What's rarer than a tough male watchdog befriending a little spotted fawn?
It's a Canadian film crew coming to Jacksboro, to do a documentary about a tough male watchdog who has befriended a fawn!
That's what happened at the Hidden Lake RV Park and Safari just west of Jacksboro this week. And what's even stranger is how the film crew and the folks at the RV Park got together.
It all started when Larry and Vickie Rodgers decided to expand their business to include exotic animals and they added the word Safari to their name.
They had bought some Sika deer, a small breed originally from Japan, and put on the ranch, not realizing that one of the females was pregnant.
One day Larry was out driving and discovered a new fawn with its mother.
Then a few days later, he got a call that the fawn was outside the game fence, separated from the mother, possibly from a gate left open leading to oil tanks.
Larry explained, "I had hoped that I could get the mother and baby back together, but I kept watching and the mother just wouldn't come back. That's when I knew that if this baby was going to survive, we'd have to bottle feed it."
Larry and Vickie put the fawn in a large crate in their back yard. They weren't worried about the chickens bothering the fawn, but Hot Shot, the blue heeler watch dog, might be another matter.
After all, Hot Shot would never be mistaken for the nurturing kind. In fact, Hot Shot, with one blue eye and one brown eye, can melt even the bravest soul when he hits the fence snarling like he can't wait to draw blood.
So how would this dog react to a vulnerable, motherless baby deer? They weren't sure.
But Hot Shot didn't seem to mind the fawn that Vickie had named Newt, after one of the characters from the book Lonesome Dove.
In fact, during feeding time, Newt would wander over to the dog and nudge him and the dog allowed it. Soon, the fawn was following Hot Shot around the yard, struggling to keep up. They were always separated at night, though, because Larry and Vickie still weren't exactly comfortable leaving them together.
But one night they decided to try it. The next morning, when Vickie and Larry looked out, they found Hot Shot and Newt curled up together in Hot Shot's dog house!
Larry said, "That was definitely a surprise!"
"After that," Larry said, "we'd look outside and dog and fawn would be playing together. The funny part is that at first Hot Shot was outrunning the deer, but now Hot Shot can't keep up with him!"
Larry also said that when Hot Shot leaves the back yard to go with him around the property, the fawn looks and looks for his dog friend. They are inseparable now.
So how did the Canadian film crew become a part of the story? That, also, is a strange pairing.
Turns out, the production company called Summerhill Entertainment in Ontario, Canada, specializes in animal stories. They used the internet to find businesses that involve animals in some way, and they found a web site for Hidden Lake RV Ranch and Safari.
The Safari part caught their eye. Among many other calls they made, they reached Vickie Rodgers about three weeks after they had begun caring for the fawn.
Vickie said, "They told me they were a TV production company out of Canada and they were looking for stories where two different species of animals had befriended each other. They wondered if, since we were a safari park, we might know of any."
Vickie admitted she thought it was a hoax at first, but they looked up Summerhill Entertainment on the internet, and sure enough, they were legitimate.
About the same time, the Rodgers' daughter, Larrin, called and told them she was watching a show on Channel 13 about a goat that would lead around a blind pony. It happened to be produced by Sumerhill Entertainment.
"Well, we just happen to have a dog and a fawn that sleep in the same dog house," she told them, and that was the beginning of a new relationship between two unlikely sources, an RV ranch in Texas and a TV production company in Canada.
In the next few days, Vickie sent videos and still pictures to the people in Canada and they arranged for three freelancers, a director, a photographer, and a sound man to come to Jacksboro.
So, sometime in the future, if you see a nature documentary about a dog named Hot Shot and a fawn named Newt, you can say, "Hey, that's right here in Jacksboro, Texas!"
The interview with the film crew was almost as interesting as the story about Hot Shot and Newt. Please check back with us when we do Part II of this story.
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