The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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THE TAMING OF AN OTTER                 89
itself to sleep in the sun. Indeed it seemed to have such an objection to water of all kinds, that the monks won­dered whether it knew how to swim. So one clay, when they were not so busy as usual, some of the brothers took it off to a good-sized pond, and waited to see what it would do. The otter smelt about cautiously for a little, and then, recognising that here was something it had seen before, ducked its head and wetted its feet as it did in the morn­ings. This did not satisfy the monks, who threw it right in, upon which it instantly swam to the other shore, and came round again to its friends.
All tame otters are not, however, as forgetful of the habits and manners of their race as this one was, and in some parts they have even been taught to fish for their masters instead of themselves. Careful directions are given for their proper teaching, and a great deal of patience is needful, because if an animal is once frightened or made angry, there is not much hope of training it afterwards. To begin with, it must be fed while it is very young on milk or soup, and when it gets older, on bread and the heads of fishes, and it must get its food from one person only, to whom it will soon get accustomed and attached. The next step is to have a sort of leather bag made, stuffed with wool and shaped like a fish, large enough for the animal to take in its mouth. Finally, he must wear a collar formed on the principle of a slip noose, which can tighten when a long string that is fastened to it, is pulled. This is, of course, to teach the otter to drop the fish after he has caught it.
The master then leads the otter slowly behind him, till by this means he has learned how to follow, and then he has to be made to understand the meanings of certain words and tones. So the man says to him, ' Come here,' and pulls the cord; and after this has been repeated several times, the otter gradually begins to connect the words with the action. Then the string is dropped, and the otter trots up obedfently without it. After that, the
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