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December 29, 2006

Hoppy the Baby Deer

Well, here I am in Canada for the holidays. You might think I'm freezing my ass off up here,  but it has been strangely mild.  Snow has yet to arrive. Yesterday, when I stopped at the Tim's Hortons coffee shop near my house, I saw a guy in shorts. It's difficult to get upset about global warming when you can wear shorts in Canada, in December.

I like spending time in Canada. Mostly because I get to catch up on Canadian TV.  I was watching the nation's public broadcaster, the CBC, last week when I saw a commercial for a documentary that would be airing on Christmas day. 

Photo1_2It was the true-life story of a young couple who lived in the woods of Quebec. They'd found a baby deer abandoned in front of their house and decided to raise it as their own. They named the deer "Hoppy", and the title of the documentary was The Incredible True Story of Hoppy the Deer

I don't know many people who aren't suckers for a show about an abandoned baby deer but when I made a mental note to watch it, it got lost with all the other mental notes I had in my head this Christmas. I woke up this past Wednesday morning and realized I had forgotten to watch Hoppy altogether.  I checked the TV listings. The show was done and gone.

Photo5 A quick Google search turned up a website devoted to Hoppy. There was a DVD of the documentary for sale but I would have to wait three to four weeks for delivery. I wanted Hoppy now dammit.

I ordered the DVD anyway. About two hours after I hit the electronic "purchase" button, my phone rang. The man on the other end of line had a faint French accent and it took me while to clue in that he was the director of the film. "Listen," he said. "This is weird, but I'm in Toronto on business. I'm two blocks away from your house. I can drop off the DVD now or I can wait until I get home and mail it to you. Would you mind if I popped by?"

I didn't mind at all. The disc was in my DVD player ten minutes later.

Photo17 In the video, the sun rises over a quaint farmhouse in the mountains of Quebec. We meet an attractive young couple named Tony and Amanda. One day, Tony walks out the front door of his house and finds a baby deer lying in the middle of his driveway. The fawn is weak, and alone, and on the verge of death. It can barely walk. Tony and Amanda seek out the advice of a kindly neighbour who tells them to take the deer in the house and feed him warm goat's milk. After a few days, he is prancing across their front lawn like Golden Retriever puppy. They name him Hoppy.

Hoppy becomes part of the family. He sleeps in their bed. He sits on the sofa. He helps Amanda mop the kitchen floor. Tony and Amanda get a cat and are surprised that the cat and the deer become best friends. The two animals take walks together. They nap curled up against one another.  And most strangely, they take turns grooming one another. The cat licks at the deer with it's tiny thumb-sized tongue, and then the deer returns the favor by drenching the cat in drool.

Photo12_1 You probably know where this is going. It's one thing to keep a spotted fawn in the house, but what do you do once he's a full-grown deer? Where does he stay once he's got a rack of antlers on his head the size of a Toyota truck? And most importantly, how do you keep him from getting shot by the hunters that populate the woods around your house?

I won't spoil the end of the documentary by telling you what happens, but I will say I've spent the last few days hoping I come across a baby deer on the sidewalks of Toronto. When I left Los Angeles, the security lady at the airport was a heavyset black woman with very long fingernails. I wonder what she'd say if I returned to America with Bambi on a leash.

GET your copy of "Hoppy the Deer" here.  WATCH the movie trailer in the post below.

all pictures of Hoppy from www.hoppythedeer.com


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IS THAT TRUE??? OMG! it's like fate brought you and hoppy together. all your dreams are alive!!

How wonderful! How did I miss that? Oh... I was being Grinchy and avoiding holiday TV. Even if it was on CBC.

Was a mild Christmas, hunh? Always nice when Toronto is Canada's hot spot (take that Vancouver... and yeah, Stephen Harper, there IS something that 'global warming' thing). If I'd known you were around I'd have bought you a Timmy's. Are you a double double man or is that Colty's fave?

I watched that show!
It was such a cute story... and that tube sled track thingy they built through the forest was crazy!
it made me want to have a pet deer.

Hoppy, you have hopped right into my heart.

I met Hoppy, it was a real thrill to look into those big brown eyes!
biologist Beth Girdler

I saw Hoppy on CBC Newsworld tonight. It was a great story. Who wouldn't want such a badass pet?

Yeah, it's a sweet story and I'm glad Hoppy is doing so well, however... MOST "lost, abandoned" fawns actually are just waiting for Mom to return. About 99.9% of them, in fact. Use extreme caution when "rescueing" a fawn, since taking a deer out of its habitat outside of hunting season is not only illegal, but usually not in the best interest of the animal. Deer are NOT domesticated animals, and the adult deer do NOT make good pets. If you find a "lost" fawn, don't go near it. Don't pick it up. Call your local game warden or fish & wildlife department and report it. You'll be doing that baby a favor.

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