I don’t want it

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday

 

Sunday January 29th 2023

 

It’s such a relief to have weaned Isis from her previous habit of growling, screaming and yapping her way through each mouthful of her food, that over the months, Human grows complacent. Dog mealtimes should now be stress free, shouldn’t they, especially if the menu is varied? Yes, there have been hiccups of course, but this is only to be expected.

Yet, despite my efforts to change the fare every two or three days, Isis still turns her nose up today at something she ate with relish yesterday, or falls enthusiastically on her breakfast even though it comprises the same ingredients which she refused to eat the previous evening. Each time I post that I’ve cracked it, I soon find out that I’m sadly mistaken.

SIGH.

My dog, it seems, is still dissatisfied with the catering service. She’s probably unsure of how can she manipulate Human in order to get what she wants. I fantasise that this is her dilemma, and that she has been thinking very carefully about the most effective strategies to employ.

Obviously it is very hard for her to set aside years of making as much noise as she can; on the other hand, she really can’t stand any more of Human’s training tricks. Understandable.  I mean, how would you feel if you were desperately hungry, and, just because you barked, your food was snatched away from under your nose, and you had to wait silently for it to be given back to you?

No, there must be a better way of asserting herself without that tarradiddle.

I fantasise further that she must have spent long hours thinking about this, probably while she was at Hollytrees Kennels last month. She would have had plenty of time to herself, and in the kennels, she doesn’t fuss about eating,  just empties her dish as fast as possible  before the other dogs gang up to ambush her and steal her food.

What can she do which will not only wind up Human but also reward Dog?

That’s quite a difficult one. She knows a multitude of ways of upsetting Human, but none of them involves a reward for her: she can swipe the pebble arrangement off the low shelf in the porch, but that will only irritate Human and provoke a loud shriek.

She can leap off the porch step, dragging Human with her so that all the stuff she’s carrying gets scattered over the path, but then she will be made to return to the step until she walks properly, and that’s a waste of time.

When they’re out walking together, she can turn round without any warning and stride off in the opposite direction, but if she does that, Human will bring her back, walk behind her and poke her furry backside as soon as she stops to rest her paws.

She can always stand demurely by the front door, wagging her tail sweetly while her harness is being put on. There’s a tricky strap which has to be fixed under her chest, and this requires a person to bend down with her face almost touching a dog’s muzzle. As soon as she feels heavy breathing on the hairs of her right ear, she can let out the loudest, most explosive  YAFF possible and make Human leap three feet in the air. That’s always good for a laugh – yes, but that’s all a dog gets out of it.

I surmise that Isis continues to wrack her canine brains.

Ah, perhaps she might suddenly remember how anxious Human is when, only a few weeks ago, her precious dog is struck down with that nasty stomach bug.

Yes, indeed, and Isis remembers how much she liked the scrambled egg and rice which was served several times a day.

That was a very welcome change; moreover, she really enjoyed Human holding the little dish for her, and stroking her gently while she lapped up the food.

And she revelled in the praise heaped on her when she licked the dish clean.

Yes, instead of greeting her food bowl with a cacophony of ear piercing screeches, she will be silent – well, perhaps give a pathetically weak woof now and then to keep Human focussed – and just turn her head away from her dish. Alternatively, she can eat a couple of mouthfuls, and when Human, much relieved, relaxes and retires with her Kindle, her dog can push open the door and climb onto the day bed looking off-colour and leaving a virtually full bowl behind her in the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

That should stop the lazy so-and-so’s gung-ho behaviour – weighing out of dish of boring kibbles, without even wondering if her little dog might like something more tempting.

Huh!

Yes, she’ll make Human cook her delicious little dishes of scrambled egg and rice, reward her further with lots of pats and strokes, maybe even kiss her on the top of her head when she’s licked away the last stray grain of rice.

What’s not to like?

It sounds like the perfect plan.

Wahay!

 

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 Isis at Hollytrees, Isis at home, Isis is sad, Isis says "No"., oh dear, patience is a virtue., poor Isis, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

frost, ice, and mucking about

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday

 

Sunday January 22nd 2023

 

Over the last week, Isis and I have enjoyed some good walks and managed to visit most of our favourite haunts.

It’s still Wellington boots and black paws, but we have a good time anyway. When the rain pauses to gather strength for its next onslaught, bitter cold rushes in to take its place, and I wonder whether Evri will ever deliver the winter warmers which I ordered from Sock Snob: Heat Holders socks, neck warmer and head band.

I know how amazingly warm and soft the range is because I was given a pair of their socks for Christmas.

Isis doesn’t appear to feel the cold. Only on one evening does she swing her back end into my side and wriggle as close to me as she possibly can. This particular evening, I believe, is the coldest one of the year.

 

 

 

 

I wonder whether she should have her coat on when we go out, but I know that it would only be for my benefit. Her undercoat is thicker than it’s ever been, and her top coat seems to grow several centimetres each night. “Oh my god!” is a common exclamation from admirers in Highbury Park as she hoves into sight.

So I compromise and put her coat in the car, just in case she feels chilly on the way home. She seldom does.

She finds the frost on our back lawn very stimulating. When I let her out in the morning,   she stands bolt upright, sniffing the air. After about ten seconds, she bends her head to sniff the grass, but jolts back as soon as her nose contacts an icy blade. Her movements are exactly the same as when she came across a hedgehog one evening, or when she mistakes a thin, bendy stick for a snake.

Scents always seem more exciting on frosty mornings, and she likes to follow invisible trails back and forth across the garden instead of taking a quick pee before hurrying in for breakfast. Quite often she’s just about to place a paw on her little ramp, when something irresistable entices her back into the garden. This usually happens when I’ve just opened the kitchen door to let her back in, and I’m left standing in my dressing gown assailed by icy blasts.

“Thanks Isis,” I say, hastily closing the door. I know it’ll not be long before a loud, gruff  “WOFF!” commands me to let her in.

As we walk along the little track parallel to the allotments in Holders Lane, making  our way to Cannonhill Park, she is taken by surprise when she steps on the first iced-over puddle. As well she might be. I can’t remember when we last had ice, and I’m sure she’d forgotten what it feels like when one’s paws suddenly descend into icy water. She’s not frightened, but doesn’t care for the experience, and soon learns to step away to the side of the path as soon as she feels ice underfoot.

We’ve not been here for several weeks as the paths have been covered with deep, claggy mud, so it’s an exciting walk for Isis, with numerous delectable smells to be investigated and marked.

Two days later we’re back, this time, at Isis’s insistence, clambouring through the eerie little straggle of wood which borders the river Rea, and emerging onto the playing fields.

She loves the frosty playing fields. She enjoys big, empty spaces where she’s not fenced in. The frost is an added bonus, and she’s galvanised into little hither and thither dashes and twirls as she catches scents wafted by the wind.

One day we’re off through Jasmin Fields to the canal. Now the tall, dense foliage which provides a useful barrier between the canal and the path, has shrunk away, there’s nothing to warn Isis how close the water is, and I have to monitor her very closely, keeping myself between her and the canal while navigating the icy path.

I’ve so many layers on, that it’s only with great difficulty that I manage to zip up my winter dog-walking coat. Just as it’s progressing from very difficult to impossible, my Heat Holders arrive.

The headband and neck warmer make me so hot when I put them on indoors that I can’t wait to rush into the freezing outdoors.

Mmmm ………… I’m ensconsed in unimaginable warmth. I don’t care that my hair is sticking up out of the headband like a pineapple’s spikes – I’m warm from head to toe.

Oh joy! Oh bliss!

Now there’s only one problematic set of extremities left: hands.

I have warm, thickly lined skiing gloves purchased from TK Max several years ago. They’re excellent, so what’s the problem?

Think dogs. Think dog bags. There are some tasks which can’t be completed with one’s hands clad in warm mittens.

Pavement walks are particularly challenging, of course, as one hand is fully occupied with attempting to restrain Isis.

Brrrrr! Here goes. Off with mittens. They’re too bulky to fit into pockets. Where does one put them? O.K. clench them between your knees or wedge them under your arms.

Floppp! As I step forward to collect Hairy One’s offering, the mittens slip from between my knees onto the pavement, narrowly missing the poop. Or floppp! As I scrabble in a pocket to locate the roll of dog bags, or, having located them, faff around attempting to detach one, or having successfully detached one, reach out towards the target, the mittens drop into a patch of mud, then I tread on them.

So I dance and stumble, slide and grumble like a poor imitation of a Charlie Chaplin stunt while Isis, relieved of any responsibilty, blithely tugs on her lead. She’s ready to be off again, please.

I often recall the day, years ago, when our usual silly group is playing with the dogs on the old bowling green in Kings Heath Park. Gary bends to clean up after Cookie. But he bends too quickly, and his business phone slips from his top pocket and lands with a dull plonk in the poop. Simultaneously, the phone begins to ring.

Do we sympathise with our mate? Of course not. We all fall about in hysterics. Gary, temporarily nonplussed, manages to press the on  button and ask in as businesslike a tone as he can muster, “Sorry, but can I ring you back?”

“Are you going to tell him why you had to ring back?” splutters Di, all but overcome with mirth.

“He’ll think you’re talking crap!”, I squeak, hardly able to contain myself.

Other ribald comments follow thick and fast as Gary tries to control his sniggering enough to return the call.

Those were the days.

And that’s enough of that.

 

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, clever girl, deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, frost and snow, Highbury Park, Holders Lane, Holders Lane Woods, Isis at home, Jasmin Fields, Kings Heath Park, park dogs, park people, rain, scenting, sleeping arrangements, these dogs!, twirling, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the invalid

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday

 

Sunday January 16th 2023

 

Warning to the squeamish: this post is all about what goes into and what comes out of a dog, so perhaps you may not wish to peruse it over breakfast. Perhaps indeed, you may not wish to peruse it, period.

Isis is not her usual enthusiastic self when we play ‘hunt the special treats’ at J’s on Sunday afternoon. It takes her much longer than usual to find three of the four treats, and she gives up on the fourth one, retires to her chosen spot and goes to sleep.

Oh.

She eats her evening meal, but when Monday comes she only nibbles at her breakfast. While we’re out walking, she has diarrhoea.

(This has only happened once before. It was soon after she had left Portugal, and during her first visit to Wales. She was still very underweight and permanently ravenous. While I was asleep, she found and devoured an outsized, raw sweet potato still covered in soil.)

She seems fine when we go for a walk. When we get back, she retches and deposits a small, acidy looking pool on the floorboards. I assume that’s the result of the missed breakfast, and think nothing of it. When we visit the vet for Isis’s booster vaccination and the vet asks about her general health, I answer that she’s fine, and pass off the diarrhoea which hasn’t happened again, and the morning’s little upchuck, as a mere hiccup.

In the evening, she refuses her meal, and later produces another acidy looking pool. She’s looking decidedly sorry for herself now, and has that sad, damp, head-hanging look. I stay with her overnight, and have to mop up two more nasty little pools. She refuses food except for half a gravy bone.

She is definitely ill. But what should I do? It sounds daft from someone who has had dogs for most of her adult life, but except for her summer skin allergy, Isis has never been ill.  And Ellie, my previous dog, only had one, very brief, bout of vomiting over the fourteen years of her life. So it’s well over twenty three years since I have had to treat an indisposed dog.

(Indisposed cats are quite a different matter. Chucking up their food never seems to bother them much. After noisy and histrionic heavings, they glare at one accusingly, as though one were responsible for the nasty little heaps deposited on the rug or the duvet. Then, swishing their tails irritably, they leave the polluted scene to seek somewhere cleaner and more hygienic.

Not so dogs. Typically, as soon as she feels queazy, poor Isis stands bolt upright, looks dismayed, and hastens down from her bed to the floor. She then attempts to make her way outside to avoid defiling our house. Should she – heaven forfend – vomit in the house, she looks distraught, even though, of course, I would never express disapproval. She is not easily consoled: it takes a huge amount of sympathetic head stroking to convince her that it’s not her fault and no-one’s cross with her.)

Now, what must I do? I remember that cold boiled water rather than tap water is a good idea when treating gut problems, but,  although I recall that twelve – or is it twenty-four? – hours of starvation may be the way to proceed, I can’t remember the diet she will need, or the frequency of feeding. I text my close friend Nick the Animal Man, explaining (in graphic detail) what has been going on. I express the hope that he is not eating his lunch, then continue:

‘Should I starve her until tomorrow, or try to tempt her to eat a little?’

He replies within minutes:

‘I would starve her tonight unless she seems really hungry, then you could try her with a very little boiled rice, and possibly a tiny amount of chicken breast. If you decide to starve her, you could use the rice and chicken tomorrow.’

‘Have problem as she’ll not eat chicken. Would scrambled egg do?’

‘Yes, just enough to make the rice palatable.’

Isis doesn’t seek food. She just sleeps all day. But foolish Human has forgotten to take her dish away, and in the evening, crunch, crunch, Hairy One helps herself to a few kibbles.

Inevitably, it’s not long before she throws up again.

Oh dear.

On Wednesday morning I place a flat dessert spoonful of rice and the same amount of scrambled egg in a little cat bowl. She comes to the kitchen door looking hopeful, and I hold the little bowl out to her. She eats hungrily, her whiskers tickling my fingers. She finds it hard to believe that’s all she’s getting, but being Isis, she doesn’t say anything.

I consult my mentor once more. Yes, this amount once an hour should be fine.

She has five of these tiny meals throughout the day, but, of course, no bedtime treats.

All is well.

Now I am less worried.

On Thursday, I double the amount of rice and scrambled egg, and give her three meals. To her delight, we also try a short walk.

Again, all is well, so I buy some minced steak from Nigel, the butcher over the road. On Friday, I give her three meals the same size as the day before with half a dessert spoonful of cooked mince added to each.

On Saturday she has just two meals. They include equal portions of rice, egg and mince and a handful of kibbles. We have a longer walk today. She is eating enthusiastically, and bouncing around happily.

Today I have increased her kibble to the usual amount, and added a taste of dog meat. We’ve fed the crows in Highbury, she’s happily hunted for treats at J’s, and now she’s sleeping soundly.

So no more worries then?

Of course there are worries – I’m a dog owner. Now I’m wondering if I’ve fed her too much  today.

I think I may have. Oh dear.

 

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 vet visit, crisis, deaf/blind dog, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis in trouble, Isis is sad, Isis says "No"., Kings Heath Park, off to the vet, oh dear, poor Isis, sleeping, something's not right, strange behaviour, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

well, you see, what happened was ……………………………

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

 

Sunday January 8th 2023

 

HAPPY

NEW

YEAR

HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

Apologies for the inordinately long gap. Unfortunately, I had an r.a. fatigue wipe out and a low grade infection before Christmas, then covid over the festive – or not – season.

During this unjoyful period, I just managed, disguised by neck-warmers, hood and thick mask, to take Isis out every day except for one, then was comatose for the rest of the day.

Thank goodness we are lucky enough to have vaccines in this country.

I have to report throughout all this, Isis has been brilliant: amazingly patient and undemanding, even though her meals have been presented to her at all hours of the day and night, from 4.00 a.m. to 12.00 p.m., and Human, uninvited, has virtually taken over the day bed. Not infrequently, having crashed onto it after the daily walk, Human has remained there until the following morning, without giving poor Hairy One her bedtime treats.

My already fuzzy grasp of dates and time appears to have dissolved completely, so please overlook any impossible feats such as arriving before I’ve set off, or dropping a week here or there, or straying into the wrong month. Also, it goes without saying, I deny any responsibility for syntactical slips, punctuation poops or even, heaven forfend, spelling spmistakes.

During the third week of December, I want to visit my nephew who lives in Yorkshire. This time, I am very apprehensive about leaving Isis at the kennels. Following her being taken at short notice at the beginning of last year, and being made to run the gauntlet between two rows of barking kennelled dogs, to the only vacant, and furthest away kennel, she has not wanted to be left there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She would only be staying for four nights, but, as all we silly pet owners know, it’s devastating to watch your beloved pet scrabbling to gain a pawhold on the path and turning back to look/sniff pleadingly towards you as s/he’s herded away.

So it is with some apprehension that I pull up at the kennels on December 18th. As we walk through the main gate, I wait miserably for the show-down.

But it doesn’t happen. Isis greets Tracey aimiably, and, without a backward glance, allows Mark to lead her to her Hair B&B. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.)

What a relief.

She isn’t letting me think that I can take her for granted though, and just leave her somewhere whenever the fancy takes me: when I pick her up, she waves her tail once, then ignores me.

I take her for a walk before we make for home, and when we arrive in the porch, she strolls off down the hallway and disappears into the back room.

Oh.

O.K.

It’s not until the next morning that she joins in our ritual greetings. I place my hand by her nose before sitting next to her, then kiss her head, which, oddly, she loves. She sniffs my face and wags her tail vigorously – unless she’s lying on it, in which case I hook it from underneath her, then she wags it vigorously.

And then, as I’ve already said, Human sinks and Isis is angelic.

Sorry this post is a little short and not hugely inspiring. Human is rapidly running out of energy.

 

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, a very good dog, dear little Isis, Isis at Hollytrees, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., oh dear, sleeping arrangements, these dogs!, VERY early in the morning., who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

APOLERGIZ, APOLERGIZ ……………………

 

 

Many apolergiz. There will not be a post until later in the week as Human has totally run out of energee. Isis pp Human.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

snakes alive – by Isis

 

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

 

Sunday December 11th 2022

 

It’s a dull, damp day and I can smell that this is the path which leads to the big woods. Human says I can choose where we go, but she doesn’t mean it. She thinks we’ll walk on a little further and turn into the little lane which takes us up to the first field, or she’ll make me take the path opposite the little lane. If we walk on that one, we’ll go through the big woods as well.

She thinks just because I’m smaller than her, I’m easy to boss around but I’m not. I don’t want to walk along the little lane. It’s boring. And I don’t want to go through her woods. They’re boring. I want to sniff in my little wood.

All the other dogs walk up the little lane. I can smell their pees any day. Lots of dogs come down through the big woods, too. So I’m sure to have someone’s cold nose stuck up my ar  bottom, or someone’s paws pounding past, making the ground shake, and the wind blow my fur on end. Even worse, some rude dog will probably shove its muzzle right into my face and huff and fuff on me. Yuk.

Anyway, Human’s not let me go into my little wood for ages and ages, so I’m blo damn well going today. And I have a strattergy.

I sniff very urgently, then turn round and round with my tail stuck out, as if I’m desperate for a sh poo. I unfold a bit, but not completely, then, pretending to be con-ster-pay-Ted, I shuffle further along the track. When I am well away from the road, I stop for a cra poo. This is sure to annoy Human, snigger, because we’re too far from the dog bin for her to run to it. It wouldn’t be safe. Someone could steal me, so she’ll have to carry the bag all the way through the wood, over the big field, and up the steps before we reach the next bin.

I’m going to enjoy this walk.

I turn into the wood and begin to sniff. There are hundreds of lovely soft leaves under my paws, and the smells coming up from them are amazing. Human is hanging back, leaving me to go first. Tippickul. Someone espeshully brave has to lead the way, and face the dangers. I’m one of those. They call us pie-on-ears. I’m a pie-on-ear.

Then, suddenly, as I am nkeed neekd kneading the lovely leaves, something attacks my front legs. I jump back very quickly. I’m not afraid – I only jump back so fast in case Human might need help. Then something whips at my chin. Oh my dog! It’s snakes. Snakes are very, very danjerus. They can bite a dog. They can even kill a dog.

EEEEEEEEEK! I rush out of the wood, and stand close behind Human – to protect her, of course, because it’s my duty. It’s best to be behind her, then the snakes can’t see me, and if they attack her, I can jump out and surprise them. From behind Human, I give a little woof, just as a warning to the snakes.

She thinks I’m a very brave dog. I know that because she strokes my head and gives me a hug, and says, “Dear, dear, dear.” She knows she’s very for-chew-nut to have such a brave dog to look after her. I don’t want to go back into the wood, but she makes me. She wants me to kill the snakes for her. I can smell that she’s fritened. She keeps patting me, and telling me what a brave dog I am. 

So I step further into the woods. This is better. I’ve passed the snakes. It’s safe now.

But it isn’t: as I walk along, sniffing the smells at the edge of the path, a snake darts out and tries to bite me. Luckerly, I’m too quick for it. This keeps happening, and Human keeps patting me to tell me it’s safe. I know it’s safe. She’s the scared one. She makes me walk in the middle of the path, in front of her. There are no snakes in the middle, so I can stop guarding her, and enjoy xploring. 

Now I can feel vibrashuns in the air. Human is laughing. I expect she’s saying something silly, but I take no notice, just climb over the big tree trunk as usual.

 

 

 

I’m very good at climbing over things. I’ve always been able to do it.

 

 

 

Ah, we’re getting close to the field now. I can smell sweaty human feet. There must be someone running up and down chasing a ball. Humans are very childish. Mind you, some stupid dogs do it too. Blitzi’s always doing it, then he lies down and chews the ball up, and spits all over it. Smells re-vole-ting.

Now we’ve reached the lane, and now we’re on the field. Oh horrer, horrer, there’s a nest of snakes on the grass! I jump backwards. I’m very shocked, but I try to look carm so Human doesn’t get scared again. The snakes don’t come after me. Very, very carefully, I creep up to the nest. I even sniff it. Nothing moves.

That’s OK then, they won’t be attacking Human, but best to be careful, so I back away, and walk around them in a big circle. I find a few more snake nests, so I walk in a big, big circle around every one to show Human there’s nothing to be scared of, and she’ll be perfickly O.K. if she just copies me.

When I catch up with  her, she pats me a lot.

It’s eggs-or-sting having to look after Human everywhere we go. I’m glad when we turn round and take a different way back to the car.

I’ll be glad to be back home.

I expeckt when we get home, she’ll give me a Bacon Sizzler for proteckting her so well.

Bacon Sizzlers are very nice.

I like Bacon Sizzlers.

 

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 clever girl, clever Isis, dear little Isis, Holders Lane, Holders Lane Woods, Isis says "No"., oh dear, patience is a virtue., poor Isis, scenting, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, walking my deaf/blind dog, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

snakes alive!

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

 

Sunday December 4th 2022

 

It’s a dull, damp day and we’re walking up the path which leads to Holders Woods. I intend to walk on a little further and turn either left to walk along the lane which leads onto the first of the fields, or head off right to follow a path through the woods. I’ve told Isis it’s her choice today.

She doesn’t choose either of these routes, instead she insists on taking the first turning on the left, from which little tracks, now hidden beneath many layers of leaves, meander through the trees close to the river.

This surprises me as she’s not wanted to walk this way for weeks. I attempt to head her off as the tracks are bound to be very muddy, and, already, the light is fading. I admit that I find this place creepy sometimes: the trees, now without leaves, huddle together, their branches black and thrusting, so that it’s not possible to see more than a few yards ahead. We rarely meet a dog walker here.

But Isis insists, and begins to trot jauntily onwards. 

Not for long, though. Hardly has she set paw on the narrow track, when she leaps backwards as though she’s been stung, turns herself round smartly, and dashes back to me. What on earth’s the matter? Once she has postioned herself safely behind Human, she lifts her head and gives a small, not very brave woof.

Now, it’s very, very unusual for Isis to bark when she’s out. Once she leaves the house and crosses the pavement – which, as we know, she considers to be her territory – she seldom makes a sound until she’s back home again.

I know she’s not warning me about a dogless stranger lurking nearby, because that would certainly provoke one of her loud, menacing alarm barks which make the hair on my arms and neck stand on end. I look closely at the spot where she encountered the ‘danger’, but can find nothing. Has an enemy left a particularly potent scent? Did some creature dart out of the undergrowth and nip her? But what sort of creature? Who but woodlice, toads or worms live in this damp undergrowth?

Worms? Ah! The mists of time suddenly lift, and I float back over the years ………….

I think it’s Hairy One’s first spring in Britain. She’s entertaining herself exploring the long grass at the edge of the little wood in Kings Heath Park. She’s on a very long lead, and when she begins a dance ritual, approaching the long grass cautiously, then hastily  retreating, I move closer to see what she’s up to. I am fascinated by what I observe, but still mystified.

She seems to have discovered something hiding in the grass. When she’s close to whatever it is, she stretches her neck forward and tentatively sniffs, then she pounces and pats the ‘something’ before jumping back. I search among the long stems but all I can see is a thin, bendy twig which has sprouted up through the soil, obviously determined to grow into a sapling.

What does she think it is – a snake?

I describe her behaviour in the week’s blog, and Kerry, who is one of the founders of the Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal, where Isis came from, told me that is exactly what Portugese dogs do when they come across the little snakes common in the area.

I’ve not seen Isis performing the snake finding routine since, although, of course she now runs free in woods and parks, so she may have made the odd discovery unnoticed. Certainly she’s not performed as she is performing today.

I stare at the track again, and realise that the ground is covered as far as I can see, with long, greeny-yellow stems which have separated from their fallen leaves. I return to Isis who is still reluctant to advance, “Dear, dear, dear,” I murmur sympathetically, stroking her head, “Are those nasty little snakes frightening you?”

I know she can’t hear me, but perhaps there’s a comforting vibration, or the pats make her braver, because she allows me to lead her back onto the beginning of the track where she first became frightened. She’s still quite nervous, and extremely skittish, treading on the spot among the snake stems. The stems are damp and flexible,  so that when a dog steps on the end of one, the other end flips up and taps her legs. She spends a long time sniffing and patting each one and then snatching her paw back.

Eventually we walk further into the wood where there are still stems underfoot, but most of them, overshadowed by the crowded trees and soaked by the dripping mist, are limp and soggy. Some, in more open spots are leaning out over the path, so, intermittently, poor Isis jumps back as though she has touched an electric fence, but the jumps are less frequent and she isn’t afraid to go forward. Now and then we come across thick branches which have fallen across the path, “Here’s a python,” I tell her, but she ignores me.

 

 

 

She was taught long ago how to tackle pythons, and when a hand is placed on her flank, she’ll clambour or leapfrog over them.

 

 

 

We reach the lane. There are a few more stems scattered on the field but, braver now, she sniffs them, backs away and carefully circumnavigates them.

“What a brave girl,” I tell her.

 

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 clever girl, clever Isis, dear little Isis, Holders Lane, Holders Lane Woods, Isis says "No"., oh dear, poor Isis, scenting, something's not right, these dogs!, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

what a day it is, what a day …..

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday.

 

Sunday November 27th 2022

 

Monday. Not the greatest beginning to a new week. I’m late getting up – plus ça change there then – and when I wander over to the window and draw back the blinds, it looks as though someone is chucking bucketfuls of rain against the bedroom windows.

Sigh. Yes, Isis will love to go out in it, and generally I’m up for walking whatever the weather, but the days of greyness seem relentlessly determined to carry on for ever.

And then I see it: the front nearside tyre of my car is pancake flat.

Groan.

So many decisions to make. It’s all to0 much in the morning. Must ring my breakdown service immediately. But no, best to have a shower first as they might come out before I’m dressed. But on a day like this, there might be hundreds of breakdowns, and I have an appointment at 4.10 this afternoon. But it’s only 11.00. Get in the b. shower. No, must let Isis out and give her her breakfast first.

Inevitably, this internal debate has delayed me, so it’s well after twelve by the time I’m back downstairs to face the next dilemma. Isis hasn’t been out yet. I should take her before I ring the breakdown. But then I might miss the appointment. On the other hand, if the rescue people come late, there might not be time for her walk before it’s time to leave, and when I get home it’ll be dark, and Isis will refuse to go out. If I don’t have the tyre fixed today, though, what if there’s an emergency? What if Isis needs to be rushed to the vet?

I ring Motoring Assistance. The phone at the other end is picked up immediately (yes, really). About an hour later, a guy is here to change the tyre.

The surgery is only five minutes away. There’s plenty of time to take Isis for a walk.

The rain is still very heavy, so heavy that, for the first time in years, I think Isis needs some weatherproofing! Her natural coat takes hours to dry out thoroughly, and, clearly,  she’ll be soaked. Ellie, my previous dog, had a red raincoat which proved much too small for Isis, but it’ll be better than nothing.

I  riffle through the animal bedding, vet cones and clothing cache. Nothing. Must have given Ellie’s little red coat away. Then, right at the back I come across another coat. It looks new, it’s waterproof and it even has a warm lining; furthermore, astonishingly, it looks big enough for Isis.

Slowly, the memory comes back. It’s 2014, and Hairy One’s first winter in Britain. Adopters are advised by Dogwatch U.K. that their Spanish and Portugese dogs, acclimatised to warm temperatures, will need coats in cooler countries.

It was obvious that Isis was warm enough during the autumn months, but a warm winter coat was bought for when it would be needed. When the icy weather came, she wore it for several days before I realised, when she settled in the car for the home journey, that the poor little creature was very hot. She was, of course, young and energetic, and she had grown her own thick winter coat.

The new coat was put away and completely forgotten.

Today a very cold wind kindly accompanies the rain. I carry the coat downstairs, wondering how she’ll react to it.

She seems a little surprised that I’m adding yet another layer on top of her harness, and turns her head to sniff at it. I expect that she recognises her own scent on it even though she’s not worn it for over eight years. She accepts it without further investigation, and after Human has worked out how to thread the lead through the little slit in order to attach it to her harness, we’re ready for off.

The coat fits perfectly, and looks very cosy; it even has a stand up collar to keep the back of a dog’s neck dry.

 

 

 

 

 

Very chic, Isis.

 

The new coat does not cramp her style, and we jog off along the pavement, Isis holding her tail aloft, and waving it joyfully. I bear in mind the many times when she has zipped off after scenting a cat, and I have narrowly avoided measuring my length on the pavement: I keep a very close look-out for sudden changes of gear, and there are no mishaps.

Isis investigates each of the myriad scents she comes across, and would like to stay out longer, but, mindful of my appointment, I persuade her to head for home.

Wonderful! Only her head, ears and feet need drying. I hurry upstairs to change, checking the time every few minutes. Before I leave, I check on Isis. Yes, she’s warm, dry and looks very contented.

When I snap on my seat belt, it’s exactly four 0’clock. It usually takes five minutes to reach the surgery, but it’s best to arrive early.

I turn on the engine and reach for my driving glasses.

*”**”*! I’ve left them in the house. Off with the engine. Off with the seat belt. Unzip inside pocket, and scrabble for house keys. Back out into the rain. Only a quick search is necessary. Found them!

It’s still not quite five past four yet. I’ll make it.

But, as usual, I have too many things in my hands. Just as I’m about to open the car door, glug-clank – the car keys have slipped between my fingers, and are lying in the gutter under about three inches of swirling rain water.

**”*! **”*!  and double **”*! I scream against the wind. The spare key is broken and has not yet been replaced, the case enclosing the key in the gutter doesn’t fit properly and often comes apart.

Eek! If the chip gets wet, the key may not work. It must be dried thoroughly.

Keep calm, you still have three minutes to get there.

Forgetting that my phone is under my right arm, I reach forward to open the driver’s door. Gurgle, thud! My phone drops into the gutter. I’m beside myself with rage, and muttering, “How could you be so – – – – – – –  stupid?”, retrieve the phone and attempt to dry it.

It’s now almost ten past four. I shoot off, park the car and race over the road to the surgery.

Today’s not my lucky day. In front of me, a guy is having a protracted debate with the practice manager so it’s impossible to approach a receptionist. By the time I’m able to announce my arrival, it’s almost twenty minutes past four.

The receptionist tells me that the nurse needs twenty minutes to complete my blood tests,  and I’m almost twenty minutes late, so the appointment must be re-booked.

Not wishing to tempt fate, I drive home very slowly, and creep up the path like a tranquilised snail. Once indoors, I am ridiculously cautious, refraining from walking  around in my socks, taking the stairs one at a time, drying my hands meticulously before inserting plugs into sockets.

Isis welcomes me onto the day bed, where I doss for most of the evening. She is very relaxed, shunts herself against me comfortingly, and even stays snuggled close to me when I cover her with a fleece.

I call it a day.

 

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, glorious rain!, Isis at home, rain and more rain, scenting, sleeping, sleeping arrangements, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

rain and floof, rain and floof

A post should appear every Sunday

 

Sunday November 20th 2022

 

The first part of the week is consistently* wet; consequently, Isis chooses pavement walks on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We take a different route each day, so there are plenty of messages from other dogs for her to sniff around and pee on.

*I use the word ‘consistently’ very loosely. It is rare in Britain for the weather to be consistent for an hour, let alone a whole day; thus, when Isis sets off confidently for her pavement walk, you can bet your life that before long, the sun pops out for few minutes and stops her in her tracks.

We don’t remain stationary for long, however, as Human has devised a strategy for moving on the poor, persecuted pet. The strategy arose from Hairy One’s objection to having her bottom sniffed – not by me, I hasten to add, as I’ve not yet reached that degree of depravity – but by other curious canines.

When she’s assaulted by a cold, huffing nose, she shoots forward with seldom demonstrated alacrity, in order to escape. Now, so far, I’ve refrained from kneeling on the ground, but if no-one is watching, I’m not averse to leaning close to her tail and blowing on it suggestively. This, as a last resort, is usually effective. But, to be fair, she has become much more tolerant of light changes, and as long as she’s not walking towards the sun, she copes well.

On Thursday, we shift to drizzly patches rather than downpours, and we venture to Highbury. Human, quite reasonably, she thinks, tries to persuade Isis to walk with her on the grass, rather than squelch through the mud covered track. I wonder why it is that presumeably otherwise sane dog walkers tramp along the edge of this field, following exactly in the boot prints of all the other walkers, and creating a boggy mess.

If Isis smells a path, she always wants to follow it. To her, paths are safer than unmarked routes. This, of course, makes sense to a blind dog. Perhaps the human walkers just become habituated. Anyway, Human soon becomes tired of patting Isis in the direction of clean grass. She also begins to feel guilty about attempting to keep Hairy One’s fluffy feet and ankles clean. A dog should be allowed to get dirty.

We complete our cicuit of the field via the claggy path, and take a short cut to the main, tarmacked path. Hardly has Isis set paw on the main path, than a family walking towards us stops in its tracks. There are three adults, a granddad, his daughter and his grandson, I surmise.

They gaze down in awe at Isis, and the lady tells me, ‘We couldn’t let you go past without asking you about your beautiful dog.’

Beautiful Dog stands patiently close by as I answer all their questions. I explain about Portugese podengos and Spanish podencos and their hunting skills. They are impressed that this dog is behaving so well, waiting by me and not chasing around looking for something to hunt. Inevitably, this leads to my explaining that she has no useful sight or hearing.

‘Would she let me stroke her?’, the lady enquires. As usual, I invite her to let Isis sniff her hand first. This is a person, I observe, who has empathy with animals. She is such a lovely person that I find myself willing Isis to respond.

Slowly and carefully, the lovely lady approaches Isis, and profers her hand.

‘Yes,’ says the lady, ‘I think she’s going to sniff my hand’, then, as Hairy One dodges the hand and trots off, adds, ‘Or not.’

Then, after more admiring comments about fluffy coats and fetching ears, as the trio turns to leave, they thank us for a delightful end to a pleasant walk.

Since autumn began, virtually everyone we meet is visibly startled by the whiteness of Hairy’s coat.

 

 

 

It is a strangely bright white. She could almost be in an advert for Persil.

I hope she’s not radio-active.

Her winter coat is exceptional this year. Here is a selection of her admirers’ comments over the past week:

‘Ooooo – floofy! So-o-o-o-o floofy.’

‘I can’t believe how fluffy she is.’

‘She’s so Christmassy, I could put her under my Christmas tree. What about giving her a red bow?’

‘I just love those ears (demonstrates with hands) how they stand up and the hairs flow down.’

‘What a beautiful dog.’

‘He/she is amazing.’

‘All that hair. I can’t believe it.’

‘She’s made my day.’

And, inevitably, ‘What is she?’

Of course many people want to pat her. I always ask them to let her sniff their hand first so that she knows where the pat is coming from, and explain why. Sometimes people say, ‘Oh no, I don’t want to frighten her.’ Sometimes they proffer a hand, but it’s very rare for anyone to have their hand sniffed, for nine times out of ten, she hurries off  as soon as they move close to her.

As Kerry once told her, it’s a shame she doesn’t know how beautiful she is. I’m not so sure. She might become even more entitled!

And even more nonchalant about leaving her beautiful fluffiness all over the house.

(A friend and I used to spend time thinking about inventing a self-cleaning house. His idea was to have in each room a permeable ceiling above which was a ceiling-sized vacuum, so  that you could just flick a switch and the dirt would rise and enter a holding tank. I thought that system would make the room super dusty, and posited that it would be better to have the suction underneath the permeable flooring. We agreed on that but never got round to making a prototype.)

I’m sad that Isis is still so anxious around strange people and strange dogs. She has very few human friends, and is never effusive towards the chosen few, but those whom she trusts are her friends for life.

Last Friday we meet up with Bev and Nancy. They have been away for several weeks, and Nancy, who is now twelve, is some distance away. I bend towards her, arms wide, and she gallops towards me for hugs and a treat.

Isn’t that sweet, Isis?

‘Huh!’

 

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 deaf/blind dog, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis knows best, Isis says "No"., learning to trust, oh dear, park dogs, park people, patience is a virtue., poor Isis, rain, rain and more rain, relationship building, scenting, something's not right, these dogs!, 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 week in autumn

 

A post should appear every Sunday

 

Sunday November 13th 2022

 

On Monday we walk in Highbury. For some reason, on this day, Isis receives even more  ‘oos’ and ‘ahs’ than usual. Almost all of her admirers are taken aback by her fluffiness.

“Oh, she’s so fluffy.”

“So’s my house”, I reply truthfully.

“She’s so clean. How do you keep her so clean? Do you have to give her lots of baths?”

I answer that I can’t remember when I last bathed her, and I don’t. Her coat seems to be self-cleaning. Dirt just seems to  drop off her, usually onto the floor at home, which, sadly, is not self-cleaning.

I do have to brush Isis frequently, I admit, so that she doesn’t get tangled.

“But doesn’t she run through the mud?”

Now this is a F.A.Q., and inevitably leads to  my explaining Hairy One’s disabilities. The people whom she hasn’t walked into yet are always astonished that she is happily finding her way around off lead without any problems.

Having her leads to some very interesting conversations. There’s a sweet Irish guy who often walks around Highbury while waiting to pick up his daughter from a nearby school. He was very taken with Isis when he first met her, and sometimes says, “I’d love to give her a cuddle, but I know I can’t because she’d be frightened.”

On Tuesday we take the track from Holders Lane through to Cannon Hill Park.

It’s a good walk. When the light’s too bright, Isis employs her passive resistance technique, refusing to walk until I clip on her lead, and this works very well.

Poor Isis. If she only knew that she will have her rear clipped before this afternoon’s vet visit for anal gland emptying: last time the nurse couldn’t find her bottom, let alone her anal glands!

My little dog is exhausted tonight.

It’s Wednesday, and our morning walk in Kings Heath Park is the only pleasant part of a long and exasperating day.

Why? Because Human is such a procrastinator. Her car and breakdown insurance expire at midnight, and at the moment she feels that she might well expire well before then.

For years, she’s put off sorting out her car related documents as she’s carried on with the same insurer which also selects the breakdown service. Today she has to research other insurers and breakdown services.

Thank dog for confused.com.

She spends the rest of the day chasing information about her no claims bonus and the date of the last claim made. To top it all, she has to obtain a DVLA certificate, and has lost the reminder, the reference number of which is also required.

Moral: it’s not a brilliant idea to wait until the expiry day before you sort out the necessary documentation.

Now it’s Thursday. Not only does it tip down all day long, but Human, still exhausted from Wednesday’s debâcle, turns her back on the outside world and dozes on the daybed until late afternoon, Isis stretched out beside her.

 

 

By the time we leave the house, it’s still drizzling off and on, and the sky is relentlessly grey, so Isis is amenable to a road walk. I’m not feeling fully awake when we set off, but we’ve haven’t gone far when Isis jerks me to full consciousness.

Literally.

She gives a sudden, violent tug on her lead and gallops along the pavement. I skitter behind her on the wet flagstones, expecting to hit the deck at any second. Miraculously, I remain upright, even when she turns abruptly left onto someone’s garden path.

Yes, I understand, Isis: a kitty lives here.

Once she realises that she will not be allowed to follow the scent  up to the front door and into the house, she reluctantly gives in and returns to the pavement.

It isn’t long before there’s a second hefty jerk on the lead, and another fruitless pursuit. But fortunately, I am now fully awake and watching her like the proverbial hawk.

I fantasise that roadfuls of cats have simultaneously awoken to the fact that, for the first time today, it’s not tipping it down, and have popped out for a breather.

On Friday, before we set off for Highbury, I empty my stubborn pet’s sardine and Burns’ supper into a plastic bag and shove it into my pocket. At least the crows will benefit from the recalcitrant creature’s fasting.

The crows are delighted with our gift, and dozens of them follow the fishy trail, gobbling the fragments.

As we leave the happy birds behind, heavy drops plop onto us. The local forecast said there’d be a downpour around 3.00, and here it is. Two people who were walking towards us beat a hasty retreat beneath a huddle of trees, while I creep under a single, very leafy one. After a few minutes, Isis becomes bored with standing still, and, tempted by some magnetic scent, sniffs her way to the path which leads to the pond. Soon she’ll turn the corner, and I’ll not be able to see her.

Sigh. Thanks Isis.

I emerge from clusters of leaves to find that the rain is nowhere near as bad as the forecast predicted. We walk on up the hill, then descend to the flower meadow and make our way home. We’ve been lucky: as we leave the car park, the rain begins to pound against the windscreen. It rains all through the night.

Today, Saturday, is dry and quite sunny. We head for Holders Lane woods and circle back via the sports’ fields.

It’s been  a very good week for sniffing.

 

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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