Thrilling stories about dogs and learning from them
An encounter with a livestock guardian dog
It was two ferocious dogs against a protective one. The confrontation was inevitable for they had come face to face in a very delicate situation.
Our two dogs, a female German Shepherd named Cinderella (Cinders for short) and male Doberman named Zorro, hiked side by side my kid brother Owais and me.
I am sure they must have made a formidable combination on the trail. Turning a blind corner formed by dense foliage, we came face to face with a livestock guardian dog (LGD) of a flock of sheep being herded by an old man from the rear. Both of us brothers were alarmed at a possible confrontation. Here were two very threatening ‘urban’ dogs against a very protective ‘rural’ dog. As both of us were about to take a drastic action of grabbing collars of Cinders and Zorro, the LGD gave us a pleasant surprise. He looked back towards the flock and then confidently sat down as if to say, “I mean no harm and I am sure you mean no harm too”.
There was no confrontation at all. I don’t think our dogs even made an eye contact with the LGD. We had immense appreciation for the bravery and intelligence of that dog.
These 'beautiful' breeds can appear threatening to people on a trail
Keep your dog on leash
There was a lesson learnt too. Never hike with your dog(s) off leash, no matter how big the temptation is to do so. German Shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Pit bulls, etc. are correctly or incorrectly perceived as dangerous dogs. A Rottweiler coming down the trail off leash can run shivers through the spines of hikers with children in the party. Also, there is a possibility that it may run into an oncoming party with dog(s). There is no telling how the two parties would behave towards each other.
Furthermore, if your dog is off leash, there is a possibility of it seeing a wild animal and running off in hot pursuit. Running after a wolf or a bear can have dangerous consequences. Wolves are pack animals and a lonely wolf will sooner or later get reinforcement. Also, there have been stories where a dog took after a bear and when the bear counter-attacked, the dog brought the bear back to the owner.
ROBIN THE DOG AND THE MAN-EATERS OF INDIA
I love dog stories. It does not matter what breed or what type of dog is the subject. I got into reading dog stories through Jim Corbett’s’ accounts of his hunting man-eating tigers of India. Corbett preferred to hunt alone and on foot when pursuing dangerous game. He often hunted with this small dog named Robin, about whom he wrote in many adventures in his first book The Man-Eaters of Kumaon. Those stories were nerve wrenching as I read them when I was in my early teens. About Robin he writes:
“There is nothing more disappointing for a gun dog than to be left at home when his master goes out, and as bird-shooting was now taboo for Robin, I started taking him with me when I went out after big game. He took to this new form of sport as readily as duck takes to water, and from then on has accompanied me whenever I have been out with a rifle.
The little tracking dog
The method we employ is to go out early in the morning, pick up the tracks of a leopard or tiger, and follow them. When the pugmarks can be seen, I do the tracking, and when the animal we are following takes to the jungle, Robin does the tracking. In this way we have on occasions followed an animal for miles before coming up with it.”
K2 the Great White Kuvasz Pup training for hiking adventures
Put your dog to obedience training
I would never take a dog to hunting dangerous animals, but am certainly inclined to training a dog to become my trekking partner.
I have a 2 year old Kuvasz boy who has bonded with his humans rather than with a flock of sheep or goats. I started taking him on longer and longer walks with me since he was 6 months old in order that he eventually becomes a good hiking partner. I plan to put him through a special obedience training program so that he becomes a reliable partner to hike through the bear country.
During hiking with your dog, it is very important that it knows to stand by you no matter what. It is not required of a dog to challenge a bear or a cougar when it sees one for a dog is no match for these wild animals. However, presence of a well-trained dog by your side is a deterrent for an over-zealous bear.
THE HUNTER AND THE HUNTED
The stories about Corbett’s dog Robin are totally different in flavour than those narrated in a book on a man-eating Siberian, or more accurately, Amur Tiger that I read in September 2010. John Vaillant’s ‘The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival’ has many tragic events described graphically, but in the end it leaves hope in that the awareness is growing all over the world and that Amur Tigers may survive living in the wild.
Vaillant covers dogs, but in the context of their accompanying hunters in Amur forests and sometimes becoming prey of the tigers themselves. Dogs in this book hunt by their masters’ sides and get hunted by Amur Tigers and their role is frequently described under tragic circumstances. However, the book starts with a thrilling but not a tragic confrontation of a female dog and the man-eating tiger.
The little hunting dog
Yuri Trush is the central character of the story, who has been sent by the Government to track the man-eater. Vaillant describes his reaching the scene of first tragic death as follows:
“Trush’s hunting dog, a little Laika, is further down the trail, growing increasingly shrill and agitated. Her nose is tingling with blood scent and tiger musk, and she alone feels free to express her deepest fear: the tiger is there, somewhere up ahead. Trush’s men have their rifles off their shoulders, and they cover him as he films.”
Dogs know that danger is lurking
Vaillant describes the scene of Trush discovering the half-eaten body of the victim as follows:
“Trush had never seen a fellow human so thoroughly and gruesomely annihilated and, even as he filmed, his mind fled to the edges of the scene, taking refuge in the peripheral details. He was struck by the poverty of this man – that he would be wearing thin rubber boots in such bitter weather. He reflected on the cartridge belt – loaded but for three shells – and wondered where the gun had gone. Meanwhile, Trush’s dog Gitta, is racing back and forth, hackles raised and barking in alarm. The tiger is somewhere close by – invisible to the men, but to the dog it is palpably, almost unbearably present.”
Dogs can check-mate an advancing bear
Put dog's senses to work to your advantage
A well-trained dog by your side during a backpacking excursion can be a big advantage, because it can warn you of an approaching bear or a cougar or an unwanted human intruder. Dog’s hearing and seeing abilities, as well as their sixth sense, are much better than ours and can be used to an advantage.
Dogs and true character
Back to our Cinders, the female German Shepherd and Zorro, the male Doberman. They made our home more popularly known in the neighbourhood as ‘House of ferocious dogs’. But Owais and I always knew that our dogs were like the family, bold and abrupt from the outside and humble from the inside.
Ferociously compassionate dogs
They showed their true character when one day a cat with her 4-5 kittens came out of our neighbours home on to the driveway through an open door, as we chatted. Our dogs were off leash and rushed towards the cat, treeing her. Each of them then grabbed a kitten, setting panic in the neighbourhood. Everyone thought that the kittens would be dead in seconds.
But lo and behold, the dogs came over to the neighbour dropping the two kittens at his feet. No injuries, no harm, just a prank from the "ferocious dogs".
We had the biggest sigh of relief.