the spotty satnav

 

 

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

 

Sunday April 21st 2019

 

 

 

 

This is not just a pretty, spotty nose: it’s a highly refined precision instrument, honed to twitch into action at a split second’s notice.

At the moment, its owner is relegated to a very small portion of the garden.

 

 

 

 

In a last, desperate attempt to revive the bottom third of the lawn, ground into the dust by pounding paws, I fenced it off temporarily.

Sounds mean, but, be assured, earlier today, someone very hairy spent over two hours playing off-lead in Highbury.

 

 

 

 

I pop into her area to take a photo. As soon as I reach the fence, I feel something cool and damp push against my calf.

O.K. It’s a very small area. Easy for her to pick up the scent.

In the park, it must be more challenging.

I know dogs have an amazing sense of smell, that some can locate an item which has been sunk many metres deep on the bed of a lake, but I still find my dog amazing

In Highbury, I stretch out on the grass, keeping an eye on Isis who is playing several hundred yards away.

 

 

 

She looks very happy and relaxed. No one, dog or human, approaches her, and, anyway, the wood is close by. She can pop in there for cover if she smells a threat.

Nothing untoward is happening. She doesn’t need Human.

After two hours, I stand, then bend to pick up her lead. When I look up, she is already making her way towards me.

She can’t see me. She can’t hear me. I’ve not stamped on the ground.

How can she detect my movement?

She walks with me across the meadow, and then picks up pace and goes ahead towards the car. The first few times she does this, I dash to grab her.

I soon learn that this is unnecessary. She stops on the grass about ten metres from the car park. She waits for me to catch her up. When I put her harness over her head, she wags her tail and we continue on our way.

Lately, in Kings Heath Park, when, I guess, she decides for some reason that it’s time to go home, she has taken to setting off on her own.

She walks with slow deliberation from the Colour Garden towards the pond, and wends her way carefully through the trees and shrubs without walking into them. When she reaches the pond, she hesitates over whether to take a right or left turn. She decides to go right, moves along the side of the pond and onto the main path outside the White House. She keeps to the left where there are plantings, and, further on, a fence to follow, and makes her way to the car park.

I follow her very closely, of course, and harness her before we reach it.

What a nose!

 

*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 Isis, deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, Kings Heath Park, scenting, twirling, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

parks and dogs and people

 

 

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

 

Wednesday April 17th 2019

 

Spring has been popping on and off the scene for a while now. First the snowdrops, then the daffodils. Now early wild flowers are creeping out, buds are sprouting everywhere, and dormant brambles stretch themselves after winter and prepare to snake across all the little woodland tracks.

Damn. That means instead of strolling along the little tracks upright as I’ve been able to through the winter, I’ll have to be bending down every few feet to lift the thorns out of Hairy One’s path.

The birds, too, are engaged in a frenzy of activity. Everywhere you walk, there are treefuls of twitterings.

Moorhens are already sitting on their first batches of eggs,

 

 

 

while some female mallards have difficult decisions to make.

 

Today the wintry wind has been replaced by a warm breeze. Spring is definitely here. Everyone feels it. You can tell by the jauntiness of their walk, and the fact that they are looking up instead of lowering their heads against the battering wind and rain

It’s a time for lingering and looking, listening, and sniffing the air.

And for conversation too. Because of Isis, I get to know people who otherwise would have walked past with a nod or a smile.

New dogs are making their debuts in Highbury. Most of them gaze in astonishment at Isis as she twirls and twists and leaps in splendid isolation at the edge of the woodland.

Their humans are equally impressed. Often there’s the question, “Is that your dog?” And when I admit to being the strange little performer’s human, they usually continue

“We’ve been watching her for a long time, and we’re dying to know what she’s doing.”

“Well,” I begin …………………………………………………………………………………

Today, Vie, a very sweet eighteen week old German shepherd is rooted to the spot by the sight of the hairy dervish dancing in the distance. She can’t take her eyes off Isis and eventually her humans have to physically move her in order to continue their walk.

I am sitting with a new park friend, Is. on a felled tree trunk, and Vie’s person and his young daughter join us for dog talk.

Is. had only been in Birmingham for a few days when I met her a week or two ago. She had just come over from Corsica with her lovely little dog Zenda.

 

 

 

 

 

Arrested in mid stride by the apparition of Hairy One prancing in a sudden downpour, Is. came over and introduced herself.

It was her first visit to Highbury, and she had already fallen in love with the park.

Parks in French cities, she tells me, are much more neat and ordered, not ‘natural’, like Highbury. The grass here is a much deeper shade of green, she says and she can smell the sea on the breeze. She is taken aback by the all the birds and the variety of trees.

I tell her about the woodland trail, and next time we meet, she and Zelda have walked there and fallen in love with it.

Today, as soon as she spots me, Zelda zooms over for a fuss. How lovely.

Two new park friends.

Thank you 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 dear little Isis, Highbury Park, park dogs, park people, running running, strange behaviour, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Isis digs a hole

 

 

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

 

April 14th 2019

 

It’s a good, sound, grey day. The sun emerges from the clouds very slowly and infrequently. It doesn’t stay out for long, either.

This fills Isis with confidence. She makes a bold decision. Today she’ll not bother to wind her way through the woody strip between the two meadows. Today the park is her oyster.

We cross the little road and stand on the meadow with our backs to the car park. My Isis potters around for a minute or two, then makes a decision.

She turns left and, trotting and twirling, makes her happy way across the meadow towards the old fallen tree trunk. She loves this spot. It’s where the burr weeds grow. Fortunately, it’s the wrong time of year for burrs.

Even worse for a dog, there’s no towering foliage to hide in and frighten Human witless. Oh dear.

Then she finds that branches which were lopped from the main trunk years ago, have been coated with a thick thatch of the meadow grass cut late last autumn.

This is more like it.

 

 

 

 

Hmmmm. This smells very interesting.

 

 

 

She jumps up onto the logs and gives the thatch an exploratory scrape. She pauses, and scrambles back down to ground level. She’ll have fun removing the thatch later. First, she’ll dig all the meadow grass out from under this trunk. There’s bound to be someone living under here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She digs, and she digs and she digs, watched keenly by a little robin who keeps approaching to check on her progress. No doubt she’ll uncover a feast of bugs and worms.

 

 

 

 

What a lovely hole!

 

 

*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, I'm off my lead!, running running, scenting, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

it’s raining! it’s pouring!

 

 

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

 

Wednesday April 10th 2019

 

 

 

Sniff! Sniff! What’s this?  There’s a lovely smell in the air. Could it be  …… Could it possibly be  ………………… RAIN?

 

 

 

Do you know, I think it might be.

Now where is it?

I’ll follow my nose.

 

 

 

Could be up here. Ah, just felt a drop blow onto my nose. Must be getting close.

Bit further over this way, I think.

 

 

 

Yes! Another drop.

Whoooooohooooohooooo!

 

 

 

There’s lots of it now!

It’s in front of me.

 

 

 

It’s behind me.

 

 

It’s over there.

 

 

 

Run! Run! Faster! Faster! Catch it all! Catch it all!

 

 

 

Open your mouth. Catch it! Don’t miss any.

 

 

 

YAY!

 

 

*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 deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, I'm off my lead!, running running, scenting, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

the bottom line for Isis?

 

 

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

 

Sunday April 7th 2019

 

Yes, Monday was quite a nice day. Tuesday begins well too. Bit of a lie-in. Lots of running in Highbury.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bev and Rufus and Nancy are there too. Good company but I wish they wouldn’t rush up and stick their noses in my face – Rufus and Nancy, I mean. Bev doesn’t do it. She’s nice. I haven’t had my breakfast, so I ask her for a biscuit. She gives me a nice gravy bone.

So when Human wakes me up from my afternoon nap, puts me in my harness again and we get in the car, I’m very pleased. Another walk! Wonderful!

But we’re in the car for rather a long time, and, when I jump out I can smell lots of dogs and cats. And some other smellier things.

Oh.

I drop my tail and flatten my ears. I don’t like it here. I used to refuse to walk and kept sitting down. Human had to keep picking me up and carrying me.

Now I’m a good dog. I walk. Not quickly though. They might close if we take a long time to get there.

Now we’re at the door. I never used to go through the door. Human always had to carry me. Now I do because I’m a good dog.

