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DOGS, SNAKES AND KNIVES...

“This is a story in which dogs are tasked with protecting their human charges and knowing that loyalty goes both ways when the dog himself encounters a deadly snake and is saved by quick action and the utility of a sharp knife”

On Priceless Farms, and other installations developed by Love On Land, dogs play a very important role.  On Priceless there are no less than 12 dogs on the property and Aaron is always on the lookout for new recruits to his K-9 crew adding a new member recently with a dog rescued from the streets of Kampala. The dog had been badly abused and cowered from the hand of anyone that would approach her. She spent a week at the local SPCA to under-go treatment and get the necessary shots to save her life. We paid the bills and took her to the farm this last week. She was integrated into the pack and within a couple of days she was responding well and fitting right in.

Also recently, two small pups that were abandoned on the road-side and left to die. Their bodies were infested with red ants when Aaron found them. They were cleaned and fed and are now installed with the manager and his wife on the Lift The Children site (another LOL project) adjacent to the Priceless property. The cost of rescuing these faithful workers and companions is small compared to the value they bring to the operation.

They are or course first responders to any unknown intruders to the property and they are very protective of “the pack” which they know instinctively includes all of the residents and workers on the farm. They are not vicious and they are trained to cooperate with each other and strictly disciplined if acceptable behaviour is breached. The farm has ducks, chickens and goats and the dogs know that these are all valuable assets not to be molested under any circumstance. The dogs are well fed and cared for and have their own barracks; shelters that they’re are regularly confined to and rotated on shifts throughout the day and night. They all have a job to do and they understand it very well.

Whenever workers are in the field or traversing throughout the farm’s various camps there is a always a dog or two in attendance. When the truck leaves Base Camp 1 to travel to the other camps and shambas, at least two dogs run shotgun, scouting the way forward and tracking through the bush on either side of the road. It looks like they are just having a lot of fun. And they are obviously loving it but their presence is very important.

This is a tropical environment and jungle-like in many areas. It is the philosophy and design of the farm to respect the value that indigenous animals bring to the ecosystems of the farm and they are protected rather than eradicated, the latter being the practice of many farmers in the region. Among these residents are snakes; cobras and boa constrictors among others. The snakes are not a direct threat to humans. They prefer to be left alone and avoid human contact but can be lethally dangerous if caught off guard. The dogs are very vocal and announce the approach of people and it would be unusual to even see a snake when the dogs are around.

Recently however, there was an incident that demonstrated the value of the farm’s dogs in protecting their human charges, but this time it was the dog that required rescuing rather than the other way around!

At the north end of the property next to the lake is the farm’s fish pond operation. There is a small camp of workers that live at the site and maintain the solar panels that are used to pump water from the lake up to the rest of the farm. There are two holding ponds on higher ground that are constantly fed by the pump and used for irigation. There is also a dock and floats on the lake itself with several fingerling cages that grow fish for market. There is always a caretaker living on the float to protect these cages and it’s where the farm’s power boat is kept. In order to get to the doc there is a channel that is about 6 feet wide that is dug out of the hyacinth growth that covers the foreshore of the lake. To get to the float and the powerboat it is necessary to take a small oar-powered skiff through the channel to the open water.