oh dear, oh dear, oh dear



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’


Wednesday August 16th 2017


Poor Isis has a rough time in Kings Heath Park on Tuesday. She begins her walk happily enough, dancing under the trees and shrubs by the railway line.

But when she emerges, the sun is playing nasty tricks on her, doing what she most hates: popping in and out. It’s bright light, shadow, bright light, shadow. She crouches close to the ground by the TV Garden fence and resists all my attempts to coax her to move on.

She is very, very frightened.

The scenario is rare nowadays. Normally when she is this frightened, the only thing to do is to pick her up and carry her to ‘safety’. As my right arm is still out of action, I can’t pick her up. And there’s no-one around to help.

Feeling monstrous, I drag her over to the lower bowing green, and up onto the bank. Then, keeping her on her extended lead, I sit on the grass and let her sniff around.

It’s no good, though. She doesn’t want to sniff. She doesn’t want to be there. She doesn’t feel safe.

As soon as she can, she slips through the hole in the hedge onto the next level, and stands on the grass.


Unable, at present, to crawl through the hole without falling over (yes, I’ve tried) I am just about to scramble to my feet to walk round the hedge to disentangle her, when I hear L. calling Dougie on the other side of the fence.

I hear her commiserating with Isis and call through the hedge to ask her if she’ll detach the hairy creature from her lead.

She kindly obliges. Once free, Isis looks calmer. As I expect, she makes her way, ducking and diving in and out of the black shadows towards the Colour Garden.

Unfortunately, as she arrives at the edge of the garden, the sun blasts out again. Poor Isis panics and scuttles into the darkness of the border.

She cowers beneath the thick foliage, her tail stiff and flat against her underside.

She’s a pathetic sight.

Normally, I would wriggle into her retreat and comfort her. Compassionate L does just that. She crawls into the shrubbery and kneels next to poor Isis, stroking her and commiserating.

But Isis won’t be coaxed out.

I explain to Liz that once Hairy One’s out in the sunshine, in a space which has no shadows, she’ll come round.

Now, as it happens, L. practised carrying Isis only the day before when she was spooked in the car park. Again by the sun, I think. The poor little creature pulled away from my side and began scrabbling frantically in the sharp-edged gravel, scraping her pink pads.

In one quick swoop, L. gathered up the astonished Hairy One







and carried her to the car.

Not a snap, not a growl. After an initial wriggle or two, Isis settled in L’s arms and allowed  herself to be carried.







I am very impressed. Enormous progress for Isis who was once frightened of everyone.

So again L. comes to the rescue.

She sweeps Isis out from under the leafy tunnel, and places her in a carefully selected spot on the sunny grass, well away from threatening shadows.

Sure enough, Isis, now in a very familiar place, begins to revive.

First her tail detaches itself from her underside and hangs straight down. Then she sniffs her way into one of the beds.

Soon, her tail takes up its usual vertical curl.

Then she emerges and begins to play.

She is still jumpy when the light changes, but she’s much more confident now she’s in one of her safe play places.


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, scary shadows, walking my deaf/blind dog, we don't like bright sun, we don't like the dark | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

back in the saddle again …………………….



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’


Sunday August 13th 2017


Isis is delighted to return to Kings Heath Park and spends most of her first walk down on the little, woody path near the railway line.

Because her hawk bell is so distinctive and its sound carries so well, I am able to chat to the dog crowd on the old bowling green while she leaps and bounds beneath the dripping canopy.

I know why she has chosen to stay here today. The rain fizzled out as we arrived at the park, so no nice sploshy drops are falling from the sky.

Very disappointing for a dog.

But under the trees, of course, it’s still raining. That’s what happens under trees, Isis has noted. And what’s more, if a dog snatches at low hanging leaves and branches and shakes them vigorously, she can dislodge quite a shower.

She frolics joyfully for almost an hour. She is so delighted with the mini climate by the railway line that she would like to stay all day.

Silly Human is enjoying chatting. In fact, she enjoys it so much, she forgets that it has been raining steadily all night.

When she eventually gets round to collecting her happy dog, she discovers that Isis has stamped the once springy path into a flat, muddy mire, and is  now wearing long, thick, black, knee socks.


Never mind. Hairy One seems to have self cleaning hair. A bit of bouncing around will soon sort her.

I wish houses and cars were self cleaning.

Off we go up the slope with Bev, Nancy and Rufus.

We soon meet lovely Max, one of my Ellie’s favourite boys. When he was a tiny pup, his head and body seemed to outgrow his legs and he had problems bearing his weight. A vet told H., his owner, that it would be best to have him put to sleep.

I can remember, as clearly as yesterday, her telling me this devastating news. We were standing on the slope we have just climbed today, near the hedge at the top of the old bowling green. I’m not a weepy person, normally, but both of us swallowed back tears that morning.

That was over eleven years ago.

Max’s people signed him up for swimming therapy, very gradually the muscles in his back legs strengthened, and he became a fine figure of a dog!

He is eleven now.

Here he is in the background, getting some pats on his way to join his friends Tinkerbell the spaniel, and labradoodles Nancy and Rufus at the Treat Truck.








Nancy never was good at doing the delayed gratification thing. While Rufus sits patiently, she thinks it’s self service today.







Alison and Dave are looking stern and giving her the,  “Pushy dogs don’t get treats,” message.

Nancy doesn’t care. She ‘s not easily offended.

It’s all too much for poor Isis. She sniffs hopefully. She’d like a treat but there are too many people and dogs around.

When order is restored and Nancy’s back on terra firma, Dave throws Isis a treat. Isis eats it and hastily retreats bottom first into a handy shrub.

It’s all too much when you’ve only just returned from Holly Trees Kennels.



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, deaf/blind dog plays, I'm off my lead!, Kings Heath Park, park dogs, the dogs of King's Heath Park, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

a cautionary tail



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’


Wednesday August 9th 2017


Well, Isis and Daisy have now shared the house for five nights and four days and they’re both still here. Even more impressive, they both have their hair /fur, limbs, tails and ears intact.

This is how their intercourse goes:

Kerplop! Kerplop! Kerplop! Daisy’s little feet are heard on the stairs. Simultaneously, Isis begins to twirl urgently on her hind legs. Round and round she goes, her beautiful pink and black spotty nose sniffing high in the air.

As Isis gets close, Daisy flows rapidly back upstairs.

Today she came down when R. visited. I think that the poor little cat thought it might be her person.

I have refused to let Daisy out, of course, and now the poor little thing has stopped rushing to the back door. While this makes life easier for me, it’s sad, too.

Because her older cat, Polly, hated poor Daisy, a frisky adolescent at the time, when friend Polymath moved to Wales and I took over her old house, Daisy was left with me in Birmingham.

Then, one day, N., who has a shop over the road, told me that Daisy crossed our extremely busy road at least once a day on her way to the cemetery. (No, she wasn’t checking out her family plot, she was after the mice and voles.)

Needless to say, she was whisked off to Wales pretty smartly.

When she has been here another couple of weeks, and I have blocked off the entry, I may allow her out under supervision. But certainly not yet.

Because bad things happen to nice cats. As the following story proves.

Yes, yes, Isis – and Rufus, Nancy, Dougie, Fergie and Lily – I know that this is a dog blog, not a cat blog, but the story needs to be told.

Recently, overhearing someone ask a lady I know whether her cat had been found, I asked her what had happened to the cat.

Her answer was quite chilling.

Six weeks before the lady and her husband were due to go on a fortnight’s holiday, one of their three cats disappeared.

They were, of course, dismayed. Several times a day, week after week, the cat was called from the back door, the front door, and the bedroom windows.

The three cats had been booked into the local Cats’ Protection League cattery for the duration of the holiday. Even though they despaired of ever seeing their little cat again, her people tried to be optimistic and couldn’t bring themselves to alter the cattery booking from three to two felines.

Five weeks and two days after the cat disappeared, the lady’s husband went into a bedroom used mainly for storage, in order to retrieve their passports from a chest of drawers.

As he pulled out the top drawer, he was startled by a faint movement in the drawer beneath.

His stomach lurched when he saw his little lost cat curled in the drawer, thin, limp, and barely able to move.

He immediately called his wife who came home from work and, while he phoned the vet, she grabbed a cup of water and a syringe, cradled the cat on her lap and dripped small droplets of water into her mouth. She wept when the poor little animal desperately tried to lift up her head enough to put her tongue into the cup.

When they took the cat to the vet, the lady was so upset that she keeled over and had to be helped to a chair.

The vet injected water into the space between the car’s two skins in order to re-hydrate her. This procedure was repeated the next day and the next, kitty was fed tiny amounts of food at very frequent intervals, and, amazingly, did so well over the following five days, that she was able to go into the cattery with the others, and their owners were able to go on holiday.

For a while, they couldn’t think how the little cat had managed to get into the drawer. Then, the lady’s husband remembered that six weeks before the holiday date, he had taken out the top drawer to check that their passports etc. were present and correct. Little cat must have crawled, unnoticed, into the drawer below and remained there when the one above was replaced.

They had searched every room in the house, peered repeatedly under and behind every piece of furniture which could be a possible hiding place, and stood in every room calling her.

They had called her many, many times through the window of the room in which she was eventually found, but she didn’t make a sound. No scratching, no mewing. Nothing.

The vet thinks that once she realised that she was trapped, she became virtually paralysed with fright, and entered a state similar to hibernation.

She was very close to death when found.

If she had not been found, she would, of course, have been dead before they returned. They still shudder to think  that while they were searching the house, even standing close to her prison, calling her, she was fading away in the drawer, too frightened to make a sound.

She lost about half her body weight, but, amazingly, she survived.


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 Isis and Daisy, Isis at home | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

yuk, a cat on my blog!



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’


Sunday July 23rd 2017


Suddenly, on Saturday evening, I’m taken out of my kennel. As soon as I step outside the kennel block, I can smell Human. About time too. I’ve been here for ages. I should pretend I don’t care,  but my tail gives me away. It won’t stop wagging. I even find my nose pushing into the back of her legs. Very annoying. Humans should be punished for abandoning their dogs.

I’m told that cats can easily get revenge in these situations. They have complete control. They can stop their tails from waving, and they can turn their backs on their humans for days and days, so the humans realize that they’ve done wrong.

Eek! That reminds me. Something horrible has happened.

First, there was this very nasty smell in K’s car. (K gave us a lift home from Holly Trees.) It wasn’t K. I know her smell and it’s quite nice.

I refused to get into the car but that Ray Deddicoat lifted me in.

The nasty smell got stronger and stronger. You won’t believe this – it was a cat!

Anyway, it wasn’t our car, so I knew it would go away soon. K would take it with her.

I was led into the house. Ah! wonderful smells: smelly boots, dirt, bundles of my old hairs, mouldy grass seeds and lots of thick dust.

I love the smell of home.

I was let out into the garden straight away. Wonderful! I love my garden. Human didn’t know we’d had thunderstorms all day in Birmingham and I had a lovely time scratching up the muddy lawn. By the way, what does, “Bloody hell, Isis!”, mean?

Well, I came in for tea. There was a lovely sardine with my Burns. Slurp.

When I’d finished eating, I noticed that K had gone home. But, horror of horrors, the nasty cat smell was now in my house.

Even worse, the nasty smell was very close. Ew! It was on the other side of the kitchen door.


Human opened the door for me and I went out. Very carefully.

The smell was coming from something right next to the kitchen door.

Very, very gently – honestly – I sniffed its fur.







Smack! It bashed me in the face.

I retreated into the kitchen as fast as my paws would take me, and cowered against the back door.

Later, just before bed time, Human let me out into the garden. But when it was time to come in, I could smell IT right by the door. So I ran back in the garden.

When Human came out to bring me in, IT rushed out of the door.

“That’s good”, I thought. “Gone cat.” But stupid human said some very, very rude words and dashed out after IT.

I kept giving little, low, worried woofs every time I smelled a cat smell, but Human told me that I must be kind and polite to ‘Daisy’ because her person is in hospital and Daisy is very sad. And she was eighteen in March.


Still more shocking, she said we both have to be very nice to Daisy, even when she smacks me.

Sigh. I don’t know if I can stand it.

And it’s getting worse all the time.

Today Human was really disgusting. I heard her saying she is very worried because Daisy hasn’t done a poo since she came.

For goodness sake.


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 Isis and Daisy | Tagged , , | 7 Comments


Hello there


I am very sorry but owing to an emergency, there will be no post tomorrow (Wednesday) or next Sunday.



Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

a hawk bell for Isis



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’


Sunday July 23rd 2017


Very soon after St. adopts Ted and Casey from Serbia/Romania, naughty Ted takes himself home from Highbury Park.

Fortunately, he arrives home safely, none the worse for his adventure.

Next time we meet them, we hear a steady, melodious tinkling.

St. has bought them each a hawk bell.

“If I were you,” says Ji. wisely, “I’d get one of those for Isis.”

Always slow where action is concerned, I procrastinate, and the months pass.

Then, of course, as I related last week, Isis wanders out of Kings Heath Park onto the pavement.

I order the bells and they arrive the following day.

They’re rather beautiful.





Apparently, these bells were used by falconers in mediaeval times so that they could track their birds. Traditionally, they were made of copper or brass. Today the best ones are made of brass or bronze or nickel silver and have a clapper made of stainless steel. This clapper gives a beautiful clear tone which carries over a long distance. These bells have a lower, much clearer, tone than those usually sold for cats and dogs, and the sound of them carries over a much longer distance.

There is good range of sizes, so I imagine you could find one small enough for a little cat or large enough for a very big dog.

I order ‘large’ for Isis, the same as St. selected for her dogs. It’s not heavy, and Isis, who is very fussy about anything dangling on her, doesn’t seem in the least bit bothered about wearing it.





Today, before we set off for Highbury Park, I clip the bell to Hairy One’s collar.

We’ll see how it works.

When Isis is set free among her pine trees, Ji. suggests that he keeps an eye on her while I walk across to the little wood over a hundred yards away, stopping at intervals to check whether I can still hear the bell.

Off I go.

Brilliant! Even when I reach the wood, I can still hear the bell very clearly. And, of course, Hairy One’s penchant for leaping and dancing means that the bell rings almost constantly!

Now, thinks Ji., when we walk her to the field above the pond and sink to rest on the comfortable bench, she will no longer be able to sneak off, unnoticed, through the woods behind the bench and back to her pines.

We try her out. Sure enough, seconds after we have sunk to rest, off she trots.

Alerted by her bell, we watch her carefully. Unusually, she dances round a pair of trees which have a clear space around them so we will be able to see her if she moves away.

For about a quarter of an hour, all is well. Every few minutes, a bit of Isis, a leg, foot, floaty ear or tail, pops out from behind the trees. We can sit for a while longer  – it is, after all, tiring standing among the pines for forty minutes, Isis watching. We’ve done enough of that for today.


But then, minutes go past without a flash of white.

Strange. We know that she can’t have moved away from the trees without being seen, so what is she doing?

We begin to walk towards the trees. Not a sound.

We reach the trees. Still there is silence.

Has the hawk bell caught on a branch and been torn from her collar? Has a bit of broken off twig lodged itself against the clapper and stopped it moving?

We walk among the trees, Ji. in one direction, I the opposite way.

Suddenly, it occurs to me that there could be another reason for the silence. Isis could be standing still. Very unlikely, I know. But there have been several occasions on which Isis has made her way into undergrowth or dense shrubs, and, unable to see her way out, has panicked.

Imagine what it must be like to be blind and to feel prickly things all around you, stopping you from moving, trapping you. It can be confusing for sighted people to walk across a familiar room in the dark. It is easy to become disorientated and unable to find the door.

Usually, nowadays, Isis can find her way around familiar territory quite easily: she rarely walks into anything in the house or garden unless I have thoughtlessly left something in the wrong place. She can find tiny paths through the hedges in the park, and walks carefully around trees.

But when she feels trapped, she is terrified.

I begin looking into the the trees instead of around them, and soon find poor Isis, still as a little statue, standing close to the bowl of a tree, and caught up in undergrowth, hair-clutching pine branches and tall grass.

When she smells my hand and feels me touching her, her flufffy tail begins to wag fast. But she is obviously shaken and it takes a lot of soothing strokes and very gentle pats to persuade her to emerge.

I carefully pick all the narrow little pine twigs from her hair, but even then she is not herself. She lies on the grass for a while before she will walk on her lead.

Hopefully, a silent hawk bell will continue to be as informative as a ringing one.


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 adopted dogs, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Kings Heath Park, park dogs, rescue dogs, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Isis in danger



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’


Wednesday July 19th 2017


We are in Kings Heath Park for our morning walk. As usual, Isis is let off her lead when  we approach the bottom of the slope leading down to the old bowling green.

I try to persuade Isis to walk onto the green and play with the shrubs along its edge, or to return to her old favourites, the two little fir trees high on the bank. Once she’s engrossed with playing around one or other of these trees, she’ll occupy herself for thirty or forty minutes. And it’s easy for me to keep an eye on Isis while I enjoy the antics of the other dogs and chat to their people.

But, unfortunately, since she’s been discovered a few times by inquisitive pups who like to bounce off older dogs, she no longer wants to play on the bank.


I can still have a brief conversation while she makes her way along the little tracks at the bottom near the railway line fence. In the late autumn, winter and early spring, it’s easy to see the white whirling dervish as she twirls and dances her way along the tracks.

At this time of year, though, it’s harder to spot her behind all the trees, shrubs and undergrowth, and once or twice I’ve thought that she’s popped out of the green tunnel and wandered into the main park when, in fact, she’s still cavorting among the weeds.






Even when she walks away from the tracks, she tends to follow a narrow range of patterns. Her first choice used to be to stay close to the fence around the TV garden (the garden which was used to screen a popular TV gardening programme) and follow it into the wooded area. This was perfectly safe as she could easily be seen and retrieved.

But then she grows bored with this adventure and, after following the fence for a few yards, begins turning right at the shrubbery and climbing onto the mound behind the basketball court. Here she dances to her heart’s content.

Sadly, it’s goodbye to my park social life. But Isis loves the mound.

After many happy weeks of mound pounding, she discovers that a dog can creep through the shrubbery, walk along the basketball court enclosure, and emerge into the Colour Garden.

She is obviously very impressed by her discovery.

Since she loves popping into shrubberies for a snuffle, the first time she exits into the Colour Garden, I don’t notice that she has departed. By the time I search the shrubbery, she’s already gone through to the other side.

Yikes! Where is she? Panic, panic.

I find her running round the flower beds, joyfully snapping the air.

So this becomes her new pattern. There are few deviations. Sometimes she takes a short cut through the gap in the hedge on the top bank above the old bowling green and I can take a leisurely stroll over to the mound where she is sure to be playing.

I’ve also become used to her exit through the shrubbery, and, if I’m quick, I can follow her around the enclosure and into the Colour Garden. She doesn’t actually run, but she walks very briskly, tail held high, and seems to cover an amazing  amount of ground in a surprisingly short time.

One day last week, however, it all goes wrong.

Isis has her usual little jaunt along the tracks, follows the fence for a little way, then crosses the path, as she often does, on her way to the mound.

I stroll up to the mound.

No sign of Isis.

Then walkers on their way down to the bowling green call to me, “She’s right over there, by the childrens’ playground.”

I look across. To my horror, there is Isis, following her way along the playground fence as we often do when we are walking back to the car park. At the end of the fence is an exit to Avenue Road and a busy junction.

With the same ploughing through treacle feeling which characterises many nightmares, I stumble towards her. Now and again she stops to sniff and I think it might be possible to get to her before she reaches the end of the fence. But each time she moves on too soon for me to make up any ground.

Everything seems to slow down like those dramatic moments in films where the victim  moves in slow motion towards the edge of the cliff.

Isis is at the end of the fence. She moves towards the barrier, walks round it. But she doesn’t pick up the path on the other side of the exit, which we always do when she is with me on her lead.

She walks out of the park and onto the pavement.

I stop breathing.

There’s no-one near her, no-one I can call out to, ask to grab her. She sniffs towards the busy road as I scramble towards her.

Fantasies flash into my mind. Fantasies of screaming dogs and screeching brakes, of a little limp white heap in the road.

Then she stops at the kerb.

She turns round and stands still.

The last few steps I have to take to reach her seem to take for ever.


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 Isis in danger, Kings Heath Park, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

life goes on …………………………



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Sunday July 16th 2017


Well, and how is Isis coping with her nightly banishment downstairs? I guess the answer is ‘much better than sentimental human imagined’.

Since the first night, she has not been shut in so there’s been no scratching at the door.

The following night and the one after that, she woofs a couple of times to draw my attention to the fact that she’s been left downstairs.

Since then, we follow a new bedtime routine. Isis pops into the garden on her own.  (She’s a brave girl now, but not so brave that she wishes to stay out on her own aprés pee.)

While she’s attending to her doggie affairs, I hide eight little treats in different places in her new bedroom, i.e. the back room downstairs.

Duty done, she hastily pops in through the back door, pink spotty nose twitching in anticipation, and shoots into the back room to hunt for her treats. As you may imagine, it doesn’t take her long to find and eat them.

Treats scoffed, she settles down on the futon.

There she remains until she smells Human drifting sneakily off to bed. By the time Human reaches the staircase, Isis is already emerging from the back room. By the time Human accesses the first stair and replaces the gate, a sad little nose is snuffling at the other side of it.

Sometimes, when Human/rat gets half way up the stairs and looks back, poor Hairy One has admitted defeat.




Oh dear.

Sometimes, when Human/rat peers over the banister twenty or thirty minutes later, poor Isis is still there.





Oh dear.

Human Rat goes to bed with a heavy heart.

Even though she should know by now that she is likely to be far more upset than Hairy One is.

More often than not, Isis resigns herself to the new regime and plods off to bed. Perhaps she  even sniggers to herself before she drops off to sleep, knowing that Human will stay awake worrying about her.

Actually, she is doing very well. When she slept on her own downstairs soon after she was adopted, night after night she screamed out and when I went down to her it took up to half an hour to wake her and calm her down. And this happened several times a night.

Even when she decided to join me upstairs, the night terrors continued for over two and a half years. Until quite recently, in fact.

It’s only over the last few months that she has sometimes slept through the night without any night terrors at all. Wonderful. Or she has been able to wake herself from her bad dreams and settle back to sleep.  On other occasions, when she has needed me to wake her, she has woken up almost immediately and quickly returned to sleep.

Each night, since she has been sleeping downstairs, she has had one or two episodes, but she has woken after a few seconds and I have not had to go down to her.

And, now, in the morning she is usually sleeping so soundly that I have to leave my hand by her nose for several seconds before she smells me and wakes up.

Then, of course, there are no hard feelings: she’s a dog!

Once awake, she’s delighted to find me, tolerates lots of cuddles and pats, and wags and wags and wags.


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, sleeping arrangements | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

it’s all pants



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’


Wednesday July 12th 2017


Human is feeling sorry for herself again. In addition to bruised ribs, she has torn a muscle in her shoulder. This time Isis played no part in the injury. Foolish Human achieved it all on her own by dismantling a heavy fence.

But, as we know, of course, human follies impact on their pets.

Only a few weeks after she came to live with me, Isis found her way upstairs and onto the bed. But she has always refused to walk back down.The stairs are steep and past attempts to persuade her to descend, even with me holding her harness, have succeeded only in frightening her witless.

Nor is it feasible for me to sleep with her downstairs on a regular basis as there’s only a very narrow single mattress on the futon.

Even I have to accept that it is no longer safe to carry Isis downstairs. I don’t suppose it ever was, really.

Oh dear.

On Saturday night, very reluctantly, I close the back room door on poor Isis and make my way upstairs.

How mean. How treacherous.

Then comes a dull clunk as the betrayed one walks into the door.

The door of the back room is always open so Isis is not used to approaching it carefully as she does other doors.

The rat upstairs winces and feels even more guilty.

Then comes a puzzled scritch, scritch at the door. The scritch of dog who knows that she should be upstairs on the bed. That’s what always happens. That’s what we do.

The rat upstairs attempts to read her kindle.

At regular intervals. the scritching at the door continues. The rat feels worse and worse.

And more and more tired.

At about four in the morning, the scritching ceases. Is Hairy One all right? Perhaps she has splintered the door and cut herself. She could be bleeding to death at this very minute.

But there she is in the morning, warm and sweet, stretching and wagging, delighted that I’ve arrived to let her out of her prison.

It would, I decide, be much better to put up an improvised stair gate so that when she is banished from the bedroom at night, at least she has the run of most of the downstairs space.



So the following night, that’s what I do. Then I disappear upstairs, leaving her on the other side of the gate, her little pink spotty nose sniffing in disbelief at the edges of the barrier.

About twenty minutes later, I hear an unusual sound: a faint, muffled sliding. This is followed by the unmistakable soft padding of a dog ascending the stairs.

Clicky claws rattle on the wooden floor, alongside the bed, close to my head. She wags a little to tell me that, despite my carelessly leaving the gate across the stairs, she has sorted it out and we’re reunited.

Then, flumph! She arrives on her part of the bed and wriggles down to sleep.

When I check it out, the gate is still standing, but clever little Isis has pushed it along and squirmed through the gap.


The descent next morning is particularly hazardous. I put my left arm under three quarters of Isis, and balance her little back feet on my right hand. She is always very co-operative during our morning descents and, even today’s strange arrangement doesn’t phase her. She curls her front feet round my left arm, leans her head into me  and stays absolutely still.

In this way we arrive safely in the hall.

But I can’t take any more risks, and that night I lay the gate directly onto the stairs.





Although Hairy One makes a brave attempt to scramble up between the struts, she has to admit defeat, and lies down in the hall looking sad.

She doesn’t cry. She never does. She utters three subdued woofs to remind me of my meanness, then she retires.

Thankfully, her night terrors are much less frequent than they used to be. When she is upstairs with me, of course, I can wake her and reassure her. It is only recently that she seems able to come out of these episodes without my intervention, and I worried that isolating her at night might lead to a regression.

So far, this hasn’t happened, but I am horrified to discover that she has nibbled a large patch of hair off one of her front legs. This, I’m sure, is a stress response, so I’ll need to keep a very close eye on her.

Poor Isis.

Only one positive has come out of all this. For months I’ve been looking for a suitable aid for walking her downstairs so I don’t have to carry her. And at last I’ve found one. It’s a strong, soft sling with a handle. It’s intended to support dogs with hip or back leg problems as they walk up and down stairs, but one review describes how it has been used to enable a very frightened blind dog to walk downstairs.

I’m measuring Isis up for one tomorrow.


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, dear little Isis, self-damaging, self-harming, sleeping arrangements | Tagged | 4 Comments

a very special lady



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Sunday July 9th 2017


Thursday July 6th, and we’re in Highbury Park when we meet Jc. with Harry, Maggie and Ruby.

Jc. is a park friend I’ve known for many years. Known and admired because, apart from being a kind and generous lady, she is an animal rescuer par excellence.

For years she homed just about any domestic pet who needed her; so much so, that her family and neighbours and neighbours’s friends and neighbour’s friends’ friends brought ailing pets to her door.

She didn’t draw the line at pets either. A few years ago, she spotted a very large, unhappy fowl – I don’t remembered its species , but it was not a common one – at a local market. Naturally, she bought it, popped it in the car and took it home where it lived its life out in comfort.

Then there was the feral cat discovered by Jc.’s daughter. Jc. drove carefully down the lane where the poor animal was hiding, stopped her car and got out. When she called the cat, it trotted towards her and got into the car.

And the poor little guinea-pig who was starving because its overgrown teeth prevented it from eating.

Jc.’s little yorkie Lizzie was one of my best dog friends. Even when she was very old, if I  knelt on the path and held out my arms, the little dog would race towards me for a fuss. Harry, her ‘brother’, was much loved by my dog Ellie. Harry didn’t care for young upstarts, but she wooed him with gentle nuzzles and kisses until, eventually, she won him over.

Isis arrived on the scene soon after little Lizzie died. At this time, she was at her most challenging, and, over the months, most of the walkers in Kings Heath Park became used to the sight of Isis going through her small repertoire. This comprised:

the ‘sit down/lie down strike’ which could last thirty minutes or more

the ‘inch-by-inch’, which came later and consisted of Human tapping, stroking, patting, cajoling, and Isis deigning to move forward at the rate of an inch every five, ten or fifteen minutes

and, I am ashamed to admit, Isis digging in her heels as she is hauled along by her harness.

When I began to understand and differentiate among her various behaviours, the scene was frequently of a very worried little dog being patted and stroked continuously and moving reluctantly along a particularly threatening path, or a pathetic, but more relaxed, little creature, front paws hooked over one of Human’s arms, head resting on paws as she was carried along a sun dappled stretch of ground

I can’t remember which of these pathetic scenarios was being played out when Jc. first met Isis, but I’ll never forget Jc.’s empathy and her words of encouragement. She even predicted that one day Isis would walk beside me off the lead. I couldn’t believe that would ever happen. But it does.

Jc was very impressed with Hairy One’s story, and said, “When it’s time for me to have another dog, I’ll adopt him or her from Dogwatch UK.”

About five months ago, she adopted Ruby.






You can still see the apprehension in Ruby’s little face.

Poor Ruby was found in abandoned in a car park in Spain. Her rescuers took food to her every day for three weeks before she came close enough to be caught.

On the day Ruby arrived in Birmingham, Jc. was at work, and her husband and granddaughter went to collect the dog.

When Jc. arrived home, she stood inside the front door and called Ruby.

Then, an amazing thing happened. Ruby came to her immediately, and lent against her legs. They bonded instantly.

And now it is rare to see Ruby more than a few inches away from Jc. Although, in the image above, she stands alone, this is very rare and is only because I got too close and frightened her.

Ruby’s dependency and her fear of ‘outsiders’, even if she has met them several times before, suggest that she has been very badly treated in her previous life.

Very sad.

It’s hugely comforting to know that she couldn’t have a better home than the one she has with her new family.


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, dear little Isis, dogs adopted via DogwatchUK, Kings Heath Park, park dogs, relationship building, scary shadows, strange behaviour, the dogs of King's Heath Park, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, we don't like bright sun | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments