“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment” so said Charles Darwin in his Theory of Evolution.
Our dog, Maximus Koduvath, turned six this year and I thought he had mellowed down a lot in comparison to his “puppy” days. He plays and runs around in the backyard and luckily does not dig up the lawn. He only digs up area not covered with the grass.
In the backyard of the house we have a kitchen garden where we grow vegetables in summer months. We grow them organically using the compost from the city’s recycling centre as manure. The children help me in collecting the compost and spreading it and are treated with a doughnut and coffee. Thanks to Colonel Balaji, an old classmate, both at Saink School and National Defence Academy, who has taken to farming in his native village in Thamizh Nadu after hanging up his boots, who advised me to spray a mixture of Neem Oil, liquid soap, chilli powder and turmeric powder on to the plants as a pesticide/fungicide. It has really improved the yield of the vegetables and the blooms on all the flowering plants in the front garden.
I had put up a 30 inch high wire mesh to separate the vegetable cultivation from the lawn. Many friends thought that it was to keep away the raccoons, skunks and rabbits (these are the common visitors to all Canadian home gardens). I would tell our friends that we live a stone’s throw away from the City Hall where our Mayor sits (our Mayor is a 93 year old iron lady, Ms Hazel McCallion, who presides over the city with total commitment and enthusiasm) and Ms Hazel has placed the area around the city centre as “out of bounds” for all animals.
Some enquired the reason for such a low fence and my theory, based on the equestrian training at the National Defence Academy, was that any animal, unlike humans, needs a running space to run and jump over any obstacle. Hence Maximus will not be in a position to jump across with the limited space in the lawn. In case he manages to jump across, he will not be able to get out and hence will never try again to jump in. The 30 inch height of the fence facilitated my easy entry and exit into the garden.
This year I decided to apply some bone-meal to all the vegetable plants to facilitate better yield. Maximus got attracted to the smell of the bones and he jumped across the fence and licked off some of the bone-meal after digging down. Now he could not extricate himself out of the fenced area as he did not have running space to execute a jump. He started to bark and I had to lift him over the fence. I shouted at Maximus for uprooting a few plants in his search for the bone-meal and as usual he retreated into his cage in the family room. Yes, my theory was well proved.
This drill of Maximus jumping over the fence and I extricating him out from there continued for three days and every time I got angry with him, he would retreat to his cage.
A few days later I saw Maximus in the vegetable garden and on seeing me, he came up to the fence and lifted his both front legs together over the fence and before they could land on the ground, he managed to lift off the rear legs and crossed over the fence with ease. The Darwin’s theory of evolution dawned on me and I realised that Maximus had adapted to the environment and my theory lay in the dust-bin.
Next year I need to raise the height of the fence and also build a gate there – another self-help project for the year ahead.