Sunday, July 19, 2009

Twice Frightened!

I like to think I am fairly rational, calm, and not easily frightened. It is important to be alert and observant when out on trails, or anywhere for that matter. I have tried to overcome my two main phobias, those being my fear of snakes and heights, but doubt that will ever happen. I came across a large northern water snake this month and actually took a couple of pictures from a respectful distance as it slithered toward Bass Creek, but looking at the images makes me cringe.

The owner of the camp where we stayed owns an abandoned farm across the road from his lakeside property. He rents it to a farmer and about fifteen cattle graze there in the summer. I have often walked through the fields and have not been bothered by the cows at all. One morning I opened the gate and walked quietly to the back of a field where a pair of Sandhill Cranes were calling noisily. I took a few pictures as they moved away and finally flew over the fence. The cows, who were a good 300 metres away from where I stood, suddenly started moving toward me at a good pace. I took a picture of their approach just before they broke into a full run.

It seemed that I was being charged! There was no way I could out run the herd to the gate and my heart started pounding as I envisioned myself being trampled. I saw a clump of Dogwood bushes which stood a bit taller than myself and hid behind them. The cattle stopped on the other side of the bushes and I listened to their heavy breathing through the branches. After a very long ten minute period, they turned around and walked back to their previous grazing spot. I walked back quietly and slowly keeping an eye open for another hiding spot.

Later that day, I took a golf cart up the dirt road toward a swampy area that is good for birding. In the distance I saw a lone animal walking my direction with a distinct wolf-like gait. I stopped and decided to make a prompt U-turn back to the cottage. Looking at my pictures later, I realized the "wolf" was a particularly aggressive farm dog named Duke. The previous day he had chased me on the golf cart before his owner had called him off. I am fond of dogs, but this one had a menacing eye and snarl that made me think back to the inservices I had attended as a Home Care therapist which dealt with recognizing dangerous canines.

I am sure there is a reason the cows rushed to me and it may be as simple as them thinking I had some tasty corn for them. On the other hand, I was wearing a shirt I had bought the day before at Sheguiandah, the nearby Indian reserve. I did not have enough warm clothes packed and selected a warm red pullover with drawings of primitive hunters on the front and back.

Who knows what goes through an animal's mind?

Have you had a frightening animal encounter, wild or domestic?


  1. I would have done the same thing.Run and hide.My dear husband would tell me the cows were just curious,but who knows.
    Do I have a fear?Yes,I HATE grasshoppers.I panic at the sight of one in the car or on me.Just writing about it makes me shiver.

  2. I love the bird pic.//I got chased by cows and a bull once. I jumped up into a little apple tree. The bull smashed into the tree trunk and the branch I was on broke. I fell onto his back and startled him so much he bucked me off and ran away, the cows following. That was scary.//Once a doberman chased me on my bike, snarling and nipping at my feet. I rode as fast as I could then placed my feet on the handlebars out of its reach. The owner called it off just as I started losing speed and knew I'd have to put my feet down again. He was laughing, I was crying. //Those encounters are hard to forget. There's plenty more including being chased by a pack of wild dogs outside Conestoga...

  3. Ruth- I will make sure not to do a post on grasshoppers!
    Melissa- My husband works near Conestogo and has warned me about the wild dogs in the area. Your cow/bull encounter is far more terrifying than mine. Glad it wasn't me because I can't climb trees either. I think you need a can of mace!

  4. Goodness, Ruth. Is this all part of vacation?
    My frightening animal contact occurred years ago--when a rabid otter was on the rampage on the mission station in Zambia. Not the normal type of animal encounter.
    By the way, I share your phobias!

  5. I was stranded standing on a huge tree stump once for about an hour when I was about 14 after being charged by an obnoxious steer in our pasture...I have be pecked by several gangster geese...and once had a black bear directly on the other side of the canvas walls of a tent trailer...and once when I was quite young got a garter snake tangled up in the spokes of my feelings about snakes are similar to yours!

    Nice pic of the sandhill cranes; we had a nesting pair on the other side of our back fence this summer.

  6. The only frightening animal encounters I've had involved dogs running at me with teeth bared and snarling viciously when I've gone for a walk and passed by their houses. Your day had an overabundance of scary animal encounters! Here in the California foothills we occasionally have mountain lion attacks. I've never before heard of cows rushing anyone--I thought they were docile beasts. My guess is also that they thought you had a treat for them to eat.

  7. You know I would think you would be more afraid of turtles then snakes, since a snapping turtle bit you as a child didn't it? (I think Dad told me a story like that once...)

    I only remember being scared by an animal once, when we were camping last September (in a campground closed for the season, so we were all alone.) I was hiking back to the car to pick something up and had Damian in his baby sling and I saw a large animal in the bushes walking near us. Normally I never overreact (even when I saw a bear it barely phased me) but a screamed just erupted from me.

    Ultimately my scream was scarier to the animal and it ran off. I personally think it was a cougar but others think it was a lynx. I don't think I would confuse the two but it was in the bushes.

    In an somewhat amusing side story, we were at Cat Tales (a local big cat rescue) a couple years ago and there was a sulking teenage boy who leaned his back against the bar of the white tiger enclosure proclaiming he wasn't walking anymore. One of the white tigers roared and jumped against the enclosure mesh (several feet back from the bar.) Needless to say the teenager more then jumped and also listened to his parents after that...

  8. Yes, I agree, I wouldn't have hung around to see what the cows had in mind! And while I'm usually okay with snakes, I have your reaction to spiders *shudders just typing the word*

  9. I would have been a titch jumpy, myself.

  10. Holy cow (sorry) Ruth! That WOULD be scary. I'd bet they did think you had something tasty to offer. The dog... not so much. :c)

  11. I never thought cows knew how to run! And they charged you? How weird. I also thought they were docile animals. I'd have been scared to death!! It must have been something threatening (your shirt?) for them to charge you. I'm glad you got away!

    Those cranes are cool. Great shot. I think I've only been afraid of snarling dogs. Horses in a field scare me. They're just so big. Even if they're quietly munching the grass. I had to go and get "my horse" actually a school horse, for a lesson one day, but I did not want to go alone into the field. I got another student to come too.

    Snakes! Yuk - that's a phobia for me. They make my skin crawl!!

  12. Cows are funny creatures. They are followers. If one moves they all move. You probably sparked their interest and they were just been curious. Cows do charge at humans, but it not very often. I would have been more afraid of the dog....and snakes.

    I'm sure it got your adrenaline going for the day. Great shot of the cranes!

  13. I have little knowledge of cow behavior, but would be very frightened if they all broke towards me. Glad you were so quick thinking.

    When I was a child I was chased by my grandfather's bull. I climbed an apple tree to wait him out and didn't dare tell anyone. I'd been warned NOT to go into the pasture where the bull lived.

  14. Being charged by cattle would be frightening, especially if there was a bull in the bunch.
    That dog sounds pretty scary, too.
    My big fear is roaches, which isn't even reasonable. Logically, I know they can't hurt me, but fears aren't entirely logical!

  15. Very scary, glad the cows stopped and reversed their charge.
    That dog should be fenced.No excuses for it to be loose.Glad you were able to avoid being hurt.

  16. Thanks to all who took the time to comment. Some of your adventures were far scarier than mine. And I am glad to see that most people have a phobia or two!

  17. Ruth, what adventures! I don't know if this is a case for Jack Hanna or The Dog Whisperer LOL! But, actually, none were funny. I think I'd take the snake over the cows any day ... But, the dog ... hmm ... looks very much like my Rudy, a Queensland Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog). They are very territorial, extremely protective of their turf, their owners and their truck! Rudy runs through the corn field, but never ventures beyond our front yard (too scared he'll miss a meal). However, I know his "issues" and knowing his breed, you have to watch them. Duke shouldn't be allowed to run free like that if his owners knows he has social deficiencies. Anyway, glad you made it out safe, and the pictures are AWESOME! Stay Safe, Stacey

  18. Stacey, thanks for your comments. You know a lot about dogs. This one should have been fenced in for sure. I would have been very, very concerned if I had a child with me when he chased the cart.


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