I first noticed the small doe while looking for Buddy’s escape route, on my lunch break. Laying down under the Camelia bush, she was watching me looking down at the base of our front porch. We locked eyes. I backed up, and went into the house.

Whitetail deer are common here. They’re a nuisance, in fact. They eat our tomatoes, peaches, apples, and pears. A buck used a young peach as a tool to rub the velvet off his antlers once, shredding the peach tree in the process. Normally, it’s an adversarial relationship.

Yet, this one was different. She didn’t run away as all other deer normally do. She remained under the camelia, resting (or so I thought). That seemed odd.

“Somethings not right,” I said to myself.

I hurried to my work-from-home loft to retrieve my “good camera,” my Canon SLR. Then, from our upstairs bedroom, I took some photos and examined them for a good look at this deer.

A whitetail doe, nesting under our Camelia bush.

I couldn’t detect anything wrong and assumed it was separated from its family herd and needed some rest. It wasn’t until later that I remembered hearing some automobile horns on the freeway just a few yards away.

Later that afternoon, on my 3 PM break, I saw the doe eating grass near the Camelia.

“She must be getting ready to leave,” I told myself.

That evening, after work, I fed the dogs then went upstairs to look for the doe. She wasn’t under the camelia, so I assumed she’d gone on her way.  She had not. She’d just relocated to a spot by our front porch.

The next morning, my wife went out to spread seed for the wild birds and hurried back in.

“She’s right in front of the porch,” she told me.

The young doe, laying next to our porch.

Over the course of the day, I spotted her eating grass near her nesting spot. She moved slowly, and seemed to pause often to gather strength, allthewhile panting heavily. She ate grass near her nest, next to our walkway, and in the circle of our driveway.

Later I saw her back under the camelia and I noticed she was laying oddly and panting harder than she had been.

“I hope she’s getting stronger,” I said to myself.

By the end of my workday, she was gone, laying in a bed of camelia petals.

I don’t know why her passing is bothering me. We’ve lost pets before. Wait. She wasn’t a pet, was she? Had the fact that I put water out for her made her my pet? I suppose it had. I had become invested in her. She was no longer just a “wild beast.”

I should be taking solace in the fact she felt safe enough in our yard to rest here. But I’m not.

I’ve been feeling down lately, and I was hoping for a “win” with her. But this was not to be.  Maybe tomorrow.

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