minutiae, or a day in the life of a dog 2



A post should appear every Sunday


Sunday March 26th 2023


I don’t know for certain how Isis discerns that preparations for her walk have begun. She recognises most of my routines: the smell of coffee in the morning tells her that I’m about to settle for breakfast in the front room, and often she’ll be there waiting for me. When I retreat up the stairs in my dressing gown, she anticipates that I’ll be gone for a while, so she returns to bed, yet if I nip up to fetch something, she’ll stay and wait for me to return. I suppose that living together for over eight years, we know each other’s patterns.

Sometimes she’ll make for the front door as soon as I wriggle into my old winter dog walking jacket. It’s well past its best by now, and hasn’t been washed since the end of last winter, so perhaps when I drag it out from underneath all of the other garments hanging over the newell post, it’s only too easy for her to pick up its scent!

She’s not displaying a huge amount of excitement yet though, because she knows Human far too well; she’s aware that there are several stages to go through before a dog can begin her walk. Human must transfer her phone, her driving glasses, two sets of car keys (just in case one key gets stuck in the lock again) and her bus pass (someone might steal the car) from their indoor safe place to one of the five pockets of the scruffy old jacket.

Invariably, the transfer process reveals that at least one essential item is missing. Isis leaves her rug, and settles patiently on one of the mats in the hall while Human searches for the missing item, trying to recall when she last used it and to puzzle out where she might have left it.

Isis doesn’t flicker an eyelid as her person shoots in and out of the downstairs rooms huffing and cursing, or when, for the third time, she scrambles up and down the stairs.

The Hairy One stands up and stretches though, when at last the front door is opened. Her tail is wagging now, faster and faster. She knows that her harness has been picked up, and begins to dance a happy dance.

Don’t count your chickens, Isis. Human has gone back in for her gloves and neck warmer. Now she’s rifling through the bottom drawer trying to find a pair of gloves which match, or are at least a similar colour.

At last Isis can smell that her harness is about to be put over her head. Now she is excited. More than excited, closer to hysterical. Her tail is flashing back and forth so fast that it’s just a hairy blur. She loses any inhibitions, growling, yipping, and barking at high volume, tossing her head to and fro, and jumping up and down.

Anticipating a high speed twirl, I block her with my legs. So now she’s attempting to swipe my pebble arrangement off the low shelf, or even worse, to smack down both front paws simultaneously onto the shelf so that it tips up and handfuls of heavy stones crash onto the tiled floor, sometimes bouncing off my feet on their descent. This is quite painful when one’s wearing Crocs.

Today, though, I am on the ball and anticipate the pebble assault. I grab her round her chest, and growl menacingly into her right ear. She leaves the pebble display and concentrates instead on grabbing my hand and pretending to bite me as I struggle to untwist the strap which has to be passed behind her front legs and under her chest. Since all four of her legs are trotting on the spot in merry rhythm, this is no simple task, and often has to be repeated at least once.

Then, of course, I have to check that none of her multitude of hairs is trapped in the clasp. She doesn’t appreciate my thoughtfulnes, of course, but continues to dance on the spot.

Click! I’ve captured the little toad at last. At this point, she gives her plaintive, haunting podengo howl, ‘Whoooo-hoooo-hoo-oo -oo.’

I love to listen to the howl, and sometimes try to encourage her by whoo-hoo-ing myself. This, of course, has no effect on her at all , as she can’t hear me. Even if she could hear me, she’d for sure twig that no self-respecting podengo makes a noise like this.

To stem her excessive exuberance, I open the porch door a crack. She stops caterwauling immediately, and pushes her nose outside.


Phew, thank dog for that.

She can’t wait to get out. I remind her that a well- behaved dog always waits for her person to go through the door first. She’s unimpressed, but I make her wait, as I prefer to walk, rather than be dragged to the gate; also, unless I slow her down, there’s no way I’ll be able to lock the door behind us.

Once we arrive at the gate, she stands still until I open it. She has become a normal dog again.

On the other side of the gate, she is eager to sniff along the wall to check which creatures have paused there since she was last on the pavement. Any unfortunate passer-by will be warned off by her gruff and seriously loud ‘Yoff!’  as soon as she picks up his or her scent. As she doesn’t catch a moving scent until people have passed her, they don’t anticipate the bark, and jump in alarm.

We cross the pavement to the car. I open the nearside back door, and guide her round it. She rarely leaps in straight away, as she still finds it necessary to sniff around to confirm who peed on one of her tyres in the early hours, or who crept under her car overnight.

Now she’s ready to get in, she needs to know whether careless Human has tossed any obstacles onto the back seat; she also sniffs the pavement and the top edge of the seat to calculate how high she has to jump. Her judgement is excellent, and I’ll never cease to be impressed by her abilities.

Once she’s in, she walks to the far end of the seat and settles next to her safety belt. She loves the car, and doesn’t turn a hair now when Human returns to the house to fetch something she’s forgotten. Nor does she complain if people or dogs walk past. This is her car, her territory.







The transition from hall to car is complete. Now she has transformed herself into the most calm, patient and well-mannered dog in the world.


………………………………………………………….  to be continued.



Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.

Posted in a joyful dog, a very good dog, a very naughty dog, clever girl, clever Isis, deaf/blind dog, dear little Isis, Isis at home, Isis is no angel, patience is a virtue., scenting, strange behaviour, these dogs!, twirling, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

minutiae, or a day in the life of a dog



A post should appear every Sunday


Sunday March 19th 2023


It’s late when I get downstairs. Isis is deeply asleep as she always is unless I fiddle around in the kitchen long enough for my scent to penetrate her dreams. I sit down very carefully, beside her, but not touching her, as a sudden jolt, or a pat will alarm her. She hasn’t woken yet, so I place my right hand about a centimetre from her nose.

After a few seconds, her tail begins to wag, tap-tapping against the wooden slats which form the back of the day bed. She springs to her feet joyfully, then bounces up and down on the spot. When she pauses long enough for me to put my right arm around her and give her a hug, she lifts her head, then snuffles and rubs her face around my head and shoulders.

She gives a little sneeze, then walks behind me shoving her warm hairiness into my left side. She’s in no hurry this morning, even though her breakfast is late, and she accepts more pats, strokes and hugs before stepping a little to the side for a luxurious stretch and yawn. This morning’s yawn has a delightful little squeak at the end of it.

Now she stands facing the edge of the day bed, waiting for the ‘get down’ signal. Since she’s been sleeping for hours, and may be less well co-ordinated than usual, I place a hand on each of her flanks to guide her in the right direction, and preempt her skidding on the wooden floor.

She follows me into the kitchen, then hangs back until I open the door to the garden and begin to waft it back and forth, sending her the smells of the big outdoors.

Now she trots towards the door, pausing on the threshold, probably wondering if she really has to go out. I confirm, again with a palm on each of her flanks, that, yes, she really does.

Once she has navigated her ramp, she begins to pick up the alluring scents of nocturnal visitors, to follow their trails, and reclaim her territory with a marking pee. I guess that last night’s visitors are mice, rats and early morning birds as, if an errant feline had dared to invade her territory, there would be low barks, sorties down towards the end of the garden, pounces and snuffles round the piles of branches and twigs, and much indignant twirling.

I watch her through the kitchen window, dog bag in hand, but today it’s not needed. After a hasty pee, she heads back to the kitchen door.









She’s hungry now, and wants breakfast to be served immediately.

This need she feels compelled to underline with a short, sharp yap, before taking up her usual pre-breakfast position on the threshold of the back room. From the kitchen I can see a whisp of white hairy ear, then the tip of an impatient nose. If I am not quick enough – and I rarely am – a second, somewhat sharper yap assaults my ears. (I’m a little over sensitive to noises in the morning.)

I weigh out exactly 60 grammes, as instructed by Lee, and pour them into her dish. Now she stands and sniffs the air, but doesn’t come into the kitchen until invited by a pat on her side. Then the dear little soul sits down firmly a short distance from her dish, her head up and her nose pointing towards the ceiling. This always makes me smile.

One little touch beneath her chin and she’s there, head in her dish. The only sound to be heard is a steady, contented munching.

A few feet away, I put my Apricot Wheats in a dish, and make a coffee. This entails several moves from cupboard to counter. A couple of months ago, this would have provoked a riot from breakfasting dog: not now though. Only a lady-like lapping signals that she has finished eating and is refreshing herself with a drink.

She then retreats to the day bed or her dog bed to wait for Human’s move to the front room, before following her and stretching herself on the rug. The walk will come next, but, as always, while she drinks her coffee Human is distracted by a desire to read the news, check her whatsApp messages and wish her correspondents good morning.

Fortunately, Isis is an extremely patient dog. She waits for the floor to vibrate, which will tell her that Human has vacated her chair and is making her way towards the hall. But when Human is feeling particularly unmotivated, she will be sorely tempted to read her Kindle.

Not this morning though: there’s a walk to be taken, and a stop off at Lidl’s for cakes before we visit Jim.

The floor vibrates, and there’s a hall smell.

Oh joy!


To be continued ………………………………………………………


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.


Posted in a joyful dog, a very good dog, clever girl, clever Isis, deaf/blind dog, dear little Isis, Isis at home, patience is a virtue., relationship building, scenting, sleeping, sleeping arrangements, twirling | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

winter woes



A post should appear every Sunday


Sunday March 12th 2023





Yesterday, as we walk in Holders Woods, a couple I know but haven’t seen for a little while, stop to greet me. The lady peers at Isis.

“Is that Isis?”, she asks. When I reply in the affirmative, they both say how much fluffier she is than she used to be. I explain that yes, her hair has grown exponentially this season, as if she has been expecting an arctic winter.

And March has come in with a blast. Although it’s supposed to be our first month of spring, it’s definitely double gloves, heat-holding socks, neck warmer and, even at times, ear-band weather. I’m grateful for my warmly lined wellingtons too.

Since the temperature drops even further at the beginning of the week, I resort once more to my five ill-matched layers.

The only downside to my winter garb is managing the gloves when attending to the needs of Isis. Removing and replacing her harness and fiddling with her dog bags are cases in point.

Fabric gloves beneath ski gloves or mittens purchased years ago from TK Max, are warm, waterproof, and practical. but, unfortunately, it always takes me about two weeks of freezing weather to recall the optimum combinations of these. So this winter, once again, I struggle with dragging the ski gloves off the under gloves, and then off my fingers, before fumbling with now icy digits to release the hard, tight-fitting clasp of Hairy One’s harness, or, even more difficult, feeling amongst the cold, wet hairs of her chest and legs to locate the same clasp when replacing her harness at the end of our walk.

Another problem is the temporary storage of four gloves. I usually jam them under my arms, which, inevitably, results in all four falling out and plopping into the mud as soon as I stand up and relax. There are, of course, several possible unsavoury landings, but let’s leave them to your imagination.

By the time I have retrieved all of the gloves, my hands are so cold that I’d have difficulty in easing them into XX sized boxing gloves, let alone trying to open a stubborn dog bag the sides of which are determined to cling together for life. All the time, of course, it’s necessary to keep in mind the exact spot where Isis pooped, and to keep an eye on her to make sure that she doesn’t head off towards danger.

As for warm hands, we can forget that. When it’s raining, sleeting or snowing, pulling fabric gloves back onto cold, wet hands is virtually impossible: inevitably, one shoves one’s fingers into the wrong places and ends up with a homeless index or little finger, and extra spaces because one’s inadverently pushed two fingers into one slot.

After the first two bitterly cold weeks, I usually recall that in winter I wear fingerless gloves, so that I never have completely unprotected hand; I also remember to choose the ski mittens rather than the gloves to put on top, so that it is much easier to remove and reinsert my hands.

I try to make sure to watch precisely where Isis has deposited her heap: this can be difficult because when she detects me approaching, she walks a bit further away, and turns round a few times; however, we all have our little challenges, and I generally manage to locate the correct patch, and place a boot toe within a few inches of it, so I’ll not lose it.

So now I’ve got it together, our winter walks are much more enjoyable, and much less like obstacle courses.

But one thing doesn’t change: there is still the unpleasant necessity to carry the dog bag until one reaches a receptacle in which it can be deposited.

This becomes particularly problematic when we’re pavement walking, as Isis refuses to cooperate when, becoming aware that the bag handle is no longer dangling inelegantly from my heavily gloved fingers, I have to retrace my footsteps. I either resort to tying her to the closest lampost, or forcing her, step by reluctant step, back along the pavement. Then, sometimes, she assumes we’re on our way back home, and stubbornly refuses to turn round again.

This week, while in Highbury Park, an incident occurs which encaspsulates some of  the dog walker’s wintery weather frustrations. Isis and I leave the Highbury car park, and step onto the slushy grass.

Once released from her harness, she goes into the canine pre-poop routine, urgently circling with bent legs. Right, this should be easy as I’m only a few feet behind her. Removing my left hand mitten, I scrabble in the pocket of my jacket for a dog bag, which I think I have successfully detached from the roll. But I haven’t, and as I draw it from my pocket, an icy blast takes hold of it, and a string of green plastic dog bags is whipped into the air like a narrow birthday banner.

As I attempt to grab it, the wind changes, and the banner is blown round my head and shoulders. Trying hard not to move my feet in case I lose or step in my target, I attempt unsuccessfully to rewind the string of bags. But this is a complex operation when one is being buffeted by a mini gale, and, to make matters worse, out of the corner of my eye I see that Isis is pooping again, some distance away, behind a partially disintegrated snowman. At this point, I feel totally discombobulated, and must look even more eccentric than I am.

I remove my remaining mitten, and snatching the banner round its middle, begin to ram it into my pocket, while trying not to forget behind which of the several icy chunks ahead I must search next.

First pick-up completed, I stumble to the requisite chunk of snowman, and begin scanning the slush once more. It takes me about ten minutes to find what I am looking for. At the same time, of course, I must monitor Isis, who, I note, is sniffing her way to the extremely muddy entrance of a short cut into the next field.

Just as I am about to pursue and divert her, I realise that now only one mitten is still wedged beneath my right arm

Oh no!

Oh yes.

Turning round I spot what looks like the other one lying twenty metres away in the muddy snow on the spot where Isis was released from her harness.


I tramp back to collect the mitten, then follow my delighted dog into the boggy tunnel.

“You win Isis. I no longer ******* care where we go.”


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.


Posted in deaf/blind dog, frost and snow, Highbury Park, Holders Lane Woods, Isis knows best, Isis says "No"., oh dear, patience is a virtue., sleet, these dogs!, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the perfect dog?



A post should appear every Sunday


Sunday March 5th 2023


When I return to Hollytrees on Saturday morning, I wait in the yard for Isis to be brought out to me. As soon as she gets outside, she picks up my scent and pulls towards me. She’s very happy, gives me head nudges, wags her tail, and allows me to make a fuss of her. Then she walks up to her carers and gives them a sniff and a wag too.

It’s the best greeting she’s ever given me. Clearly she feels safe and secure at Hollytrees, which is great to know. Tracey tells me that Isis has eaten all of her meals. That’s great to know too.

Before we head for home, we walk along some of the little lanes nearby, which Isis appears to enjoy. Then she hops into the back seat, I insert myself into the driver’s seat – no hopping for me at present, as I’m waiting for a hip operation – and off we go.

I take a large coffee into the front room, and she settles herself on the rug next to my feet, and falls asleep.

At six o’clock, she hurries into her dining room. I leave her to eat, returning soon after to admire a polished dish.

This is the life! For a few days she emits just one woof before eating, but now her manners are perfect: she comes into the kitchen, sits without being reminded, and as soon as I tap her under her chin, hastens to her dish and begins to munch.

When she has finished her breakfast she waits on the day bed until she smells me passing along the hall with my coffee and cereal, then follows me. If the door to the front room is left on the latch, she noses it open, comes to join me, and lies on the rug.

In the evening, when she feels contented, as soon as she has finished her dinner, she strolls into the back room, steps into her dog bed, and plays with whichever soft toy is in favour at the moment. When she feels happy she’ll usually amuse herself with her toys for an hour or more. Now this is part of her evening routine.







And she seems to be very happy. For the first week or so of her new diet, she was ravenous, and, of course, I felt very sorry for her, and more than a little guilty: now she’s definitely hungry, but healthily hungry. I worried that she would turn into a park scavenger, but she hasn’t. That’s not to say she wouldn’t gobble up a steak if she came across one, but she doesn’t sniff around for food.

Another very positive outcome is that when I cut her large Nextguard tablet (eliminator of fleas, worms and any other parasites which one can imagine, but would prefer not to) into four chunks and smear each one with a little mature cheddar, she wolfs them down without hesitation.

She still enjoys hunting for her bedtime treats, of course. We’re working through her gravy bones at the rate of three a day, and adding some free-of-everything-nasty ones from Chester’s Corner.

It’s still hard to believe the transformation which has taken place, that my Hairy One no longer leaps around in front of her dish growling and barking; no longer fusses about the light which comes through the glass in the front door, or leaks out from another room; no longer refuses to eat if I am in the kitchen, or if I am not standing by the door encouraging her.

During her early years here, I could understand why she felt the need to defend her food from imaginary marauders. She was truly ravenous, tipping the scales at barely nine kilos, almost half of her current weight. Almost certainly, other animals took her food.

But when, after all her ‘training’ she began to revert to the former mealtime dramatics, my spirits sank. I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to deal with this seemingly inexplicable behaviour.

It has just occurred to me that lately, when she had had enough to eat and wanted to leave the rest, she may have been worried that some other animal would come and take it. So perhaps reverting to her earlier behaviour is not so illogical after all.

I still find it astonishing that Lee had such a straightforward answer to what felt like our very complex predicament:

Lee, calmly: “I think I know why she’s leaving her food.”

Human, gormlessly: ” Why?”

Lee: “She’s not hungry.”

Human: “Oh.”


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.




Posted in a joyful dog, a very good dog, Chester's Corner, deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, food rage, Isis at Hollytrees, Isis at home, Isis knows best, Isis says "No"., oh dear, patience is a virtue., poor Isis, scenting, sleeping, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, we don't like bright light, we don't like bright sun, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

a hungry dog



A post should appear every Sunday


Sunday February 26th 2023


On Saturday we return to Chester’s Corner. Lee is surprised to see us again so soon, and   thinks that I must have come to make a complaint!

When I report that I added fish to the first meal, he is not impressed.

“The worst thing you could do!”, he says sternly. “You rewarded her for not eating what you gave her.”

Duly chastened, I assure him that after this one indulgence, Isis has happily eaten her kibbles.

Lee is a nutritionist, and sells a large range of food for dogs, including his own recipes branded ‘Naturally’, which are made up at one of Britain’s two animal food factories, the same one which makes recipes such as Burns, Lily’s Kitchen and James Wellbeloved.

When Isis was weighed on our first visit, she was 16. 67 kilos. Lee thinks that 15 kilos is her ideal weight, and so do I. He explains that many kibbles contain a sizeable proportion of wheat flour which is very filling, and that a more natural diet would be less filling and more nutritious. Isis and I have a good sniff / look at the stock while other customers are advised and served. 

I study several contents labels, and like what I read on the Naturally labels. I decide to hedge my bets and opt to buy a 2 kilo bag rather than a 56 kilo one, even though the larger bag is much more economical.

Hmmm, but which one?  I think that the beef is the most likely to go down well with Isis, but then I wonder whether lamb or rabbit might be equally acceptable.

Decisions, decisions.

“If you want to try her out with some of them,” Lee tells me, “we have samples, so take some home and try them before you buy a 2 kilo bag.”

I think this is an excellent idea, and leave the store with four free samples: beef, rabbit, lamb and salmon.

I have been instructed that consistency is essential, and that correct amount for Isis to eat is exactly 60 grams for each of her two meals.

At home, I rough out a little chart to record her reactions to the different flavours. We try the beef first, or, at least I do: Isis has a sniff at her bowl, walks out of the kitchen and settles on the day bed.


My heart sinks, but I must stick to the rules: 60 grams of the new kibbles, and nothing else. Hard-heartedly, after about an hour, I begin to cook myself the fish which last night I’d at last remembered to put in the fridge to defrost.

No sooner do I take it out of the oven, when a whiffling pink and black spotted nose pokes itself round the door, then, after a brief pause, Isis materialises in the kitchen looking hopeful.

But I am resolute.

For at least four minutes.

As soon as I add a small portion of fish to Hairy One’s meal, she clears the dish, leaving not a kibble.

Oh dear, nothing gained here then, except that at least I know that she finds the kibbles acceptable.

Next morning I weigh out another 60 grams, wait until she sits, and then place my hand under her chin to command ‘eat’.

To my astonishment and delight, she clears the bowl. In the evening she does the same, and on Saturday morning.

Each sample has 90 grams in it. The only one she refuses to try is the salmon, which has a very strong smell. She eats the others, but it’s clear that the beef is her favourite.

On Sunday afternoon she is to go to Hollytrees (her default kennels) for a few days, so I had told Lee that we would return the following Saturday to report our results and select what to buy; however, since our experiment has been so successful, I decide that it is not a good idea for her to go back to her former diet during her stay at the kennels, and then to change back to the new diet when she returns home.


Isis arrives at Hollytrees accompanied by her special holiday bag, kindly given to her by Josh, years ago.







In it are her information, her vaccination records, her squeaky duck, an old polo shirt which I wore the night before, and eleven plastic jars each containing exactly 60 grams of Naturally (50 % beef, with sweet potato and carrot!)

She walks to her kennel without a backward glance.

I cross my fingers and hope she’ll eat all of her kibbles.


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.




Posted in Chester's Corner, crisis, deaf/blind dog, food rage, Isis at Hollytrees, Isis at home, Isis is no angel, Isis says "No"., oh dear, patience is a virtue., something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Chester’s corner revisited



A post should appear every Sunday


Sunday February 19th 2023


Yes, it is clear that Isis is very partial to freshly fried mince. In fact, she’d rather like to be served the mince unaccompanied by kibble, thank you. This she demonstrates by eating the mince and leaving most of the kibble.

Harder of heart now, and less inclined to pamper the frustrating animal, I keep the rejected kibble for her next meal, adding, if necessary, another handful to make up the eighty grams which she is given twice a day, and topping the repast with a tablespoon of mince.

Are you getting bored of the details of Hairy One’s feeding regime? Most certainly I am. But I am also concerned, because, as I remind myself, the Burns kibble is supposed to be her main source of protein.

I discover that if I give her a little prod and sign that I expect her to eat what she’s left, she returns to the dish and continues to eat. Admittedly, sometimes three or four prods are required.

Reluctantly, I must confess that she has also returned to barking now and then as she prepares to take the next mouthful. Abandoning my principle of Thou Shalt Not Bark, Yap Or Growl When Dining, I ignore the sound effects and just concentrate on her eating.

Up until this year, Isis would carry on like a deranged dog if I stayed in the kitchen while she ate. Now she only begins her meal if I am just the other side of the door, encouraging her to eat. I know I am being ridiculous, and I strongly suspect that Isis is being manipulative.

On Tuesday, Bev tells me that when Nancy spurns her food, they pop it into the microwave for a few seconds, and then she usually eats it.

Hm. Warming her food in the microwave would certainly be easier than frying a little pat of mince each day. The house would smell more pleasant too.

Twice I simply put her Burns in for a few seconds, then add whatever I hope will entice her to clear her dish. The first and second time I do this, she eats enthusiastically: obviously, either she enjoys the novelty of toasty Burns, or she’s silently amused at the lengths to which silly Human will go in order to pander to Dog’s demands.

Fortunately, this week Human at last wakes up to how foolish it is to worry about how hungry little dog must be having left all her kibble the evening before, and half of it this morning. I know that she is bright and healthy, that her teeth are in good shape, that she is drinking neither too little nor too much water, and that she relishes hunting down and eating her bedtime treats.

Common sense, with which, admittedly, I have never been over endowed, should tell me that if she were hungry, she would eat.

To be fair to her, I have known for some time that she is not that keen on the variety of kibble which she has had for the past year; I’ve cancelled the repeat online order and am trying to think of a substitute.

Last week I suddenly remember Chester’s Corner in Kings Norton. Years ago, I’d been there for the first time with a friend who has a sense of direction, and even then, we’d struggled to find the store. The next time I set out to go there, I become helplessly lost, and give up.

Two things still stand out in my mind about Chester’s Corner: the very large and varied stock they carry, and how friendly and helpful the proprietor is.

And now, of course, I have Waze on my phone to guide me there.

The shop is off Vardon Road. On Tuesday, I reach one end of Vardon Road, only to find that today the road is closed for resurfacing.


I ask one of the guys whether it’s possible to go on a detour to reach the other end of the road. I’m assured that it is, and am given the directions – three times, actually, because I struggle to remember instructions.

Surprisingly, I eventually arrive at the other end of Vardon Road.

Unfortunately, there’s another gang resurfacing this end of the road. The guys suggest that I make my way to the other end of the road. When I explain that the other end is closed for resurfacing too, and the guys there told me to come to this end, they look very surprised and mutter, “Well, don’t know why they said that. We weren’t told they were up there.”

We apologise to one another, and the two cars and a van which by now have stopped behind me, having also followed the other gang’s instructions, execute three point turns. I follow.

All very British.

By now, of course, I have no idea of the route I need to take back to Kings Norton Green. Thank goodness for phone sat. navs!

I smile to myself all the way home as I fantasise about the two gangs with their huge steam rollers meeting up in the middle of the road and arguing about who should do the final patch.

Anyway, on Thursday, after her walk, Isis and I set off again, and this time we get to Chester’s Corner.

The array of animal food is even larger than I thought, and Lee, the proprietor, even more friendly and helpful.

He listens to my tale of woe, we weigh Isis, and Lee feels carefully along her ribs, back and chest. He remembers Isis because of her amazing ears, and Isis must recognise his scent, as she is perfectly happy for him to touch her.

Lee, who is a very kind and diplomatic person, straightens up, and looks at me apologetically.

“Now, I don’t want to say that she is overweight,” he says gently, “but ……..”




And here I can’t help laughing. “Don’t worry”, I tell him, “I just told her, as we walked across to the shop, ‘He’ll tell you you’re a fat girl, Isis!’ ”

“I think she’s leaving her food because she’s not hungry,” he says.


Now this makes sense. Well, what next then?

All will be revealed.


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.




Posted in a very naughty dog, Chester's Corner, deaf/blind dog, food rage, Isis at home, Isis is no angel, Isis says "No"., Nancy, oh dear, park people, patience is a virtue., something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I don’t want it part 3



A post should appear every Sunday


Sunday February 12th 2023


So, again I fry mince for Isis.  This should be enough to last her for four meals. Unsurprisingly, I have no delusions that she’ll be thrilled with the meal. I pour a little hot water over the mince, mix it well, add a pinch of PlaqueOff powder, as I do every evening, and add her usual kibbles. Then I retire to the front room, expecting the little malcontent to join me in a few seconds.

But she doesn’t. When I inspect her dish, it’s empty; in fact, it is better than empty – it’s polished.

Either she’s eaten it all with huge enthusiasm, or she’s tipped it out behind a cupboard and set to work with a Brillo pad.

I stare at the gleaming bowl in disbelief while she lies in her dog bed playing with Squeaky Squirrel. She plays in her bed like this when she is particularly contented.

Oh, wonderful! She’s eating mince again. Dog knows why, but never mind, she’s not about to go back on hunger strike, is she?

At breakfast next morning, she eats all the mince, but leaves about a third of the kibbles. It’s not a big deal as I can simply add the left over kibble to her evening meal.

So, at six o’clock, I serve her the same sized helpings of mince and kibble as usual, plus the handful she left from her last meal.

There’s a distinct lack of merry chomping coming from the kitchen.


Of course, she may just be eating very quietly.

Or not.

The bowl is just as I left it. She’s not even picked out any of the curls of mince. Oh ISIS!

I ignore her, and cook myself two pieces of fish. Hairy One’s nose appears round the kitchen door, twitching and whiffling. The rest of her follows. Her tongue flicks up to her nose. She begins to pace up and down.

Hmmm. No subtlety there then. I cut the smaller fish in half, drop a piece into a clean dish and add eighty grams of kibbles.

She clears her dish.

The following day, I give her exactly the same for breakfast.

She leaves most of it.

The next day I scramble an egg to accompany her kibbles. She turns her head away.

There’s obviously nothing ailing her, I decide, as she leaps energetically up and down in the porch while I struggle to put her into her harnesss. And she enjoys her walk, while the Highbury crows enjoy moist kibble, scrambled egg, cold fish and mince. They don’t leave a scrap.

I wonder if I should swop Isis for a crow.

Dim Human ponders. And ponders. She turns over in her mind all the different foods which she has given Isis over the last few months.

Why does her dog eat something the first time she’s given it, then lose interest in it? Take mince: she never refuses the first portion of mince which is cooked for her, in fact, she seems desperate for it, but then she is at best half-hearted about the next, and refuses any further portions.








Poing! At last the proverbial light bulb flashes in dim Human’s brain. Ah, maybe it’s not  mince, but freshly fried mince which Isis finds so delicious.

Or, on the other hand, perhaps it won’t make a scrap of difference.

In the evening, I fry a pat of fresh mince for her, stir in a little hot water, and add the kibble. She sits tense as a wound spring as she waits for the ‘eat it’ signal. She is still licking her lips when she comes to find me.

The smell of meat cooking is even less thrilling to me in the morning as it was last night, but I force myself to do it. (Hope springs eternal, as the optimists say.)

She is just as pleased with her freshly fried mince this morning as she was last night, and just as pleased with it in the evening, and the next day, and the next, and the next.

Day after day she savours the piquant smells arising from the pan, comes into the kitchen for anticipatory sniffs, and waits by her dish like an Olympic athlete poised for the starting pistol.

What a relief.


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.





Posted in a joyful dog, deaf/blind dog, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis knows best, Isis says "No"., oh dear, patience is a virtue., poor Isis, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I don’t want it part 2



A post should appear every Sunday


Thursday February 9th 2023


We may recall that Isis, who  was very underweight when rescued from the streets, gobbled up her kibbles with great gusto. A bag of them came with her from the rescue centre. Kerry explained that these were unavailable in Britain, and advised me to wean her off them gradually, replacing them with a different brand.

This I did, and Isis continued to eat heartily. When she developed a severe skin allergy, two years ago, I did some research and bought her Burns Sensitive. This she ate enthusiastically until a few months ago, when her appetite began to diminish.

Since then, it has been necessary to add a little extra flavour. For months she was content with Chappie, but then, eventually, she became bored with that. Since then, as you know,  we’ve been through a range of flavoursome treats: sardines, pilchards, tuna, egg, cheese, chicken – you name it, we’ve tried it. Some of these she’s eaten enthusiastically for a few  days, then she doesn’t want them.

I don’t think that I’m over indulgent, but she’ll refuse to eat for several days. I know she’s not unwell, because, as always, she devours her bedtime treats, but  I can’t allow her to go hungry.




‘Purina Gourmet Gold Savoury Cake’ the packaging proclaims. Hmmmmm, expensive, but the taste should appeal to a discriminating dog. There are eight tiny tins, two each of ‘with chicken’, ‘with beef’, ‘with tuna’ and ‘with salmon’; moreover, the food is without added artificial flavouring, colouring or preservatives. All of the packaging is recyclable, and no plastic is involved.

This should tick all of the boxes. I know cat food isn’t good for dogs but I only put a tablespoonful in each of Isis’s meals. Her main food is still Burns, and any add-on is just to add piquancy, in other words, to get the hairy little toad to cut out the faffing and get chomping.

After all, what’s for a dog not to like? Surely we’ve hit the jackpot this time …… haven’t we? My only doubt arises from past experience.

I stir a flat tablespoon of Purina’s Gold Savoury Cake into her bowl of kibbles, and offer it to her.  She walks on the spot looking hungry, but makes no attempt to eat.


Ah, wait, impatient Human, there are variables to consider. Yes, the food should appeal to her, but there’s bright light streaming through the glass of the front door and into her dining room.

I lift her feeding frame into the back room, and she eats her breakfast immediately.

Ah, so this exotic cat food does fit the bill. Great!

I serve it again for her next meal and she turns it down.

Breathe deeply Human, and think. How is this meal different from the one she enjoyed this morning? Well, this morning’s repast was fresh. The tin had not been the fridge.

O.K. Perhaps she doesn’t like it being so cold. I add a little hot water. She eats it immediately.

But we’ll not hang out the flags yet, for the next morning she refuses point blank to even consider the offering.

She. Does. Not. Want. It.

I can tell by her expression that were she human, she would say, “No way.”

Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone close by who has a cat. I put her leavings and the rest of the tin into my crow food container.

I wonder whether she’d like liver or kidney. Nigel over the road only has pigs’ kidneys. Nigel and I agree that pigs’ kidneys have a strong smell and should tempt her. But never the optimist, I buy some mince as a back-up.

Shuddering at the thought of the poor pig, I keep my eyes averted as I cross the road, carry the kidney into the house, deposit it on the bottom shelf of the fridge and hastily close the door on it.

I do not enjoy preparing her evening meal, but needs must. I fry the kidney gently in the pan, cut it into small pieces, and place a small heap, still warm, among her kibble.




You must be joking.

You’ve got to be joking.




She walks towards her bowl, but this time stops with her nose about three inches from it, and looks horrified.

Later, I offer it to her when it’s cold. She disdains to sniff it. She’ll not even pick out some bits of kibble. Clearly, she knows that it is kidney contaminated.

Right. The whole meal, plus the freshly cooked kidney remaining in the pan, goes into the crow’s pantry, along with a generous helping of dry porridge oats.

The Highbury crows are delighted with their feast. About eighty of them descend to gobbble it up. They’re particularly pleased with the kidney.

Isis dares to show some interest in what they are eating.

“If you dare to pick up what you refused to eat this morning,” I admonish her, “I’ll have your guts for garters.”

It’s Sunday, and the shops are closed.

Well, it’ll have to be mince, whether she wants it or not.

Back to the drawing board.


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.





Posted in Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis knows best, Isis says "No"., oh dear, patience is a virtue., something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, walking in the park, we don't like bright light, we don't like bright sun, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t blame me, blame Plusnet!

Sunday February 5th 2023

Apologies, but my landline is down again; consequently, I have no internet access other than via mobile. Have been attempting to use mobile, but it’s an eye crossing task. Hopefully, will get it sorted in the next couple of days.

Have been attempting to post

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I don’t want it



A post should appear every Sunday


Sunday January 29th 2023


It’s such a relief to have weaned Isis from her previous habit of growling, screaming and yapping her way through each mouthful of her food, that over the months, Human grows complacent. Dog mealtimes should now be stress free, shouldn’t they, especially if the menu is varied? Yes, there have been hiccups of course, but this is only to be expected.

Yet, despite my efforts to change the fare every two or three days, Isis still turns her nose up today at something she ate with relish yesterday, or falls enthusiastically on her breakfast even though it comprises the same ingredients which she refused to eat the previous evening. Each time I post that I’ve cracked it, I soon find out that I’m sadly mistaken.


My dog, it seems, is still dissatisfied with the catering service. She’s probably unsure of how can she manipulate Human in order to get what she wants. I fantasise that this is her dilemma, and that she has been thinking very carefully about the most effective strategies to employ.

Obviously it is very hard for her to set aside years of making as much noise as she can; on the other hand, she really can’t stand any more of Human’s training tricks. Understandable.  I mean, how would you feel if you were desperately hungry, and, just because you barked, your food was snatched away from under your nose, and you had to wait silently for it to be given back to you?

No, there must be a better way of asserting herself without that tarradiddle.

I fantasise further that she must have spent long hours thinking about this, probably while she was at Hollytrees Kennels last month. She would have had plenty of time to herself, and in the kennels, she doesn’t fuss about eating,  just empties her dish as fast as possible  before the other dogs gang up to ambush her and steal her food.

What can she do which will not only wind up Human but also reward Dog?

That’s quite a difficult one. She knows a multitude of ways of upsetting Human, but none of them involves a reward for her: she can swipe the pebble arrangement off the low shelf in the porch, but that will only irritate Human and provoke a loud shriek.

She can leap off the porch step, dragging Human with her so that all the stuff she’s carrying gets scattered over the path, but then she will be made to return to the step until she walks properly, and that’s a waste of time.

When they’re out walking together, she can turn round without any warning and stride off in the opposite direction, but if she does that, Human will bring her back, walk behind her and poke her furry backside as soon as she stops to rest her paws.

She can always stand demurely by the front door, wagging her tail sweetly while her harness is being put on. There’s a tricky strap which has to be fixed under her chest, and this requires a person to bend down with her face almost touching a dog’s muzzle. As soon as she feels heavy breathing on the hairs of her right ear, she can let out the loudest, most explosive  YAFF possible and make Human leap three feet in the air. That’s always good for a laugh – yes, but that’s all a dog gets out of it.

I surmise that Isis continues to wrack her canine brains.

Ah, perhaps she might suddenly remember how anxious Human is when, only a few weeks ago, her precious dog is struck down with that nasty stomach bug.

Yes, indeed, and Isis remembers how much she liked the scrambled egg and rice which was served several times a day.

That was a very welcome change; moreover, she really enjoyed Human holding the little dish for her, and stroking her gently while she lapped up the food.

And she revelled in the praise heaped on her when she licked the dish clean.

Yes, instead of greeting her food bowl with a cacophony of ear piercing screeches, she will be silent – well, perhaps give a pathetically weak woof now and then to keep Human focussed – and just turn her head away from her dish. Alternatively, she can eat a couple of mouthfuls, and when Human, much relieved, relaxes and retires with her Kindle, her dog can push open the door and climb onto the day bed looking off-colour and leaving a virtually full bowl behind her in the kitchen.






That should stop the lazy so-and-so’s gung-ho behaviour – weighing out of dish of boring kibbles, without even wondering if her little dog might like something more tempting.


Yes, she’ll make Human cook her delicious little dishes of scrambled egg and rice, reward her further with lots of pats and strokes, maybe even kiss her on the top of her head when she’s licked away the last stray grain of rice.

What’s not to like?

It sounds like the perfect plan.



To be continued   …………………………………………………….

Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.

Posted in Isis at Hollytrees, Isis at home, Isis is sad, Isis says "No"., oh dear, patience is a virtue., poor Isis, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments