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Willow and I went for our morning stroll a little while ago. Usually I like to take her to the river park a block away so she can run around and wear herself out a little before I have to go to work, but since it's so dark now this time of year, we've been walking around town. There are 3 moose that have been frequenting that park and the last thing I want to do is run right into one in the dark.

So on our walks around town, I've started letting Willow run around off-leash for the first half of the walk, because the streets are deserted and she's very good at staying close in case I see another dog or a cat or a rabbit or something (this town has friggin feral rabbits). I know some of you will probably think that's irresponsible of me, but seriously, she's so good, and she tires herself out better if I let her run around and sniff. And if she does see a rabbit, all I have to do is say "leave it" and she'll ignore it.

This morning, we were coming up next to a house between 5th and 6th street, with big hedges all around it, where she's seen rabbits before. Her ears went up and she started walking purposefully like she'd seen something. I said "leave it" and she looked at me and kinda adjusted her direction, still looking at the thing but not going after it. I got closer to the alley and there, in the mostly darkness, a FRIGGIN HUGE BUTT AND LONG LEGS was right in the middle of the alley. We were like 20 feet from it. Yep, a moose.

I immediately turned around and ran flat-out to get as far away as possible. I called for Willow to come and she came.

So yeah. Expected the moose to be in the park, avoided the park, and the moose was in the neighborhood. I might have run right into it if not for Willow's warning.

Honestly it's a good problem to have. :) I love moose, and luckily these 3 moose are like...super habituated and have never charged anyone--and LOTS of people have walked right by them in the park. There was actually a story about it here: https://ravallirepublic.com/news/article_7a2471f5-3ca8-54d8-934d-4d1de3963621.html.
But methinks we'll be a bit more cautious on our morning walks from now on.
 

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UPDATE: Apparently it was the cow AND calf (all I saw on the walk, in my moment before running away, was the butt and back legs of presumably the cow). The two of them ended up taking a jaunt down my street as I was leaving for work. Horrible pics but I took them while slowly cruising down the street so as not to spook them too much.
 

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OK now I'm just bragging about how cool this town is. The three moose we usually see are the cow, calf, and bull....here's the bull, last fall, in the park. I took these with a longer zoom lens, don't worry, I wasn't as close to it as I look (I'm a dang wildlife biologist, how hypocritical would that be?!).

The second pic is the cow and last year's calf in my nextdoor neighbor's yard; I took this pic standing on my front porch!
 

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All I can say is Wow on how well Willow did with her "leave it". I know she hasn't been with you long and it is fantastic that she is showing such reliable obedience in a very tempting situation with a new owner. You are very lucky to have come upon such a well behaved girl. Good girl Willow!
 

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Yeah I kinda figured eventually we'd run into the moose. I think she had no idea what to make of it. Like "this isn't a rabbit and it isn't a deer, Mom, what the heck??" I'm sure she's smells them all the time down in the park, and we've walked by them (some distance away, where she didn't ever notice them), but this was the first time she was close to one off leash.

I always worry someone's dog is going to get the moose in trouble; the other day we were walking in the park and I saw a black lab, off-leash, run right into the bull moose bedded down. The moose got to its feet and the dog took off, and the moose just stood there. They're overall pretty chill...but a persistent enough dog might get himself and his owner into a bad situation.

And yeah I'm really lucky Willow's recall is so good. She does have moments where she's reeeeallly into a smell and she'll lag behind because she wants to stand there with her nose stuck to the ground for like...minutes. And in town, she likes to run up to the front doors of all the houses we pass. If she gets too far away from me I'll call her back and she'll come. And if we do run into other people, in the park or in the neighborhood, I leash her back up just in case she wants to investigate (cuz I know a lot of people don't like strange dogs running up to them). Not that she'd run up to them--she never has--but more to make the other person not have to worry about it. Before I got her, I used to HAAAATE when off leash dogs would come up to me and jump on me and the owner NEVER apologized.

Anyway yeah. She's pretty good!
 

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That's really cool! No moose around here and very little wildlife in general. I'm jealous! I would settle for a few snowflakes right now.
 
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