grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaa – leave my feet alone!



A post should appear every Sunday


Sunday April 30th 2023


What was that I said recently and so nonchalently about trimming Hairy One’s feet?

Last week she had an appointment for a vet’s visit for her anal glands’ emptying ceremony and for her nails to be cut.

The day before, then, seems a good time to tackle her hairy feet. I know that she’ll not like it. And I’m  not wrong.

For some reason, which I now forget, I decide to carry out the procedure in the porch – perhaps that’s where she has run to, hoping to escape.

So here we are, soft, calming brushes and dog scissors at hand. I pick up the smallest, softest baby brush with which I always begin grooming sessions. She loves having her head brushed gently with this, and usually wags her tail in time to the strokes. Good, she’s calm and happy now, lulled into a sense of security. I use the same brush, the same lightness of touch, to smooth down the back of her left front leg.

But she snatches the leg away, and turns so that I can’t reach it. I try again, on her right leg this time. Zip!  Now she has her back to me. I hoist her to her feet and try her back legs. Zip! Zip!

Now, as she retracts a leg she accompanies the action with a threatening growl.

ISIS! I bellow, rapidly losing my rag as she flicks away legs and paws, twists, turns and growls. Eventually, I grasp a front paw in a workmanlike, ‘it’s going to happen whether you like it or not’ fashion. Like it, she certainly does not, and snaps crossly at my hand.

I know that she will bite me. After three or four near misses, I stop attempting to groom her, and instead fetch her muzzle, adjust it, draw it over her nose and close the clip. It’s a very long time since I used the muzzle. Like most dogs, Isis hates it; it must be unimaginably horrible to be deaf, blind and muzzled.

She still attempts to snatch her feet away, but I hold each one firmly, and, as quickly as possible, remove the thick wads of hair from between her pads. Defeated, and very unhappy, she begins to quiver. What a rotten owner. What a pig of a human. Poor little dog.

Finally, I trim carefully around her toes. At least the veterinary nurse will be able to see her nails tomorrow.

As soon as I remove the muzzle, I attempt to stroke her little head, but she’s having none of it, and dashes down the hall to the back room.

Usually, after I’ve done something which she dislikes, like a thorough groomimg, or a flea treatment, she knows that she deserves a reward, and pops into her dog bed where she sits expectantly upright, wearing a virtuous expression.

Not now though. She lies on the dog bed looking thoroughly miserable.

After about ten minutes, when I go in and sit next to her, the dear little creature accepts some gentle head strokes and wags her tail. We are friends again: dogs are so forgiving. I fetch her one of her best treats.

Oh dear, so soon after the foot trimming battle, someone else is about to assault her little pink feet. I’m apprehensive when we set off for the vet’s, and fearing the worst, take the muzzle with me.

I explain how upset she was when I groomed her feet, and the trainee nurse fetches reinforcements in the form of a senior member of staff. I hold Hairy One’s head still and  and stroke her neck and ears, the senior staff member holds her round her middle, and the trainee nurse begins the nail clipping.

Isis still snatches her feet away, which is obviously unnerving  for the young nurse, but she  takes as much time as she needs, and makes a good job of it. Isis doesn’t quiver or attempt to bite her, in fact she behaves very well, especially considering that she’s already had her rear end sorted.

She is not keen to linger though, and when the door is opened, hurries towards the exit.

Yesterday I trimmed her, removing a huge amount of undercoat and some of the long top hair she has not yet dropped all over the house. I didn’t make a very good job of it, for some reason, but she was certainly not to blame. She behaved like a perfect – even though long-suffering – angel, and back at home was rewarded appropriately!


Human is taking a break next Sunday, so the next post should appear on May 14th.


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or go to

Posted in a terrified dog, a very good dog, a vet visit, crisis, deaf/blind dog, dear little Isis, Isis at home, Isis is no angel, Isis is sad, Isis says "No"., off to the vet, oh dear, patience is a virtue., poor Isis, these dogs!, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

minutiae or a day in the life of a dog part 5



Well, this is sooooo embarerssing for a dog. You won’t beleeve why hewman is blogging today instead of yesterday. She had her ortum covid booster vaxinashun on Saterday and she sleeped neely all of yesterday like sheed been nocked out.

Wen I have my vaxinashons I never carry on like that and I get vaxernated for lots of nasty dog deezeezis all at wunce. Hewman reely is a wimp.


A post should appear every Sunday


April 24th 2023


Oh yes, now we’re on the subject of Isis eating, here is the angelic little animal waiting to be given the gentle tap under the chin which signals ‘Now you can eat’.






She always sits like this, head in the air, concentrating hard, every muscle tense with anticipation. Once the signal is given, she seagues into feeding dog, and doesn’t look up until her bowl is empty. Although she wastes no time, she never gobbles her food; nowadays she eats very politely, and, what is even more admirable, all you can hear are little well-mannered crunches.

Since Lee (of Chester’s Corner) explained to me that she was not eating her food because she wasn’t hungry, and we adjusted her diet, she always clears her bowl, and, miraculously, has never regressed to her previously ear-shattering madness.

Nowadays, I am able to move around at the other end of the kitchen, doing whatever I need to do while she is having her meal. This still feels utterly liberating.

The only thing which provokes a growl is my stepping over her while she’s eating, and that feels fair enough.

Once she’s eaten and had a drink of water, she walks into the back room, steps into her dog bed and snatches up one of her soft toys. Then she’ll lie there mouthing it, occasionally tossing it into the air or flinging it out of the bed, until I’ve finished eating and am stretched out on the day bed.

Very much a creature of habit, when she’s spent an hour or so tormenting her toys, she leaps up to join me. Now she feels a pressing need to jump up and down on my shins for a few minutes and to bark as she does so.

It hurts. I hastily withdraw my legs until she’s finished, but keep a close eye on her because I know that her next move will be to occupy the space I’ve vacated, and if I don’t reclaim it as soon as she ceases to leap, I’ll be very cramped until she decides to move.

Usually, she simply turns over, but if I’m very lucky, she comes up and settles against my body, resting her head on my thigh, and shuffling closer.

I am priveleged indeed, and try very hard to keep still and enjoy her warm furriness for as long as I can.

All too soon, she feels overheated, and changes her position. Now, very sneakily, I attempt to smuggle the soles of my cold feet into her fur without waking her up. If I’m not careful, she’ll utter a warning growl, and shift further away, so it’s a millimetre by millimetre move.

The reward is a gradual foot defrosting, and, eventually, warm feet. Contented, I read my Kindle for hours uninterrupted.

When I eventually persuade myself to get up, then tap her to follow, she springs to her feet immediately: it’s dog treats time. When we reach the kitchen, though, and I unlock and open the back door, she hangs back.

She doesn’t like going out into the garden when it’s dark! I always have to go to her and encourage her with pats to walk the length of the kitchen. She stops at the threshold of the door and doesn’t move until I put a reassuring palm on each of her sides, gently urging her forward onto her special step. Usually she moves forward reluctantly. If there is a scary scent outside or a strong breeze, I have to accompany her. Usually, duty done, she returns hurriedly to the door.

Now, at last, it’s treat time. She waits just inside the back room, with her face round the door until I unscrew the lid of the jar of gravy bones; now she smells them, withdraws her head and scampers into her dog bed where she sits statue still and extremely excited.

I take out three gravy bones, break two of them in half, and add two bits of Lee’s Pet Munchies.

Timing is of the essence. Quickly, I drop half a gravy bone into her bed, then scurry to drop another half a few yards away, before doubling back to the day bed to hide all but one of the remaining treats under her two cushions before she shoots back to sniff them out. It takes her only seconds to find and demolish them.

She walks to ‘my’ end of the bed and waits patiently for the finale. I break the last gravy bone in half, hold it in my left fist and make the fist dance around and up and down. Her challenge is to bring the fist down hard with her paw in order to win the treat. She’s become very good at this, and enters into the battle with gusto.

Finally, we have a calmer game: I grip the last treat as firmly as I can between two bent fingers, allowing only about a centimetre to protrude, and she has to grip the end and pull it out. She finds this easy.

Now it’s definitely bedtime, and now I reveal my innate soppiness.

I give her a kiss or two on her head, before draping, one at a time, three dog-sized fleece blankets over her, and tucking her in.





This ceremony is completed with a few more head kisses and an assurance that I’ll see her in the morning.




Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or go to


Posted in a joyful dog, a very good dog, Chester's Corner, clever girl, clever Isis, deaf/blind dog, dear little Isis, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., scenting, sleeping, sleeping arrangements, these dogs!, we don't like the dark, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

minutiae, or a day in the life of a dog part 4



A post should appear every Sunday


Sunday April 16th 2023


When we leave Highbury there is seldom any need to worry about the state of Hairy One’s feet. Generally, like the rest of her, they remain fairly clean. Today, though, after another week’s worth of rain, and a good tramp through endless metres of churned up mud, she is wearing bobbly black ankle socks.

I take her to the clean pool, and after she’s had a long drink, guide her further into the running water, hoping to rinse off the worst of the muck. Then I carefully guide her out, skirting the swamp between the pool and the path.

Hmm. She’s hardly pristine, but most of the thickest mud has come off. We make our way round the corner, where it is necessary to herd the long-suffering animal past huge black puddles on the right, and a gully full of murky land drainage water on the left.

Although we both wish to walk onto the big field, we disagree about where to join it. Isis has an overwhelming desire to squelch  through the adjacent boggy area, while I prefer that we walk a little further along the path, and join the field where the grass is green, springy and CLEAN.

I win.

I don’t know what’s the matter with me nowadays. I used to feel sorry for pristine little  fluffy, white dogs whose owners keep them on the lead so that they won’t get dirty. Now I’m bent on keeping Hairy One’s feet clean. Perhaps my head has been turned by all the admiration she receives on a daily basis: or perhaps I’ve simply become more and more lazy, and just want to avoid having to leave her in the porch while I fetch her wash bowl from the kitchen, and clean her four hairy feet in the cold front garden.

I rather think it’s the latter.

Anyway, we reach the car with no further mud threats, I spread out her quick drying microfibre towel on the back seat, exactly where her feet will go   – I’ve learned the hard way that attempting to rearrange her feet once she has settled in her space, is to Isis tantamount to declaring war.

In these situations, each move I make is accompanied by ferocious growling – from Isis, not from me, although I have been known to growl back. Each time I gently move one of her feet, she quickly twitches it back to its original off-towel position. What a drama queen she is when I touch her feet: I feel rather like an inexperienced juggler trying to keep four balls in the air at once.

But I refuse to be intimidated by her commentary, and eventually ensure that all four feet are on the towel. It’s much easier, though, to think ahead as I do today, so that she automatically walks onto the towel, and we both remain calm.

I need to trim the long fur between her toes and pads, as I’m sure that they must be very uncomfortable when coated in mud. In preparation for this mega operation, I have been trying to desensitise her;  when she is relaxed and contented, as she usually is, I make sure that I stroke her legs and feet briefly at every opportunity

When we exit the park with Nancy and Bev, I leave Isis in the car and stand by Nancy’s ramp with a tasty chew. She has never cared for her ramp, so Bev always throws a treat into the dog compartment to encourage her. Nancy is obssessive about treats, so, although she wriggles ecstatically at the thought of a final reward, she remains in situ until she receives it, even putting up with a kiss on the head before I return to my own car.

Here, settled contentedly on her soft towel, an angelic Isis awaits me. She lifts her head as she feels me move into the driving seat, and off we go.

Today, our next stop is the Co-op on Vicarage Road. I open the small sun roof so that she has air, and then pop into the shop. When I return, her little head is down on the seat. She’s  having a post walk snooze, but is awake and alert as soon as she feels the car door open.

She’s a very patient little dog, and waits calmly on her seat while I take the shopping into the house. I note that her feet quite definitely fall short of show dog standard, but at least they’re dry.

Before she eats, I give her a thorough groom. I observe with some misgivings that the brushes fill up with hair at an alarming rate. There’s no doubt that the moult of the century is fast approaching. I’m glad I haven’t hoovered recently since any housework would have been a complete waste of time. Might as well put it off until after she’s shed her bucketfuls of hair.

I make her an appointment for Tuesday to have her anal glands emptied and her nails cut. I must trim off the wavy clumps of hair between her pads and around her feet, or the vetinarary nurse won’t be able to find her nails, let alone trim them.







Grooming her legs, feet and paws will be the stuff of nightmares. I can’t face it today, so decide to work on this week’s post instead.

I will ‘put off until the morrow the evil thereof”, as the old saying – the perfect mantra for the procrastinator – goes.

Teatime, Isis!


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



Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or go to





Posted in a vet visit, deaf/blind dog, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., Nancy, off to the vet, oh dear, patience is a virtue., these dogs!, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment



April 5th 2023

I am sorry that there was no post last Sunday. Unfortunately, I was taken ill away from home. A normal service should be resumed next Sunday!


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

minutiae, or a day in the life of a dog part 3



A post should appear every Sunday

(Gosh. Spring really does seem to be happening)


Sunday April 10th 2023


Now, where were we? Oh yes, we had, at last, made it to the car ………………….

So, Isis is lying on the back seat, calm and relaxed, front paws tucked neatly beneath her hairy chest, nose in gear, ready to tell her where we might be going.

If it is a bright and/or sunny day, I adjust the sun visors to shield Isis from the glare, execute a neat u-turn, and off we sail up the road. Not a sound comes from the back seat, but two hairy ears are twitching. Isis doesn’t move, even if we bounce over a hump, drop into a pothole, or even stop for petrol.

Somehow she knows it’s not safe for her to stand up or faff around while the car is moving. She’s as still as the proverbial statue, but she’s fully alert. Even when we pull up, she doesn’t stand until I unclip her safety belt. Then, for some reason I’ve so far been unable to fathom, she turns her back on me and faces the closed door opposite, rather than the one which I am holding open, and which she habitually uses to enter and leave.

I have to stretch over to reach her harness and clip on her lead.  When the lead is taut, and I touch her side, she obligingly turns round to face me. She’s now standing on the seat, but she makes no attempt to move forward. She will never try to leave the car until I tap her under her chin. Sometimes I forget, and she stands motionless. I guess we must have established this ‘wait until tapped’ routine more or less as soon as she began travelling in the car. She is a very good learner: even now that she’s older, it’s not difficult to teach her new things.

If we park in a familiar place, she’ll jump out confidently. If we are a little way away from the kerb, or the terrain smells unfamiliar, she’ll put her head out of the door, and stretch her neck down to judge the distance from the seat to the ground. In Yew Tree Lane, the back entrance to Highbury Park, for example, leaves have piled up high against the kerb so that it’s not possible to park less than ten inches from the pavement. I think that she must find it difficult to judge the distance she has to jump, yet if I place a hand either side of her body, she’ll leap out immediately, and she always lands smoothly, with all four feet on the pavement.

She never ceases to amaze me.

What she does once we’re out of the car depends, of course, on where we are. At the Yew Tree Road entrance, a fence runs along from Highbury Hall to the lodge gates. It is lined with hedges, shrubs and trees, and in front of it are straggly clusters of weeds, patches of earth and wandering tree roots. Oh the smells! They’re enough to addle a dog’s brain.

There are so many little trails, so much information to gather, and it’s so important to sniff thoroughly so that a dog can respond appropriately. Often, a dog needs to turn round and return to a scent discovered a few yards back, in order to double check whether it needs further attention.

To pee or not to pee, that is the question. A dog, it seems, must be very choosy about whose scent to mark and whose to merely note.

Decisions, decisions.

Last Friday, Bev and Nancy are just leaving their car when Isis and I draw up. They are soon in the park, waiting for us. It must be about eight minutes before they spot Human stepping into the entrance, and longer before Hairy One’s pink nose appears round the gate post. Even then, she has to sniff very, very slowly, for minutes on end up and down and round the ornate column to which the gate post is attached.

And so it goes on, all round the park. It’s more than two weeks since we have been to Highbury, and boy, don’t we know it. She doesn’t appear to leave a leaf unturned.






Fortunately, Nancy is a very patient dog – unless she’s waiting for a treat. And even Bev,  who likes to stride rather than meander, kindly lets Isis set the pace.


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


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or go to











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



Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or go to

Posted in a joyful dog, a very good dog, a very naughty dog, clever girl, clever Isis, deaf/blind dog, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis is no angel, Isis knows best, learning to trust, lovely leaves, Nancy, oh dear, patience is a virtue., relationship building, scenting, teaching my deaf/blind dog, these dogs!, training, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, we don't like bright light, we don't like bright sun, 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 or go to


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 or go to


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 or go to




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 or go to




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 or go to




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