’t afraid of him and moving away.
One of those times the curious elk actually approached the fence. It was standing right at the fence, and Tundra, instead of charging the fence, changed over to jumping up on the fence over and over again barking. The fence was 5 feet high, so as he jumped up over and over again his head and muzzle would just barely get over the top. The elk’s head was bobbing up and down watching the dog jump over and over again.
I heard the barking and looked out the window, seeing the elk standing right at the fence and Tundra jumping repeatedly. I walked through the house to the door to go out and encourage the elk on its way, and as I went out the door I saw the funniest thing happen. Just at the same time that Tundra’s head reached the top of the fence during one of his jumps, the elk’s head raised up to watch him and it leaned forward with its muzzle just enough that they both accidentally touched their noses to each other. It surprised them both so much to have accidentally touched that they both tore off running in opposite directions from each other. It was so funny!
After he got a few strides away from the fence, Tundra realized that the elk had taken off too, and he turned and ran back at the fence barking again, as if to say “Take that! And don’t come back!” And then strutted around acting like he had won the battle and the whole running-frightened-from-the-surprising-touch hadn’t happened at all. It was so hilarious!
I told him he was a good dog and didn’t let on that I knew his secret. 😉