deersusanThey appeared at my door this afternoon: Next-door neighbor Dave, one-more-house-down neighbor Bill, and Dave’s young son Logan. “Oh…dear…” I mumbled when I realized that what Logan had in his arms was not a dangling puppy, but a newborn fawn. All three laughed at my unintended play on words as I gathered the sweet smelling bundle into my arms. “It was in the road, just walking along. Should we take it back,” Logan asked, his voice deep with concern.

Two deer were seen dead on the roads that morning, the men told me. “No. I’ll take him to Wildcare. He shouldn’t be wandering the roads at this age. His mother is probably one of those deer on the road. “I thanked them all for bringing him to me, especially Logan. Blessedly, they had not fed the little buck, nor kept him longer than it took them to get him to me. Milk—such a temptation when you have a hungry little mouth to feed—would have made him sick, possibly to death. These days, rehab centers have specially formulated fawn food (and skunk, coon, rabbit, possum, and rodent food), and frozen colostrum if the fawn is a newborn.

Quietly, I carried him to our bedroom and set him down. “Oh, you beautiful little puff of a thing,” I whispered. He sniffed my face, and I felt the cloud soft hairs of his chin touch my lips. Often, when fawns fall on hard times, they show it. But Puff was still all perfection. Not a tick or a flea or a speck of dirt blemished his sleek, spotted pelt. Inside his ears, his skin shone with the luster of a pearl. He couldn’t have been more than a couple days old at most. Slender as a zipper, and still tentative on his stilt-like legs, the tiny buck bore all the markings of a “just arrived” baby.

He stepped cautiously across the carpet, stepping over my outstretched ankles, and I noticed instantly that one of his legs was bent wrong, the small hoof tilted just slightly to the side. I knew the best thing I could do for him was to put him in the car and get him to Wildcare. A vet would need to see that leg, and Puff’s lips needed a bottle.

Years ago, I read a book about the tiny relationships we each cultivate perhaps briefly in any given day: a friendly exchange with the delivery man, some laughing banter with the checker at the grocery store, talk of spring weather and flowers with the elderly woman in line at the post office. These relationships, although brief, can add needed moments of connection in our mostly disconnected and overly busy days.

And so it was with Puff and me. For less than an hour we journedy together, and I left him at Wildcare with a kiss to his perfumed forehead. Yet, his essense remains with me. For this evening, I am a newborn fawn with jeweled spots, smelling of the forest. I am sweet and fresh and gentle and full of trust.

May you walk in beauty on cabable legs. And may tiny relationships resurrect your sore heart many times a day.

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17 Responses to PUFF

  1. Cindy says:

    “I am a newborn fawn with jeweled spots, smelling of the forest. I am sweet and fresh and gentle and full of trust”.

    Absolutely beautiful words Susan, you made my eyes instantly fill with tears this morning. It’s the heart’s recognition that we are, at the core, perfection, gentleness, grace and beauty……and yes, once we were full of trust. Oh, the newness of that baby fawn! The smell is heavenly, I have held these precious babies many times, taking a deep breath of their smooth head and soft- as-silk fur. When you are in the presence of absolute perfection such as this, your body almost can’t handle the intensity of it, the eyes overflow with the unabashed acknowledgment that you have experienced a moment of epiphany…..that we are all connected.

    May gentleness grace your day…….

  2. Rd says:


    Timely for me to hear on many levels, and timely for me to share my gratitude for the hearing … along with a new blessing to end some of my e-mails with.

    “May you walk in beauty on cabable legs. And may tiny relationships resurrect your heart many times a day.”

    I will use it often.

    Wind to your wings.

  3. Erin says:

    All the truly meaningful scenes in our lives become memories that inspire, simultaneously, both laughter and tears.

  4. Ann says:

    What a deeply touching story. Those tiny relationships can mean so much – you have reminded us that everything happens for a reason – that we are all connected.

  5. Denise says:

    I am warmed by the spirits within my computer today. the knowledge that there are others that believe in the connectiveness of our world. These are my daily “awe”experiences. I begin my day with my cup of coffee and delight in the variety of birds, squirrels and chipmunks that come to share breakfast with me. They warm my soul and I am ready to share their love at work with my autistic students, my staff or the neighbor at the grocery store.

    Your words are so descriptive and beautiful; I can smell and feel the precious fawn. I thank the heavens that you are there to save this life!

  6. Ingrid says:

    I think these “tiny relationships” that bring us these moments of connection in the middle of our daily routines are even more special when they are with an animal. There’s just something about looking deeply into the eyes of an animal, be it a much loved pet or an essentially wild animal like Puff, that connect us with something greater than ourselves.

  7. Karuna says:


    Amen to that………….all your words. It is the littlest things that matter the most. Often, we don’t realize that till it’s far too late.

    Thank you again for your artful manner of bringing us all back into the present, to live with awareness and grace.


  8. Sandy Culver says:

    Yesterday and today for the first time ever I rescued a wild animal. The place where I work decided the female raccoon in the garbage cans outside the building (the can that doesnt have a lid that closes) should be caught. The next day I heard a cry for help, and though I have never heard a baby raccoon before, my ancient body had, my ears knew who was crying and my heart knew why. Today I found two more. And Susan put into words what I am feeling I am a raccoon tonight, free and wild. And that breif relationship changed me. When I thanked the wild life rehabilatator and she assured me the little guy that was dehyradted would get fluids right away, she said it was here pleasure! It my pleasure too to help something but, my so sad for the raccoon and her family.

    • Susan McElroy says:

      Yes, Sandy, you bring up the point that often our encounters with the wild are framed by a disaster!

  9. Denise says:

    All my life, I have felt that I was at the right place a the right moment. As a young girl, I would go out to play at the moment that a stray, thin, hungry dog would be walking by my house. I had the gift of a dad who I could call to ask him to bring me scraps or leftovers and a bowl of water. He, my hero, would always help me help the lost animals of the neighborhood – the baby rabbits, sick birds, lost salamanders all were invited to share our home with my father’s blessing.

    Now it seems as a car driver, I often take the back roads and encounter deer crossing the road. One day as I slowly rounded the curve, a deer family paused to eat then try to leap to the other side. I stopped. All three beauties looked at me. I looked back at them. For a few seconds, I shared the soul of their world; the black pavement barging through their quiet home. Using my commonly comfortable hand signals, steeped in sign language, I motioned them to “go” safely to the other side. They listened and walked confidently in the knowlege that they would find more to eat, relatives to greet or just a place to rest. And they gave me the most beautiful gift of trust and joy. My days a forever blessed thanks to that moment in time.


  10. Michelle says:

    I believe this is one of the eight fawns I fed at WildCare on Friday. I help with the 8:00 p.m. feedings and was told that a new one had just come in earlier and it was very scared. The staff and I will do everything possible to take care of this little guy and we can only hope he will grow strong. Thank you for taking care of him in the brief time you had him in your care.


  11. Denise says:

    This is most amazing and I wanted to share it with fellow animal lovers! Right outside my window below the bird feeder is an albino skunk!!!! It is white with no noticabe black at all. It is amazing.

    • Susan McElroy says:

      Ooooh! A spirit animal! What a blessing! I have seven infant skunks in my house right now, all looking like lively dominos!

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