a hawk bell for Isis



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’


Sunday July 23rd 2017


Very soon after St. adopts Ted and Casey from Serbia/Romania, naughty Ted takes himself home from Highbury Park.

Fortunately, he arrives home safely, none the worse for his adventure.

Next time we meet them, we hear a steady, melodious tinkling.

St. has bought them each a hawk bell.

“If I were you,” says Ji. wisely, “I’d get one of those for Isis.”

Always slow where action is concerned, I procrastinate, and the months pass.

Then, of course, as I related last week, Isis wanders out of Kings Heath Park onto the pavement.

I order the bells and they arrive the following day.

They’re rather beautiful.





Apparently, these bells were used by falconers in mediaeval times so that they could track their birds. Traditionally, they were made of copper or brass. Today the best ones are made of brass or bronze or nickel silver and have a clapper made of stainless steel. This clapper gives a beautiful clear tone which carries over a long distance. These bells have a lower, much clearer, tone than those usually sold for cats and dogs, and the sound of them carries over a much longer distance.

There is good range of sizes, so I imagine you could find one small enough for a little cat or large enough for a very big dog.

I order ‘large’ for Isis, the same as St. selected for her dogs. It’s not heavy, and Isis, who is very fussy about anything dangling on her, doesn’t seem in the least bit bothered about wearing it.





Today, before we set off for Highbury Park, I clip the bell to Hairy One’s collar.

We’ll see how it works.

When Isis is set free among her pine trees, Ji. suggests that he keeps an eye on her while I walk across to the little wood over a hundred yards away, stopping at intervals to check whether I can still hear the bell.

Off I go.

Brilliant! Even when I reach the wood, I can still hear the bell very clearly. And, of course, Hairy One’s penchant for leaping and dancing means that the bell rings almost constantly!

Now, thinks Ji., when we walk her to the field above the pond and sink to rest on the comfortable bench, she will no longer be able to sneak off, unnoticed, through the woods behind the bench and back to her pines.

We try her out. Sure enough, seconds after we have sunk to rest, off she trots.

Alerted by her bell, we watch her carefully. Unusually, she dances round a pair of trees which have a clear space around them so we will be able to see her if she moves away.

For about a quarter of an hour, all is well. Every few minutes, a bit of Isis, a leg, foot, floaty ear or tail, pops out from behind the trees. We can sit for a while longer  – it is, after all, tiring standing among the pines for forty minutes, Isis watching. We’ve done enough of that for today.


But then, minutes go past without a flash of white.

Strange. We know that she can’t have moved away from the trees without being seen, so what is she doing?

We begin to walk towards the trees. Not a sound.

We reach the trees. Still there is silence.

Has the hawk bell caught on a branch and been torn from her collar? Has a bit of broken off twig lodged itself against the clapper and stopped it moving?

We walk among the trees, Ji. in one direction, I the opposite way.

Suddenly, it occurs to me that there could be another reason for the silence. Isis could be standing still. Very unlikely, I know. But there have been several occasions on which Isis has made her way into undergrowth or dense shrubs, and, unable to see her way out, has panicked.

Imagine what it must be like to be blind and to feel prickly things all around you, stopping you from moving, trapping you. It can be confusing for sighted people to walk across a familiar room in the dark. It is easy to become disorientated and unable to find the door.

Usually, nowadays, Isis can find her way around familiar territory quite easily: she rarely walks into anything in the house or garden unless I have thoughtlessly left something in the wrong place. She can find tiny paths through the hedges in the park, and walks carefully around trees.

But when she feels trapped, she is terrified.

I begin looking into the the trees instead of around them, and soon find poor Isis, still as a little statue, standing close to the bowl of a tree, and caught up in undergrowth, hair-clutching pine branches and tall grass.

When she smells my hand and feels me touching her, her flufffy tail begins to wag fast. But she is obviously shaken and it takes a lot of soothing strokes and very gentle pats to persuade her to emerge.

I carefully pick all the narrow little pine twigs from her hair, but even then she is not herself. She lies on the grass for a while before she will walk on her lead.

Hopefully, a silent hawk bell will continue to be as informative as a ringing one.


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 kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in adopted dogs, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Kings Heath Park, park dogs, rescue dogs, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Isis in danger



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’


Wednesday July 19th 2017


We are in Kings Heath Park for our morning walk. As usual, Isis is let off her lead when  we approach the bottom of the slope leading down to the old bowling green.

I try to persuade Isis to walk onto the green and play with the shrubs along its edge, or to return to her old favourites, the two little fir trees high on the bank. Once she’s engrossed with playing around one or other of these trees, she’ll occupy herself for thirty or forty minutes. And it’s easy for me to keep an eye on Isis while I enjoy the antics of the other dogs and chat to their people.

But, unfortunately, since she’s been discovered a few times by inquisitive pups who like to bounce off older dogs, she no longer wants to play on the bank.


I can still have a brief conversation while she makes her way along the little tracks at the bottom near the railway line fence. In the late autumn, winter and early spring, it’s easy to see the white whirling dervish as she twirls and dances her way along the tracks.

At this time of year, though, it’s harder to spot her behind all the trees, shrubs and undergrowth, and once or twice I’ve thought that she’s popped out of the green tunnel and wandered into the main park when, in fact, she’s still cavorting among the weeds.






Even when she walks away from the tracks, she tends to follow a narrow range of patterns. Her first choice used to be to stay close to the fence around the TV garden (the garden which was used to screen a popular TV gardening programme) and follow it into the wooded area. This was perfectly safe as she could easily be seen and retrieved.

But then she grows bored with this adventure and, after following the fence for a few yards, begins turning right at the shrubbery and climbing onto the mound behind the basketball court. Here she dances to her heart’s content.

Sadly, it’s goodbye to my park social life. But Isis loves the mound.

After many happy weeks of mound pounding, she discovers that a dog can creep through the shrubbery, walk along the basketball court enclosure, and emerge into the Colour Garden.

She is obviously very impressed by her discovery.

Since she loves popping into shrubberies for a snuffle, the first time she exits into the Colour Garden, I don’t notice that she has departed. By the time I search the shrubbery, she’s already gone through to the other side.

Yikes! Where is she? Panic, panic.

I find her running round the flower beds, joyfully snapping the air.

So this becomes her new pattern. There are few deviations. Sometimes she takes a short cut through the gap in the hedge on the top bank above the old bowling green and I can take a leisurely stroll over to the mound where she is sure to be playing.

I’ve also become used to her exit through the shrubbery, and, if I’m quick, I can follow her around the enclosure and into the Colour Garden. She doesn’t actually run, but she walks very briskly, tail held high, and seems to cover an amazing  amount of ground in a surprisingly short time.

One day last week, however, it all goes wrong.

Isis has her usual little jaunt along the tracks, follows the fence for a little way, then crosses the path, as she often does, on her way to the mound.

I stroll up to the mound.

No sign of Isis.

Then walkers on their way down to the bowling green call to me, “She’s right over there, by the childrens’ playground.”

I look across. To my horror, there is Isis, following her way along the playground fence as we often do when we are walking back to the car park. At the end of the fence is an exit to Avenue Road and a busy junction.

With the same ploughing through treacle feeling which characterises many nightmares, I stumble towards her. Now and again she stops to sniff and I think it might be possible to get to her before she reaches the end of the fence. But each time she moves on too soon for me to make up any ground.

Everything seems to slow down like those dramatic moments in films where the victim  moves in slow motion towards the edge of the cliff.

Isis is at the end of the fence. She moves towards the barrier, walks round it. But she doesn’t pick up the path on the other side of the exit, which we always do when she is with me on her lead.

She walks out of the park and onto the pavement.

I stop breathing.

There’s no-one near her, no-one I can call out to, ask to grab her. She sniffs towards the busy road as I scramble towards her.

Fantasies flash into my mind. Fantasies of screaming dogs and screeching brakes, of a little limp white heap in the road.

Then she stops at the kerb.

She turns round and stands still.

The last few steps I have to take to reach her seem to take for ever.


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 kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in Isis in danger, Kings Heath Park, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

life goes on …………………………



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Sunday July 16th 2017


Well, and how is Isis coping with her nightly banishment downstairs? I guess the answer is ‘much better than sentimental human imagined’.

Since the first night, she has not been shut in so there’s been no scratching at the door.

The following night and the one after that, she woofs a couple of times to draw my attention to the fact that she’s been left downstairs.

Since then, we follow a new bedtime routine. Isis pops into the garden on her own.  (She’s a brave girl now, but not so brave that she wishes to stay out on her own aprés pee.)

While she’s attending to her doggie affairs, I hide eight little treats in different places in her new bedroom, i.e. the back room downstairs.

Duty done, she hastily pops in through the back door, pink spotty nose twitching in anticipation, and shoots into the back room to hunt for her treats. As you may imagine, it doesn’t take her long to find and eat them.

Treats scoffed, she settles down on the futon.

There she remains until she smells Human drifting sneakily off to bed. By the time Human reaches the staircase, Isis is already emerging from the back room. By the time Human accesses the first stair and replaces the gate, a sad little nose is snuffling at the other side of it.

Sometimes, when Human/rat gets half way up the stairs and looks back, poor Hairy One has admitted defeat.




Oh dear.

Sometimes, when Human/rat peers over the banister twenty or thirty minutes later, poor Isis is still there.





Oh dear.

Human Rat goes to bed with a heavy heart.

Even though she should know by now that she is likely to be far more upset than Hairy One is.

More often than not, Isis resigns herself to the new regime and plods off to bed. Perhaps she  even sniggers to herself before she drops off to sleep, knowing that Human will stay awake worrying about her.

Actually, she is doing very well. When she slept on her own downstairs soon after she was adopted, night after night she screamed out and when I went down to her it took up to half an hour to wake her and calm her down. And this happened several times a night.

Even when she decided to join me upstairs, the night terrors continued for over two and a half years. Until quite recently, in fact.

It’s only over the last few months that she has sometimes slept through the night without any night terrors at all. Wonderful. Or she has been able to wake herself from her bad dreams and settle back to sleep.  On other occasions, when she has needed me to wake her, she has woken up almost immediately and quickly returned to sleep.

Each night, since she has been sleeping downstairs, she has had one or two episodes, but she has woken after a few seconds and I have not had to go down to her.

And, now, in the morning she is usually sleeping so soundly that I have to leave my hand by her nose for several seconds before she smells me and wakes up.

Then, of course, there are no hard feelings: she’s a dog!

Once awake, she’s delighted to find me, tolerates lots of cuddles and pats, and wags and wags and wags.


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 kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in dear little Isis, Isis at home, sleeping arrangements | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

it’s all pants



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’


Wednesday July 12th 2017


Human is feeling sorry for herself again. In addition to bruised ribs, she has torn a muscle in her shoulder. This time Isis played no part in the injury. Foolish Human achieved it all on her own by dismantling a heavy fence.

But, as we know, of course, human follies impact on their pets.

Only a few weeks after she came to live with me, Isis found her way upstairs and onto the bed. But she has always refused to walk back down.The stairs are steep and past attempts to persuade her to descend, even with me holding her harness, have succeeded only in frightening her witless.

Nor is it feasible for me to sleep with her downstairs on a regular basis as there’s only a very narrow single mattress on the futon.

Even I have to accept that it is no longer safe to carry Isis downstairs. I don’t suppose it ever was, really.

Oh dear.

On Saturday night, very reluctantly, I close the back room door on poor Isis and make my way upstairs.

How mean. How treacherous.

Then comes a dull clunk as the betrayed one walks into the door.

The door of the back room is always open so Isis is not used to approaching it carefully as she does other doors.

The rat upstairs winces and feels even more guilty.

Then comes a puzzled scritch, scritch at the door. The scritch of dog who knows that she should be upstairs on the bed. That’s what always happens. That’s what we do.

The rat upstairs attempts to read her kindle.

At regular intervals. the scritching at the door continues. The rat feels worse and worse.

And more and more tired.

At about four in the morning, the scritching ceases. Is Hairy One all right? Perhaps she has splintered the door and cut herself. She could be bleeding to death at this very minute.

But there she is in the morning, warm and sweet, stretching and wagging, delighted that I’ve arrived to let her out of her prison.

It would, I decide, be much better to put up an improvised stair gate so that when she is banished from the bedroom at night, at least she has the run of most of the downstairs space.



So the following night, that’s what I do. Then I disappear upstairs, leaving her on the other side of the gate, her little pink spotty nose sniffing in disbelief at the edges of the barrier.

About twenty minutes later, I hear an unusual sound: a faint, muffled sliding. This is followed by the unmistakable soft padding of a dog ascending the stairs.

Clicky claws rattle on the wooden floor, alongside the bed, close to my head. She wags a little to tell me that, despite my carelessly leaving the gate across the stairs, she has sorted it out and we’re reunited.

Then, flumph! She arrives on her part of the bed and wriggles down to sleep.

When I check it out, the gate is still standing, but clever little Isis has pushed it along and squirmed through the gap.


The descent next morning is particularly hazardous. I put my left arm under three quarters of Isis, and balance her little back feet on my right hand. She is always very co-operative during our morning descents and, even today’s strange arrangement doesn’t phase her. She curls her front feet round my left arm, leans her head into me  and stays absolutely still.

In this way we arrive safely in the hall.

But I can’t take any more risks, and that night I lay the gate directly onto the stairs.





Although Hairy One makes a brave attempt to scramble up between the struts, she has to admit defeat, and lies down in the hall looking sad.

She doesn’t cry. She never does. She utters three subdued woofs to remind me of my meanness, then she retires.

Thankfully, her night terrors are much less frequent than they used to be. When she is upstairs with me, of course, I can wake her and reassure her. It is only recently that she seems able to come out of these episodes without my intervention, and I worried that isolating her at night might lead to a regression.

So far, this hasn’t happened, but I am horrified to discover that she has nibbled a large patch of hair off one of her front legs. This, I’m sure, is a stress response, so I’ll need to keep a very close eye on her.

Poor Isis.

Only one positive has come out of all this. For months I’ve been looking for a suitable aid for walking her downstairs so I don’t have to carry her. And at last I’ve found one. It’s a strong, soft sling with a handle. It’s intended to support dogs with hip or back leg problems as they walk up and down stairs, but one review describes how it has been used to enable a very frightened blind dog to walk downstairs.

I’m measuring Isis up for one tomorrow.


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 kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in clever girl, dear little Isis, self-damaging, self-harming, sleeping arrangements | Tagged | 4 Comments

a very special lady



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Sunday July 9th 2017


Thursday July 6th, and we’re in Highbury Park when we meet Jc. with Harry, Maggie and Ruby.

Jc. is a park friend I’ve known for many years. Known and admired because, apart from being a kind and generous lady, she is an animal rescuer par excellence.

For years she homed just about any domestic pet who needed her; so much so, that her family and neighbours and neighbours’s friends and neighbour’s friends’ friends brought ailing pets to her door.

She didn’t draw the line at pets either. A few years ago, she spotted a very large, unhappy fowl – I don’t remembered its species , but it was not a common one – at a local market. Naturally, she bought it, popped it in the car and took it home where it lived its life out in comfort.

Then there was the feral cat discovered by Jc.’s daughter. Jc. drove carefully down the lane where the poor animal was hiding, stopped her car and got out. When she called the cat, it trotted towards her and got into the car.

And the poor little guinea-pig who was starving because its overgrown teeth prevented it from eating.

Jc.’s little yorkie Lizzie was one of my best dog friends. Even when she was very old, if I  knelt on the path and held out my arms, the little dog would race towards me for a fuss. Harry, her ‘brother’, was much loved by my dog Ellie. Harry didn’t care for young upstarts, but she wooed him with gentle nuzzles and kisses until, eventually, she won him over.

Isis arrived on the scene soon after little Lizzie died. At this time, she was at her most challenging, and, over the months, most of the walkers in Kings Heath Park became used to the sight of Isis going through her small repertoire. This comprised:

the ‘sit down/lie down strike’ which could last thirty minutes or more

the ‘inch-by-inch’, which came later and consisted of Human tapping, stroking, patting, cajoling, and Isis deigning to move forward at the rate of an inch every five, ten or fifteen minutes

and, I am ashamed to admit, Isis digging in her heels as she is hauled along by her harness.

When I began to understand and differentiate among her various behaviours, the scene was frequently of a very worried little dog being patted and stroked continuously and moving reluctantly along a particularly threatening path, or a pathetic, but more relaxed, little creature, front paws hooked over one of Human’s arms, head resting on paws as she was carried along a sun dappled stretch of ground

I can’t remember which of these pathetic scenarios was being played out when Jc. first met Isis, but I’ll never forget Jc.’s empathy and her words of encouragement. She even predicted that one day Isis would walk beside me off the lead. I couldn’t believe that would ever happen. But it does.

Jc was very impressed with Hairy One’s story, and said, “When it’s time for me to have another dog, I’ll adopt him or her from Dogwatch UK.”

About five months ago, she adopted Ruby.






You can still see the apprehension in Ruby’s little face.

Poor Ruby was found in abandoned in a car park in Spain. Her rescuers took food to her every day for three weeks before she came close enough to be caught.

On the day Ruby arrived in Birmingham, Jc. was at work, and her husband and granddaughter went to collect the dog.

When Jc. arrived home, she stood inside the front door and called Ruby.

Then, an amazing thing happened. Ruby came to her immediately, and lent against her legs. They bonded instantly.

And now it is rare to see Ruby more than a few inches away from Jc. Although, in the image above, she stands alone, this is very rare and is only because I got too close and frightened her.

Ruby’s dependency and her fear of ‘outsiders’, even if she has met them several times before, suggest that she has been very badly treated in her previous life.

Very sad.

It’s hugely comforting to know that she couldn’t have a better home than the one she has with her new family.


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 kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk


Posted in deaf/blind dog, dear little Isis, dogs adopted via DogwatchUK, Kings Heath Park, park dogs, relationship building, scary shadows, strange behaviour, the dogs of King's Heath Park, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, we don't like bright sun | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

understanding Dog



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Wednesday July 5th 2017


An extract from Dr. D. Og’s casebook: case 3, I. Understanding Dog.

Note – In order to preserve the  identity  dignity of the dog, the subjects of this case study are referred to only as ‘Dog’ and ‘Human’


‘In my title I am not suggesting for one minute that Dog is an understanding animal. Not at all. Humans are unfathomable, so why bother? No, what I mean is that Dog is an animal who must be understood.

It should be simple, really. Any dog knows that. All Human needs to do is to stop and think about Dog’s behaviour and ask herself, “Why?”

Following this very straightforward advice would save Human a lot of trouble.

Study these examples, and I’m sure it will be obvious whom to blame. And the culprit does not sport amazing ears and a wonderfully fluffy tail.


Example 1.

Human knows perfectly well that Dog has built up a nose map of the area around and alongside the pine trees in Highbury Park and is now confident enough to run there.

Dog had to concentrate very hard on accumulating this knowledge. There was a lot of groundwork.





It took her almost three years. First, she sniffed and danced on the end of her extending lead, then she did lots of tentative exploration, and after that she had to memorise all of the routes.

But now she’s mastered it, she can really run. And I mean run. She’s been increasing her speeds for months.

It’s not rocket science.

Human even boasts to friends that clever Dog has sussed out where it’s safe for her to run, and how she never runs where there are obstacles to crash into. And so on and so on. Boast, boast, boast.

But does Human take this into account? Of course not. She stands in the way, and before Dog can smell her, crash! It’s too late. Then she wonders why she’s face down on the ground.


Example 2.

Apparently, some people never learn. Last spring there was a similar scenario. After two years on her extending lead Dog is pretty proficient. She knows now that Human will not allow her to crash into anything. She sensibly stands still on all four paws if she is unable to extricate her legs from a particularly intricate lead tangle. (Having spent the first two years of her life tied up, she is, of course, able to  deal with straightforward tangles herself.)

Human must be aware that Dog has taught herself to stop and start on the head of a pin; yet, what does the silly b. do? She stands with her back to Dog, yattering away to Betty dog’s person. Naturally, she doesn’t notice when Dog, bored with the conversation, is ready to leap off in the opposite direction.

The fool is dragged backwards so fast that she lands on her back on the meadow.

The obvious lesson to learn (going forward, as the politicians endlessly say) is this: there are situations in which Dog, although blind and functionally deaf, is completely confident. In these situations, obviously she will want to run.


Example 3

A dog’s own garden, once a dog has become accustomed to the brambles and carelessly scattered flower pots, is a safe place. Yet Human stands in the way watching – even taking photos of Dog dashing around with her yellow snake.




She even stands in front of Dog taking photos. Note: This irrational behaviour is not unusual for some humans.




Fortunately, on this occasion Human walks sideways into a bramble and lurches into the fence (see bottom left of above illustration). Fortunately, on this occasion, a serious  collision is avoided.

It should be noted, however, that this silly behaviour could have had far more serious consequences. It was only by chance that poor Dog’s play was not interrupted. And think of the impact on Dog if she had been seen to drop her prey.


Example 4

Dog has been let out for a pee. She has been playing in the garden for about thirty minutes. Human enters the garden, taps Dog under the chin (the sign for ‘come with me’).

Dog resists.

Human taps again.

Dog resists.

Human grabs Dog’s collar.

Dog growls.

Human is very cross and forces now snapping dog into house.

After eating her dinner, Dog pees on kitchen floor.

Human is astonished. Dog is fastidious and never pees in the house. At last dim Human realises what Dog had been trying so hard to tell her. Dog had been playing and hadn’t had time to pee.

The main point for students to note here is that nowadays, when Dog is tapped under the chin in the garden, she obediently walks into the house. Yet Human doesn’t question the growls or the snapping until she’s mopping up a gigantic pool of urine thoughtfully done in the doorway.

The inevitable result is embarrassment for Dog who didn’t wish to pee on the floor. The unfortunate animal, whose bladder is uncomfortably full, is also forced to eat her dinner too quickly


Example 5

Dog has been caught off guard and is groomed, without warning, in the kitchen. Dozens, but dozens, of burrs and grass seeds are removed from unmentionable parts of her body.

Throughout the whole unpleasant process, Dog stands still. No growl is uttered. Not a snap passes her lips.

Following a long-standing arrangement regarding kitchen groomings, Dog retires to the futon as soon as the grooming is finished.

Minutes pass and no reward appears.

Dog is patient.

More minutes pass. Still no rewards.

Human continues to potter mindlessly in the kitchen.

It is not until she hears two loud, sharp barks from the futon next door that Human recalls that Dog has not had her rewards.

In this case, Dog has had to sit and wait for at least five minutes for what should have been instant.

Remember. A dog does not like, or deserve, to wait.*


*For further information see Chapter 10 Life is Too Short.


In the case of this greatly misunderstood dog, there are many, many, more instances of neglect. Too many to quote here, but readers might like to refer to my earlier works which clearly illustrate  …………………………………………………………………………………………’


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 kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk



Posted in deaf/blind dog, deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, Isis at home, running, running running, strange behaviour, walking in the park | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

bruised ribs and boxes



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Sunday July 2nd 2017


The drizzle on Thursday is heavy and steady. Isis wags heartily when Am. joins us on the old bowling green in Kings Heath Park at 10.00. Friend Am. dog sat for a night and a day for Isis soon after I adopted her, and always gets a warm reception.

Am. is spending the day with us and, back home, Isis obviously wants to be with us in the front room. But she finds the light too bright and retreats.

Soon, we are startled by loud crashes and clonks. We rush into the back room to discover Hairy One with her back to the door, tugging mightily at the floor of her huge cardboard box den.

Her tenacious efforts to drag her box into the hall, and then, presumably into the front room, have caused all the indescribably horrible piles of files, documents, dog toys and cushions which I’ve dumped on top of the box over the months to cascade onto the floor. This would alarm most dogs. Isis, of course, is oblivious to the noise and just carries on tugging.

I explain to Isis that the box is too large to go through the door, and we return to the front room.

When our guest has left, Isis and I venture out into the drizzle once more, this time to go   to Highbury Park.

There are a few cars in the car park but no-one in sight when we reach Hairy One’s pines. Naturally, neither the dismal weather nor the desolation are of any concern to Isis as she threads her happy way among the trees.

The drizzle settles softly on my hair and clothes as I drift off to other times and places.

As one does.

Absently, I look up just in time to see Isis barrelling towards me at top speed.

But not in time to take evasive action.

SMACK! She crashes into my lower legs. I feel myself lifted into the air. Then I land on the ground with a sickening thud.

I must have lifted my head and both arms up automatically to protect them. I suppose  because 1. it’s instinctive to protect one’s head, 2. I’d already sprained my right shoulder and it’s very painful, and 3. I need to preserve the other arm for everyday tasks.

I land on my rib cage and stomach.

Isis skips away apparently unhurt and totally unaware that her protector is lying, even wetter than before, on the sodden grass.

For several minutes I gasp for breath, not daring to move.

Good news: as there’s nobody around, I don’t have to scramble up, feigning nonchalance.

Bad news: if I’m unable to move, I might end up lying here all night.

Might Isis exhaust herself after a few hours and come and lie beside me to keep us both warm?

Unlikely. She’ll probably dance the night away. And, anyway, she isn’t keen on the cosying up thing.

After a few minutes of this unhelpful fantasising, I find that I am able to move. I sit on the soggy grass for another five minutes, then cautiously get to my feet. Very, very, gingerly, I walk towards Isis, capture her and creep down the slope to the path. My sternum and ribs feel like they’re on fire, but I can’t hear any cracking noises. I think I’ve been lucky. Again.

When we are near to the car park, I sit on a fallen tree trunk close to the main path. I don’t feel steady enough to drive yet and here, even in this weather, there are dog walkers about. If I pass out someone might assist me.

I release Isis to play by the hedge.

Back home, as the evening wears on, I become increasingly anxious. Over the phone, Polymath, sighs deeply. “Not again”, she says, and recommends that I look up NHS choices on-line and check out how to treat bruised ribs.

I do and am not greatly cheered to learn that the pain often takes a few weeks to subside. I also learn that it is important to stand up every hour and take ten very deep breaths to ensure that fluid does not gather on the lungs.

Eek! That’s alarming. As the evening wears even further on, the pain gets worse. I’ve been told that damaged ribs can be excruciatingly painful. So that’s normal. That’s all right then.

But it isn’t all right.

I try not to think about fluid gathering in lungs or any of the other nasty symptoms which the web-site says indicate a medical emergency.

What if a bit of rib floats off and punctures a lung?

What will happen to Isis if I have to call 999?

You can’t lie down without squashing your ribs. Standing up is less painful but I can’t stand up all night.

It would be much easier if I were a bat.

But I’m not a bat, so I phone Am. who lives close by in Selly Park, and explain my predicament. She says she will come over and stay the night. I don’t think this is necessary, but gratefully accept her offer to drive over if an emergency arises and take care of Isis.

We decide that I will hide the door keys in an agreed spot in case I fall off my perch before she can get into the house.

I feel calmer now, but don’t have a restful night. After plastering the injured shoulder with Deep Heat, I stuff a pillow under it and swallow a high dose of Co-codamol.

Then, sitting under the duvet, leaning against five piled up pillows so that I can breathe, I read my Kindle. After that, I listen to the World Service until 4.00. Then I drop off.

I do this again the next night.

But carrying Hairy One downstairs in the morning is increasingly difficult, so I resort to sleeping downstairs on the futon with her. That’s not a bundle of undiluted fun either. Light comes through the glass doors and disturbs her so she frequently jumps up for a quick jig. Not good for sore ribs.

Another negative is that the longer Isis spends entertaining herself in the park, the more burrs and grass seeds she collects, especially in her fluffy ears and whiskers. She does not, of course, enjoy having the greenery removed.

She has, however, concluded that the deal for removing bits should be the same as that for an all-over brush and comb: as long as we don’t snap at human, we get rewards when the ordeal is over.

To draw my attention to this new arrangement, as soon as I stand up, the wily canine retreats to her box and waits expectantly.






How can I resist you, my hairy projectile?


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 kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in dear little Isis, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, Isis at home, Kings Heath Park, running running, sleeping arrangements, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Nora’s holiday



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Wednesday June 28th 2017


On Tuesday evening, while Isis is happily playing on the field above the old bowling green, we meet P. and Nora.

Nora is only fourteen months old and just a little smaller than Wilda.




Nora, P. begins to tell me, has just returned from her first holiday. Well, she has visited friends and relatives before, of course, but this time she stayed in a B&B. with her humans, her best friend Milo and his humans.

At this point, we are interrupted by the disappearance of Isis whom I suspect has popped through the hole in the hedge leading to the old bowling green. Unnerved by her vanishing act in Highbury park on Sunday, I scramble through the hole to check on her. P., who is very tolerant, ducks through after me.

Sure enough, there is Hairy One cavorting beneath her fir tree.

While Nora regards her with undisguised surprise, P. shows me some beautiful landscape images taken from outside the B&B.

Soon we are interrupted once again by Isis popping back through the hole. Once more I follow her. Sensibly, P. goes for the more dignified round-the-hedge route this time.

Fortunately, Isis takes a shine to a large tree surrounded by interesting shrubs and obligingly dances round it for the next thirty minutes, and a friendly little cockapoo arrives to play with Nora, so, at last, I hear about her holiday.

P. and R. kindly let me have some of their impressive holiday images for the blog.

Here is Nora en route, a little puzzled, perhaps, about why her biscuits and bed are in the boot, but keen to find out where they’re going.






She soon finds out, and thinks it’s a real hoot.

Milo’s not so sure, but he’ll reserve judgement.




So this is what a ‘dog friendly’ B&B is. Rather like it.



The accommodation is excellent. The walks are brilliant.



But this is a bit embarrassing.




Stop wriggling Milo. If we want more holidays like this one, we just have to indulge our humans.


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 kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in the dogs of King's Heath Park, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

how to frighten humans



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Sunday June 25th 2017


Well, what a laugh!

Today Liz arrives with Dougie and Fergie while I am playing ‘in and out of the pine trees’. She brings rain with her. Very exciting. There’s only one thing I like more than playing ‘in and out of the pine trees’, and that’s playing it in the rain.

Human keeps bringing an old tugger with her to Highbury. That’s O.K. I’m an obliging dog, as you know, so I play with it several times, just to please her. (Humans can get so touchy.)






But today I’m feeling particularly skittish. Just before the rain comes, I find the most amazing stick. It’s not soft and boring like the tugger. It’s big and spiky, and it fights back.






The Human is getting agitated. We dogs can sense such things, as you know. I expect she’s whining something like, “Sweetheart, you don’t want that nasty thing. It’s dangerous. Give it to me.”

I lie down.






That, of course, means “Yes I do want it”, and ‘Shan’t.

I’m happily playing when the rain gets much wetter. You’ll never believe what she does next. She clips me onto my lead and drags me away.

She doesn’t even notice that part of the prickly stick has snapped off and stuck to the inside of my back leg. I’m really cross now so I swirl round and round, and snap at my bottom. She’s getting really cross too. I can smell it. I bet she thinks I’m just being difficult because I want to stay and play with my stick. The rain is very, very wet now. I make her stop and get the prickly stick off me.

It takes her a long time because lots and lots of my hairs are caught in it. She gets wet. Tee-hee. Serve her right. She should have left me alone.

We run to the edge of the woods where the others are sheltering under big trees.

Boring. But she sets me free and I dash down to the edge of the field to play. I like it here and always stay until she fetches me.

Well, I’m not going to today. I nip back to the pine trees to look for my stick.

Can’t smell any of them now. Good.

But, as every dog knows, all good things come to an end.

When she finds me, she smells frightened. Snigger. Well, I knew where I was. She hugs me a lot. Silly b.

Then we set off to find Ji. He’s over in the corner where I was playing. Don’t know what he’s doing there.

It’s a long time before I can smell L. though. Or Dougie. Or Fergie. When they come back, they smell of the woods. They must have been for a very long walk.

I run into Dougie, so he isn’t pleased. He yaps at me. But L. gives me lovely rubs and strokes. And then Ji. pats me a lot.

Don’t know what the fuss is about, but not to worry, I soon find another big stick. One I had a good chew on only the other day.

She’s not taking this one away from me, but just to be sure, I run off with it into the lovely boggy place where the grass is taller than me.






Sometimes you just have to put your paw down.


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 kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, Isis is no angel, running running, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

it’s my tree! it’s my tree!



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Wednesday June 21st 2017


Suddenly, one day last week, when we cross the road from the car park in Highbury, Isis springs through the long grasses of the meadow and before I know it, we are heading for  the fallen tree. The one she was so passionate about last year.





The one where the sticky plant grows in profusion.




and covers Isis from head to foot with its little green and brown burrs which have to be picked from her hair one by one.

The tree which has branches shooting out in all directions, so that when she ducks and dives in and out of them, she weaves an impenetrable web with her extending lead. The only way I can untangle the lead is by crawling after her, inch by inch. This involves squirming under and over the tree trunk, fighting one’s way through swathes of seeding weeds and being prodded all over by sharp twigs. One tries not to think about the insect life which might at any moment drop down one’s neck.

Three or four clambourings was quite sufficient, thank you, and I began to give the tree a wide birth. She would eventually forget it, I hoped. (Silly me.) I felt guilty because she  enjoyed the tree so much, but enough, after all, is enough.

Today, though, Hairy One’s joy at her rediscovery of the tree gets to me and I don’t have the heart to deny her her pleasure.

Ah, though, it suddenly strikes me. It’s different now. Last summer she had never been off her lead except in the garden. Now I can set her free. I know that she will stay in the vicinity of the tree.

Brilliant. She can scrabble under and scramble over the trunk, burrow through the undergrowth, dart in and out of the low branches, and





make little tunnels to wriggle through and follow the scents.




Hairy One’s three main tunnels



Isis has a wonderful time. Her tail doesn’t stop wagging. She is enraptured by all she can smell and feel.

And all I have to do is sit on the trunk and watch her.


This is the life!


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 kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged | 2 Comments