delayed post



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


Sunday April 5th 2020


Hello there. Today’s post should, hopefully, appear tomorrow.

Apologies from Human.



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


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a good grooming



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


Monday April 6th 2020


Dishevelled, that’s what she is. Not exactly dirty. She doesn’t look neglected, tangled, ratty haired. I peer more closely. No, she doesn’t have bits of pine leaves embedded in her chest. There are no strands of grass stalk woven into the hairs of her nether regions, no balls of hair under her paw pits. She doesn’t smell of anything untoward.

She just needs grooming, I decide, surreptitiously fishing out the plastic box from under the coffee table and placing it behind her on the day bed.

I check that all the required items of torture are there: yes, her special scissors, brushes, comb. Ah, mustn’t forget the plastic bag. She seems to have called a halt to moulting, but there are always a couple of handfuls of soft hair, and the blackbirds, robins, magpies and crows are nesting.

One outing a day isn’t enough for Isis, and she spends at least an hour each evening  flinging her toys around and vigorously shaking the dusty rug. Today she occupies herself in this way for two whole hours, so now she’s quiet and relaxed.

I place a hand very close to her muzzle. She twitches her nose and stretches contentedly. I stroke her head and whisper sweet nothings into her nearest ear.

I sniff her ears. Nothing wrong here. I lift an ear flap. Ah, a dot of something which shouldn’t be there.

It only takes about three seconds for me to take a cotton bud from her box, but when I turn back to her, she has closed her ear opening so tightly that I can’t find it.

Both ears are hidden under an apparently seamless carpet of hair.


I get the message. Deciding to return to the inside of her ears later, I move on to brush behind her ears with the softest of her collection, a baby’s hairbrush.

The brush makes no impression on her hair at all, but I always begin grooming with this one, because its softness seems to reassure her, and she hardly notices when it’s exchanged for the much stiffer, official dog brush.

There are no mats, but two or three little snags need teasing out gently with the metal comb.

Next comes one of the most difficult tasks: her whiskery face. She doesn’t growl or snap at me now, or snatch away the brush, but she hates it when I clean the hair around her mouth and chin, and turns her head this way and that trying to avoid my attentions. 

Oh, it doesn’t look too bad today. Perhaps there won’t be any mud. But when I lift the hair away from her upper lip, I see them: little bundles of damp hair glued together with  streaks of black mud.


I place the fingers of one hand between the hair and her top lip and brush gently against my fingers. As soon as I begin, of course, she moves her head away. This gives me access to the other side of her mouth. We begin the process again.

 “It must be horrible having mud around your mouth,” I croon to her stupidly as I work, “And it’ll soon be done.”

Some of the drier mud comes off in the brush, but the rest I have to pick out with my finger nails. A tiny, plastic doll’s hairbrush dislodges any mud specks which remain.

Once she’s been brushed under her chin, we both relax.

Soon, her shoulders, chest, back, thighs, stomach and tail are brushed and combed, and she is a restored to her usual soft, fluffy self.







As soon as I replace her collar, she’s up like a shot, leaping into her dog bed, waiting for her reward: two mini Markies.


The following day is Sunday, and off we go to the park. Isis looks beautiful ………. but that’s another story!


*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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In these strange times



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


Sunday March 29th 2020


In these strange times it’s brilliant that we still have access to our local parks. Being able to spend time each day in Highbury is beyond price.

At the end of last week, Bev suggests that we meet earlier from now on so that we’re there when the park is virtually empty. We decide on eight.

We agree not to walk walk together in the current situation. We know that Rufus and Nancy will find Isis and me. They do. Each day Bev and I have a loud catching up conversation with several metres between us, while Isis romps and the doodles attempt to supplement their carefully devised diet with earth and roots.

And it doesn’t rain.


It’s years since I was in the habit of arriving at the park early, and, once I’m there, I enjoy it very much.

Now we’re walking on our own, I let Isis decide where she would like to play each day. Once we leave the main path, I release her from her harness, and she leads the way.

One morning she chooses the big bramble patch. We have a magical time. The ground frost lingers, and for an hour and a half I sit close to the earth watching the sharp, hard, little frost shapes in a tuft of grass deliquesce into liquid spheres.






I don’t know how frost enhances the scents, but it certainly appears to do so. Isis is clearly finding smells even more enticing than usual, and zig-zags to and fro, nose twitching, tail wagging with excitement.

Once she’s investigated all the scents, and I am watching the changing forms among the grass blades, she begins a virtuoso performance. There’s no traffic noise, and I can hear her little feet pounding against the hard ground. She runs and runs and runs.

Another day she elects to cavort around on the edge of the beech wood. This is great for me as I can sit on one of the comfortable oak tree logs to watch her.

It’s a perfect perch. I can redirect her quickly if she decides to make a break for the marshy area where she likes to play in the summer and where she would dearly love to paddle right now, up to her thighs in liquid mud.







Today she plays for an hour in her pine avenue, then makes her way over the little waterfall to the big meadow.

It’s weeks since she’s been able to play by the stream, and she pops down into the water for a drink before taking off and racing around in the open spaces.

Today, lazy Human lingered in bed, so that it was lunchtime when we arrived in Highbury, and, of course, the park is much busier than it is the morning. But it’s a large area and it’s   still easy to make sure that every one keeps the safe two metre distance away from others.

Some cities have closed their parks.

I hope that we can keep ours open.


*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 joyful dog, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, park people, running running, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

hello spring!



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


Sunday March 22nd 2020


It’s spring. I know it began some days ago, but now the sky and the sun say it’s for real. There’s a proliferation of buds, and continuous bursts of birdsong. Magpies, jays, robins, wrens and finches: they’re all at it. 

And the weather is forecast to be dry until April 2nd.

No rain? We can hardly believe it.

It’s cold, but that’s fine. People smile on their way round Highbury today.

Tails are wagging all over the place. Dogs are bounding. Dogs are racing after balls.


(Don’t know why video presents upside down, but it plays the right way up!)





Sure, there is still plenty of mud to be found, but the mudless stretches are growing. Today it is even possible for a dog to walk the length of the flower meadow and still have clean, pink feet.

What a relief it is to be able to leave Hairy One’s car seat cover and a towel in the car overnight instead of hauling them dripping from the car every time we return home. And what a relief not to have to find somewhere to hang all the soggy Isis gear and my wet  clothes.

Soon, hopefully, the hall radiator will be empty of damp gloves and neck warmers. (I only have three dog walking gloves left from a sizeable collection: one is brown, one black and one navy. Two are right handed and one left. With luck, they’ll see the cold weather out.)

Isis, of course, being a dog, does not mind mud, and, as we all know, adores rain. So her misery doesn’t begin until we reach home. Unable to recognise that being washed and dried is a consequence of playing in rain and mud, she is uncertain of what awaits her. 

Being left on the lead in the porch while Human peels off her wet socks, signals ablutions, means Dog will be dragged down the hall to the kitchen where a large plastic bowl of warm water awaits her. Then, horror of horrors, she must allow her legs to be immersed in the water, one at a time and washed down with a cloth.

It’s horrible but she daren’t growl or she’ll not get a treat. And heaven forfend that she removes a paw from the bowl.

On the other hand, being relieved of her lead and harness means she is free to hurry down the hall and make herself scarce.

So when we return from our walk, there she stands in the porch, hoping that it’s going to be a lucky, no wash day. Her tail hangs down. She is motionless, like a dog statue. You can’t even see her breathing. 

When she feels my fingers fumbling to unclip her harness, her tail begins to wag. The wagging gains momentum and she jerks back her head, wriggling it out of the harness as I lift it over her ears.

Yes! It’s official. No dog cleaning today. The hall door is open and she scurries away. Funny little Isis. I know she’s very hungry and  thirsty, but if she’s been apprehensive about being cleaned, she’ll always claim her bed and lies on it for a while before emerging for breakfast.

All being well, Isis, you’ll enjoy at least ten days before you even need to be dried, so gallop on, my dog!


*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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we dig those ears



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


Sunday March 15th 2020


How wonderful that it’s still light at six in the evening! Now, at last, it’s practical for me to give Isis two walks a day without getting up at the crack of dawn.

As we know, I am the antithesis of the early riser.

For some time now, Isis and I have met up with Bev and the doodles in Highbury Park between nine and ten in the morning. But they all go away for two weeks, then Bev has a fearsome cold, and, predictably, I regress.

Despite my daily vows to retire before midnight and get up at eight, I consistently fail to achieve either.

This is less than ideal, as I get nothing done at home, but there is one lovely outcome: because Isis and I spend a good part of every afternoon in Highbury, we meet many new people.

The main path through the park runs alongside the area where Isis plays. I sit on one of two quite comfortable felled trees and enjoy watching the following scenario.

Isis leaps around as usual, executing little ‘invitation to play’ bows to her friends – the hedgerows, shrubs and brambles.

People pass along the path from or to the High Street. At some points, Isis is invisible from the path because of the dips and rises of the landscaping. I can always tell when someone’s suddenly spotted her because, inevitably, the spotter does a double take. If he or she is part of a group, I hear, for example, “Ryan/ Helen, look at that dog.”

Sometimes people carry on but keep turning their heads back towards ‘that dog.’ Sometimes they return at the end of their walk and have a closer look. Often, if I am sitting near to the path, people will call or come over to ask what Isis is doing. Then, of course, we get into conversation.

Several times this week, I hear a person who has already discovered Isis explain her to the rest of the group.

Others, who have brought their dogs up onto the grass, will stand and watch Isis for several minutes before coming over to ask me about her, what she is doing, why, what breed she is, and where she came from.

Usually people want to know how she manages not to bang into things at home, how I get her to come to me and whether she knows where I am.

Without exception, they express empathy with her.

Only this week, I have a very interesting conversation with  a delightful young guy who has spent time in Portugal and is aware of the plight of abandoned dogs there. He has his own rescued lurcher with him, and is intrigued by Isis. “She’s so lovely,” he says.

It’s just as well that she is unaware of all the compliments which come her way. She’s already quite assured enough of her own importance.

Here is a selection of comments from this week:

“That’s the sweetest thing I’ve seen today.” (Young woman who has just watched Isis playing with the bramble ‘hedge’ and has asked me what she’s doing.)

“She’s very cute.” (Young girl passing by with her friend.)

“She’s very beautiful.” (Two longstanding and two new male admirers.)

“Those ears. Wow!”

‘Those ears’ are her most remarked upon feature. Friend Y. has been telling me for months that there’s a tree in the landscaped area of the park which reminds her so much of Hairy One’s ears that she calls it ‘The Isis Tree.’

I’d not managed to identify the tree, but this week I meet Y and Blitzi not far from it, and she points it out to me.

Immediately, it’s clear how the soubriquet fits.






Yes, the fall of the dangly growth from the branches is strikingly similar to the fall of the  hair from Hairy One’s ears!























*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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a good place to be



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


Sunday March 9th 2020


The highest mound of the landscaped area in Highbury Park, to which I trudged last week in search of my lost spectacles, is the only part of the park from which Isis is able to return with clean, pink feet.

This is the mound closest to the High Street. You can climb the steep bank to access it from the main path; alternatively, at present you can (almost) swim to it over the lower grassed area.

There’s a third option: you can follow the track which runs from behind the car park, parallel to the railway line and then the allotments.

Our dogs enjoy this track as there are always very interesting smells here. Even through this wettest February on record, some intrepid dog walkers follow the track, their dogs emerging with shiny, mud thigh boots.

As we know, Isis enjoys paddling through mud. Unfortunately, she is not as enthusiastic about being bathed afterwards.

Since I am less than enthusiastic about either activity, I prefer her to play on the high mound.

A perfectly simple solution to the mud problem then?

Well no.

There’s always a challenge with Isis, and here’s the rub (as Shakespeare would say.) The only mudless approach to our mound is the main tarmacked path which runs from the vehicular entrance up to the High Street.

And Isis does not like this path. In the early days, she refused to walk on it. It was summer, the sun was directly behind us, and a short avenue of trees cast deep stripes of shadow on the tarmac.

Oh horror! There was no way she was going to walk along here.

So we always avoided the path, tramping instead along the grass to her favourite play spots. All was well. She was even willing to return to the path once we had by-passed the trees.

Most inconveniently, there is now little grass to walk on, just the odd tuft poking its head valiantly through the quagmire.

In the car park we struggle. Every time.

This is how it goes. We pull up as close as possible to the beginning of the avenue. This means we have to park under the crows’ favourite tree from which the afore mentioned birds poop mightily all over the car.

Never mind, there’s not much we’ll not do for our dogs.

I don waterproof trousers and walking boots before opening the back door closest to the path. If it’s pouring with rain, hailing or snowing, Isis is out of the car like a shot.

If she feels the light isn’t quite right, she is more reluctant, and emerges looking doubtful. Then she stands as close to the car as possible, or even leans against it looking pathetic. I’m aware of people in the car park looking at her sympathetically. Sometimes they say, “Oh, she doesn’t want to go for a walk, bless her.”

“Yes, you b. well do, Isis,” I murmur in her ear.

Waiting until no-one is looking, I get her onto the path with two or three firm yanks on her harness and a few uncomplimentary hisses in her ear. For the benefit of anyone who might be secretly videoing us, prior to calling the RSPCA, I accompany the yanks with loud   comments of, “You’ll like it when you get there, dear.”

Soon, she walks along beside me, or to make sure I know that she’s coming against her better judgement, she walks a step or two behind.

All the way along the path we go until we reach our mound. We scramble up the bank. When I remove her harness, she has a celebratory twirl before trotting off to her favourite place,




a long run where the brambles and undergrowth separate the park from the allotments. Here she runs up





and down,



she leaps and pounces



and sometimes, but not often, even pauses for thought.




I love to sit on a fallen tree and watch her. She’s so confident when she’s playing here. Lately, she doesn’t even leave the mound when another dog approaches her. She just stands still, or walks a few feet away and carries on playing.

She knows where I am, but she loves her independence.




Just as Kerry told me all those years ago, she’s a brave little dog.


*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 deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis meets other dogs, Isis says "No"., park dogs, rain and more rain, running running, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments



Five minutes later: please ignore the fact that Isis is upside down. I’ve no idea why, and, frankly, I’m too damn tired to find out at the moment. When you play it, she’s the right way up!


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blankety-blank recurring



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


Sunday March 1st 2020


I have just published an acknowledgement of today’s post appearing with merely a title – a working title at that.

This will only annoy those who access the blog through e-mail, as I do the Facebook post manually.

As has just been demonstrated, Human has not improved since last week: fortunately, Isis, after a busy day, is deeply asleep so unavailable for comment.

Until Thursday, Isis does not wish to return to the area where she was ambushed by a bicycle last week. Each day when we leave the big fallen tree by the vehicular entrance, I put her on her lead and ‘casually’ walk across the area. On Thursday, when we reach our tree, she pops round and plays there herself.

This is good, but now, even this area has muddy patches in it.

A few weeks ago Isis discovered another reasonably non-submerged playground. It’s a large bramble patch. As we know, she likes nothing better than a bramble patch for her base.

She begins by prancing gleefully up and down one side. Unfortunately, as I soon realise, people and dogs have been using this strip as a short cut down to the path, and Hairy is already well spattered with black mud.

Hastily, I usher her round the corner to a cleaner side of the patch. Usually, she’s most indignant if I move her away from a space she has chosen, but today I’m in luck.

Before she can return to the quagmire, the heavens open (as they say) and hail bombs down on us. Isis, of course, is absolutely thrilled.





Note her filthy back legs, bottom and undercarriage.


While she has the time of her life, I creep beneath a nearby pine tree and watch her.

It is while I shiver beneath the pine that I make a very unwelcome discovery. My glasses are no longer hanging round my neck on their foolproof cord.

My thoughts and feelings at this second are unprintable. This is the third time I’ve lost glasses in Highbury since the summer.

By now we’ve been in the park for almost two hours. I feel Hairy One’s stomach. Her skin is cold, and I walk her back to the car before setting out to retrace our foot/paw steps in the hope of finding my glasses.

I am cold, tired and fed up to the back teeth before I begin to search. And my feet are wet.

I stomp irritably along the tarmac and up the bank at the far end of the park by the allotments. Earlier on, Isis had been playing here very contentedly until a small dog yapped at her and frightened her off.

I walk up and down, to and fro, staring intently at the wet grass. Some more hail falls on me, then a steady sleet sets in.



I no longer care about the mud as I slide and skid down the slope to the walled garden, tramp past the big pond, and climb up towards the bramble patch.

I gloop back towards the car, spectacleless. Luckily, I have a battered but serviceable pair in the glove box, so at least we will be able to drive home.

The search has taken almost an hour. I do not recommend three hours in Highbury during the wettest February on record.

When I reach the car, I find Isis fast asleep. As I expected, she is her usual warm little self again.

As I drop into the driving seat, my friend Y appears with her dog  Blitzi. Like all of the dogs whose owners bring them to the park these days, he is plastered with slimy mud.

Y is very insistent that we both go and have another look for the glasses. This is extremely kind of her as she, too, is obviously cold and tired after a long walk. Finally, I manage to convince her that there is no way I’m getting out of the car again.

Today is much brighter. Before I  free Isis to play, I walk up to the notice board near the allotment entrance, up at the High Street end of the park. I have no hope at all that the glasses will be there.

But they are. Some kind person has taken the trouble to hang them over the notice board post.

Tomorrow I will pin up a thank you note.

I’m buzzing with delight. It’s not raining. The sun is out, and Isis spends an hour racing around in the only mud free slice of the park.

Lucky us!


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


Sunday March 1st 2020


Yes, I know Ian and other e-mail blog readers. It’s happened again. Another snafu! Am just in the process of writing the intended post.














*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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