NEVER work with children or animals is an adage I have been prepared to ignore for most of my life, but my abiding affection for animals was put to the sorest of tests last week.

It wasn’t one animal - it was two.

I was taking the dog for our usual morning constitutional into an enclosed field where she has ample room and time to fill two doggie bags, sniff at interesting clumps of grass and peer curiously at molehills.

I keep a wary eye out for other dogs when she’s off the lead, making sure she is reattached as soon as anyone appears around the curvature of the earth.

But on this day, I was amazed to see sauntering towards us down the middle of the path a bold roebuck, with wicked looking horns and a distracted manner.

While roe deer romp in nearby woods and on the adjacent golf course, I had never seen one so close to the houses and a caravan site before.

It was so well camouflaged it materialised seemingly out of thin air just 20 or so yards in front of us, and I don’t know who was more startled. I reached down to clip the lead on the dog, but instead of running away, the deer ran straight at us like an English Electric Lightning before body swerving round us like a cervine matador.

The dog is 12 years old, suffers badly from arthritis, and is deafer than a whole fenceful of posts, but she took it upon herself to give chase to the deer, which was already a distant speck as it headed for Kielder.

However, snuffling and yipping as though she was hot on its trail, the dog lumbered in its wake, literally deaf to my orders to stop.

We must have presented an odd sight, a grizzled and hobbling dog tottering along at a sedate pace, being pursued by a puffing fat man in wellies shuffling along at an even slower lick.

Abruptly, the dog disappeared through a hole in the fence, followed by me some moments later, but on the other side, the dog was waiting for me, looking mildly perplexed, as though she could not work out how she had arrived at this unlikely spot.

The deer was doubtless totally unaware it was being pursued, but may have been amused to learn that the dog could hardly move for the rest of the day after its 50 yard dash, and I was not a great deal better off in the aches and pains department,

I quite like the North Tyne’s deer in an abstract sort of way, but I have yet to meet one which is possessed of a mighty intellect.

In the days when I used to go fishing at the crack of dawn, I remember approaching a favourite spot and espying a deer standing close to the access gate to the river.

I was clad in rustling waterproofs, with tins and bottles clanking in my fishing bag, and was making no attempt to be silent, but the deer just stood there, gazing serenely into space.

As I grew nearer, in full view, I fully expected it to trot away, but still it remained, and I began to think it might be caught in a t snare.

I got to within 10 feet of it, before reaching out and touching it on the shoulder with the tip of my nine foot six trout rod.

You’d think I was using an electric cattle prod, as the creature shot vertically into the air with a look of sheer panic on its dopy face, and disappeared into the far distance in a series of graceful elastic bounds.

What made it so inattentive to the blundering approach of a portly piscator I do not know.; possibly it was asleep on its feet, blind or deaf, but it made for an interesting start to the day.

The North Tyne’s roe deer are supposed to be timid, but they seem to have an unfortunate penchant for introducing themselves to me while I am driving

Over the years, I have hit five, two fatally, and done many thousands of pounds worth of damage to vehicles. I have had near squeaks with many more, despite adopting the standard North Tyne practice of straddling the centre white line when driving slowly through woodland.

The deer tend to attempt to cross in family groups, one bursting out of the trees a few yards in front of your car, followed at intervals by several others.

On one occasion, I saw a youngster follow its parents halfway across the road, then double back, and then simply collapse trembling in a welter of Bambi legs on the centre white line while I drove round it.