a man called Michael

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

 

Sunday  October 2nd 2022

 

In the comments section of the penultimate post – you can take a horse to water – Tony suggested that a way of breaking Hairy One’s recently acquired habit of refusing to eat her breakfast might be to give her turkey mince. Nancy Labradoodle finds it irresistible, apparently.

I couldn’t access any turkey mince in time for the following morning, so bought free range beef mince instead, and mixed it in with her Burns biscuits. This worked like a charm. Not only did she clear her dish, she didn’t even lift her nose from the dish long enough to bark.

Thank you Tony!

She still struggles to surpress at least two single yaps with each meal, but Human helps immensely by removing the delicious meal immediately, so the wild growling, snapping and leaping throughout the meal isn’t happening any more.

When her food is taken away, her immediate reaction is to seague into a frenzied growly spin mode. I try blocking her so that she can’t spin, and am pleased to see that she is calm enough to eat again within a few seconds.

Another positive for me is that I no longer have to wear a padded gauntlett when I remove her food: even though she objects to what I’m doing, she never attempts to bite me.

Most of her fears have faded. She’s still wary of most other dogs but is able to encounter them without cringing, and sometimes even exchanges a thoughtful sniff. Every now and then she accepts a face lick from Nancy, who realised some time ago that bits of treats may get stuck in a hairy friend’s whiskers!

After her very positive encounters with strangers while she was in Cornwall, I looked forward to her being much less wary of people she encounters on her Birmingham walks. But no, she is only confident with Bev. She is uncomfortable with anyone else she meets.

Even though I am well aware of this, I was very shocked by her reaction to a stranger yesterday.

We park outside the Co-op on Vicarage Road so that I can nip into the shop. The sunroof, boot and all the windows are left open in case the car becomes too warm.

I’m only away a few minutes, but when I turn the key in the ignition, the engine merely chugs. This takes me by surprise since the battery is relatively new. Then I discover that the plastic key cover has cracked, dislodging the key shaft and preventing it from connecting with the immobiliser. Nothing I try remedies the situation.

My mobile isn’t functioning so I can’t ‘phone for help, nor can I remember which rescue service I’m registered with. Since all the windows are all open and all the doors unlocked, I don’t want to abandon the car while we walk home to pick up the spare key.

Eventually, I get Isis out of the car and walk over to two friendly looking guys who have been chatting outside since we first parked. I explain my dilemma, and ask them for how long they’ll be around. They tell me only for about twenty minutes, and I prepare to set off home with Isis.

Then one of these guys says to the other,

“Tell you what – I’ll drive her home to get the key, while you watch the car.”

I warn the guy, whose name I later discover is Michael, that Isis will drop hairs in his car, but he assures me that he has been around dogs all his life and isn’t at all worried about dog hairs! Apparently, his grandmother fostered rescue dogs.

I climb into the front seat hauling a very reluctant Isis onto my lap. Then I discover that she is absolutely terrified. She presses the front of her body into mine and hooks a front leg over each of my shoulders. Her legs and body are rigid with fear and she is shaking like I’ve never felt a dog shake before.

To make matters worse, every now and then, Michael, with the kindest of intentions, gently strokes her head and whispers soothing reassurances. Clearly, he has an affinity with frightened animals. But she doesn’t know the smell of his car, and she doesn’t know him.

I’m devastated to have put her through such a dreadful ordeal. When we arrive, I have to peel her from me and lift her onto the pavement. But as soon as she walks into the porch, she relaxes, and I know she’ll be all right on her own for a few minutes.

Apart from poor Hairy One’s truly gut-wrenching terror, my brief encounter with Michael is a heart-warming experience. On the way back to my car, he tells me about his grandmother and his parents  – he has dual nationality. We discuss people’s attitudes towards those of different ethnicity. He isn’t in the slightest judgemental, just intelligent, discerning, empathetic and, I feel, a little sad about how people sometimes close themselves off from those different from themselves.

When I tell him how grateful I am for his kindness to me, someone he’d never met before, he tells me how touched he and his friend were that I approched them and asked for their help. By the time I leave his car, we are both on the edge of tears.

Isis is fine now, but I am still wondering where that terror came from. The incident throws a light on her obvious stress when C. drove us to Cornwall. Although Isis knows and likes C., she has never been in her car before. She loves our car, is eager to jump in, and happy to spend any amount of time travelling or snoozing in it. She has been fine when we’ve had a lift in Bev’s car or Y.’s car.

Hmmmm.

 

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

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you can take a horse to water ……………

 

 

 

 

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

 

Sunday  September 25th 2022

 

Poor Isis is in for a big surprise.

My visitor C. eventually decides that Monday’s the big day. She will drive from Wrexham, pick us up with all our dog and human clobber, and we’ll set off for The Lizard Peninsular to visit old friends N and S. S. has generously offered us free use of his cottage.

But shortly before C is due to arrive, I receive a WhatsApp message from N. (Simon is a worrier and always considers the worst that could happen in any given situation.) He is anxious that Isis might:

fall off the staircase, as it is open on one side

get out of the garden and onto the very busy road the other side of the gates

pee on the carpet because she doesn’t know the layout of the cottage.

I reply that Isis will not:

attempt to go upstairs

be let out into the garden unless she is on her lead

pee on the carpet.

N. has absolute faith in me, and reassures S. that all will be well.

When C. arrives, I cover the back seat with a sheet, and place Hairy One’s bed on it. Understandably, she is not keen to get into the car and has to be lifted. She looks very anxious, and I wonder whether she expects to be taken to the kennels.

She refuses a drink of water either in the car or when we get out for coffee about forty miles the other side of Birmingham.

As always when she travels, she is silent. But she doesn’t doze. She is hyper alert, and although we stop twice in laybys to offer her water, she refuses to drink and continues to pant heavily all the way to The Lizard. I conclude that she must be very stressed; we are, of course, very concerned about her.

To our huge relief, once she is allocated a quiet, dimly lit spot in the cottage kitchen, she has a very long drink.

N., who is a dog trainer and ex-breeder of golden retrievers, has extensive experience with dogs, and holds his hand out to her, saying, “Dogs usually like me.” Almost immediately, she moves close to him, sniffs his hand and allows him to stroke her.

That’s a first.

She’ll not eat, but when we move into the sitting room, she settles close by on the carpet, not in the least perturbed by the presence of these two strange men. They fall for her, and are surprised by what a good dog she is. When they are about to leave, she allows S. to stroke her too. He tells her she can come to visit any time!

What a turn-up for the books, as they say.

I place her bed under the stairs where it’s darkest, and spread a sheet on the sofa in case she decides to use it as a substitute for her day bed, but she sleeps on the carpet close to the bottom of the stairs.

She’ll not eat breakfast, but has a large supper. She’ll regulate her own eating, I decide, and stop worrying.

She is understandably nervous about navigating the strange new garden, and needs much touching and guiding, but otherwise she copes well with her new surroundings.

The next day, she is happy to roam with me on the sand dunes. Her tail is high, she revels in the numerous rabbity smells, and she thoroughly enjoys herself.

To my surprise, the following day, although she is keen to go out and happy to be on the dunes again, she doesn’t want to walk as far as the day before. After about twenty minutes, she turns around, and stands on the path facing the way we’ve come.

Strange.

I encourage her to walk on with me, but she very definitely wants to return to the cottage. She follows this pattern the next day too. She is eager to go out but stops at the same place again and insists on returning to the cottage. When she gets ‘home’ she sniffs for C., and wags heartily when she finds her.

It dawns on me that she is insecure when C. is left behind. Next day, we test the thesis, both of us accompanying her on her walk. Sure enough, she walks chirpily towards the horizon, without so much as a glance behind her. She looks as if she’d cheerfully walk for miles, but we have arranged to meet N. & S. at the café run to raise funds for Bolenowe Animal Sanctuary. (N. is a trustee and committee member.)

Sadly, we are unable to visit the sanctuary, as it only opens on Sundays, and we have to leave on Saturday.

Naturally, dogs are welcome at the café. It’s pretty full, and I wonder if Isis will cope. We find a table in a corner, and I settle the Hairy One beneath it, between my knees. I am prepared to have my coffee and cake outside, but surprisingly, she seems calm, and doesn’t tug on her lead asking to leave.

When I get up to look at the merchandise donated by supporters, I hand her lead over to N., telling myself that I mustn’t be long or she will become anxious.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

When I return about twenty minutes later, she is centre stage, surrounded by people from the neighbouring tables, who appear to be competing to pet her. She looks calm and relaxed, and although she registers my return, she doesn’t move to greet me.

How wonderful. I can hardly believe it.

When Mavis approaches with a gravy bone, I explain apologetically that Isis never takes treats from anyone except Bev and me.

Yes, you’ve guessed. Isis gently takes the treat, munches it contentedly, and looks for another.

Customers fill the café. They arrive in ones, twos and groups. As soon as seats are vacated, they are filled by new arrivals. They are all local regulars who typically return week after week to support the hosts and the sanctuary.

C., Isis and I, the only outsiders, couldn’t have received a warmer welcome.

Not only do we have a delightful afternoon, but I see an astonishingly different aspect of Isis.

 

*****

 

After reading the last post (Sunday September 11th) Tony, an assiduous blog follower, suggests a different approach to Isis’s seemingly intransigent and increasingly disgraceful mealtime behaviour. I take his suggestion on board.

What happens?

All will be revealed next week.

 

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

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my exasperating Isis

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

* There may not be a post next Sunday, as I am expecting visitors, and do not yet know when they are arriving.

 

Sunday  September 10th 2022

 

My dear little dog has been driving me up the wall – and down the other side.

Over the last few months she reverts to her previous habit of growling and barking every time she eats. I can’t believe it, as we both expended an enormous amount of time and energy retraining her.

(For those of you who are new to the blog, from very early on, when she was first adopted, she behaved like a crazed animal at mealtimes, growling, snarling, barking and leaping up in the air as if warding off a pack of wolves. Before she escaped, and was subsequently rescued, she was tied up outside. My guess is that other animals and birds took her food from her, so she had to try to defend it.)

The regression first becomes obvious to me one very bright, sunny day in June; but if I’m honest with myself, there had been some random barks before then.

Stupidly, I had ignored the random barks, perhaps because they seemed insignificant, or perhaps because I didn’t want to acknowledge that we were backsliding.

Whatever. On that June day, the racket is ear-splitting.

“Ah,” I tell myself, “It’s the bright light which is upsetting her.”

The sun continues to shine and Isis continues her mealtime acting out.

I’m sure it’s not healthy for a dog to eat while leaping around growling and snarling. And I’m damn certain the noise is not good for me!

But, I reason, I can’t punish her for being upset by the brightness.

I can’t move her bowl somewhere else because this enrages her and she growls and barks even more.

She will calm down if I hand feed her. Of course, it’s not that I mind kneeling on the kitchen floor while my dear little dog licks sticky meat and biscuits from my fingers. Not at all.

It’s just that one doesn’t really wish to make a habit of it.

Besides, British summers aren’t like this. Any day now, the rain will take over, and the sun will go away.

But it doesn’t.

I try covering over the windows in the hall. This makes not a scrap of difference. Isis continues to protest.

Then I cover the glass panes in the kitchen door with a thick, dark brown fleece, and push the door to.

This helps for a week or so. But Isis, of course, can’t see what’s happened to the door. She doesn’t realise that if she just pushes against it, it will open. Several times when I arrive to let her out, she is lying on the back door mat looking sad.

It’s not long before she leaves her food uneaten, and just lies on the back door mat.

I remove the fleece.

Oh doG, what now?

There’s nothing for it, I decide, but to resume the punishment routine: one bark and out, i.e., as soon as she barks, I remove her food. She flies into a rage, and spins round on the spot protesting loudly as I struggle to pass her without being floored. I stand in the front room until she is silent for thirty seconds, then I give her back the meal.

Sometimes we need to repeat this sequence three times. As you may imagine, mealtimes are not relaxing occasions. Although I am determined to be quiet and calm, the tension  seeps out. I grind my teeth. Isis leaves her breakfast uneaten.

I notice that she’s noisier at breakfast time than she is in the evening; several times lately, she walks away and leaves her breakfast. And when she does that, she’ll not eat until her evening meal, even though her breakfast is left down for her.

If we carry on like this, I worry, she might develop a food neurosis and refuse to eat at all.

This week I experiment to see whether she’ll be calmer if something especially tasty is added to her food. I crumble goat’s cheese into her evening meal. She barks once and I remove her food. After that, there’s not a sound.

But when a little cheese is added next morning, she resumes the barking routine. The morning after that, after having her food removed twice, she walks off without eating.

 

 

 

She never leaves her evening meal uneaten, but today she doesn’t want her breakfast.

I give her two meals in one this evening: her untouched Burns dried food from breakfast, mixed in with a Burns meat, vegetables and brown rice meal. It smells good enough for human consumption. (I’m not being paid for writing this, honest I’m not!)

My heart sinks as I hear the beginnings of a growl – but then, silence.

I’m delighted.

When she’s licked her bowl clean, she walks in looking very please with herself. I praise her. She feels good too, and instead of slinking onto the day bed, head down, she pops into her dog bed and plays with her toys.

 

 

 

Now I’m wondering whether she would be happier skipping breakfast, and having a double helping in the evening.

If anyone has any thoughts about this, I would be very pleased to hear them.

After all this negativity, I hasten to add that other than the mealtime problems, Isis and I are very happy together. We enjoy our walks, and her confidence seems to grow by the day. Nowadays, when a gentle dog sniffs her nose, she usually sniffs his/her nose in return. Although she is nervous if more than one dog approaches her at a time –  she hastily trots off – she no longer panics.

Although she is wary of people, as long as there are only a few in a group, she will walk past them without fear. When someone asks if it’s O.K. to touch her, I always ask them to let her sniff their hand first. Usually, she turns away and walks off, but now and again, she allows someone to stroke her back for a second or two.

 

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

 

Posted in crisis, food rage, Isis at home, Isis is no angel, Isis is sad, Isis says "No"., oh dear, poor Isis, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, twirling, we don't like bright light, we don't like bright sun, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

dining out and an afternoon in the woods

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

 

Sunday  September 4th 2022

 

I drop a harness off at Y’s. She invites me in for coffee, but Isis hasn’t had her tea yet, so I decline.

“She can have her tea here,”  Y offers, “I’ve just fed Blitzi, so there’ll not be any competition.”

Poor Blitzi. He’s never shown anything but kindness to naughty Isis. On more than one occasion in Highbury Park, he’s seen off a dog which has shown aggression towards her, yet when he visits her, she bullies him mercilessly. Last week when he came to our house, she’d not allow him to settle in the spare dog bed I’d placed next to his human’s chair. Each time he tentatively set a paw in it, she leapt up from the rug and nyaffed sharply at him. Eventually, he disappeared upstairs and slept on my bed until it was time to go home.

I fetch Isis from the car. She knows Y, and has been here before. Since it’s not her territory, she doesn’t feel the need to menace Blitzi. But he’s not leaving anything to chance, and  hastily retreats into the garden.

I thank Y for her kind offer but explain that I’m pretty certain Isis will not be confident enough to eat away from her own house.

The next thing I know, she’s sitting in the kitchen doorway, nose focussed on the delicious meal of Harrington’s wet food and cooked minced beef which Y is preparing for her.

When Y places a huge, heaped dog dish in the hall, Isis, of course, proves me entirely wrong, and tackles her food with enthusiasm. Because the portion is so huge, she can’t eat it all, but certainly eats as much as she can.

When she joins us in the garden, she looks very relaxed and replete.  She settles herself down at our feet, within a few centimetres of poor Blitzi’s bed. He’ll not chase her off – he’s too kind. He’s also intimidated by her, so he creeps away from his bed and settles, somewhat mournfully, on the grass.

Y. has just bought another car, having been without one for eighteen months. (Her old car was vandalised by an opportunistic rat who, finding nothing more palatable to eat, gnawed through the electric cables.)

She wants to familiarise herself with the new car, and decides to take Blitzi to Clowse Woods on Wednesday. She invites Isis and me to join them.

Blitzi is already on the rear seat when Y picks us up. Although Isis is perfectly happy to jump into her car or to sit with me in someone else’s car, she is very reluctant to join Blitzi in this strange car.

After much fruitless cajoling, I lift her up and deposit her in the car.

I don’t have the impression that Blitzi is overjoyed to see his travelling companion. He has a decidedly mournful expression, and shuffles nearer to the door. Isis, too, settles down close to her door. There’s at least an eighteen inch gap between them.

The humans chat away merrily in the front all the way to the woods. They hear not a sound from the rear.

It’s at least eighteen months since Y and Blitzi came to the woods, and more than two years since I brought Isis here. Both dogs begin a very long sniffathon, noses turning over fallen leaves, or buried in undergrowth, or simply twitching millimetres above the hard, baked paths like miniature hovercrafts.

Although it’s a warm and sunny day, the light is steady, not flickering, and Isis is content to wander with us beneath the trees or linger behind to sniff and resniff particularly alluring scents.

Blitzi, who always wants to greet passers-by, is delighted when he spots other walkers. He rushes up to greet them. Today, everyone speaks to him kindly, he gets countless strokes and pats, and is as happy as Larry (whoever Larry is or was).

We make our way towards a clearing crammed with heather, sit on a log, listen to the silence, and breathe in the fragrant wood smells: a blend of earth, decomposing leaves, bark and living plants.

I wish I could capture a bedroomful and take it home with me.

The dogs lie close by, relaxed and contented.

 

 

 

Photos by Yasmin.

 

 

We stay in the clearing for well over two hours.

Before we amble back, Y. throws balls for Blitzi until he calls a halt and sits down.

Both dogs seem pleased to scramble back into the car. Before we set off for home, I point out the difference in their body language from when we set out. Both their heads rest on outstretched forepaws, while the hairs of their tails mingle, black amongst white.

We’ve all had a perfect afternoon.

 

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

 

Posted in a joyful dog, a very naughty dog, Clowse Woods, dear little Isis, Isis at home, Isis is no angel, Isis says "No"., lovely leaves, oh dear, scenting, sleeping, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

it’s Gotcha day!

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

 

Saturday August 27th 2022

But it’s not Sunday until tomorrow!

                      Ah, but it’s a very special day today    ……….

 

HAPPY  GOTCHA DAY BEAUTIFUL GIRL   !!!!                         HAPPY  GOTCHA DAY BEAUTIFUL GIRL ! !  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!                                     !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!             happy      happy                             BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL GIRL !               !                 HAPPY  GOTCHA DAY         !          !!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAPPY  GOTCHA DAY                      BEAUTIFUL GIRL !     HAPPY     !!!!!!!!!!!!                                  !!!!!!!!!!                                      HAPPY  GOTCHA DAY !!!!!        !!!!!!!!!!!!!!                   !!!!!!!!!!!      !          HAPPY    GOTCHA DAY         HAPPY  GOTCHA DAY  !!!!!!!!!!                    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!          happy      happy happy

  BEAUTIFUL GIRL !                     HAPPY  GOTCHA DAY                   HAPPY  GOTCHA DAY                                 HAPPY  GOTCHA DAY  !! !!!!!!!!!          happy                     !

                                        HAPPY  GOTCHA DAY BEAUTIFUL GIRL !  

 

You’ve got the message?

On this day in 2014, I meet Isis for the first time. She’s small: she only weighs 9 kilos, and that’s after being rescued and fed properly at Aeza since June.

Goodness knows what she weighed when she arrived there. She is still ravenous when she reaches Birmingham.

Clearly, she’s not lived in a house before, and she’s terrified. She stays in the garden until it is dark, and I carry her in. Then she glues herself to the back door and stays there until she is released into the garden again next morning.

In the garden, and later on in the house, she spins round and round and round until she is too exhausted to spin any more.

Anyway, that was eight years ago today. She now weighs a little over 16 kilos, which the vet thinks is fine. She no longer grabs food from my plate, or picks up unspeakably disgusting bits in the park. She eats well, but sometimes, when it’s a very hot day, or she is upset about something, she’ll leave her breakfast until evening.

If she thinks I might be going for a walk without her, she’ll abandon her food bowl and rush to the front door to have her harness put on.

Her special harness dropped out of my pocket last Tuesday in Highbury Park. I am astonished when I take her to the pet shop and she needs an ‘extra large’. Later I realise that this is because she is so outrageously fluffy.

Even though I have clipped her three times since spring, I notice that she has been surruptitiously growing back her hair.

Sigh.

 

 

 

Today

 

 

Of course, I love her dearly. Who woudn’t?

So imagine how much I look forward to picking her up from Hollytrees.

At least, I say humourously to my friend when she drops me off at Oakham station, travelling back has to be more straightforward than the outward journey.

We say goodbye and she rushes to retrieve her car from its idiosyncratic perch on the kerb above the double yellow lines. I walk over the bridge to discover that the train is late.

Never mind. I wait, and think about picking up Isis.

There’s a long queue waiting to climb aboard the first two carriages, so I decide to drift down to the middle of the train.

Soon be home.

Then, as I step towards the train, horror of horrors, the door clangs shut.

I leap towards it, trip over my outsized suitcase and my left knee smashes onto the concrete platform with a sickening crunch.

Pain and shock hit me. Like a tipped over turtle, I struggle to move.

I look up in time to see a teenaged lad a carriage away swing open the door nearest to him, so that all the other doors reopen and the train remains stationary. He has witnessed the debacle, and looks very concerned. He obviously wants to help, and steps down onto the platform. I am afraid that he might miss the train himself, and I signal to him to get back onto the train and hold the door open from the inside. Fortunately, he has had the presence of mind to keep one hand in the doorway, preventing the door from closing.

Now I am upright but tottery. Two elderly ladies who happen to be passing, call out and wave frantically to station personnel, one of whom runs towards us. The ladies rescue my backpack and shoulder bag. I sign a big ‘thank you’ to the young passenger who saved the day, thank the ladies, and pick up my case.

As I do so I feel something trickling from my knee, and see that blood is rapidly seeping through the leg of my dungarees.

As I clambour aboard, I realise that the incident has been observed by all the passengers on the platform side of the train.

Assuming an expression of what I hope looks like calmness and nonchalence, I limp to a seat and wiggle my suitcase under the table.

As the train sets off, the man opposite me raises his eyebrows quizzically and smiles.

I smile back.

After a decent interval, I get a pack of plasters out of my bag, and hiding my knee under the end of the table, stick four or five of them over the wound.

I’m lucky. At New Street, there’s a train to Northfield waiting on the platform. And even the 18 bus only takes about ten minutes to come. My knee is still bleeding, but otherwise I feel fine.

Once home, I dump all my stuff, drink a glass of water, and drive to fetch my Isis.

I wait impatiently for her carer to appear with her.

And here she is, whiffling her spotty nose to pick up my scent. She leans into me, and her tail can’t stop wagging. She even allows me to give her hugs.

Now, that’s what you’d expect a dog to do, isn’t it?

Not this dog, though. She used not to acknowledge me at all when I picked her up from the kennels. She just stood and waited for me to lead her away.

But now I relish the most enthusiastic greeting I’ve ever had from her.

We’re very needy, we humans.

 

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

 

 

Posted in a joyful dog, a terrified dog, deaf/blind dog arrives in new home, dear little Isis, Isis at Hollytrees, Isis at home, oh dear, poor Isis, relationship building, scenting, sleeping arrangements, strange behaviour | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

off on our travels

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

 

Sunday  August 21st  2022

 

The next morning is just as bright, and the shadows just as deep and scary as they were yesterday, and Isis is just as scared when I remove her harness and lead; but the outsized extending lead works like a charm. As soon as I attach it to her collar, she sets off briskly, full of the joys.

We have a delightful walk, and both return from Highbury in high spirits.

This is particularly gratifying today, as I am off to visit friends in Rutland, and poor Isis  has to be at Hollytrees by 4.00.

As most of us know, leaving Precious Pet behind is never done with a light heart. Since the debacle two visits ago, when she had to walk the length of the building between two rows of barking dogs, Isis has been very reluctant to walk to her lodgings. Last time, Tracy asked Adam to carry her.

This time, Isis knows where she is as soon as she gets out of the car, and strongly resists approaching the gate, first trying to drag me off in the opposite direction, then doing the stiff-legged, all strong little claws dug into the ground performance. Human, of course, feels like an ogre. Fortunately, Adam, who meets us at the gate, gently cajoles her foward, and after a yard or two, she gives in, and walks along beside him. Although he is gentle with her, she seems to accept that he is the boss.

Her special going-away bag, given to her years ago by her friend Josh, and bearing the legend ‘Dogs are good’, is carried in after her, as is a very large cardboard box for her to tear apart in idle moments. In the bag are her food, toys and information cards.

Although I know that she will be well cared for, I miss her as soon as I leave the premises, and drive home with a heavy heart. I work hard at convincing myself it’s unlikely that she will get sunstroke, that a nocturnal arsonist will set the building alight, or she’ll be eaten by a hungry bull mastiff.

 

 

I’m sure the scenario is a familiar one to many other silly dog  owners.

Ah well, now for the packing.

But, as always, I’ve forgotten all the other ‘last minute’ tasks which have to be done, and by 11.00 p.m., I’m worn out, and decide I’ll get up extra early in the morning to pack.

This is never a good idea.

I have a relaxing drink, and settle downstairs  to read for an hour or so. Then the day’s events run round in my head, and it’s after 4.00 before I drop off.

Inevitably, when my joltingly fierce alarm goes off at six, I drift back to sleep for another hour.

My train to Oakham leaves at 10.20. I pack as quickly as I can, and hurry to the front door just in time to observe the 18 bus – which I intended to take to Kings Norton station – float past.

It’s now 9.00. Indecision. If the next bus comes within twenty minutes, will I have time to reach the station, maybe wait fifteen minutes for the train, and reach New Street in time to queue for my ticket?

Unlikely.

I phone for a taxi, which, an automated voice tells me, will be on its way to me immediately.

That’s a relief.

But not for long. Ten minutes pass, fifteen, twenty. I ring again. It’s on its way, I’m told.

It arrives at 9.40.

It’s the first week of the Commonwealth Games, which are being held at numerous venues in Birmingham. There are thousands of visitors in the city centre. We circumnavigate road closures and diversions even on the outskirts of the city.

Nevertheless, we arrive at the station at 10.00.

Phew! I join a very long queue, but all the desks are staffed, and I’m soon proffering my card.

The lady tells me apolgetically that the train is cancelled because there’s a broken down freight train between Nuneaton and Leicester, and none of the ticket people have any idea what’s happening. I’m advised to go to Customer Support.

Perhaps they’ll give us a brandy.

They don’t.

Apparently, at 12.00 we’re to go to Platform 10a. A train will drop us off at Nuneaton. There we’ll board a bus to Leicester.

Great. I don’t travel well on buses, and I don’t have travel sickness pills with me.

10a, unfortunately, is one of two platforms which have stairs, not escalators. By 12.00 a thwarted crowd of would be passengers waits on Platform 10a.

After about twenty minutes, there’s an announcement: “All passengers for Leicester should make their way to Platform 9a.”

Wonderful. Not.

At least there’s an escalator. We descend to the platform, and are directed onto a waiting train. We all stow away our luggage and settle thankfully in our seats.

Time passes.

And more time.

The train remains stationary.

Then, after about thirty minutes, a man flings open each carriage door, and shouts, “Passengers for Leicester, go to  Platform 9a.”

We all shuffle back up the steps and descend to Platform 9a, where, with glazed eyes we stare along the track, not altogether confident that a train will appear. Even less confident that if one does, it will be going to Leicester.

A train eventually arrives. Even more promising,  on the front it displays the magic word ‘Leicester’.

We wait for the train to move, or someone to direct us back to Platform 10a.

Nothing happens.

Then, over the tannoy comes the apologetic voice of the driver: “I sincerely apologise for the delay, but we are waiting for the guard to arrive. Because of the alterations, he is still on his way to New Street.

No-one complains. At least we are on a train. And the train is going to Leicester.

Besides, we’re British.

Finally, I arrive at Oakham not at twelve thirteen, but just after two.

At least, I think, the return journey should be a doddle.

Wrong again.

 

to be continued ………………………..

 

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

P.S. By the way, someone tells me that the longest day is in June, not August (see previous post). I’ve missed it.

 

 

Posted in a joyful dog, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis at Hollytrees, Isis is sad, Isis says "No"., oh dear, patience is a virtue., poor Isis, scary shadows, something's not right, these dogs!, VERY early in the morning., walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, we don't like bright light, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

are you enjoying your walk, Isis?

 

There will be no blog next week (Sunday August 14th) as Isis and I are having a short break.

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

 

Sunday  August 7th  2022

 

We leave the lovely, dirty spaniel to proceed to her hose-down, while we head towards the Thrive garden (known to we old timers as the Television Garden because the site was used regularly in the filming of a television gardening programme.)

The chainlink fence which separates the garden from the rest of the park, is covered with burberis which is allowed to grow through the fence. Someone had an excellent idea there,  for instead of just a fence, which would be jarring in our gentle Kings Heath Park, we have a wall of green which bursts into egg yolk yellow when the shrub flowers.

Following the line of the hedge, we turn left to the edge of the small wood. Isis likes trotting along here, and always marks what she considers to be significant territorial divisions.

Now we have climbing roses, cranesbill and honeysuckle leaning through the fence. I always enjoy inhaling the scent of the honeysuckle. Isis, of course, prefers the scent of canine urine, and all the little creatures which have paused, prowled or scurried along the borders of the wood since she last came.

Sometimes, a particularly mesmerising scent beckons her into the wood. Here, there are several earth tracks pottering in different directions, and plenty of undergrowth and shrubs for a dog to poke its nose into, as long as it doesn’t mind getting its head and ears wet, which, today, is guaranteed.

Isis doesn’t mind at all: she’s no wimp.

The track we usually choose bring us out opposite the main children’s play area, so we walk on the springy turf between this and Avenue Road. Now I am entertained by the children’s antics, while Isis is entertained by their smells – and by the enticing waft of ice cream and crisps.

Something for both of us, then.

Now, led by Isis we meander towards the rockeries, then wind our way through the trees and shrubs: plenty to sniff here, which, I assume, is why she always wants to return to the car park via this route.

Happy dog. Happy human.

But it’s not always like that.

Especially, of course, when the sun casts deep shadows. When I take her to Jasmine Fields at the beginning of the week, then along the path above the canal, she resorts to passive aggression, continuously turning round towards the way we’ve just come, standing still and refusing to move on, and, once or twice, even lying down. She doesn’t want to walk through the patches of sunlight which are scattered here and there across the track.

She has managed dark and light patches much better lately, which is why I thought she’d be O.K. But I was wrong. She is unhappy, and I am frustrated.

No more late morning walks, I decide.

I’m up just after six this morning, as I was yesterday and the day before, and we’re in Highbury Park around seven – what about that, Bev!

Up until today, she has enjoyed these early morning walks with their subdued light and fresh scents. Her nose has hovered a few milimetres above the ground, and she has even uttered an excited yip before darting after whatever has left its scent on the grass.

Brilliant. Problem solved then?

Yes!

But no. This morning, although she has a few exploratory trips around the trees, it soon becomes clear that she wants to hover close to the entrance.

I put her on her lead, and she shoots off at high speed to follow a long gone fox. She’s full of confidence while she’s attached to her human.Unfortunately, I can’t run fast enough to keep up with her and remain vertical.

Quickly, I unclip her lead. Immediately, she loses her confidence, stops and looks anxious. For a while it’s clip, unclip, clip, unclip.

I am convinced that she can’t enjoy the park while on a lead. She is convinced that something dreadful will happen to a dog who walks alone.

 

 

 

 

I give in, and she completes her walk on lead.

On the way home I try to work out why today’s walk has been so problematic. I realise that as we approach the longest day of the year, the sun rises earlier each day. Today is to be very hot. Even though it’s disgustingly early, the sun is very strong, and the shadows it’s casting are very dark.

Poor Isis is unable to tolerate the contrast.

Hmmm. Perhaps I need to rise at five, or even four, but that’s ridiculous.

As I’m writing, I remember the extra large retracting lead which I bought for her years ago, before I dared set her free. It’s very long, but would be safe to use because there is hardly anyone else in the park early in the morning, and it could afford her freedom and security at the same time.

I had intended to give it to Ray Deddicoat who runs Hollytrees Animal Rescue and Kennels, but I’ll try it out on Isis first.

Here’s to tomorrow!

And roll on autumn!

 

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

 

 

Posted in a joyful dog, a terrified dog, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis knows best, Isis says "No"., Kings Heath Park, oh dear, poor Isis, scary shadows, scenting, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, VERY early in the morning., walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, we don't like bright light, we don't like bright sun, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

a cool walk and a dirty dog

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

 

Sunday July 31st 2020

 

Thank goodness, the heatwave passes, and by Wednesday it’s what the meteorologists declare to be ‘a normal July day.’

Hmmmmmm. What’s normal any more?

We enjoy a typical Kings Heath Park walk.

Over the last few weeks, I have trusted Isis to walk the perimeter of the park off lead. This is a big deal as we have to walk parallel to Vicarage Road, then Avenue Road – both of which are very busy.

We leave the car park, and head along the path in the direction of Vicarage Road.  After a few yards I remove her harness and lead, and she walks along by my side, sniffing the edge of the big field. Now and then she crosses to the other side of the path to investigate the scents left on the low stone walls.

Once or twice, I have to head her off from walking into a pram or a push chair, but she is unphased and walks on confidently for a few yards. Then she stops, waits until I draw level with her, sniffs the bit of me closest to her, and continues.

We follow the path parallel to the road: here, she picks up and follows scents which lead her onto the field.

I wait for her to come back to my side, and we continue past the rose beds before turning left to the the infants’ play area. Here, she walks close to the red metal fence, on the other side of which the small children smile and point her out to their carers.

We’re parallel to Avenue Road now, walking towards the small car park. Isis, who knows this route like the back of her paw, walks a few feet ahead of me, then turns left and stands waiting to be put on her lead to cross the car park.

When she’s off lead again, she makes for the pond, and the delicious ratty smells.

Yay! So many scents. Her nose is seldom more than an inch from the ground. Now and then she does little excited dives into the hedges on either side of the path. Sometimes, I spot a large rat scurrying for cover at the same time as its scent hits her nostrils, and we’re off!

We’ve meandered half way round the pond by now. Isis is well aware that the main car park is close, and fancies a left turn.

“No Isis, we’re not going back to the car yet,” I admonish, turning her fluffiness round with my right hand on her chest and my left on her rump.

She soon recovers from being thwarted though, and slowly accompanies me past the café, past the greenhouses and the plant nursery.

Now we’ve reached the top of the steep slope which leads down to the old bowling green, where, years ago, I let Isis off her lead for the very first time.

This is one of her favourite spots. She sniffs the air, picks up speed and trots down the slope keeping close to the hawthorn hedge.

I run to catch up with her before she reaches the drain. The gaps between the bars are wide enough for a paw to slip through so I always guide her round the obstacle.

She still reaches the bottom of the path well before I do, but politely waits for me to catch her up before she veers off the main path onto the little track which runs alongside the railway line.

 

 

 

 

 

As we reach the track, a beautiful copper coloured spaniel shoots in front of us and dives through a gap in the fence into the filthy mud filled sump where she wallows ecstatically.

Soon, her owner hoves into sight. Much to my surprise, the lady is calm and cheerful.

She explains that it’s impossible to prevent her dog from doing this, unless she keeps her on her lead, and that’s no fun for either of them.

“It’s her greatest pleasure,” the owner tells me, “so I just let her enjoy it, and hose her down when we get home.”

One really warms to people like that.

I’ll not describe in detail the slimy black canine which eventually emerges, smiling, through the gap in the fence.

 

to be continued …………………….

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in a very good dog, clever girl, dear little Isis, Kings Heath Park, oh dear, park dogs, park people, scenting, the dogs of King's Heath Park, these dogs!, VERY early in the morning., walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the heat wave and a walk

 

 

A post should appear each Sunday!

 

Sunday July 24th 2022

 

This week we survive Monday and Tuesday’s unprecedented heat.

After much persuasion, and with great reluctance, Isis visits the back garden twice during the day. She is shocked at the fierce brightness of the sun, and refuses to walk out onto the grass without me. She rushes back in as fast as she can.

She doesn’t eat her breakfast on either day.

It would be cooler for both of us if we flaked out in separate places, but she insists on togetherness, and joins me on the day bed. We keep our distance though. She settles on her cool mat on one side, and dozes in fits and starts, while I stretch out on the other side and read, listen to the radio, or let my mind drift where it will.

I am fine. The back room, icy in the winter, is the coolest room in the house now. I think about those poor people who live in the upper floors of high rise blocks. I feel fortunate.

My skin is pleasantly cold to the touch, while poor Isis feels very warm. The hotter it becomes, the more restless she gets. Every ten minutes or so, she growls, sits up and pants. I discover that if I stroke her head very lightly, she relaxes and goes back to sleep.

On Tuesday, it’s time to soak an old tea towel and place it over her shoulders and neck. After pulling it off three or four times, she relaxes and rests.

Now she looks much more comfortable.

Then, in the early evening, she does the last thing that I would expect an overheated dog to do. She stands up, walks towards me, and presses herself as close to me as she can. Her tail flops across my throat; her head rests on my knee.

As long as I keep absolutely still, she sleeps soundly. Quite literally, if I inadvertantly twitch a muscle, she growls in her sleep.

Strange little dog: she is more relaxed than she has been since our two day heatwave began. So, of course, I keep very still. For about forty minutes.

When she wakes, she’s like a different dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday we return to a typical July day. It’s dull and breezy, warm, but not hot. Isis can’t wait to have her harness on, and rush out of the front door.

Kings Heath Park is our go-to destination on Wednesdays as it’s only a few minutes away so I have plenty of time to get my stuff together for art group.

We’re in the park before eight, as are quite a few other dog walkers. Everyone is smiling and saying, “Isn’t this lovely?” or “What a relief!” or “It’s a beautiful day.”

Even the dogs look relieved.

This park is the first one which Isis came to after arriving from Portugal. More often than not, she refused to leave the car, and I had to take her home again. When I did manage to persuade her to walk, it was a stop and start affair. She’d be bullied into taking a step, then she’d stop again. Of course, I had no idea that she was so fearful of bright light and of shadows.

I expected her to be shy of strangers and maybe other dogs, but she wasn’t just shy, she was terrified. There were several areas of the park which she refused point blank to approach, and I had to pick her up and carry her.

Over the years, she grew to know the park and to enjoy being there.

Now it’s one of her favourite places.

to be continued ………………………………………

 

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

Posted in a terrified dog, dear little Isis, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., Kings Heath Park, oh dear, scenting, sleeping arrangements, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, we don't like bright light, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

we’re back on track

 

 

A post should appear each Sunday!

 

Sunday July 17th 2022

 

Well, that was a nasty episode.

I’ve just realised that, for the first time in at least four weeks, I didn’t even feel the urge to sit down on today’s walk.

Whahoo!

The star of the past few weeks of inactivity has to be Isis. She has put up with such a lot: irregular get-up and meal times; dog’s bed times ranging from around twelve to six o’clock in the morning; walks at any old time, and, for several days last week, no walk at all.

On several nights/mornings, she has even found herself playing ‘hunt the bed time treats’ at five, six or seven a.m.

Although she is, as we know, ecstatic at putting on harness time prior to a walk, she has not once hassled me to take her out, demanded she eats right now, or wandered around restlessly as would have been perfectly normal for a dog.

She has taken things as they come, and adapted uncomplainingly to the circumstances of each day.

On the days she has had a curtailed walk, or no walk at all, she has shaken the hell out of her squirrel, duck or lion – or, indeed, any victim who is lying innocently in her dog bed, then lain for hours with the selected victim clamped tightly in her jaws. So tightly, in fact that I can never manage to snatch it from her, even when she seems to be fully asleep.

One day when I was flat out, she managed to reach big old polar bear, who had been furloughed since he began to shed bits of stuffing.

Too fatigued to rise from the day bed, I muttered, ‘What the hell,’ and watched the beginning of a veritable snow storm.

I soon drifted off, although I was aware of jumpings up and down, frequent “oofs”, and, inevitably, being landed on by someone who has no idea how much her claws hurt when all four footfuls of them land on the back of sleeping Human’s legs.

When I eventually come round, the floor looks like it’s hosted a snowball fight. This new look remains in place for at least a week.

Today is predicted to be very hot, so we are up at an obscenely early hour to walk in Highbury Park.

Isis can’t wait to get into the car, and is keen to pop out when we get to the back entrance of the park where we can leave the car in the shade. There are no other cars there, no people, no dogs.

Isis, as we know, is very resistant to being made to walk in any direction chosen by me, so getting her going can be exhausting.

Why shouldn’t she choose her own direction? No reason at all, I decide. So she wanders where she wants to, and I wander behind her.

Hey presto! What a difference. Why, I wonder, did I feel the need to control everything? She’s such a good dog. She stays within a few yards of me, checks regularly that I’m still close by, and when it is necessary, I put her on the lead, she wags her tail, and off we stroll side by side.

She relishes the new morning smells. I guess it’s rather like the pleasure humans get when they come across a pristine, untrodden expanse of snow.

She is always a sniffer, of course, but her pleasure when she comes across a previously unsniffed, unmarked scent is almost palpable.

It is cool, and so quiet. There are no traffic sounds, hardly a panting jogger flapping behind us, and no cyclists from whom I have to protect Isis. (To be fair, it is very rare for anyone to be impatient with her.)

When we reach the pond, Y and S are already there. S’s beautiful German shepherd races up to Isis, as though she is about to assault her. Isis is momentarily shocked, but soon recovers. Blitzi, who is beautiful German shepherd’s best friend, runs up to Isis to check that she’s O.K., and off the two dogs race, diving into the pond after tennis balls, playing on the grass, and taking short breaks to just stand around companionably.

Now and again, one or the other approaches Isis gently for a nose-to-nose.

When Isis, very unusually for her, lies on the grass in the shade, I make several attempts to snap her, but each time I approach, she gets up and comes to me, so I don’t succeed.

But soon after we return home, S. sends Y. this lovely portrait, and Y. forwards it to me. I didn’t realise that S. had taken it. I’m delighted.

 

 

 

 

 

Dog owners have been warned not to take their dogs out at all tomorrow or on Tuesday as the forecast is for the highest temperatures ever recorded in Britain. We have been warned that the west and West Midlands will be the hottest parts of the country, and it is expected that even in the early morning it will be too hot for our cats and dogs.

I am concened about the wild life. Surely there will casualties. I’ve topped up my improvised pond, but will put out some very visible dishes of water for the birds.

Let’s hope, at least, the shift of the heatwave up to Britain will mean some relief for the rest of Europe.

Isis and I have a stack of old towels to wrap round our necks and to place between Isis’s back legs and thighs, and we have ice shapes to lick.

We’ll just stay in and think about the lovely time we had this morning.

 

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

Posted in a joyful dog, a very good dog, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis knows best, Isis meets other dogs, park dogs, park people, scenting, VERY early in the morning., walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments