Adopt a Servile Cervine Service

Maybe adoption is the answer to the urban deer question.

Peter Warland

“A word to the wise ain’t necessary – it’s the stupid ones that need advice.” Bill Cosby

“The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum.” Havelock Ellis

Whilst enjoying the balmy breezes and warm sun of this spring and walking in my neighbourhood, I noticed a figure waving to me. I ambled over the road, trying hard to recall a name and failing to do so, then stood and faced a fellow who was in his front yard, apparently standing waist deep in deer droppings, known colloquially as poop.

The man, who was obviously of shorter statue than I am, could barely see over the winter’s accumulation of droppings but he persisted and told me that he’d recently been to a few city council meetings.

I was still trying to put a name to the man and thought that, maybe, I had once tried to teach the fellow back in the old days in Mount Baker Institute for the Uneducable. I said, “You went to council meetings on purpose?” then added with incredulity, “And stayed awake?”

The man muttered something unintelligible then climbed up into what appeared to be a wheelbarrow. I could now see all of him, not an impressive sight. His name was Brian, Basil, Bert or something and he looked for the moment like a politician at the hustings, wherever they are, and talking about the usual political stuff. “They’re thinking of forming a panel to consider starting a committee to look into the possibility of inaugurating a department that will organize – wait for it – an Adopt a Servile Cervine Service in order to alleviate the problem of the over-population of deer in the city.” He sounded and looked just like someone who had suffered some years in my classes.

Anyway, with a slight breeze ruffling the two remaining hairs on my head and wafting a familiar odour of deer excreta in my direction, I struggled with the fellow’s name and decided that it must be Basil and seemed to recall that the Basil I once tried to teach wasn’t noted for the veracity of his statements, especially regarding absenteeism and the lack of assignment completion. “You expect me to believe that nonsense?” I said. “Anyway, I’ve read nothing about this adoption service in the paper.”

Two large mule-eared deer ambled by, eyes seeking fodder and sphincters loosening in readiness as I attempted to swallow Basil’s – maybe Brian’s – cockamamie story.

The gist of this tale is that the council, wishing to alleviate the problems citizens are having with deer and with gardens is thinking of getting folk to forgo the concept of adopting a child from Africa or Peru, a puppy from the SPCA, or even a stretch of highway from the hard-pressed provincial government and, instead, adopting a mulie or a white-tail and taking care of it, feeding it, keeping it off other folk’s gardens and generally curtailing its wanderings, i.e. making a pet out of it.

“You mean bring the damn thing up like a dog?” I asked. “Take it for walks? Buy food for it?”

“Yeah! Treat it like one of the family.”

“I couldn’t be that mean,”  I muttered. “You imply I should take it to the vet and have it neutered.”

“You sent your kids to the vet?”

I shook the cobwebs from my brain. I was definitely getting confused. I was being conned and it was well past April First. I asked, “So, are you going to adopt a servile cervine, a well-behaved deer, then?” I tried to imagine this Brian or whatever, strolling through Idlewild Park, plastic bag in hand and a mule deer on a leash.

“Sure,” was the reply. “But, even if the plan doesn’t get through council, I’m gonna wait till there’s good frost and bag me one. The deep freeze is almost empty.” Brian – maybe Bert – clambered down off his wheelbarrow and, almost submerged in the cervine excrement, waddled off towards his house. I couldn’t see if his pants were actually on fire.