Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mad Dogs and Moose

Delivering Newspapers at 40 degrees below zero (part 3)
Who cares about mad dogs?
When I was delivering newspapers on foot in the middle of the night I had to deal with loose dogs on several occasions. Most of them were yappy little mutts who were no threat, but a few times I was fearful of being attacked. I quickly learned to carry a stout walking stick, and a bright flashlight to shine in the dog’s eyes. 
Curiously, as the temperature dropped, the loose dogs disappeared. I guess even mad dogs are smart enough to stay in a warm place on a frigid night. I’m not sure it would have mattered when the nights got really cold though. I was so bundled up I don’t think a dog would have been able to bite me.
Moose are another matter though. During late winter, as the snow piles up in the hills, moose move down into the valleys and flatlands. Some moose move into Fairbanks where the roads are plowed and there is plenty of browse. It’s not uncommon for moose to spend late winter in our subdivision, and many times they have come into our backyard to raid our compost pile and bed down for the night. (We have a five-foot fence around our yard, which believe me, is no hindrance to a moose.)
A 1200-pound moose I care about!
Even all bundled up I would be no match for a 1200-pound moose. Also, many of the moose who over-winter in town are cows with calves, and coming between a protective mother moose and her calf is a recipe for quick disaster.
Whenever I came across moose tracks while out on my rounds, I would stop to determine which way the moose was heading and whether I had to follow it to deliver papers. It was nerve-wracking following moose tracks around the subdivision, especially when I had to walk down narrow wooded alleys. Moose will bed down in protected locations such as  under trees or up against houses where they are not readily obvious, so walking up to a residence was sometimes fraught with excitement.
When I did see moose, they would normally take off in the other direction, but sometimes, especially if they were browsing, they would ignore me. That meant changing my newspaper route so I could avoid the moose. Hopefully, when I came back later the moose would be gone. On at least one occasion though, because of a recalcitrant moose, I had to go home and get my truck to complete my route.
Oh well, I guess encountering moose on a frigid night is one way to keep you blood racing and warm (as long as the encounter is not too close that is).