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The beagle and the fawn: Fact or fable?

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the photo above is not the story behind it (fawn follows beagle home, through the doggie door and into the house), but the number of brain hours that have been spent by so many dissecting, inspecting and pontificating about it.

The photo — along with a second shot and some scant details — originally appeared as a “photo of the month” in the Deep Creek Times, an online “e-zine” based in western Maryland.

Then it became one of those endlessly forwarded feel-good emails (the kind that always make me snarl); in my case, it was sent to me by my mother.

Thousands of people have had it end up in their emailboxes as well — the majority of whom, upon getting a warm and tingly feeling, passed it on.

But it’s also led to an endless Internet debate: Is it real or fake? These are a few of the comments posted on a Topix forum:

“In these days of ‘photo shopped’ pictures, it wouldn’t be hard to place the fawn on a sofa with the beagle…

“I think it’s fake. My son does a lot of photo shop work, and said that it’s not photo shopped. However, he did find a stuffed fawn, on line, identical to the one in the picture…”

“I  am experienced with several different graphics programs including open Canvas, Photoshop, and Corel. I maximized this photo to its pixels and it clearly is not a fake picture…

“If you look at the picture you could tell by the ears of the fawn… they are shiny and bright pink… Looks like silk and sheesh don’t you think the fawn would get scared and run off or go nuts if it seen the dude??”

On and on the debate rages, including a comment from the purported sister of the purported photographer:

“It is a real dog, a real deer and a real photo. It’s my brother’s dog, my brother’s house and my brother’s couch. No fake. If you knew the beagle (“Rusty”) you would understand. Just a dumb, loveable beagle that loves to track (slow, but steady) rabbits but has probable never seen one. His only enemies in life are chimpmunks.”

I’m sure, if one looked hard enough, one would also be able to find a “chimpmunk” — that rare cross between chimpanzee and chipmunk — online, as well, but I’m worn out enough by researching the fawn and beagle.

I’ll leave it up to you, dear readers. Is the beagle legal? Is the fawn faux? Does it matter? Do you care? Or does it seem to you, like it does to me, that if one added up all the time people spend trying to run scams, and all the time other people trying to get to the bottom of them — both on the Internet and in real life — you would have a really, shall we say, elephantotamus amount of time that could be used for far better things?

(Photo: Deep Creek Times)


Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time September 1, 2008 at 5:33 pm

I have to confess that by the third time I’d received it, I blew it up, too. I use Photoshop 7, and I’m still slightly on the fence. The reason? The outlines of the fawn’s ears in Photo 1. When you begin to double the photo in size so that its individual pixels show clearly, the pixels go from a nice pinkish-gray fawn-ear-color to a very deep black with no gradation at all. There’s also quite an awkward spot that looks as though it was drawn in with the pencil tool. If you use the white area on the dog’s haunch as a reference point (it’s kind of pointed towards the bottom), it’s pointing to an area on the fawn just a little to the right of the line I’m talking about.

Problem is, I can’t find any fault with the second picture. The light in both animals’ eyes seems to be coming from the same spot. So my issues with Picture 1 may be just artifacts of the camera, or the picture may have been re-sized and fooled around with enough that it’s losing some of its quality.

I have no idea why people get such a kick out of doing this sort of thing–unless it’s to smear this or that government leader or politician by showing him/her in awkward company. That gets done an awful lot.

Comment from hobbit
Time September 2, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Snopes is currently investigating this.

Comment from MadSat
Time January 27, 2014 at 9:11 am

Fawns don’t have any natural fear of humans, I’ve had a white tail fawn this size walk up to me for a sniff, this while momma deer was snorting in the bushes. It’s curious that fear in deer seems to be learned, or at least doesn’t kick in until they grow older, but that’s how it apparently works. Perhaps the glands don’t become hyperactive until later in life? I suppose if fawns fled at every noise, they’d lose their mothers and starve.