Pet Tips 'n' Tales

Frank the Fawn

Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Why would someone fence in their yard to keep deer out, yet raise one on the side? Because, Connie openly admits, orphan fawn Frank's big baby brown eyes were irresistible.

TALES

You never know where a pet column is going to lead you.  "Turn off the highway onto the gravel road, and follow it UP for a mile to our house at the top of the mountain," said Connie.

I was thrilled to make the journey to her home because of her "wild" pet story even considering the unnerving knowledge of frequent cougar sightings in the hills close to town.

"Last July, I was weeding the garden when our terrier, Abby, began an unusual bark-growl," said Connnie. "I turned to see if she needed help as we are surrounded by forest land and you never know what wild animals are around. However, I never expected to see a little day- or two-old fawn walk right up to me.

'Little deer you are too little to be alone,' I said, 'You need to be in the tall grass with your mother.' So I walked him back down to the tall grass. He followed along behind me, down to the tall grass, then I turned to walk back to the garden, but the fawn followed me all the way back. I decided to pull more weeds while assessing the situation, hoping the mother deer would appear. Meantime, the fawn sat down beside me.

Every time I got up to move to pick weeds in a new area, the fawn followed, then he lay down beside me.  This 'routine' continued until it became dark. Then, he wandered down to the edge of the tall grass. I went into the house for the evening and left him outside, hopeful that his mother would appear and relieve me of worrying about feeding and protecting him; I felt 'responsible' for him.

As soon as my husband, Charlie, and I, awoke in the morning, we looked outside and were relieved to see that the fawn was gone. 'Oh, good the mother came for him,' I said. Before Charlie could respond, here comes the fawn walking out of the tall grass to greet us. Possibly the cougar had killed its mother or she was killed on the highway.

We realized the baby deer would be starving, so I filled our grandson's old sippy cup with refrigerated milk.  When I held the plastic cup up to his mouth, he eagerly drank. We named him Frank.

Our neighbor lent us the bottles he uses for feeding his young farm animals plus some cow formula, which we gave to Frank. We then switched to goat's milk.

Frank is enthusiastic at his morning feeding.  I feed him three times a day and each time all I have to do is call "Frank" and here he comes running like a happy puppy up the hill, from down in the brush and timber. 

Abby, has been a big help.  She nurtured him from the beginning and still comes out at each feeding.  After he is done eating, she chases him back out of the yard and sends him on his way.  I think she knows that he's a baby and needs our help, but he is also a wild thing and needs to maintain a sense of his wild side.  When Frank was very young, Abby's maternal instincts kicked in, and she would lick him like he was a puppy.

Frank is weaning himself off of formula. He nibbles on dandelions and samples the flowers to find the tastiest ones. The funny thing is that we fenced in our yard to keep deer out but ended up raising one! Frank's so cute that we just can't help ourselves.

During the day, Frank goes into the woods, then at feeding time he comes running up when called.  He is not afraid of us and lets us pet him. We ended up buying Kick Start formula, (small lamb's milk replacement and a lamb grain formula because they have more nutrients for a fawn than goat's milk," said Connie.

Our goal is to maintain Frank's wild side and senses. He is not a house pet.  On occasion when he was younger, he'd indicate that he was still hungry after emptying his formula bottle so I'd walk back into the house to prepare more.  Frank followed me into the house, but I shooed him out.

When my husband and his friend were working on a pickup truck Frank decided to join 'the guys'.  It was an adorable sight to see the three of them gathered around the truck."

When Connie and her husband left town for two weeks their neighbor, Tim, moved Frank to his farm and continues to care for him there.

It is now winter and "Frank has a beautiful-luxurious coat and is looking great. He's unusually plump for a deer. Frank is happy to have regular feedings and a shelter for the cold nights.  During the day, he happily wanders around Tim's yard. He also has llama friends 'to hang with' so he doesn't get lonely."

It is a wonderful ending, to a difficult start, for a starving and orphaned fawn. Thank you Connie for making the difference to one orphan fawn!
 

TIPS

If you find an orphaned or injured wild animal, phone the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 1-800-720-6339. If it is the weekend and you receive no answer, research animal care via the internet, or call your local veterinary clinic.

Pet Obit: God bless Samantha, the Christmas slug, whose story was featured in 2010. She never knew how famous she was, or how her short life touched, educated and uplifted others. She lived to the ripe old age of one year, 9.5 months... a geriatric gastropod. Her story:  http://www.angelscribe.com/tnt_012811.html
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