it’s human – so what?



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday June 20th 2021


Today we meet M and his little dog Rosie in Highbury. Recently they camped in Cornwall, and M tells me how much Rosie enjoys being on holiday with him. He can’t imagine going away and leaving her behind. He is surprised when I tell him how cool and collected Isis was when I picked her up from Hollytrees. He is sure if it were Rosie, she would rush up and leap all over him. We decide that most dogs are ecstatic to see their people again.

He finds Hairy One’s detachment very strange. I am a little surprised myself. It has taken her a very long time, but even over the last two years I have seen changes in her: she has come to enjoy being stroked and patted, even, when I wake her in the morning, she accepts a gentle hug.

I replay yesterday’s reunion scene in my mind. I was inordinately disappointed that I was too late to pick her up last night, and I can’t wait to see her.

I stand impatiently on the yard, peering in the direction of her kennel block.

At last she emerges, walking calmly at the end of her lead.

She’s here! I reach out to hug her. Yes, she recognises my scent –  of course she does – but she seems quite aloof.

She’s simply not interested. And she’s not desperate to leave with me. I am almost certain that if one of her kennel carers offered to take her off somewhere, she’d go quite happily.

Why is it, I ask myself, that I care that I’m so much more excited to be reunited with her than she is with me? Why do we humans have to feel that we’re so special?

Why are we so needy?

I really am very pleased that Isis doesn’t display separation anxiety. It is good that she feels so at home at Hollytrees.

It really is.

She does sniff me and wag her tail. She is keen to scramble into the car. She’s definitely pleased to be back at her own front door. So what am I complaining about?

I intend to take her to the park but she doesn’t want to know. She doesn’t even want to re-acquaint herself with her back garden.

She retires to the day bed and goes to sleep.

O.K. No walk then.

Later, when I  go into the other room, she follows me. She doesn’t lie on my feet though, as she usually does.

At night she waits for her bedtime treats. She pokes her nose under the cushions and sniffs out the bits of gravy bones as usual. I try to make a fuss of her, but she’s not very responsive.

She sleeps soundly until I wake her on Wednesday morning.

She  is keen for her walk and very thorough in her investigations of the scents which have accumulated since she was last in Highbury.

We return home. I have to go out for about half an hour. I can’t remember where or why, but by the time I get back, I’m feeling the lack of sleep last night, and creep onto the day bed for a snooze.

After flattening the imaginary prairie grass with three decisive turns, Isis settles down at the other end of the day bed with her back to me.







I switch on the radio and close my eyes.

After about ten minutes, I feel the mattress moving.

Then, flumph! She lies down between my legs.

She wriggles and pushes herself closer and closer.


Then, to my astonishment, she carefully hooks first her left leg, then her right over my left thigh, stretches out her neck, places her head between her paws, and, with a deep sigh, closes her eyes.


I gently stroke her head, and we both drift off to sleep.


*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 or

Posted in dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis at Hollytrees, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., park dogs, park people, relationship building, sleeping, these dogs!, walking in the park, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

laid back dog and stressed out human continued



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday June 13th 2021


My friends M and G greet me at the door. I apologise for not phoning, and recount my misadventures.

They are glad that I hadn’t told them in advance that I was setting off at 6.50. Since it is now 11.30, they may have been a little anxious. Another mitigating factor is that M has known me for over fifty years, so little I do surprises her.

We eat and chat. Tomorrow I will leave my car here and will be driven in an extremely comfortable vehicle to Norfolk. M has a bungalow in Snettisham where we will spend the week.

The telephone numbers I need are, of course, conveniently filed in the contacts section of my bewitched mobile.  M googles Hollytrees  so that I can enquire how Isis has settled in.

The ‘little angel’, I am told, is absolutely fine. She’s eating and has already begun dismantling the two outsized cardboard boxes which I took in for her.

Contacting Adopted Niece isn’t so straightforward. She asked me to let her know when I had arrived safely in Uppingham and, of course, I promised to do so.

Ah, M can check out her work number.

No she can’t. It’s Sunday.

Eventually, the answer dawns on me. Her father has a livery and works from home. M googles ‘liveries in Lincoln’ and we soon find his number. He says he will phone her. Phew. All immediate challenges sorted.

I am so lucky that Isis is laid back and contented at Hollytrees. I realise now that I couldn’t leave her if she was unhappy about it.

I put the day behind me and sleep like the proverbial log.

I enjoy lingering in bed with my Kindle in the morning while M and G gather together all the stuff they want to take with them to Snettisham. This is the life. It’s a shame, I muse,  that dogs and cats can’t pass their leisure time with a Kindle. It would make their kennel stays pass much more quickly.

We manage to stuff everything in the car and off we go.

It rains consistently for the first half of the week, but that’s no problem: it’s just good to be immersed in green. Also, North Norfolk caters well for its visitors and M and G know all the best pub restaurants. What’s not to like? The sun emerges on Thursday and in between pub meals we traverse the country roads, enjoy spotting the wild life.

We walk by the sea, too. Isis loves the sea. It feels strange to be walking without her. I find myself automatically looking out for obstacles she might walk into, brambles which have to be held above her head and low branches which jut out. I miss her.

We return to Uppingham on Sunday.

I intend to leave around ten the next morning and to travel a more conventional route than the one I came on! M, who is well organised and logical, writes an itinerary. She also kindly insists that she will drive ahead of me for the local part of the journey, as it is complicated and she is unsure of some of the lane changes.

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s not long before I find out.

My belongings are stashed in the car. M moves her car onto the road and waits, engine running, for me to draw up behind her.

I call goodbye to G and turn the key in the steering lock.

‘Pthwaaah h a h a.’

I turn the key again.


The battery is totally, indisputably flat.

I can’t believe it. I checked it out when we arrived home last night and the engine turned immediately.

While I retrieve my speedy charger from the boot, M and G disappear round the back of the house to unearth extension leads.

After a while I follow. My car is parked facing the heavy metal up and over door of the garage. The door is raised to about waist height. Peering beneath it I see that the pedestrian door at the far end of the garage is  open.

I can nip through into the garden and maybe help carry the leads.

I duck my head.


My face smashes into the metal doors. Darkness descends. As I am thrown backwards onto the gravel I wonder whether I’ll be knocked unconscious.

But no. I’m stunned but conscious. I lie for about a minute, spreadeagled like a stranded starfish, then struggle to get up.

I am just scrambling to my feet when G and M appear at the pedestrian door, holding several long extension leads. G begins to speak but then breaks off as he sees the rising apparition.

I begin to explain but am interrupted by M.

“You’re bleeding!”

M guides me into the kitchen while G attaches the charger to the terminals.

I apologise profusely while M staunches the flow from the – fortunately – small cut on my forehead.

I have a long rest, then we have lunch. M gets through to Hollytrees and I explain that I hope to arrive by four but…

‘No problem’, I’m told. “If you don’t make it today, we’ll keep her until tomorrow.’

We eventually set off at two twenty. If I make good time, I’ll be able to pick Isis up before the kennels close at four.

I hope concussion won’t descend on me along the motorway, and I’m  anxious about travelling without my phone, but feel OK as I follow M over the tricky islands. She doesn’t wave goodbye until I’m on en route for the A14 which leads to the M6 which merges into the M42.

Oh yes! I’m making good time. As long as I don’t miss the turn off  at junction 3, I’ll soon be collecting little Isis.

I can’t wait to see her, of course.

I count down: junction six, five, four, 3A ………………………………….

two …………. EEEEK! What the hell’s happened to junction 3?

I leave the motorway. Instead of getting off at junction 3, which would have brought me out at Wythall, about a mile down the road from Hollytrees, I end up at Norcutts plant nursery.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have no – and I mean NO sense of direction. And, of course, I still have no sat. nav. I know I’m not far from where I live but have no idea how to get there.

I sit in the car park. With some difficulty, I restrain myself from screaming hysterically. Instead I curse. I curse. And then I curse some more.

There’s no chance of picking Isis up today, and my disappointment is well out of proportion.

I walk across to two guys standing by a white van. They are chatting and looking at their phones. I ask if they can give me directions. They tell me they’re not from around here and can’t help.

I spot an Asian family, approach, and ask if they are from Birmingham.

They are!

Like the man I met on my way to Uppingham, they couldn’t be more helpful. They live on the north side of the city and don’t know how to get to Wythall, but both parents check their phones. Although they were obviously about to set off home, they are determined to find a solution for me.

The man eventually finds Wythall, but the route is very complicated. He looks for Kings Heath.Then he asks me if I know Stratford Road. I do, and I also know that there are signs  there to Kings Heath.

‘Ah,’ he smiles,  Stratford Road is only just round the corner. All I need to do is to turn left out of the nursery exit. He shows me the map and asks me to repeat his directions. Just then, another Asian lady approaches. She thinks I am on foot and stranded, and has come to offer to drive me home.

Although I’m still disappointed that I’ll not see Hairy One until tomorrow, the kindness of these strangers makes me feel much more positive, and I’m soon on my way home.

That night I expect to sleep well, but I’m still awake at five a.m.

Might as well do something useful. I get up, make a coffee and search online for advice about dead mobiles. I find an android users group. Much to my relief there are a number of accounts of phones going off piste, enclosing random information in bright green rectangles and jabbering at you at breakneck speed.

Several contributors have posted videos or given long sets of instructions about how to address the problem. They all look complicated.


I suddenly feel very weary. I scan the instructions. Then, lo and behold, I come to the wonderful Geoff.

‘Just press on the up and the down volume controls at the same time,’ advises this super- hero.

I do this several times, and, hey presto, my phone springs back to life.


I have a shower and return to bed until it’s time to get ready to fetch Isis.

I’m there just before Hollytrees opens for the day.

Ray lets me in. I settle Hairy One’s hotel bill with Wendy who then goes off to fetch my Isis.

Isis sniffs me carefully and wags her tail , but she’s very laid back about it. She doesn’t throw herself at me in frantic relief. She takes it all in her stride, which is brilliant.

Ray pushes open the heavy outer gate and calls to a group waiting outside,

‘ Make way for the princess!’

And he’s certainly not referring to me.







*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 or



Posted in a very good dog, deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Isis at Hollytrees, learning to trust, relationship building, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

laid back dog and stressed out human



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


Sunday June 6th 2021


Friends have invited me to visit them for a week.

Although I know that Isis is always very well cared for at Hollytrees and always emerges  calm and well, I still find the prospect of leaving her behind very stressful.

We have an enjoyable two hour walk before we go. All guests need to be signed in by four, so we arrive at three fifty. Little Isis couldn’t make the process any easier if she tried. She knows where she is and walks with  Adam down to her kennel block. She makes no protest. She doesn’t look back.

When he returns, Adam tells me that she walked into her bedroom with no hesitation.

I used to think she complied because she was resigned to being left, and that made me feel worse. Now, though, it’s obvious that she feels at home at Hollytrees. She knows her carers well. She trusts them and feels O.K.

It’s not surprising that I’m somewhat neurotic. Some former dogs and cats have not settled so easily. Feather, one of my border collies always knew where we were going well before we arrived.

On one occasion I took her stuff in and when I returned to the car there was no sign of her. The car was locked but she had vanished. Eventually I found her in the driver’s foot well. She had crawled beneath the pedals and coiled herself into an incredibly small curl. I only found her when I had exhausted any remotely possible hiding places and decided to explore the impossible ones.

Needless to say, I felt horrible leaving her.

When little Ellie – the most co-operative and obedient dog you could wish for – was left to board for two nights (not at Hollytrees) in the pen next door to companion Rush, we assumed she would be fine. But when we arrived to fetch her, I was told she’d been dreadful. She’d refused to eat, had growled and barked very aggressively when her pen was approached by staff and wouldn’t allow anyone through the door.

I was told to collect her from the pen myself as no-one else was prepared to. Sure enough, as I walked down towards the end pen I heard menacing snarls and ferocious growls. She was obviously distraught. When she realised it was me, she threw herself at the door with heart rending  squeals. Next door, Rush, normally a very nervous dog, was calm and collected. After that, Ellie came with us wherever we went or, if this was not possible, she stayed at a friend’s home.

When Daisy cat stayed at Hollytrees, and her cat carrier was opened, she turned round to face the wall and refused to leave the carrier except to eat and to use her tray. For ten days, her patient carers lifted her up to her sleeping quarters in her carrier at bedtime and back down again into her pen for breakfast the next morning

I should be grateful that Isis is so relaxed, but I already miss her. Saturday night is strange without her, and she keeps drifting into my mind.







On Sunday I set off for Uppingham at six fifty hoping to find the motorways quiet. I should arrive at about eight forty at the latest. Adopted Niece has planned a straightforward route for me, Waze, my preferred navigating app, is set, and the M42 begins only about a couple of miles up the road.

Off we go.

The first setback isn’t far away. I freeze at the plethora of signposts and end up on the south bound instead of the north bound M42. Unfortunately, it’s a very long way before there’s a turn-off.

*** the motorway! I’ll stick to the A roads. “Kettering,” I instruct Waze tersely. And Waze obligingly re-programmes.

I have been driving for about an hour and it’s less than heartening to note that I’m still only about ten miles from Birmingham. Never mind, we’re on the right track now.

Then the next setback arises. We reach a dual carriageway and Waze tells me to turn right. Now, as we all know, it’s not a good idea to turn right onto a dual carriageway. I turn left and notice a sign for Dunmore – wherever that is.

Waze cheerfully continues. We arrive once more at a dual carriageway. Another sign for Dunmore. Waze tells me again to turn right, but again, I elect not to die yet and I turn left.

It’s not until the fourth circuit, that I realise I’ve been here before. Three times, actually. Yes, it’s the same dual carriage way, the same sign for Dunmore. This time I register a notice which informs drivers that the slip road to the right is now blocked off.

OK. This explains why Waze directed me right. It’s quite a relief to realise that I have no choice but to turn left and keep going.

Perhaps this is the time to explain that I have no sense of direction. If I’m walking down a familiar road and pop into a shop, I don’t recognise my surroundings when I emerge. I can even lose my way in Highbury Park. Fortunately, I can rely on Isis to pick the right path.

In the good company of Stephen Fry, I suffer from propoagnosia – the inability to recognise faces or, indeed, locations.

Never mind, I have my trusty navigator. Waze and I arrive at a crossroads. Before us is a very busy A road but no signage. At the other side of the A road is a country lane. Waze suddenly falls silent.

Great timing.

I opt for the country lane, park there and check my phone.

I can’t believe what I see: Waze has disappeared. Even worse, the phone has switched into a very strange mode. A high pitched voice is jabbering at me and there are bright green rectangles around the headings of random functions.

None of the phone’s normal functions are accessible. It’s frozen into weirdness. I stare at the screen in horrified disbelief. Am I losing it? I get out of the car and breathe deeply.

Behind me cars whizz along the main road at a fair old whack. The country road before me is narrow and very, very empty.

Ting! A message pops up from my friends in Uppingham: ‘What time are you setting off and when should we begin worrying?’

I can’t reply, of course, since the phone is defunct. Something else to worry about.

A car comes towards me and passes. Then a 4X4 comes and it stops. I must look as distraught as I feel, because a cheerful voice asks if I need help.

I explain what has happened. The driver tells me he has lived in the area for over twenty years and knows every inch of it. He gives me very precise instructions and I write down every detail exactly as he says it:

1. Carry on down this wibbly wobbly road for a long way until you come to a T junction.

2. Turn right …….

He spends twenty to thirty minutes making sure I know where to go. I can’t thank him enough. When I set off again I am quite relaxed and absolutely confident that I will reach Uppingham without any further mishaps.

And I do. I am so lucky to have met him.

Meanwhile, little Isis, I imagine, has breakfasted, been for a little run on the field and is ready for a snooze on her comfortable duvet.

But this is not the end of my Uppingham adventures. Not by a long chalk …………


*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 or


Posted in a very good dog, adopted dogs, clever Isis, dear little Isis, Isis at Hollytrees, relationship building | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello there – there will be no post on May 23rd or May 31st as Human is taking a break.

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what Isis might have said



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


Monday May 17th 2021


I: Well, it’s a right rubbish time I’m having these last few weeks. When are you having your tooth out?

H: What on earth are you moaning about? I have the infected tooth, not you.

I: Yes but you’re so crabby and you’re not meeting my needs.

H: What needs am I not meeting?

I: For a start I want that mouse out of here. It’s annoying the hell out of me.

H: That’s nothing to do with my tooth. I’ve explained lots of times. We have to wait until the weather’s warmer. It can’t go out yet. It’ll die.

I: I don’t care if it dies.

H: Isis! What has the poor little mouse done to you?

I: It smells. It poops and pees all over the place, even on its food dish. It’s very unhijeanik. It leaves its stinky cent all over my  dog bed. At night when I’m asleep it comes on the day bed looking for my treat crumbs. And I know you give it my gravy bones and Markies.

H: Well, not often. Yes, I agree, it does have nasty habits.

I: And since you got a bad tooth, things don’t happen at the right time. Lots of times I don’t get my tea until seven o’clock and my breakfast until after eleven because you stay in bed moaning and groaning or go to sleep on the day bed until past tea time. It’s not right.

H: I don’t know why you’re complaining. You won’t eat your breakfast anyway. You just bark at it and walk off.

I: Only because the light’s funny in the morning. That’s not the point. It should be in my dish at the right time. It’s my breakfast. I can eat it when I want to. And that’s not all. You’re being very nasty to me when I jump up and down in the porch while you’re putting my harness on.

H: Yes, well my tooth hurts when I bend down.

I: Fuff!  And you shout when I tip the shelf up with my paw and everything falls on the floor.

H: Yes, because I have to bend down again and pick everything up.

I: You don’t bark at your breakfast, but you keep yelling “Arrrrrrrrgh” and “Ow” and throwing things around. It’s very alarming for a dog. Anyway, you often shout “Arrrrrrrrrgh” and “Ow” when you’re not eating.

H: That’s because my mouth’s sore.

I: Why is your mouth sore?

H: Because I bit a jam doughnut straight out of the microwave.

I: Why did you bite a hot doughnut straight out of the microwave?

H: Because it felt just right on the outside and I forgot that the jam would be boiling hot.

I: If you put hot food in my dish, I wouldn’t eat it. I’d know it was hot inside and –

H: Yes, All right. All right.

I: Anyway, just because you’ve got a sore mouth and tooth and a bad knee, you shouldn’t do nasty things to me.

H: Isis! I never do nasty things to you.

I: Yes you do. Two weeks ago you pushed me off a bridge and into a ditch. Then you lay on the bridge face down and stared at me. Then you were bad tempered all the way back to the car.

H: I didn’t mean to push you off the bridge. I slipped on some mud. Yes, I was bad tempered. My knee was cut. It hurt.

I: That was a long time ago. You’re still doing nasty things.

H: What on earth do you mean?

I: You’re killing my teddy.

H: Don’t be ridiculous! Your teddy is in the bathroom drying.





I: You killed him. His insides are in the kitchen. I can smell them.




H: They’re drying too.

I: I don’t believe you. Humans tell lies to animals. Daisy told me.

H: Oh, for goodness sake. I’ll put his insides back in and sew him up.

I: You can’t sew.

H: I’ll do my best.

I: When are you having your tooth out?

H: Thursday.

I: Thank dog for that.

I’m going in my own bed to be with my polar bear.





*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 or


Posted in Isis at home, Isis is sad, oh dear, patience is a virtue., poor Isis, something's not right, these dogs!, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment



23.35 May 16th 2021

Because of problems with my computer which have only just been resolved, today’s post will not appear until tomorrow. I am sorry.


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now what?



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


Sunday May 16th 2021


Yes, we have a mouse.


Now what?

Perhaps it’ll go away of its own accord.

On the other hand, perhaps it won’t.

It doesn’t, of course.

Now I begin to notice signs of a small rodent operating in the vicinity.





No, that hole was definitely not in Isis’s bag of food when I fed her last night.

Something has to be done.

I can’t find my humane rodent trap, but friend Y., who is a dedicated creature rescuer lends me one of hers and donates a little bag of tempting seeds much favoured, Y. assures me, by mice.

“Of course,” she reminds me, “You can’t release her outdoors yet. It’s too cold. It’ll kill her.”

Of course it is. I’ll have to wait for the temperature to rise.


In the meantime, little mouse will have to be fed.


At least it’s clear that s/he likes the Royal Canin Gastrointestinal High Fibre food recommended for Isis’s anal gland problem ………..

I wonder whether mice have anal glands. Good grief, can you imagine how challenging it would be for a vet to attempt to empty them?

Concentrate, Human.

I don’t want to use up Hairy’s special food. What else have we in the house which would appeal to a mouse? Ah. In the cupboard there’s a large container of nuts which need eating. I imagine that a mouse would enjoy a nut or two. In fact, surely mice will eat almost anything?

A week goes by, and every night the nuts, served in a genteel fashion on a fresh sheet of kitchen roll, disappear. Usually something like a bit of crumbled cereal or dropped toast is added in. There’s never anything left by morning.

Sometimes it’s necessary to follow Isis into the garden to clean up after her. On one such morning, I wiggle my feet into an old pair of boots kept by the kitchen door. No problem with the right foot but when it comes to the left, I find I’m standing on gravel.

Don’t know how that got there. With an irritable mutter, I take the boot off again and tip it upside down. Bad decision. It’s not gravel. A stream of broken up nuts spreads itself across the floor.





Ew. Ungrateful little ***!

Unearthing a brush and dustpan, I set to.

Although the boots don’t seem so in the photo, they are quite tall – half way between ankle and knee. This seems a long way for a small creature to climb repeatedly, each time with a  face full of nuts. Well, well. One can’t help but admire its tenacity.

My boot must have been mouse’s larder. So perhaps s/he does like nuts but knows they will store well. They are an emergency stash in case of hard times. Meanwhile, alternative sustenance would be appreciated, please.

Perhaps I should give it a new larder.

For goodness sake, it’s a mouse! It can make another store under the floorboards. You’ll be leaving a ‘tick your choice for tomorrow’ menu out next.

Back to the drawing board.

Biscuits. Yes, it likes shortbread biscuits. In fact, it appears to love shortbread biscuits. Not a crumb remains to be seen next day. Good. The fat in them will be good for a mouse in this cold weather.

Then, one night, Isis seems to be taking a hell of a long time over her drink of water. A quick peek into the kitchen ascertains that Isis isn’t drinking water. Crunch, happy crunch. She is, of course eating the mouse’s shortbreads.

Irritating dog. Now the little meal will have to be prepared again, biscuits crumbled again, the counter decrumbed once more, the kitchen roll replaced with clean, unlicked sheets and, of, course, hands washed yet again.

As all dog people know, having a dog entails an incredible amount of handwashing. Pat, pat, stroke, stroke – wash your hands. Feed her. Wash your hands. Pick up her toys, dry her feet, hang up her towels, pick a bit of something out of her coat … and on and on.

Believe you me, having a mouse is even worse. I’d definitely pass an audition for Lady MacBeth.

Now where can we place mouse’s food? I don’t want to put it on the counters. I’m far from houseproud, but shudder at the idea of mouse running and pooping around the kettle and toaster

Eventually, the new dining area for mice is sited close to the skirting board and behind the metal bin. This offers access for a small rodent but not a marauding dog. Just to be on the safe side, I place a plastic bag in a strategic position. Isis can’t reach mouse’s dining room  without disturbing the plastic bag and alerting Human.

Phew! These animals. No wonder there never seems time for riveting jobs like tidying and cleaning.

At present, mouse is demolishing dog treats, oats and biscuits with the occasional bit of something else. There are no leftovers, and Isis hasn’t attempted to raid the supply.

Mouse is still very active, and Isis is still leaping up and down oofing in annoyance and  leaping into her dog bed.

Sometimes she becomes really cross and protests with loud, aggressive barks.

On these occasions, I attempt to pacify her with pats and strokes.

“It’s only that mouse again,” I tell her stupidly – she knows perfectly well what it is –

“And soon it’ll get warmer and we’ll take mouse to Highbury Park.”



Oh Yeah?



*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 or



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taking the mickey?



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


Sunday May 2nd 2021


We are relaxing contentedly on the day bed when suddenly, for no reason discernible to me, Isis wakes up, lifts her head, and jumps to her feet.

“Wurr- urr- urr,” she says, before sniffing the air meaningfully. I look around the room. I listen hard.

“Wurr-urr-urr,” she repeats, sniffing the air again, and bouncing up and down a little to make sure I am paying attention to her complaint.

“There’s nothing there dear,” I assure her, patting her head and stroking her absently.

After a minute or two, she lies down again. Now she has a quizzical expression.








Oh well.

A few nights later, I am awoken by subdued ‘oofs’ from below. They’re not persistent barks telling me that something is hurting and human intervention is urgently required. They’re not the ‘woof, woof, WOOF, WOOF WARRRRF’ alerting me to a prowler – human or animal – in the garden. They’re most certainly not the snarl-snap-scream barks typical of Isis awakening from a nightmare.

I listen.


Perhaps some creature of the night came into Hairy One’s territory but has now been warned off.

Then, after about five minutes,there’s another burst of oofs.

Then silence again, and, thankfully, more silence. I go back to sleep.

In the morning there are no signs of any nocturnal disturbance in the house or garden. Isis is not reluctant to trot into the garden for her morning pee. No more reluctant that usual, anyway. She would always prefer to have breakfast first.

The day passes peacefully. There are no signs of disquiet. Not, at least, until the evening.

Then, again with no warning, Isis leaps to her feet. This time, before going into the oofing routine, she executes two or three turns. The mattress on the day bed is firm but springy, so if one is eating or drinking, each time she takes off or lands one is in danger of swallowing one’s fork; or sloshing one’s coffee over one’s right shoulder.

Even if one is only attempting to listen to the latest episode of the The Archers, her oofs obliterate the cliff-hanger and leave one puzzled for the next twenty-four hours. Very irritating.

“For goodness sake, Isis,” I mutter nastily, “There’s nothing there. Silly dog.”

In the past she used to do the jumping up and down every time she picked up a particularly delicious smell wafting from my plate. Cheese, ice cream, fish or, strangely, vegetarian sausage were always triggers.

One of those mattresses which have independently moving halves would definitely be useful. But more practical would be targeted training for a dog. Or etiquette training for a human.


I decide that it is a good idea to do both: the first because, after all, there are only so many times one can tolerate a lapful of baked beans; the second because one day, when lockdown restrictions are lifted, there could be another human dining with me.

One never knows.

So now I usually eat  my breakfast and evening meal in the front room. Isis follows me and lies on the rug beside my chair. In the past, carried away by food smells, she has dragged the claws of her nearest front paw across my bad knee in order to alert me to the fact that one of us is eating and it’s not Isis.

The pain is indescribable.

“NOOOO!,” I admonish, resisting the urge to suffocate her. If she repeats the assault, I push her into the hall and close the door.

Nowadays she lies on the rug with her chin on her paw and says nothing.

Now, too, if I am about to eat something she particularly likes, I pop a little bit into her bowl before I sit down. If she stands up, I direct her towards her bowl.

That long-winded diversion is intended to underline that no-one now has any reason at all to leap up and down on the day bed, or by the dining table.

So why are we doing it now?

The strange oofing jig goes on, now and then during the night, but more often as darkness descends in the evening.

Soon, things escalate. The performances happen almost every night. Sometimes, as a finale, the hairy little toad leaps into the centre of the room or scrambles from the day bed and skitters into the kitchen as though she is in hot pursuit of something.

I look around the kitchen. I open the back door. Sometimes I scan the back garden with a torch. There’s no sign of anything which could be worrying her.

On some mornings, I find that her dog bed has been shoved several feet from its usual resting place, and the toys which were in it scattered across the floor.

What is she playing at?

Oh dear. Perhaps she’s under stimulated. Should I play more with her in the evening?

But each evening, she takes toys from her toy box, settles in her bed with every sign of contentment and plays her own little games as she always does. It’s only when she settles on the day bed with me or is sleeping there alone at night that the jumping oofs seem to happen.

It’s a mystery.

But there’s a nagging thought in my head: there’s always a reason for Hairy One’s strange behaviours.

Then, one night, the mystery is revealed.

It’s about ten o’clock. Isis is sleeping. I am glued to my Kindle.

Suddenly, she leaps up, and begins oofing and trampolining on the spot. She seems irritated. Her nose is whiffling. She is staring in the direction of her day bed.

I follow her gaze. Among the toys, a dark shape is twitching.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! An escaped tarantula? Automatically, my tendons twitch into flight mode.

No. Thank dog. It’s not a spider.

It’s a mouse.

And it’s exploring Hairy One’s bed. That’s where she eats her ‘before bed treats’. It must be searching for crumbs ………………………………………………………………….

I have to be honest, Isis doesn’t actually say, “I told you so.”


*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 or

Posted in Isis at home, oh dear, poor Isis, strange behaviour, training, twirling, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

here and there again




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


Sunday April 25th 2021


In Britain, April is supposed to be a month of showers, but it’s Friday now and still relentlessly dry and sunny. The gardeners need rain, but, like everyone else, they are reveling in the continuously good weather. Everyone is smiling, it seems, and full of bonhomie.

Everyone, that is, except for Isis and I.

Today the sky is cloudless. Oh dear. Where can we go?

Then I think of Jasmine Fields, our nearest little urban nature reserve. At least there are no stark shadows on the playing field, and there are numerous little tracks for Isis to explore.

The field is empty when we arrive, and we meet no-one as we meander along the short tracks nearest to the entrance. Isis is a little jumpy when we come to patches of sunlight but for most of our foray, the foliage is dense enough to shield her. 

I think she’ll enjoy walking the woody stretch above the canal, so we head back across the field to find a gap. I remind Isis several times that the gap needs to be suitable for both of us to navigate. Yes, I tell her, I know that she can trot under this fallen tree, but her companion would have to perform a belly dance: a feat for which she is ill-equipped.

We soon sniff out a navigable gap and join the narrow pathway forged over time by walkers.

Yes, Isis is definitely pleased to be here.





How different it is from the last time we visited. Then, our walk, punctuated by thick mud and deep puddles, felt more like a slide. We only attempted it because Isis found her way here and was so pleased with herself I’d not the heart to drag her back.

Jasmine Fields is surrounded by houses, high rise flats and main roads, yet it is so quiet I can hear every rustle in the undergrowth and every flapping wing in the trees and bushes. The birds are singing fit to bust a gut, and I can feel a fresh breeze on my face.

Isis walks ahead, pausing every now and then to check that someone who smells like Human is following her.

When we first made short sorties onto this path, I stayed glued to Isis all the time. She insisted on making her way to the edge, high above the canal, and many times would have launched herself down one of the many dangerously steep animal tracks if I’d not managed to grab her first.

I am surprised by how much more careful she has become over recent weeks, cautious even. Why? I’m puzzled.

It’s only today that it occurs to me that she has learned this since we have been venturing into different environments. When she wants a drink from the stream in Highbury and she stands hesitantly on the bank, I place a palm on each of her flanks if it is safe for her to climb down into the water.

When we began walking off piste in Holders lane, she baulked, as she always has, at venturing under any obstacles. Holders Lane woods are full of fallen trees and low to the ground branches, so I began to teach her how to negotiate these. I encouraged her with strokes and pats, of course, but it was only when I placed a hand on each flank that she began to gain the confidence to crawl under obstacles.

Yes, I suddenly realise, she has generalised the ‘safe to leave the bank’ signal to cover other possibly dangerous situations.

She’s a bright little dog.

So along we walk, relaxed and contented.

It’s as though some magnanimous nature fairy has set this scene for us. Everything looks and sounds beautiful.

I am enchanted by the different shapes and the details of the shadows.


















This one is my favourite.





There are groups of glowing celandines here and there along the sides of the path






and daisies.  Simple, and perfectly designed.





And fragile violets




and delicate wood anemones.





I’m beginning to feel quite euphoric …………


Our path ends with a steep descent.





Last time we came, Isis scrambled down on her own without turning a hair while I followed more cautiously, slipping, sliding, and grabbing  thin, whippy twigs to slow down  my descent.

This time, led to the edge, she stops. What on earth’s the matter with her? Little pats have no effect on her. Oh dear. It’s that blasted safe sign. I give her the sign. She moves two steps forward and stops again.

Now, scrambling down a very steep bank without tumbling head first is a challenge in itself, let alone scrambling down a very steep bank without tumbling head first while at the same time laying reassuring hands on a reluctant dog.

It isn’t smart to try capturing the process on video. Only a first class twit would do that.

So I apologise for the quality of the video.









Isis looks surprised to have arrived, but kindly waits for me to catch up with her.

Then, the icing on the cake: there, at the end of the railings, is a cowslip.





I want to look into the flower heads to take my shot, but the cowslip is facing the canal and is only a foot away from the water’s edge. I begin to shuffle my way forward. I feel myself swaying. I desist. My share of luck has been used up descending the bank.

Last time we came, I had a deep and very sore wound at the end of my longest toe. I smashed it into so many rock hard, submerged roots that I could barely walk. I recall feeling very miserable and exhausted and sinking onto a bench when we were back on the field. I also vividly recall that I had to drag myself to my feet after a few seconds because Isis decided to continue walking. I was not thrilled. I expect I called her something obscene.

But today I’m virtually floating along, full of energy, delight and goodwill to all men – and dogs.



*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 or


Posted in a very good dog, clever girl, clever Isis, deaf/blind dog, dear little Isis, Isis in danger, Isis says "No"., learning to trust, oh dear, strange behaviour, teaching my deaf/blind dog, training, walking my deaf/blind dog, we don't like bright light | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I’m not going ANYWHERE



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


Sunday April 18th 2021


Oh dear. Not the best of weeks.


My car has an appointment with the garage. For a long time now the steering lock has been temperamental. Every now and again, when the engine’s switched off, the lock refuses to release the key. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it is, to put it mildly, rather inconvenient.

It’s not a wonderful idea to park a car outside one’s home with the keys in the lock. It has to be fixed. Unfortunately, the lock has to be mailed, repaired and returned. This means that we’ll be car-less until the weekend. This wouldn’t be such a big deal for me, but it is, of course, a very big deal for Isis.

Before I drop off the car, we head for Holders Lane. It’s one of those days which Isis hates: the sun is bright and the shadows are strong. We walk away from the sun towards the main park. No problems. We only have a few yards to go before we can turn off into the wooded area which skirts the edge of Cannon Hill. All’s well.

We meet up with the doodles team and have a pleasant stroll along the little tracks.

We had planned to walk back to the fields alongside Holders Lane, but when we turn round, Isis is very twitchy, even in the woods, for now, of course, we are walking towards the sun. All she wants to do is get back to the safety of the car, so we split and return home.

I had hoped that it would be a dull and overcast until the weekend so that Isis would be happy to go for road walks, but the forecast promises bright, sunny weather for the rest of the week.

I’m not looking forward to the next few days.


I manage to persuade Isis to come with me into the lane. I give her several toys, but she ignores them. She glues her tail to her underside and hangs around close to me. Then she paws at the gate. She wants to go inside.


I hate for her not to have a walk, although, actually, it seems to bother her less than me. All she appears to want is to stay very close to Human and sleep on the day bed.

As it happens, that’s all I want to do too. I don’t know whether it’s my second Covid jab catching up with me, or the jarringly painful tooth I’ve endured for two weeks, but I’m spent. I should be grateful that Hairy One doesn’t want to go out, but paradoxically, I feel guilty.

We both sleep all day and most of the evening. Isis sleeps all night too.

I don’t. I have an appointment with the dentist at 8.15.


She’s still sound asleep when I leave. And sleeping still when I return, clutching a pack of antibiotics and feeling sorry for myself. The tooth, apparently, is cracked down to the root  and is infected. It will have to come out. The dentist will make a referral to the dental hospital. Oh dear.

Time to let Isis out.

The sun is streaming down, and she is very reluctant to emerge from the house. When I usher her out of the back door, she turns round and, before I can stop her, rushes back inside and plants herself firmly on the day bed.

I virtually have to peel her from her blanket, and, eventually, manage to persuade her that she has to go into the garden. I push against her reluctant bottom until she’s over the threshold. She stands on the path, hunched up, with a disappeared tail. She looks very frightened.

I change my footwear for the third time today and we go into the garden side by side.

She wants her breakfast but, by now, she has worked herself into such a state that she is afraid of the light coming through the very small pane in the front door. She barks angrily.

She leaves her breakfast uneaten and retreats to the day bed. I swallow an antibiotic and a painkiller before eating mine. Then I join her on the day bed. As the day passes, she pushes herself closer and closer to me, until she’s virtually under my arm.





Her breakfast remains uneaten as we sleep away another day.

She’s not had a walk for two days. By 7.15 the sun has gone in. Will she come for a road walk now?

Yes, she will. In fact, she’s quite enthusiastic.

On the outward  journey, that is. Once we make our way home, she segues into her go slow act. I don’t know why she does this, but that’s Isis. Even when she choses to walk to Kings Heath Park she does the go slow on the way home. Unless it’s raining, of course, or snowing.


Her stand-offs are very irritating, necessitating as they do, harness heaves and rear end pokes every few feet.

Obviously the walk was good for her, though. She is very chirpy now we’re home, and plays happily with her toys.


I’ve come round now and am tackling a few long neglected tasks.

Isis hasn’t come round. The sun is still very bright and she flinches and creeps when I take her into the garden. Back in the house, when I leave a room, she soon follows.

There is no way she’ll go into the lane, thank you. And no, thanks again, she doesn’t wish for an evening road walk. The sun’s gone in, but she doesn’t like the look of the light.

Another day without a walk.


Obligingly, the sun pops in around lunchtime, so I rush Isis into the lane while the going is good. She’s much better today. Visiting Kitty is sitting watching her, and Hairy One is most excited. She sniffs her way towards her prey; Visiting Kitty, of course, neatly sidesteps Hairy One, then comes to greet me.

Now Isis is happily playing with one of her ex-squeaky toys. When the sun comes out, she just retreats to a shady spot. When it fades, she drops the toy and leaps about. At least she’s getting some exercise.

I contact the garage. The lock is back and they’re about to refit it. I can collect the car from 4.30 onwards.


Isis is very pleased when she realises I’m going out. She’s wants to come too. She leaps about as I fit her into her harness. She’s delighted when I clip on her lead. She strolls out to the gate, and walks jauntily to where the car should be.


Her tail droops.

Will she walk?

No way.

Back in we go. Harness and lead are returned to their box.


The sun is still bright, but that’s OK. Her car’s there. We head for Highbury and park in the road, close to the gatehouse. From here we can walk in the shade to the woods.

Isis is jumpy when we emerge from the shade, but we’ve had a good long walk. At home she’s chirpy and contented.


She’s a funny little dog. She’s made a lot of progress with her sun fears. It’s not that long ago since she’d not follow me into the hall when the sun was strong, let alone into the porch and out of the gate.

The front of the house faces south and the sun glares into the porch. Now, though, she dances eagerly, play growling and yipping as her harness is put on. She can’t wait to get out of the door.

True, she flinches as she waits for me to let her into the car, but she’s fine once inside. Nowadays she doesn’t even seem to mind when the sun flickers at her through the windows.

Nor does she refuse to leave the car for her walk, although she’s very hesitant and jumpy once out in the open.

Today, as usual, she chooses to follow the little paths which are mainly in the shade. It’ll be a week tomorrow since she last visited Holders Woods. She needs reassurance when she comes to patches of sunlight, but mostly she is relaxed and happy ……

until we reach home and I open the car door for her.

On bright days, it goes like this:



I can’t see you so you can’t see me.



Noooooo. Noooooo
I’m not coming out. It’s dangerous. Something will get me. Nooooooooooo.



Hm. It’s still there. Let me in. Quick !



Much better now.








What do you make of that?

How come she tolerates the sun’s glare on the way to the car, but is afraid to leave the car on the way back to the house?

Answers on a gravy bone. Chicken flavour, please.


*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 or

Posted in a terrified dog, dear little Isis, Holders Lane Woods, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., oh dear, sleeping, sleeping arrangements, strange behaviour, we don't like bright light, we don't like bright sun, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment