Kutty and earth works in the plantation

October 22, 2015

Kutty is a six month Rotweiller and Alsatian mix pup. She is the latest addition to the pack of eight dogs in my plantation. Since I spent most of the daylight hours these days in the field – I’ve taken the opportunity to train Kutty.

The problem with Kutty is she hails from the city – and for dogs to thrive and survive, they need to be slowly broken into the harsh realities of plantation life. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even last a week, simply because danger lurks everywhere in a plantation even if it seems to appear benign….hardly a garden in a house lah!

As a rule. I’ve never been partial to the stupid idea of using a leash on a dog whenever I am in the field. I much prefer my dogs to shadow me naturally, fall into my rhythm and intuit my will.

Creating the idea of an invisible leash may sound easy, but unfortunately dogs like Kutty has certain bad habits she picked up from the city and her previous owner that she needs to unlearn.

To bring out the best in canines, one needs to get into a mind, one needs to know them from the inside out. For starters. They don’t ever see the world like us, so much of how they perceive the known world is largely thru their ultra sensitive noses and radar ears. As for eyes, they are just slightly better than us – all this needs to be reprogrammed and finely tuned for them to function effectively in a plantation setting. So a lot of dedication and patience is required to retrain a city dog to be effective in a plantation setting.

The goal is to first create a solid connection between master and dog – that is what I call the foundation….it needs to be solid.

Kutty has a natural advantage here – she is half Alsatian. I happen to know the breed very well and their temperament is much closer to a sheep dog than a gung-ho special forces Doberman. Both require very different handling techniques. Since Alsatians are by nature calmer and much more suited to my own temperament….it’s easy with Kutty.

By just allowing Kutty to tag along when I work in the field. I am sharpening her skills to intuit my will and fall into my natural rhythm and she seems to be fitting in quite nicely – I don’t believe in bullshit Hollywood dog whisperer techniques like having to shout, mind game my pets, handle them with a plastic make belief alpha male attitude, pull on the leash hard to show them who is boss whenever they go out of line or even the need to bribe them with reward bites just to keep them in line.

That is all TV marketing bullshit to mesmerize city folk who shouldn’t even be keeping dogs in the first place because they have absolutely no idea what they’ve got themselves into.

I don’t doubt Mr dog whisperer techniques may work in the city only because dogs there are just casual pets and expected to do very little else except remain cute and bark occasionally at the postman, but in a plantation setting – dogs are workers just like army or police dogs. They are professionals. They need to have a very strong sense of mission….that idea needs to be conveyed to Kutty in the clearest possible way when her brain is still malleable.

Most of the time I do this by first creating a silent language to establish a very clear mental link with my working dogs – for example, when I stop abruptly, they have to know, there is danger nearby. Or if they sense danger first, they must do the same to be able to warn me. If I assume a warlike posture, they automatically fall into combat mode….100% prepared to kill! Must be automatic…no fumbling…professional.

Totally different ball game from the way of city dogs.

Fortunately, all dogs are born with an uncanny ability to intuit the will of their masters. Even toy dogs can do this – they can sense an entire range of human emotions because they have natural ESP much keener than humans and words are usually unnecessary ranging from nervousness to anger. I once told a distraught lady who had what she described as a dysfunctional terrier who had a habit tearing up her sofa and bitting everyone for no apparent reason – ‘you just need to be manage yourself and be calm and consistent and everything else will fall naturally into place.’ Thereafter her so called pet from hell was transformed into a well behaved bundle of joy – that’s the key with dogs – one just needs to be calm…consistent and 99.9% of the time everything falls into place perfectly. There is no need to force it, let their natural instincts flourish. All you’re supposed to do is facilitate that transformation…it’s a bit like agriculture.

For example, it’s not unusual for my dogs to switch automatically between these mental states…only because I trigger it…they can naturally intuit my mental disposition…but that’s advance training – for the time being, the first lesson for Kutty is just to remain calm and learn to walk close beside me without being too distracted by butterflies, strange noises and unfamiliar scents…to be so in the flow of the way of master and dog that this creates that essential baby building block to build other skill sets on.

Without this essential quality of calmness and most importantly the ability for the master to build a solid building block based on trust to a puppy like Kutty. Nothing further can be developed….love….respect….duty can never be come from building on a weak and chaotic foundation. All you will end up with is a psycho dog.

That is why I believe there are so many hyper and dysfunctional dogs in this world, simply because the vast majority of dog owners don’t realize how much their own state of mind, attitude, preferences, prejudices can actually influence the behavior of their pets.

In many respects, dogs are very highly evolved creatures when compared to us humans – we only think we are intelligent, rational and can always be counted to make the best decisions….but since most of the time, we don’t even bother to develop the basic life skills like how to intuit what’s in our partners mind and heart or even bother with the whole idea of striving to be in the moment and forgetting all else because we have conditioned our minds to be so caught up in pretending to be someone who we just think we are in the stupid hope to seek acceptance, validation and respect from people who are probably just as confused and lost as us – the ultimate irony of all that can be reasonably said about the sum of human relations is most of the time it’s a bloody right mess – as all we ever seem to do is bring out the worse in ourselves and others.

I’ve never ever had that problem with dogs.

To me, there is nothing in this world more pleasurable than for a farmer to walk his lands with his dog during the evening just before the light wanes….to bask in happy litany of calmness…to be in the embrace of harmony between man and beast….to me right in the moment without ever being rippled by the shadow of the past or future…..just to be in the moment – when all this is done right, love…trust…respect comes naturally.

I reckon, dogs can teach us (humans) so very much about not only how to live a harmonious and happy life….but even to provoke us to think deeply about why so much of our lives seem to be so messed up despite trying so hard to make the pieces fit…if only we can see the world more like them….if only…I for one harbor very little doubt all our problems will disappear like lemon drops….if only we can learn from these noble creatures….dogs.

On the earthworks front. I have started a series of bold landscaping projects to totally transform the lower section of my lands – roads will be widened, unproductive trees will be up rooted, drain pools will be constructed along with an attempt to raise the water table by twelve or so inches (if my calculations are spot on) so that it’s not always swampy and to prevent root rot.

Huge quantities of earth have been moved by stripping off earth from a hill – this is usually dangerous work that can usually never be undertaken during the wet season – but with the onset of a longer than expected dry season – this is perhaps best time to undertake such a big project without running the risk of being responsible for anyone dying, mud slide or one section of the terraces caving in due to rain – this is usually how it is in farming. Since I’ve been keeping very close tabs on the weather of late the combination of lower humidity and near zero rainfall makes is ideal for such dangerous work….so when conditions are right, decisiveness is key! There is no dilly dallying!

If things go according to plan. I would be able to raise the level of the ground in my lower section. Widen the roads and make optimal use of whatever spare earth I have to improve the contouring of my lands in the lower section.

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