We have limited communications with our dogs. They understand hundreds of words in our speech and sign language that we use on the farm for herding and other things. The dogs are also able to talk to us using some of their language that we understand as well as some sign language and common words we’ve worked out. It is a pidgin that suffices for farm work and perhaps a little beyond.
There are some complexities that we can not communicate. Questions I would like to ask on issues of philosophy and logic. The perceived why’s of the universe and our shared experience that we can not bridge with our limited common language.
One such question came up recently. Kavi likes to hunt porcupines. He also likes to go down to the end of the town like James, James.
Kavi is the leader of the pack of canines who work on our farm. They all grew up here, maturing into the job from birth. Being the leader of the pack, the others will pretty much follow him everywhere. Given his occasional desire for a walk-about and investigating interesting smells like prickly pincushions he wears a radio collar which tells him where I want the boundaries to be for his journeys. Marking his territory and patrolling are important parts of his work so I don’t want to stop him from doing it – just limit the range.
The manual that came with the radio collar we got years ago makes a big deal about not letting the dog know about the radio collar and what it does. But let’s be real – Kavi knows exactly what it is and what it does. He calls it his free collar. That’s his name for it – an appropriate description.
Without the collar he gets chained at night to prevent walk-abouts. With the collar he gets to be free roaming. The collar beeps when he gets near the boundary of the ring of our farm pastures. This reminds him to keep his roaming to the 25 acres right around the farm center leaving a buffer of pastures beyond that which is no-man’s-land. Since he stays close the lieutenants stay close too, following his lead. That’s the deal – wear the radio collar and get to be free.
Recently I wanted Kavi and Sirius to stay in a particular area at night to guard some new litters. Kavi was not happy with this – perhaps he felt better able to do the job roaming. After a few nights he simply refused, vanishing when it was that time of the evening for him to go on duty at the assigned spot. He showed up the next morning with two quills lightly attached to his nose which he showed to us and allowed me to remove.
At first I didn’t put two and two together. Perhaps you haven’t either, yet. This evening he set out of reach of the chain and then vanished into the darkness. I realized that in his logic, which is quite reasonable, I had violated the terms of our agreement. He put up with this rudeness for a few nights but then took things into his own jaws and went off a hunting. Specifically he went hunting porcupine, something he hasn’t done in a long time. It was not that he couldn’t hunt them – the collar is just a suggestion. He had the free collar on when he did it and can go beyond the line if he decides. He had just been upholding his end of the bargain, until now.
Why would he do this all of a sudden? Why a porcupine of all things? An interesting question and one I would like to discuss with him. Unfortunately our shared pidgin does not allow for the expression or answering of such questions.
Katya, speaker for the dogs, who has much more expressive language and is much more talkative than Kavi is keeping mum on this. Most likely he has not confided in her. He has expressed his feelings to me as best he can and is now waiting for me to get the point.
Outdoors: 71°F/60°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/63°F
Daily Spark: “Whoever claims the ‘right’ to ‘redistribute’ the wealth produced by others is claiming the ‘right’ to treat human beings as chattel.” -Ayan Rand