I follow Human in. She taps me and tugs me over to the corner. Every time I go I have to step onto this big, flat, metal thing and stand still. I’m very good at it. I don’t get frightened when it moves a bit under my feet.

Then we sit down and wait. That’s when I start to shake. Human strokes me all the time but I can’t stop.

Then, I smell a lady coming towards us. Human makes me walk behind her to a door. Then she pushes me in.

They put something nasty round my head so I can’t open my mouth.

You’ll not believe what happens next. The lady squeezes my bottom. Hard.

I don’t make a sound. But I do squirm a lot.

When the lady’s finished squeezing, she says something to Human. It sounds like ‘poo’. Poo? Whatever does she mean?

Well, Human is holding me and I’m leaning on her, so I know whatever the lady means, Human is feeling bad. I know because her hands and arms and legs are going all tight and hot and sticky.

The the lady stops saying things and pokes around my bottom. Oh my dog. What is she doing. Is she allowed to? Things are getting worse and worse.

At last she gives me a wipe and we’re done.

Thank dog for that.

I’m walking very quickly now. We’re on our way back to the car park. There’s a towel on my blanket. I sit on it. Usually, I’d dig it up before I sat down, but today I don’t care. I just want to get home.

We’re home now. What a relief.

But why does Human rush down the hall in front of me? And why does she close the door to the front room?

Oh well, I’ll lie on the day bed.

Human’s doing something in the kitchen. Now she’s coming in. Oh no! She’s lifting me up and she’s wearing the cold, slithery thing she always puts on when she going to w-w-w-wash me.

It’s even worse than usual. It takes ages, and she’s doing something very nasty to my bottom. She’s covering it in something cold and gloopy and very smelly. Now I can feel icy, hard metal touching my skin.

Eeeeeeeeek! Bits of my hair are falling off into the water. Big bits. Lots and lots of them. I’m going to have a bare bottom.

Oh my dog! How horrible.

This is the worst day I’ve ever had.

What did that nasty lady say to Human?

 

*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 vet visit, Isis at home, Isis gets bathed, poor Isis, RSPCA | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

dialogue with Isis

 

 

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

 

Wednesday April 3rd 2019

 

Human: After going nuts on Sunday, you growl and snap at yourself on and off all evening.

Dog! It’s annoying. I’m trying to work on your blog and by the time I’ve finished, my face aches with all the jaw clenching. I make lots of mistakes. Then, when I’m in bed, you do your dog-nightmare piercing shriek carry-ons two or three times at ridiculous o’clock.

What on earth is the matter with you?

Isis: You know I had a hard time in the park. And, if you must know, I’ve got nasty things stuck on my bottom. And my anal glands need emptying. You’ve no idea what it’s like to be a dog and have to rely on dozy humans.

 

*****

 

(It’s Monday morning, and dog’s wake up time)

Human: Hello, sweetheart. Hello my little podengo. (Kisses Hairy One’s nose)

Isis: Whoohoo! Oh, how wonderful! It’s morning. (Wags tail at length and leans heavily against Human) I love dog’s wake up time. Another day! How exciting!

Human: Well, someone’s changed its tune since yesterday.

Isis: (continuing to wag tail vigorously?) YES! My collar’s going on. Oh – the double tap under the chin! Hurray! We’re going out!

Human: Feeling O.K. now, dear?

Isis: (rushing up the hall and into the porch and beginning to bounce up and down vigorously) Yaaaarrrrroooooooooooooooooooooo!

Human: (trying to ease Isis into her car safety harness) B. hell, Isis. That’s penetrated my *!^^%* ear drum. KEEP STILL, you silly dog. (Opens porch door to distract Hairy One, and, clutching bottle of water, gloves, lead and keys, staggers onto the drive.)

Isis: Huff! Huff! Snuffle! Huff!

(She smells innocent pedestrian walking along the pavement outside her house.) (Grrrrrr! Snarlyap! Snarlyyap!

Human: (simpering at terrified pedestrian) ISIS! People are allowed to walk along the pavement.

Isis: So you say. Yerrrroff! Wurgle, wurgle.*

Human: (much later)  That was a lovely walk, wasn’t it sweetie-pie?

Isis: For dog’s sake.

Back at home, human makes an appointment with the RSPCA, Newlands Farm, for the next day.

In the evening, she decides a good groom is in order so that she is not shown up at the appointment.

Isis has had another walk and her evening meal and looks relaxed and sleepy.

Isis: Phooooooooooooooooooooo …… phuffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff …..

Human proffers hand for Isis to sniff, and gently begins to brush her back with the softest brush.

Human: (stupidly) Nice brush-brush, dear. Go back to sleep.

Isis: Pherlumph ………………………………..

Human brushes and combs Hairy One gently, rhythmically, gradually working her way towards poor Hairy One’s rear end.

Human: Oh dear, dear, dear, Isis. Neglectful Human. (She begins to snip. She continues to snip for another thirty minutes.)

What a good girl. What an amazingly good girl. You’ve not even growled.

Isis (wincing): Of course I’m not growling. I don’t get a treat if I growl, twit.  You’ve no idea what this is costing me. Just shut your face and get on with it.

Human: There, dear, we’ve finished now.

Isis: Thank dog for that. Come on, come on. Put my collar on, for dog’s sake.

Human replaces Hairy One’s collar. Hairy One catapults herself off the day bed and into her dog bed, sits up straight as a ramrod, like a very good dog, and waits expectantly.

Human: Here you are dear. What an amazingly well-behaved dog. Who’s my excellent little podengo. What a magnificent animal. What a lovely little dog. (Gives Isis a Markie.)

Isis: Yoff.

* a ‘wurgle’ is one of Hairy One’s specialities. It’s a sort of strangulated gurgle.

 

*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 dear little Isis, Isis at home, nightmares, poor Isis, relationship building, strange behaviour | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

my human’s awful

 

 

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

 

Sunday March 31st 2019

 

I had been having a lovely time in Highbury Park, but this week some nasty things happen.

It starts on Friday.

It’s all Human’s fault. She isn’t looking after me properly. She takes no notice of me at all until I trot past her tree trunk jingling my bell.

I run faster and faster, and I can feel the ground shaking. She’s coming after me.

I expect she’s saying, “What’s the matter? What’s the matter?”

Well, I’m not telling her what happened. She’ll never know. She doesn’t deserve to.

Today she stays where I can smell her all the time. But she still doesn’t help me.

I am playing by the woods when I feel something breathing on me. It’s a dog. I recognise its smell. It’s Blue. He’s not a nasty dog. He always sniffs me very gently, but I wish he’d go away.

Then someone else comes. He sniffs my bottom. I hate that.

I move away.

Where’s Human?

I trot further away and hide under some branches which are very close to the ground.

They both follow me. I can feel them breathing on me. I squirm further under so they can’t get at me.

The second dog goes away, then Blue goes away as well.

 

 

 

 

I’m sick of Human. She’s useless.

I feel her stroking me. She needn’t think I’m coming out just because she’s here. I’m not going anywhere. She should have come before.

 

 

 

 

 

She kneels down, stretches her hand towards me and strokes me. It probably hurts her knee. Good.

She strokes me for a long time. She’s talking too: I can feel her voice.

She’s trying to get me to do what she wants. Well, she can bog off. I’m not moving.

She puts the lead onto my collar. That’s all right. She won’t dare pull hard because she’ll be frightened of hurting my neck. I’ll make sure I cough tonight anyway. That’ll worry her.

Sure enough, when I don’t move, she takes my lead off my collar and and puts my harness on me instead.

She taps me under my chin. I stay where I am. She crawls back under the branches and hauls me out.

Then she takes me up into the woodland walk.

I try to keep my tail down and be very miserable. It’s very hard to remember  though, because I’ve not been here for a long time, and there are some lovely new smells. I’m enjoying myself.

I know the paths. She used to keep rushing after me and herding me back to the path she was on, but she doesn’t do that any more. I know where I’m going, so I just trot in front and, now and then, I let her catch me up so I can sniff her hand to make sure she’s still there.

When we come out of the woods, I can smell the bees’ houses so I know exactly where I am.

I don’t lead her up to the big weed patch I always stop to play in. No way. As I said, I know where I’m going. She doesn’t and keeps trying to persuade me onto the ‘right’ track.

Tee-hee.

I walk up the hill to the pine trees. I can tell she’s very surprised. I used to play there when I was a very young dog. I’ve grown up now and like more dangerous places.

But not today. I run quickly in among the trees and lie down under my favourite one. It’s safe here.

I smell her walking past the tree. And back. She does this lots of times. She must think I’ve run away. Good. That’ll teach her.

I keep very, very still. It’s ages before she finds me.

 

 

 

 

 

After she’s run around for a while, panting, she spots me.

Again I ignore the strokes and pats and the little under the chin taps.

I even ignore the kiss on my nose. It’s no good her being soppy now. I’m not moving. She’ll have to crawl in here to put my harness on, and the branches are very prickly.

She crawls in, clips my harness onto my collar again and then crawls out.

She gives a gentle tug on the lead. I ignore her.

In the end, she hauls me out. I sit down. More pats, strokes and taps.

I dig my claws into the grass. She walks on. She’s serious. I’m forced to walk too.

I win in the end. I make horrible, scary noises on the way home, and then I bite my back leg and make it bleed.

That always upsets her.

 

*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 is no angel, Isis meets other dogs, Isis says "No"., park dogs, poor Isis, self-damaging, self-harming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

remembering John

 

 

Bessie, Ben and Cookie in Kings Heath Park

 

 

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

 

Wednesday March 27th 2019

 

Isis and I met S. and Keiko in Highbury tonight. S is organising a collection for John. She has found a yellow bush rose named ‘Faithful Friend’ which seems very appropriate as a celebration both of John’s relationship with others and our park dogs’ relationship with John.

The intention is for the rose to be planted in Kings Heath Park, and for a  plaque in memory of John to be cemented into the ground nearby.

S. tells me that John’s wish was that any donations should be given to The Dogs’ Trust; therefore, if there is money left after the rose and plaque have been paid for, this could be added  to any donations to the charity.

S. has set up the fund on Paypal pools. The address for donations is:

https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8diJFJerFM

John’s funeral is at two o’clock next Monday at Robin Hood Crematorium.

As we meander in the parks, it seems that there is always someone there who mentions John fondly and tells me about advice he has given.

One of these is L., Dougie’s, Fergie’s and now puppy Maisie’s person.

L. texts me. She moved away from Birmingham almost two years ago, but will  never forget John’s kindness and wisdom about all things dog. She recalls the time four years ago when she had very recently re-homed three year old poodle Fergie, and was afraid to let him off his lead in case he ran away.

“You can let him off,” John told her, “He hasn’t taken his eyes off your face since you walked over here. He’ll not leave your side.”

He was right, of course.

Dear John.

 

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, Kings Heath Park, park dogs, park people, the dogs of King's Heath Park | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

sorry, Sherlock!

 

 

March 24th

 

Apologies to the beautiful Sherlock whom I met again today.

In February 27th I called him ‘Romeo’

 

 

Goodness knows how I managed that, but sorry, Sherlock.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Isis – you could take her anywhere

 

 

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

 

Sunday March 24th 2019

 

Could you take Isis anywhere?

Not quite.

But there is a huge, and, I think, substantive, improvement in her doggie dining room demeanour.

I’ll not bore you again with the details of her past off the wall – literally – behaviour, her temporary improvements, her repeated lapses and my many training, retraining, re-retraining and re-re-retraining efforts.

I’ll just admit that the lack of twice daily canine hysteria is a great relief.

It’s so liberating to be able to stay in the kitchen while she’s eating instead of having to banish myself to another room in case I accidentally walk in front of the window and create a threatening shadow. It’s even better to be able to use the sink, or open the under sink cupboard without her feeling the need to defend her dish.

Even a couple of months ago I had to creep around, inch by inch, so she’d not be menaced by airborne vibrations. And I had to make sure that I remained at a distance of least three feet.

She needed to know that the hell raising wasn’t acceptable, so correction was necessary. But I think that time and experience have been equally, if not more important.

Anyway Human, stop pontificating and just enjoy her.

Look at the last week or two. Unbelievably, I manage to walk past her several times while she is eating, and she doesn’t lurch into instant hysteria.

Admittedly, once she gives a quick yip.

Fair enough, it is one of her sardine nights.

 

 

 

 

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 food rage, Isis at home, poor Isis, strange behaviour, teaching my deaf/blind dog, training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment