Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday January 5th 2020


It’s Monday. Storm Brendon is expected this afternoon, and the parks are still a sea of mud.


Bev and I opt for Highbury and choose to walk the woodland paths as here, at least along most of the paths, deep layers of fallen leaves form a barrier between our boots and the mud.

Before we entered the Age of the Deluge, we liked to walk down the steep slope which begins at the back of Highbury Hall and leads down to several little diverging tracks. Usually, we would choose the track which leads to the beech wood.

Now, the slope slides down to a quagmire and the little tracks are flooded with ankle deep mud.

Unfortunately, Isis knows her way to the beech wood and likes to trot off ahead. Then, of course, I have to follow her to make sure the little hairy comes to no harm.

There’s a grassy mound a few hundred yards before you reach the slope. Here, as has been mentioned in previous posts, Isis likes to dance. Generally, as soon as she begins to move from the mound, Bev, who is usually ahead of me, blocks Hairy One’s path and I hurry over with the lead and grab her quickly before she makes it to the slope.

But today she is too quick for me. I stride after her, calling her name in varying pitches. Amazingly, one of the calls gets through to her and she stops for a second, turning her head. This enables me to get closer to her, but not close enough to prevent her from setting off down the slope.

Eek! Foolishly, I quicken my pace and grab her tail. As I do so, she emits a loud squeak, I lurch to grasp her harness, then I fall flat on my face.

Because I’m holding onto the miscreant’s harness with my left hand, I must attempt to haul myself up from the mud with my right. A few years ago this would have been easy. Frustratingly, since the operations on my shoulders and ligaments, my arms are weaker. I press down as hard as I can with my right hand, but I can’t raise my body.

I’ve never had this experience before. Dog! It’s frustrating.

Getting old really sucks.

Bev is some distance away. She’s too far off to hear a mud-muffled call for help. She’ll assume I’ve walked down the slope after Isis, and she’ll set off back to the orchard with Rufus and Nancy, walk them down to the main path, and expect to meet us in the beech wood.

Just as I’m thinking that I’ll have to let Isis go, I hear Bev calling, “It’s O.K., I’m on my way.”

What a relief. Now, I don’t wish to be too dramatic. It’s not as if I’m on the north face of the Eiger; nevertheless, I would like not to have to follow Isis down the treacherous mud slide. I’m somewhat shaken, and I know it would be virtually impossible to stay upright.

Unbeknown to me, on hearing Hairy One’s pained squeak, Rufus leaves Bev’s side and, closely followed by Nancy, rushes round the trees towards the top of the slope. He must have spotted my spreadeagled figure, as he gallops back to his human, followed, naturally,  by Nancy who, by this time, has picked up some of his panic.

Panting and rolling his eyes wildly, he skids to a halt at Bev’s feet. Then both dogs jiggle up and down on the spot, staring intently at her face before breaking away and dashing off again. They repeat this routine several times.

Apparently, Rufus’s panting and wild eye rolling has always been his way of expressing alarm; Bev knows there’s something wrong, and walks to the top of the slope.

When I hear her call, I let her know that I’m O.K. but can’t get up without letting go of Isis.

Considerably more careful than me, she picks her way down to us, and puts Isis on the lead while I scrabble my way upright.

I discover Rufus and Nancy close behind me.Their duty is done. They’ve handed the problem over to their human.  Now they can return to their doggie business. Lowering their muzzles to the ground, they snuffle intently, trying to find particularly tasty samples of mud to eat.

Clever, clever Rufus. Loyal Nancy.




Photo by Bev.



I must admit that I wiped my face before this photo was taken. Not from vanity, I assure you, but because I couldn’t see through the mud splattered over my face.

Even so, there’s no question who needs a bath this time!

Thanks a million Isis.

There are, I reflect, some disadvantages to having a deaf dog – not many, Isis dear, just one or two.

Then again, Hairy One’s personality suggests to me that even if she could hear, she’d ignore me and carry on with what she was doing anyway.


*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk


Posted in Highbury Park, Isis says "No"., oh dear, rain and more rain, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

I.T., Isis and me



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday January 5th 2020


In deference to Isis and her hysteria when, soon after she came, I switched on my ancient, flickering television, ours has been a television free household for the last five years.

Very recently, she has become more tolerant of indoor light, as long as it’s stable. And modern televisions don’t flicker like the old ones did.

A week before Christmas, our new television arrives.

“You must be excited,” say my friends. No. I’m not. I’ve always been happy with mechanical stuff: things with backs you can detach, innards you can prise out and mend, widgets which can be oiled or tweaked, wires you can reconnect, cases you can kick or thump. Hands on, fine. Memory and sequence dependent, not fine.

Friend Y and I manage to unpack the set and power it up. She gets a picture, but neither of us can work out how to set up channels.

The Thursday before Christmas, an I.T. savvy friend sets up the channels and shows me how to navigate the remote.




I try to watch something, but I’ve forgotten the sequence I need to follow. Thoroughly fed up with my ineptitude, my only interaction with the blasted thing is to glare at it balefully as I listen to the radio.

By Christmas night friend Y. has worked out how to locate a programme. We watch ‘The Big Friendly Giant.’

O.K. Now I can watch T.V.

No. By the next day, I’ve forgotten again.

Resigned sigh.

It can’t be that hard.

It is.

I cover Hairy One’s ears and shout very rude things. When I’ve finished shouting, I uncover her hairy ears and resume scowling at the blank screen.

This week I.T. savvy friend shows me again what I need to do. And shows me again. And again. And then gets me to do it myself. Now I understand what I’ve been doing wrong.

This week too, after the latest monsoon period, Bev and I check out the woodland walk. It’s not bad at all. We avoid the slope behind Highbury Hall, as the paths at the bottom are ankle deep in mud. Instead, we take the highest path back and walk down into the orchard.

Wow! What a lovely surprise.

The Highbury Orchard volunteers have been at it again. They’ve dressed one of the trees with multi-coloured crocheting.

I would love to capture this for Hairy One’s blog but, unfortunately, I have phone trouble. My Windows phone, with which I took most of my blog photos, is no longer in operation.  I am lucky enough to be given a 2013 iPhone, which tides me over well for most apps, but is affronted when asked to take a photo, and shuts itself down, even when it’s fully charged.

For a few months, I re-use images from the media library. But on Thursday my new phone arrives, and by Friday I’m confident enough to use it.



The Community Orchard, Highbury Park.



On Saturday, I lead Isis carefully around the mud patches and up onto the grass below the beech wood. When I set her free, she makes a beeline for the pine avenue. There are dried stems under each of the trees, but one shelters a particularly thick blanket. This is her favourite.


It’s several weeks now since I had to disentangle prickly stems from her coat. I’ll just have to do it again: she’s enjoying herself so much, it would be unkind to drag her away.

As usual, she dashes around perfectly happily, gathering dead stems like a rolling snowball gathers snow. As usual, it’s only when I replace her harness and attempt to walk on, that she stands with a pitiful expression on her face. She’s telling me that she can’t possibly walk another step until I put things right.

It’s not going to be an easy task.






It isn’t, but little Isis is a good dog. She keeps very still. Now and again, when I tackle a particularly deeply embedded stem, or several matted together in her fine hair, she lies down. Unsurprisingly, the poor little creature is apprehensive. No doubt she is also tired after all the running, but she stands up again obediently when I wriggle a hand under her.

At last, we’re fit to move on. If we walk through the stream, instead of squelching along the well used path, we can avoid the mud, and Isis can run free on the flower meadow.

Remember, I said that I was confident when using the phone camera. Confident, not competent.

I shoot four or five videos. I’m on a roll. Oh yes, I soon got the hang of that!

But when I play the videos, I discover that my confidence is ill-founded. Not only is Isis racing around the meadow at the speed of light, she’s also upside down.


Today we go to Kings Heath Park. It’s one of those sun-in-sun-out days which unnerve poor Isis; nowadays, though, she will always leave the car – unless Rufus has his nose in it ready for his affectionate but rough greeting.

She walks slowly, gingerly, from the car to the path. She flinches and glances anxiously around her before scrambling and ducking through the shrubbery towards the pond.

As we make our way towards the old bowling green, she perks up.

But there are menacing stripes of sun and shade here, and when the light suddenly changes, she grasps her tugger and hurries off to the back of the basketball court. Although she’s only been in the park for thirty minutes, she’s on her way to the car park and home.

We can’t have this. Although she protests, I manouvre her into the Colour Garden. If she’ll not play here, she’ll not play anywhere.

After a few minutes she sniffs her way to the shrubbery, her tail pops up and wags, and she begins to play.

It’s only after she’s pelted up and down non-stop for about forty minutes that I decide to have another go at a video. This time I am more cautious. I notice there is a ‘stabilise’ button and think it might be a good idea to tap it.

Unfortunately, by now, Isis is bored with her gymnastics, and is winding down her play, so the video isn’t the most exciting entertainment on offer.

But at least Hairy One is the right way up and moving at a normal speed!





*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in a very good dog, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., Kings Heath Park, oh dear, scary shadows, walking in the park, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

it’s all too much for a dog



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday January 5th 2020


When I last reported on Hairy One’s table manners, all was going swimmingly. No ear splitting screams. No air shredding screeches. No snarling, snapping, barking or leaping up the wall. Just a normal, calm, little dog eating her meal.


But, suddenly, out of the blue, as they say, everything changes. The hour goes back, the winter sun sags low in the sky in the day time and in the early evening headlights flash past.

For a while stupid Human doesn’t understand what’s turned her quiet, contented diner back into a fraught, barky pest.

First port in a storm is always the ‘bark and your food is removed’ response. To be fair, for a day or two, after her dish has been whipped from under her questing spotty nose three times each sitting, on three consecutive days, Isis does try very hard to suppress the barks. For a day, they emerge as little, subdued ‘oofs’.

But then, instead of responding positively to the retraining, as she usually does after relapses, Isis deteriorates rapidly. Each time her food is removed, she becomes more hysterical, growling, screeching, spinning and biting herself; alternatively, she just leaves her breakfast uneaten, and has only one meal a day.

At last it dawns on her dim-witted housemate that something is very wrong. It must be a relief to poor Isis who has for weeks, I now realise, been standing stiffly over her dish continuously casting anxious glances over her right shoulder towards the front door.

Ah, yes. Near the top of the front door is a sizeable oval inset of textured glass. The large window adjacent to the door has the same kind of glass. The morning sun strikes the panes, and the glass fractures its wavering beam into a thousand jiggling shards. What must that be doing to poor Hairy One’s damaged eyes?

I experiment with numerous possible solutions: I feed her in the back room; I cover the glass of the kitchen door with a blanket; I switch off all the lights in the house while she eats, and creep off in the dark to another room; I stand in the kitchen with her, patting her gently while she eats. At least she is calm enough to eat when I comfort her, but the barking continues spasmodically.

The kitchen is where she’s always eaten, and it occurs to me that moving her food around and changing the dining room arrangements is probably confusing her and making her more anxious.

Fear that my dog will return to her previous chaotic dining room habits has clouded my judgement. (To be candid, I was never over endowed with common sense anyway.)

Come on. Isis is not about to regress: she is genuinely distressed by the light. Soon, the sun will return to its rightful position in the sky, and all will be well again.

I feed her in the kitchen every day. I am completely calm and laid back. I’m never  impatient with her. If she leaves her food, that’s fine. She’s unlikely to starve herself.

This helps. She continues to bark each morning when she has her breakfast. Sometimes  she doesn’t eat. She barks in the evening, but less. I notice that on Saturdays and Sundays, when there’s no stream of motorists passing on their way from work, she is much more relaxed, and often doesn’t bark at all.

I apologise to her. Because she will now walk at night, despite the headlights, and will always leave the car when we reach the park, even when the sun is bright, I overlooked how very deeply embedded is her anxiety around eating in the face of any perceived threat.

Christmas day jolts my complacency. When Y. and Blitzi visit, the humans eat vegetarian, but Y. brings delicious special dinners for the dogs. Their dishes are filled with a tempting layer of Sainsbury’s Turkey Dinner for dogs, and topped with chunks of chicken freshly cooked by Y.

We feed Blitzi first. He gollops down his tasty meal, and licks his chops appreciatively. I can’t wait for Hairy One to have hers. She’ll be delighted.

But she’s not. Although Blitzi is with Y., behind the closed door of the front room, Isis refuses to even approach her dish. Instead, she slinks out of the kitchen and onto the day bed.

I’m sure she’ll eat when the our guests have left.

She doesn’t. When I depart to bed in the early hours, her meal is still untouched.

In the morning, her dish is licked clean.

Many years ago I adopted a little border collie, whom I named ‘Rush’, I think because she rushed away and hid when approached with food, or when a stranger came to the house.   Her food dish had to be left in a room devoid of other animals or humans. She was one of only two survivors from a litter of six or seven pups who were tied up behind a caravan and thrown handfuls of food when their owner thought about it. Thankfully, someone reported him, he was taken to court and banned from keeping dogs – for life, I think.

Little Rush never became a confident dog, but gradually she learned that it was safe to eat around people and animals.

I am almost certain that Isis will never achieve this.

One can only imagine what she went through before she was taken to Aeza.* Poor little creature.

Hey! Isis! That doesn’t mean that it was O.K. to nip Blitzi’s bottom.


*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk


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we’re going THIS way ….



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday December 29th 2019


Since the beginning of the Months of the Mud, Isis and I have a tussle every time we step out of the car in Highbury Park. It is all a matter of opinion, I guess. I think that it makes sense to walk along the main, tarmacked path, eschewing the muddy morass on the left,  while Isis is convinced that she should be allowed to plough her way down the left side of the field and lollop about in the mud.

She is a very stubborn animal, and is quite prepared to jump backwards on stiff, resisting little legs until she manages to pull her harness over her head, under her chin and around the tops of her front legs. This is infuriating, as one is then forced to remove one’s gloves,  scrabble through her hairy coat, locate three stiff clips, force them open – no mean feat when one’s hands are numb with cold – replace the harness and shove all the clips back in.

By which time, as I hiss menacingly into the nearest pink and hairy ear, “I am very cross!”

It’s not polite to yell, “NO!” at your dog, I’m told, and quite unacceptable in good dog training circles.

I yell “NO!” very loudly close to her ears. She knows that I mean business. Sometimes she walks on. Sometimes she doesn’t.

Today is a doesn’t day, so, after a surreptitious glance behind us to make sure that someone isn’t on the phone to the RSPCA, I haul her by her harness back onto the path and frogmarch her along it.

Her response is to lean as far to the left as she can without scraping the ground.

This does not make dog walking a relaxing experience. My next tactic is to nip over to her left side. She is forced to desist from imitating a motorcyclist on the wall of death, and, after a few attempts to cut across me and trip me up, she gives in, puts her tail back up and walks demurely along by my side.

As I explain to her time and again, we’re going to some of her favourite places, and she’ll have a lovely walk.

She perks up as we near the pond, and concentrates on some serious sniffing.

We walk carefully up the grassy slope below the beech wood, and I unclip her lead. She can run along by the hedge as we walk up. She enjoys that.

But no, she’d prefer to dash through one of the gaps in the new hedge plantings, and go wade through the swamp which used to be her rose bay willow herb plantation.

Click. Back on the lead. Now we bear to the left where it is possible to release the recreant once more.

Sniff. Sniff. Oh joy! The pine avenue! It’s months since she’s played here. She shoots into the trees and segues into an ecstatic dance.

Oh well, it’s probably easier to deal with the prickly stems dropped by the pines than it is to give Isis a bath. And, anyway, she’s very happy.

Eventually, she lies down under the tree, thus embedding the stems even more firmly into her coat.

After persuading her to crawl out, I pick off a handful of lose pine stems, and off we go. To avoid the quagmire of the track, we cross the stream.

Brilliant. Her coat may be decorated with pine stems, but it’s completely free of mud. I remove her harness and we amble happily across the flower meadow. While she explores the undergrowth, I drift off into a contented day dream.

Suddenly, I’m jerked rudely back to the present by dark, dirty looking clods of something flying past me. Eeeeeek! What’s she doing? She’ll be filthy.

She’s having a wonderful time, but, magically, she doesn’t appear to be any dirtier.

She is standing on top of what looks like a thatched mound. Cuttings from the final pre-winter mowing have formed a thick cover over fallen trunks and branches, and Hairy One is enthusiastically scraping them off to reveal the hidden treasure. When she has finished, she stands on the branches, wagging her tail triumphantly.

As her tail wags, a large, barbed pine stem is revealed. It’s over a foot long, is caught under

her tail and sticks out either side. It’s firmly tethered in her hair and wound tightly against her skin.

Detaching her hair from the stem is a two handed job, but, as usual when I’m trying to help her, she’s very cooperative. I snap off small pieces of the stem, one at a time, unwind the hairs from one section, then break off the next. In order to avoid hurting her, I have to unwind most of the hairs only two or three at a time.

Releasing this long stem takes about fifteen minutes. By which time Isis is more than ready to move on.

She trots by my side to the next playground: the log-in -the-long-grass. Here, she eagerly follows the trail I make by dragging her tugger along the ground, finds it, claims it and jogs away to find a comfortable spot in which to chew it.






There’s a strong, cold breeze blowing across the park, and already the air seems drier. I return to the car with a very clean, contented dog.

I told you you’d enjoy yourself, Isis.


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk



Posted in a very naughty dog, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis is no angel, Isis says "No"., learning to trust, oh dear, relationship building, scenting, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Christmas Day

Message from Isis.




I had a guest today. It was Blitzi. Human said you have to be very nice to your guests, especially kind, good-natured guests like Blitzi who protect you from other guests in the park.

It’s my house, not his, so when I thought Human wasn’t looking, I nipped his bottom.

I was right. She wasn’t looking. But I missed the first time, and nipped her thigh instead.

Human was very cross. Blitzi went in the front room with the humans and I was shut in the back room.




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Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday December 22nd 2019


Isis and I have been to Kings Heath Park most days over the last two weeks. Temporarily, it has taken the place of Highbury as our ‘all weather’ park. I’ve only found two areas in Highbury where Isis can run free without both of us becoming plastered with mud. These are the landscaped area above the walled garden, and the burr log by the lower park entrance.

When it’s sunny, Isis won’t walk up to the landscaped area, and we don’t always feel like a deburring session, so the bank above the old bowling green in Kings Heath Park has become our default exercise spot.

There are disadvantages: I have to guard the little fir tree which Isis unkindly beheaded some weeks ago. An additional hazard is that other dogs enjoy chasing one another across the old green, and are inclined, upon spotting Hairy One engaged in strange rituals, to trot up the bank to investigate.

Nowadays Hairy One is much less afraid of other members of her species than she used to be. Once or twice lately she has surprised me, after intruders have left, by popping back through her hole in the hedge escape route, and resuming her bank play.

Toss-and-gallop is one of her favourite games. It goes like this: you lie down for a few minutes, nonchalantly chewing on your toy, then you leap up in the air and spin. Simultaneously, you release the toy. Then you gallop around before slowing down, sniffing out the toy and retrieving it.

One day she is playing on the bank with her orange tugger. An energetic toss-and-gallop game is in full swing when no fewer than four dogs arrive on the bank in quick succession. None of the dogs jumps on her, or takes the tugger, but she surrenders her toy and disappears through the hedge onto the next level.

I can see a faint white cloud hovering behind the hedge, and once the other dogs have departed, Isis emerges from the hole looking troubled and begins to search for the tugger. She sniffs around, undercarriage close to the ground. Usually she sniffs out her toys very quickly, but she can’t find the tugger, and is looking  a little agitated.

I pick it up and return it to her, and she resumes her play.






The next day, as soon as I release her onto the old green, she trots happily up onto the bank. While she’s having a good sniff at whatever has happened since yesterday, I place the tugger on the bank and pull it down over the grass. As a challenge for her, I make quite a long trail. Before I turn to walk over to the dog bin, I see that she’s already picked up the scent and is on her way to the tugger.

When I turn round – it can only be a minute later – both Isis and the tugger have disappeared.


I walk up to the Colour Garden, her retreat of first choice. There’s no sign of her. I make my way back by the side of the basket ball court, through the shrubs at the bottom and onto the grassy mound, another place she likes to be.

There she is, dancing exuberantly near the border of shrubs. But there’s no sign of the tugger. Damn. She’s dropped it somewhere along the way.

But that’s unusual. She doesn’t leave her toys behind unless she thinks another dog intends to challenge her.

How strange. She wouldn’t have hidden it, would she?

I walk past her and part the branches of the nearest shrubs.

There is the tugger, hidden behind a holly bush.


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk



Posted in clever girl, clever Isis, deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, scenting, the dogs of King's Heath Park | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment




Tuesday December 17th 2019

Isis has just amazed and delighted me. She left the house with me in the dark and we did an hour’s street walk. This is her very first walk in the dark since she came to me five years, two months and a few weeks ago.

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what blog?



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.

First, apologies for the non-appearance of Isis news yesterday, and even more, for the non-appearance of even a quick explanation.

Human has succumbed.


Monday December 16th 2019


Yes, indeed. Following a sore throat week, during which I smugly remind myself that I (almost) never catch colds, and will have recovered by the next morning, I find myself trying to sleep with a toilet roll wedged under my nose. (Said nose is too sore to blow.)

For the best part of a week, other than taking care of Hairy One’s needs, I do virtually nothing but sleep; most of the time I sleep with Isis on the day bed. What a treat for her, but she’s not as thrilled as she should be. She thinks I should keep still and take up much less space.

We only go for one park visit a day. It’s all I can stay upright for, but not nearly enough for Isis who must compensate by playing thunderous games at home with her snake and her squeaky tiger.

How is it that so much clutter accumulates everywhere, I wonder, dolefully, since I’m spending so little time awake?

As the weekend draws closer, I worry that some overwhelming symptom – such as folding legs – will suddenly hit me and I’ll not be able to meet up with J and V on Saturday.

Fortunately, I make it and we have a lovely afternoon.

Isis is less impressed with her afternoon. She is left for half an hour over the four hour deadline. She is perfectly aware of this, and has a paw on the RSPCA phone button when I arrive home.

I let her out, feed her and then crash on the day bed with her. There I remain until dog’s bedtime, and there I return once the bedtime treats routine is done. Isis sighs deeply as she settles to sleep. She wishes to hell I’d go sleep in my own bed.

On Sunday at twelve thirty my friend K phones to say she’s coming round in fifteen minutes, so I stumble upstairs to get dressed.

K brings Christmas presents for me and for Isis; even better, she brings portions of the family sized curry she’s made, and a pile of chapattis. Wonderful. All I have to do is put the meal in the microwave.

After a late walk with Isis, and before allowing myself to sleep again, I lounge on the day bed and eat the curry. It’s good, and, what’s more it seems to clear my airways!

No, I don’t forget about posting. Every time I come too, I promise myself I’ll get up later and post. As the night wears on, I swear I’ll at least post an apology.

I don’t. At three in the morning, I abandon all my good intentions.

This morning I let Isis out at eight and give her her breakfast. Then back to the day bed. I’ll just have this coffee and then we’ll go out.

But after the coffee I go back to sleep.

When I get up again at twelve, I find that the common British cold has reached the ‘you’ll not choke as long as you don’t breathe through your mouth or speak’ stage. Fortunately, I can now breathe through my nose again. What a forgotten pleasure.

I feel much better. No sweats, no shivers, no aching limbs. I can even swap the kitchen roll for a single pocketful of tissues.

I’m very lucky. Isis is a patient animal. She never fusses when it’s time to eat or go out. Even when the wait for her walk must feel interminable, she doesn’t complain.

You’ve been such a good girl, my Isis.

Better days ahead, we hope!



No, the park most definitely does not look like a bit like this at the moment. It’s a summer image to cheer ourselves up.




Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk



Posted in a very good dog, deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Isis and the snake, Isis at home, oh dear, poor Isis, sleeping arrangements | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

and still the rain comes down …………………….



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday December 8th 2019


So. The rain continues. It doesn’t rain every day. This week there are two days when it doesn’t rain at all. But if we are free of rain during the day, it rains at night, so the ground has no chance to dry out. We still have our ‘clean’ bank in Kings Heath Park, but even here there are challenges for Isis. These we will consider later.

There’s always Highbury, of course. Many of our usual haunts are swamped with mud, but surely, with a little imagination, we can find somewhere for Isis to play.

The landscaped area beyond the walled garden is the best place. Twice this week I manage to get her to walk on the lead towards the High Street entrance, so that I can take her up onto the raised level, remove her lead and harness and let her trot off ahead of me. If it is raining, she explores the area joyfully.

But on the other days, the sun either flashes in and out, or lurks low in the sky behind the clouds, making poor Isis very jumpy. Fortunately, there’s one area which is always in the shade. She makes for this and plays for an hour or more.

Unfortunately, the rest of the week the sun does its ‘now you see me, now you don’t’ act, and there’s no way I can persuade Hairy One to walk anywhere near the landscaped area.

OK, let’s think again. We can walk through the woods: they’re mostly shaded. She’s walked there with Rufus and Nancy several times lately and it’s not too bad underfoot as long as we return on a parallel path and don’t attempt to walk down the slope opposite Highbury Hall. This is very steep and for weeks it’s been so thickly coated with mud that it’s as slick as a ski slope.

Isis, contrary as ever, always makes a beeline for it, so it’s imperative to capture her before she skitters down there. Sure footed as she is, she has no difficulty at all traversing it. I certainly do when I have to retrieve her.

On Thursday, I make sure she’s on her lead as we approach the slope. Oh, lo and behold, the surface water has drained away and grass is revealed. We can go this way today.

But dopey Human forgets that the paths which lead up to the beech wood are virtually impassable at the moment. We trudge on and are soon ankle deep in claggy mud.

Not one of my best ideas. The only answer is to take her up to the long grass round the by-the-road log, and put up with having to remove all the burrs she’ll collect.

We make our way there, and she plays happily for an hour, running and leaping among the long, wet clumps of grass. She returns to the car sprinkled all over with burrs, but with clean, pink feet and spotless, hairy legs. Excellent.

Today I wonder whether there’s any possibility of avoiding the worst of the mud and the burrs. There’s the smaller of the rose-bay willow herb patches. The little culvert opens up here and the water is clean. She usually enjoys playing here.

But after ten minutes, the sun flashes out. Immediately she comes to find me, and is glad to be reharnessed.

What now?

Ah! Inspiration. She loves to dance under a particular tree in the Italian Garden. She’ll jig around under it for hours. We set off.

Here’s the tree. She perks up. I set her free. She’s poised to dance when I notice, beneath the tree, crowds of crocus bulbs poking their tips above the ground.


We walk back along the path, through the beech wood and past the pond. Isis makes her way across the little waterfall and onto the meadow towards the the small patch of rose-bay willow herbs which she abandoned forty minutes earlier.

Now, oh joy! The sun has gone in and rain clouds are gathering. Little dog trots happily over to the erstwhile dangerous patch and flings herself into a delighted frolic.




Thank goodness for that!

Who’d have thought that taking a dog for a walk could be so problematic?


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or


Posted in Highbury Park, oh dear, poor Isis, rain and more rain, scary shadows, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, walking with Rufus and Nancy, we don't like bright sun | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

concerning old dogs and new tricks


Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday December 1st 2019


Old dogs and new tricks.What’s she on about? Isis isn’t old.

No, but I am. And I have been given an iphone in exchange for two bottles of wine. Slowly and painfully – extremely slowly, and extremely painfully, with an unprecedented amount of blue air forming around me, I erase the old content and set up the phone anew.

Well, almost. The last straw, I mean step, is when the blasted thing asks me to verify my email account and enter the matching password. Seven million times (surely, it must have been) I obediently follow the instructions. This, in itself, is challenging as I’ve not used an iphone before. 

Still no luck.

It keeps telling me that I’ve made an error. Exasperated beyond description, I shriek and curse at the top of my voice. What a good job Isis can’t see or hear me, I think. If she could, she would run all the way back to Portugal.

I limit the phone recovery efforts to one or two sessions a day in an effort to stop before I become completely hysterical.

Isis snoozes calmly through the hassles, unless we’re in the front room and the sun suddenly emerges. When this happens, we’re both hysterical: Isis because she’s been attacked by light and I because I’m so wound up already.

Thank heaven for dog walks.

Every day this week, we both enjoy at least two hours in the pouring rain in Kings Heath Park. This park, like all the other local parks, is full of mud, but the steep bank by the old bowling green drains very well. If she plays there, her pink pads and fluffy white undercarriage remain clean.

We stay a long time so that Hairy One can use up lots of energy. It’s a tricky time of year for walks. Every day this week the sun comes out in the late afternoon and remains  until dusk. As we know, Isis refuses to walk in combinations of sun and shade, and there’s no way she will step out of the front door when it’s dark.

She does, of course, delight in the rain. She loves playing on the bank too, unless a dog she doesn’t know very well joins her, whereupon she departs through the hedge onto the next level. She’ll play there too unless she’s interrupted again, in which case she takes herself off to the Colour Garden.

There’s only one problem with the bank. Planted there, are young fir trees which Isis enjoys decapitating. Standing nearby, preempting her attacks is very monotonous, especially with plump rain drops chasing each other along one’s nose.

Hmmm. How can I distract her? If I give her one of her favourite toys, she’ll want to take it straight back to the car. She’s very protective of her favourites.

I have an idea. Perhaps if I can find something she’s not familiar with, she might behave differently. In the understairs cupboard I dig out a long, sturdy rubber tugger. It belonged to my previous dog Ellie, and I’ve never had the heart to throw it out.

Next day, I drop it near the little, headless tree.

She picks up its scent, and is immediately interested. She dances around it before picking it up and giving it a shake. She plays with it and ignores the fir tree.


The following day, when she runs up the bank and begins to play, I place the tugger close to her, drag it down onto the field and then pull it along a few yards.

Very quickly, she picks up the scent, follows it and claims her prize. I’ll increase the distance each time, and see how far she’ll follow the scent.

That’ll give her a new activity.

I don’t have a new activity. It’s back to the phone for me.

It takes ten days for me to notice that I made a typo the first time I entered my email account. I missed out a letter. At last I understand why the Apple ID code isn’t accepted.

Now what?

I have a brainwave. I’ll erase all content and return the phone to factory status. Then I’ll begin again.

Clever me!

There’s only one problem, I discover: to begin this process, I have to verify my email.


Let’s go for a b. walk, Isis.






Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or





Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, scary shadows, scenting, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments