the snow stick

 

 

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

 

Sunday January 17th 2021

 

Well, last week’s snowfall was definitely worth waiting for: someone is absolutely thrilled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think she just can’t quite believe that anything so wonderful is really happening.

For well over two hours, she skips and skitters merrily this way and that. Today, she’s not interested in checking over the rest of the park. She wants to run around in her favourite space.

She doesn’t even mind when the snow stops falling because by then she has realised that she can make the hedges and brambles snow.

She tugs vigorously at the brambles. They are loaded with snow, and each tug dispenses   slices of the delicious stuff over her muzzle, ears and neck.

When she leaps up and down under the lowest branches of the young beeches, nose-nudging their snowy dead leaves, she’s rewarded by random spluts on her back and her feet.

And, best of all, when she launches herself at the springy hawthorn bushes she creates a nose to tail shower.

Words can’t adequately convey her pleasure. I watch, enchanted for two and a half hours.

By which time she’s ready to go home?

No way. Not on your Nelly, as my grandmother would have said. By which time she is not ready to go anywhere, and my toes and fingers are painfully cold.

But, to be fair to her, she is a good natured little dog and she doesn’t resist when I thread her into her harness and lead her to the car.

After her tea, she sleeps like a hairy log. She doesn’t even wake up for her usual evening play with her toys.

The next day she trots onto the snow, full, I imagine, of anticipation. Great. She can feel the wonderful stuff under her paws.

She rushes to the spot where she had so much fun yesterday. She stands stock still, lifts her little spotty nose skywards and opens her very pink mouth in anticipation.

She waits.

And she waits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But nothing happens.

Her disappointment is palpable. I feel so sorry for her. “Sweetheart, it’s not falling today,” I tell her sadly.

Then comes a gentle breeze. It puffs a few facefuls of snow into the air.

Isis is ecstatic. She leaps up and down and waits for more, but the breeze dies down again.

Come on, dimwitted Human, use your imagination. Ah, yes! Look for a twig. Search for a nice twangy one with a bushy end.

Yes! Here’s the perfect snowstick!

Zingy, springy, slim and whippy, it’s very similar to the one she played with a few weeks ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect!

“A snowstick, Isy”, I tell her. I take a wide swipe at the closest clump of snow, lifting it up from the ground and over her head.

A happy dog again, she dashes off, leaping and bounding, while I race over the snow behind her, swooshing the lovely white stuff up and over her with my snowstick.

This is somewhat tiring, but just as I’m wondering how long I can keep running, the breeze picks up and blows clouds of snow at her.

The bursts of breeze are frequent now. They scatter left over snowflakes from the tops of the tall shrubs and the trees.

And Isis remembers that if she roots in the snow, she can gather a wedge of it on her nose and toss it up in the air herself.

So, all in all, today is as good as yesterday.

 

 

*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 a joyful dog, deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

waiting for the white stuff

 

 

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

 

Sunday January 10th 2021

 

Two whole weeks of adventures. Impossible to detail every one. Just as well: you’d all stop following Isis if I did, out of sheer boredom.

Brrrrr. We’ve been having some very cold weather over the last couple of weeks.

Each day, I emerge from the house wearing thermal vest and tights, ancient quilted ski pants, three pairs of socks, a long-sleeved polo necked T-shirt, a long-sleeved polo-necked jumper, two neck warmers, a heavy, warmly lined, hooded and waterproof walking jacket and two pairs of gloves.

Isis has long given up the happy notion that as soon as I wake her, we’re off for our walk. Instead, after a quick visit to the garden, followed by breakfast, she returns to the day bed  and continues snoozing for the ages it takes a dozy human to put on all those layers.

She is a very, very patient dog, fortunately. After all, she is used to the draggingly slow pace at which I meander through the morning routine. A dog has to allow for the fact that every morning her person rediscovers that she can’t get her thermal tights on over three pairs of thick socks, and has to remove all six of the socks she’s just put on.

Or, just as she’s ready to come downstairs, she feels a little shivery and realises that she’s forgotten to put on the thermal vest.

In this scenario, there’s the inevitable dilemma to be pondered: should she not bother, as it might not be as cold today as it was yesterday? Sometimes the weather forecast has to be checked again.

Oh dear, it is as cold as it was yesterday. Off with the jumper, off with the T-shirt. Where’s the thermal vest?

Ah. Vibrations on the stairs. Don’t get excited yet, little dog. Porridge oats must be shaken in sunflower oil for the crows, and a few dog treats pocketed just in case, and, oh dear, where’s the car key? Surely she didn’t put it down on her bed when she went back into the bedroom for the vest?

Yes, she did. She thunders up the stairs to retrieve it.

We’re getting closer to a walk.

Now for her false tooth. Oh “*^! She’s touched something which could be contaminated with The Virus. Best wash her hands again first.

And is her hearing aid firmly ensconced in her ear? Gosh no. Must still be upstairs.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

Damn. Not there.

Oh. It’s been dislodged by the first neck warmer.

Ah, but in  rescuing the hearing aid she’s touched her face. Best wash hands again. Or would it be more effective to use the sanitiser? Best do both.

O.K. Now we’re ready to go.

Almost.

We have to remember our driving glasses and our phone. Where the hell’s the phone?

Upstairs? Oh no. Ah, she’s already put it in the inside pocket of her jacket.

Into the porch we go. Now, at last, the ever tolerant Isis allows herself to get excited. She spins and twirls and leaps around. As soon as one front paw is popped through the appropriate loop, Human struggles to pop in the next one. She succeeds, only to see the first paw popping back out.

She feels irritable, and tells Isis she’ll never get to the park at this rate. But hey, look who’s talking.

Human leaves her ebullient little podengo to rave in the porch, and steps back into the hall to retrieve her dog’s car blanket and towel from the radiator.

Quite often there’s another wait once we climb into the car. Something has been forgotten and Human returns to the house to fetch it. But Isis doesn’t mind. She knows we’re on our way.

Almost.

And, usually, we have a lovely time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*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 a joyful dog, a very good dog, deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park, Isis at home, patience is a virtue., walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

an unlikely little angel

There will be no post on December 27th or January 3rd. Isis and Human are taking a break.

 

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

 

Sunday December 20th 2020

 

 

 

I’m a happy dog again now. Here I am today with my private stash of twigs hidden in the hedge.

 

 

 

Hurray! Hurray! Last night, for the first time in months, Isis sleeps without her Elizabethan collar. It is with some trepidation that I leave her and go upstairs. I can’t quite believe that her tail will survive unnibbled.

There’s no commotion during the night; nevertheless, when I wake her this morning my eyes scan her bedding for blood. No. No sign of any. What a relief.

Over the last week or so, I’ve left her collar off in the day time as long as I’ve been downstairs, but have replaced it if I need to spend some time upstairs. Since Thursday, I’ve been even braver and have left her downstairs for an hour or two without the collar. (Even with the radio on I am able to recognise a loud, angry ‘RAFF-RAFF’ when I hear one.)

But no, not a sound. This is wonderful.

Give the vet her due: she was confident that the treatment would be effective. Never the optimist, I was very sceptical. I couldn’t believe that the dermatits would heal, that there’d be a time when Isis would stop her incessant scratching and nibbling.

It’s now six weeks since we last saw the vet. Tomorrow evening I’m taking her for an anal gland check. (Isis, that is, not the vet.) It’ll be interesting to see whether the change of diet has had any effect on that problem.

This dog is on her way to sprouting a halo. Not only has the self-harming ceased, there has also been a huge improvement in her dining room etiquette.

When she became ill at the beginning of September, I had almost completed a series of posts detailing seven eventful walks. But not quite. There’s still one post missing. I’ll return to it one day.

At this time, too, I commenced yet another attempt at eradicating the hysterical mealtime barking which, for some reason best known to Isis, had crept back into her daily routines again.

O.K. Taking away her food until she was quiet had ceased to be effective. She was just becoming more and more irritable at meal times, and the effects of the ‘training’ were wearing off more and more quickly; additionally, to be honest, I was getting fed up to the back teeth with the whole pantomime.

“It’s not working.” I tell her some time in August. “We’ll have to think again.”

Yes, well, reward, as every educator knows, is much more likely to be effective than any negative action.

But how do we go about it?

Right, I decide once she is feeling a bit better, every time she eats without the vocals, I’ll give her a Markie.

Thus, on the infrequent occasions she manages to eat without ranting, I rush out into the hall the minute she leaves her bowl, shower her with praise and reward her with a Markie.

She likes this, but, unfortunately, when she isn’t the perfect diner and is not, therefore, rewarded, she loses her temper. She flies into a ferocious spin, snarling and attacking her tail.

Hmmm. Perhaps my idea is not as good as I thought.

But we’ll persevere.

Then Hairy One becomes ill. For days it’s all she can do to creep out to her dining area, let alone leap about barking when she gets there. She just eats in silence, then skulks back to bed. Even so, I give her her treat.

As she comes round, the training is resumed. As before, when she’s not rewarded, she goes into a cacophanous strop. Resisting the temptation to throttle her, I gently block her spinning, and, without a word, put her back into the Elizabethan collar.

It’s not long, though, before she changes her tactics and adds a new dimension to the proceedings. As soon as she’s finished eating, she only gives me a few seconds to appear with her Markie before she begins to bark imperiously.

This is the latest addition to her vocals. It’s not an angry bark. It obviously means, “Get on with it.”

I am not amused. “I BEG your pardon,” I announce loudly, “WHAT was that you said to me?”

Her ears twitch up and down. I stand next to her. She lifts her head and waits quietly. She gets her Markie.

It seems that, at last, Isis and I between us have succeeded in sorting out mealtimes.

We’ve both learned, and there’s a bit of give and take. If she barks once because I’ve thoughtlessly turned on a light, or opened the blinds, I overlook the bark and she still gets her Markie.

If, as happens this evening, she loses her rag – whatever the reason – no Markie.

Tonight, when I peer round the kitchen door to investigate the cause of the riot, I find a still spreading pool of water on the floor. Isis is paddling in the pool, sniffing for bits of food. There’s a trail of wet paw prints from the pool to the outside door and another set back again. Her feeder/water stand is askew, and has travelled about a foot from its usual position.

So what’s happened here?

I put on my deerstalker, and attempt to reconstruct the crime scene.

Here’s what I deduce:

Isis finishes her tea, and decides to have a drink. In the dark, she misses the water and crashes into the water bowl. The stand tips, and water cascades all over the floor. Isis is very cross with it. She retreats to the far end of the kitchen to ponder. Then she smells bits of dog meal which were previously under the feeder. Now the feeder has been knocked aside, the bits are within easy reach, and she is retrieving them.

Fair enough. But that was a hell of a kerfuffle. I commiserate but I don’t give her a Markie, and it’s clear that she doesn’t expect one.

I’m very pleased with this latest training effort. At the same time, I’m not entirely sure how we achieved such a positive result. It’s definitely not all me. It feels as though we’ve achieved resolution by taking cues from one another. Once again, I have underestimated Isis.

It’s so pleasant. After her meal now, she doesn’t even demand her reward. She just sits between the kitchen and the back room waiting – unless, of course, Human forgets. Then, we both agree, a gentle reminder is quite in order.

 

*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 a very good dog, clever Isis, dear little Isis, Isis at home, Isis is no angel, learning to trust, oh dear, poor Isis, relationship building, self-damaging, self-harming, strange behaviour, teaching my deaf/blind dog, these dogs!, training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

excuse me, but …….

 

 

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

 

Sunday December 13th 2020 (I think)

 

 

 

 

I hope you don’t bother looking at the dates on my posts. If you do, I hope you don’t reset the date on your phone. I notice that I decided it was December 4th last Sunday. Blame Isis; though, to be fair,  she’s not had much practice. More honest to reiterate that I cannot be relied upon to reproduce any spoken or written information which contains numbers.

From now on, I will double check.

Hairy One’s recovery status: At the beginning of this week, I am certain that in a few days I will be able to stop cleansing, rinsing and applying steroid cream to her last remaining wound. Nowadays, at least once a week, I examine every millimetre of her skin, beginning with her muzzle. This week, when my prying fingers reach her haunches, a smile of relief and satisfaction spreads across my face.

The root of her tail and her back legs are clear, too. Yipee!

But what’s this, and this, and this?

****! and ****! again.

She’s bitten her tail. There are two, matching, deep bites obviously caused by her clamping her jaws shut on this section of her poor tail, and, further along, another, more superficial graze indicative of a quick snap.

“Oh Isis!” I shout crossly, then turn the air a deep ultramarine with many obscene mutterings.

I am very disappointed, not only because I’d been looking forward to  being able to abandon the ‘dab each sore area with Hibiscrub, wait for fifteen minutes, rinse off with water, leave to dry for thirty minutes, then apply the steroid cream to affected areas’ routine but, more importantly, because of the implications for future behaviour.

As her long term acquaintances know, Isis has always been a tail nipper. But since her anal gland problem was diagnosed and treated regularly, her biting has been mostly notional. The problem was tackled shortly after her arrival, as soon, actually, as I judged I could take her to the vet’s without the risk of her being banned for life for uncontrolled hysteria.

It was no wonder she was attacking herself, as the poor creature’s anal glands, instead of being pea-sized were found to be the size of ripe plums.

Since then, they’ve been emptied every four to six weeks. She often announces that it’s time for her next vet visit by diving repeatedly at her rear end.

She arrived at Aeza with a Grade One self-barbered right thigh and, to this day, when she feels aggrieved or thwarted, or wakes from a nightmare, she’ll attack her thigh and tail with ferocious growly snarls and furious little yips. But until the last few weeks, she rarely drew blood.

Now I’m concerned that the prolonged outbreak of severe dermatitis will have re-established her self-harming.

As for her charming little jump suit, she’s only been able to wear it once since she lay in the wet grass and soaked it. We’ve had to revert to the Elizabethan collar, for, although the jump suit protects her torso, she can still reach her tail!

Sigh.

At least there’s a funny incident to relate about the little jumpsuit though. Twice she wore it when she went out for a pee in the back garden. Both times when she returned, she hopped back into the kitchen on three legs. The fourth, her rear right leg, she held out to the side and flicked, as though she had a claw stuck in something and was attempting to release it.

She didn’t look upset or irritated, just puzzled. When I examined her, I could find nothing attached to her claws, nothing stuck between her pads. When I felt her leg, she didn’t wince, and after a few minutes was walking normally.

The same thing happened later on that day. Again, she didn’t appear to be in pain, and  I couldn’t find any reason for her strange balletics.

That evening, I discovered the bites on her tail and swapped the jumpsuit for the Elizabethan collar.

Next morning, I followed her outside and observed that when she peed, she  raised her rear right leg a few inches from the ground. This, I now realise, she always does.

Or attempts to. I imagine that the stretchy, leg of her knee length suit must have acted like an elastic band and twanged back her leg each time she attempted to lift it. No wonder she looked puzzled.

Once, at Bev’s suggestion, I had taken Hairy’s leg out of the suit, she was able to proceed with her doggie duties as normal.

What these poor dogs have to put up with.

 

*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 a very naughty dog, oh dear, these dogs!, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

from a dog’s point of view ……

 

 

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

 

Sunday December 4th 2020

 

I didn’t get to report this. I wanted to. But she wouldn’t let me. Now she’s spending lots of time taking the vakyoom to bits. So I’ll tell you.

I’m having an awful time. You wouldn’t believe anyone could treat a dog the way I’m being treated.

And it’s been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks.

It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t start it.

My bottom hurt. It was driving me crazy. I couldn’t stand it any more. I had to do something.

So I bit it. I nibbled and nibbled. And nibbled some more.

What else could I do?

You’ve seen what I did. Here it is again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then I nipped other bits of me because I itched all over. Just quick little nips, you understand. Wherever I could reach.

By the time Human noticed what I’d done, I’d made lots and lots of little nips. The itching got worse and worse.

Then I had to wait a lot of days to see the vet.

After that I got bathed. Two times a week. In this nasty stingy stuff. It was to kill the mites. Yes, I know she told you, but she didn’t tell you the truth.

I didn’t have any mites. I knew that. But humans only believe things that other humans say. They think dogs don’t know anything.

IT HURT. I got sorer and sorer.

But when I got sorer and sorer, I didn’t bite her.

I wish I had.

I didn’t get any better. I felt much worse.

One day I came over all funny. I lay down on the grass in the park and had to be taken home.

She took me for a seconder pinyon. Whatever that is. Anyway, I had to go to another vet.

She felt me all over. She found lots of sore patches all over me. She said I didn’t have mites. Well, I could have told her that. She said I had ser .. serv.. surv …… sir Vear der-me-tight-us.

Human was very shocked. I could feel it. Serves her right.

So that’s what it was. But they didn’t know where I’d got it from. Then Human told vet that I always bit my bottom when it was hurting.

So the vet ran back to me and poked my bottom. She poked and poked. Have you ever had your bottom poked? Well, I’m telling you, it isn’t nice. And it hurts. I won’t say what she did next. It was too rude.

But I wish Human could keep her mouth shut.

After that, we went home and I had treats. I think Human felt guilty.

Every day after that, I’ve had nasty sticky red stuff rubbed into my skin. Then wiped off with warm water. Then I have to wait for ages. Then I get more stuff rubbed on me. For a long time it was done to me twice a day. Every little sore bit was done.

It just went on and on and on.

Every time I said ‘urf’ or ‘yaff’ and snapped at my tail, she ran over and poked me. I had to wear my little blue plastic lampshade. But it wasn’t big enough to stop me. So I had to wear a bigger one.

It’s been horrible. It catches on everything and I can’t tell where I’m going.

Thank Dog she takes it off when I go to the park. I don’t think about the itching when I’m off my lead. Well, not often. If I try to nip my tail, she gets very cross and runs up behind me and pokes me.

Then it turns out it’s taking her ages to find the bad bits under my hair. So what does she do? She cuts my hair off so she can find the bits more quickly.

 

 

 

How would you like to walk around with a bare bottom where other dogs can see you?

 

 

 

 

 

The other day something comes through the letter box. It doesn’t smell interesting, so I knew it’s not for me.

She takes its paper off. I can tell she’s saying soppy things to me because she kisses me on my muzzle.Then she puts the thing that’s come through the letter box next to my nose.

So?

Then a nice thing happens. She takes my collar off. But next, before I know what’s happening, she pushes it over my head, pushes my front legs through some holes and pushes my back legs through some more holes.

I can’t believe it! The thing is for me to wear. Can you imagine what I look like? I hope I don’t have to go out in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It felt nice and cosy that night though.

But eeeeek! Next morning she leaves it on me. She wants Bev to see it. So, of course, Rufus and Nancy will see me in it.

How hoo-milly-ay-tin.

Silly Human is so busy talking to Bev that she forgets to take the thing off me.

Tee-hee. Titter.

I find a very nice stick and lie down in the very long, very wet grass and chew the stick for a long, long time.

Now the thing is very wet, so she has to take it off me.

Snigger.

Sunday

I can’t believe it. She’s stuffed me into it again.

Will this horror never end?

 

*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 a vet visit, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis gets bathed, Isis is sad, off to the vet, oh dear, park dogs, park people, poor Isis, self-damaging, self-harming, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

a very lovely lady

 

 

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

 

Sunday November 8th 2020

 

On Thursday, in Highbury Park, I learned of the death of Joyce whom I’ve known for many years.

Like everyone else I have spoken to since, I was stunned.

I first met Joyce many years ago.

Our introduction was effected by my outgoing young dog Ellie, who one day ran up to check out three dogs who were walking with a lady in Kings Heath Park.

The lady was Joyce, and she warned me to keep an eye on Harry who wasn’t keen on young dogs.

Ellie, unaware of any threat, instantly fell in love with him. And after tolerating a whiskery kiss, he succumbed to her charms.

Ellie doted on Harry and they became friends. Years later, after he had died, she always looked for him when we met the rest of the group in the park.

I, too, fell for Harry. I was also taken with Lizzie, who was a tiny yorkie. If I stooped with my arms outstretched and called her, she would skitter hundreds of yards to claim a cuddle. Her little legs moved so fast that you literally could not make them out: she looked like an animated cartoon dog propelled along by four catherine wheels.

The youngest dog at the time was ball mad Maggie, a sweet border collie pup who, when she was older could find me in Highbury wherever I was, request a treat and then vanish without there being any sign of the rest of the family!

Joyce was one of the first dog walkers I met when I was attempting to walk the newly arrived Isis in Kings Heath Park. At the time, I despaired of her ever enjoying a walk as she froze after every reluctant step and refused to move.

Joyce was intrigued by Isis and wanted to know her story. She wanted to know about Aeza and Dogwatch UK.

“When it’s time for my next dog,” she promised, “I’ll get in touch with Dogwatch.”

She observed Isis very carefully.

“In time,” she said, “that little dog will be following you around the park off lead.”

Much as I respected her understanding and knowledge of animals, I couldn’t believe that this could ever happen. Her prediction, albeit many years later, did turn out to be true.)

The first Dogwatch UK dog Joyce took on was Sophie, a spirited little dog from Spain who soon made herself at home.

When she lost Harry, Joyce took on Ruby, whom I think also hailed from Spain.

Terrified of people, Ruby bonded almost instantly with Joyce, and, I believe, has  learned to trust other family members.

She soon began to play with Maggie and Sophie at home, and is perfectly calm with park dogs, but she still steers well clear of people. She will take long detours in order to avoid coming into contact with anyone, and if she is unable to see a safe route back to Joyce, she’ll skirt the paths, make her way back to the car park and wait for her by the car.

Sadly, about two years ago, Maggie was diagnosed with an inoperable cancer.

Ruairi is the household’s third Dogwatch adoptee. Like Ruby, he is quite relaxed around other dogs, but he is completely distrustful of people. Twice, with much encouragement from his person and whispered sweet nothings from me, he has dared to sniff my hand, but generally he remains aloof and poised for flight. At home he’ll not even approach Joyce’s gentle husband

Very sadly, it is clear that both Ruby and Ruairi are scarred by the abuse they were subjected to before they were rescued.

Like most animal lovers, Joyce was also a respecter of people, and enriched the lives not only of the animals who crossed her path, but of many people too.

I have never met a kinder, wiser or more generous lady.

She will be greatly missed.

 

*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, dogs adopted via DogwatchUK, Highbury Park, Kings Heath Park, park dogs, park people, rescue dogs, the dogs of King's Heath Park, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nancy in the wars

Sorry about the Jumbled offering on Sunday. Thanks, Ian for alerting me.

 

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

 

Sunday November 22nd 2020

 

Bev and T, Rufus, Nancy and Jake the cat are off to the Lake District at the end of the week.

These pre-holiday days are always challenging as one of the animal trio – usually Nancy,  tends to throw a sickie close to the day of departure.

For some years, Nancy has had a benign tumour growing on her long, whippy tail, a few inches from the root. The tumour doesn’t seem to bother Nancy, and with every operation, of course, there is the risk of infection. When the site is so close to the root of the tail, in a worst case scenario, there’s always the possibility that infection could travel to the spine.

Although the tumour is definitely getting larger, Nancy is her usual ebullient self, and no procedure is deemed advisable. In consultation with the vet, it is agreed that at present the tumour is best left alone. Its rate of growth will be closely monitored at home, and there will be regular check-ups at the practice.

All is well as preparations are made for a spring visit to the Lake District.

But, true to form, the day before the family’s departure, Nancy bashes the vulnerable bit of her tail against a cupboard door. The tail bleeds.

The vet cleans the wound, then prescribes antibiotics and some cream to aid healing.

It’s a long journey, but all seems well with the labradoodles in their roomy compartment in the rear of the car. They had a walk, of course, before leaving Birmingham and there is the pleasant silence of contentedly sleeping dogs.

‘Fortunate that Nancy didn’t wait until we arrived in the Lake District before knocking her tail,’ Bev and T might well have been thinking as they sped along.

It’s a good journey. All is well with the world, it seems.

On arrival, the dogs are pleased, as always, to be let out of the car.

But not quite all is well.

As she emerges, it is heart-sinkingly evident that Nancy’s tail is in an awful state. The area around the previously minor injury is red, raw and obviously inflamed. She must have been quietly licking it for hours.

Instead of a relaxed exploration of the vicinity, it’s an emergency visit to the vet.

Again, Nancy’s wound is examined. Again, it is cleaned and dressed. Now it is also bandaged.

The rest of the first day is pleasantly uneventful, and they begin to slip into holiday mood.

Unfortunately, this is a little premature.

Early in the morning, Bev discovers that Nancy has attacked the tumour so frantically during the night that she has burst it. Her tail is bleeding and infected, and the room is in an indescribable state.

So it’s off to the vet’s again. Nancy’s wound is cleaned with antiseptic, dressed, and bound. Now Nancy wears a large Elizabethan collar.

A third check-up visit to the vet confirms that the wound is not healing well. There are signs of infection. Bev and T decide to return home a day earlier than planned. They make an appointment with their home vet.

Reluctantly, it is decided that the only way to preempt the spread of infection is to amputate the tail below the wound. The vet explains that it will be difficult to balance the risks: she will have to cut the tail as far away from Nancy’s spine as she can, while at the same time attempting to expunge the infection.

The humans wait anxiously by the phone.

The operation goes well.

Nancy is a very laid back, happy-go-lucky dog. The day following her operation, she is chirpy and keen for a walk.

Sadly, only a week later the wound is infected again. The vet says that she may have been over cautious and not cut away enough of the damaged area. Nancy is readmitted for further surgery.

Back at home, the humans wait again for the phone to ring.

At last it does. All has gone well.

Nancy is driven home, and Bev and T open a bottle of wine to soothe their shattered nerves.

Being a dog and therefore blissfully unaware of their ordeal, Nancy again makes a remarkably quick recovery.

She wears a post surgery ‘medical vest’ to protect her wound from being licked, bitten or prodded by twigs or brambles, and the wound heals well.

It is now several months since her last operation, and she is doing very well. She seems not to miss her tail, to be quite oblivious to the change.

 

 

 

 

Phew! What they put us through, these dogs.

 

*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 Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

leaves to the rescue

 

 

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

 

Sunday November 15th 2020 

 

On November the 7th I note: 

No rain today. Damn. And the sun keeps faintly gleaming. Isis won’t like it, even though she’s had to make do with the lane for two days. She is a little uncertain for a while. Shame. Things’ll be flat for her today.

Ah, but there’s a strong, gusty breeze. And it’s autumn. So what do strong gusty breezes do in autumn. Yes! They detach clouds of swirly leaves from their twigs ….. ….. and blow them onto dogs’ heads and their faces and their backs and their legs!

Wahay! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excellent. We have a rain substitute.

She has always liked the feel of leaves touching her, but this autumn, she steps up her game.

On another day, we leave home in heavy rain but the shower ceases as soon as we park the car; the sun gets a bit twitchy, and, unfortunately, stays a bit twitchy throughout our walk.

But we’re saved again by nature’s rhythms. Squally breezes come, lifting and spinning the  autumn leaves.

Isis is delighted. She rears up on her back legs, twisting this way and that as she does when rain is swirling. But now she claps her little front paws together trying to trap the leaves between them. I’m surprised at how many she catches.

Now and again, head down, she snuffles along speedily, snatching up bunches of leaves in her mouth.

Yes, dry or wet leaves in the air, on the paths or nestling in the grass are fine. But then one day when we arrive at the little pool, its surface is coated in shiny, wet, orange-gold beech leaves.

Oh dear, this is a very different matter. Each time a tentative paw is put down, it is hastily withdrawn.

Ew! We don’t like this at all.

Poor Isis wants a drink, but she certainly doesn’t want to put her feet on these nasty things. Even when I scrape out a little inlet for her, and clear a small drinking hole, she flinches and twitches her head away each time a leaf nudges her nose.

Eventually, I guide her half way across the stepping stones where the water moves quickly and drops into a hollow in a rock. Here she has a speedy drink before making her way very gingerly across to the opposite bank.

Later in the week I notice that she has grown accustomed to the feel of  leaves floating around her ankles. She still doesn’t want to drink from leafy water though. I guess it smells and tastes strange.

Now we’re in our second lockdown, Highbury is much busier than it used to be. There are many new faces in the park. I’m guessing South Birmingham’s population have realised that no, they won’t dissolve in the rain: it’s quite safe to walk in the park in the winter.

The more strangers there are, of course, the more queries there are about what ‘the dog’ is doing. And now there is more to explain. Those who usually smile knowingly as they pass Isis going beserk in the rain, are now puzzled to see her going beserk in the absence of rain, while those who have never previously set eyes on the hairy creature, are arrested mid stride.

This all makes life more interesting, and it’s always good to see how curious and concerned people are about animals, how responsive to them.

Sometimes Isis-spotting leads to fascinating conversations. And more than once someone has said, “Hello again. I’ve brought my wife (or husband or mum or dad) to meet her,” or “Well, she’s made my day.”

My little star.

 

*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 a joyful dog, clever Isis, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, lovely leaves, oh dear, park people, rain, strange behaviour, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

dear, dear, dear, dear, dear ……

 

 

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

 

Sunday November 8th 2020

 

Well (or not), I’ve not been a diligent, efficient pet owner at all. As I explained last week, after the Hibiscrub had trickled over its label, obliterating the usage instructions, I had had to ask the vet over the phone to enlighten me.

I made notes as she spoke.

On Thursday Isis and I return for her check-up.

The good news is that the treated patches are healing nicely. The bad news is that I’d missed a large, new patch at the back of her thigh, close to the original damaged area.

I’d also failed to retain the correct number of minutes which should be left between each process.

She jots down some notes.

The sequences and applications are still not clear to me.

Understandably, the vet concludes that I’m losing my marbles – or, maybe, happens to notice my hearing aid –  and begins to repeat the information more loudly.

I explain, politely, that she doesn’t need to do this, just needs to write down, or let me write down, in order, what needs to be done.

Perhaps it is at this point that she observes my spectacles hanging on a cord round my neck, for she eagerly announces that she’ll write the notes in MUCH BIGGER WRITING.

No, no, she needn’t do that. They just need to be in logical sequence. (Actually, they’re my distance glasses, used for driving. My close up vision isn’t bad).

Fortunately, not only is she a very conscientious vet, but also a patient lady.

I follow as she writes. I interject when I need more clarity, and we add in extras like ‘sore’ or ‘healed’. It emerges that there are different instructions for the two different skin states: one for ‘healed’, one for ‘sore’.

The instructions are as follows: Sore areas must be treated twice a day with twelve hours between treatments. In the morning, wipe Hibiscrub onto each area. Leave for fifteen minutes, then rinse off. After thirty minutes apply Isaderm, the steroid cream. Leave.

In the evening apply Isaderm only. Leave.

Do this until November 10th, then follow the above instructions only every other day until our next check-up on the 16th.

Healed areas. Apply Hibiscrub once a day, every three days, for four days. Apply Isaderm once a day for five days.

Yes. Right.

I have to confess that in order to bore you with this tarrididdle (or is it tarry-diddle?)

I had to tear my Hairy One’s treatment schedule from the kitchen wall and keep it in front of me. I still can’t remember it in its entirety.

Poor Isis has to wear the Elizabethan collar all the time except when she is off lead or hunting for bedtime treats when she appears to forget her problems, or when she is eating. At mealtimes I hover nearby ready to lassoo her as soon as she’s finished.

Unfortunately, she is quite athletic, so that the collar can’t prevent her from scratching her undercarriage vigorously. At least she can’t chew herself.

This positive is, however, balanced by a distressing negative. Even when she is wearing the collar,  a quick flick of her naughty head enables the little toad to bite and tweak out quite substantial strands of her once lovely coat.

For several days I ponder whether she would do this less if her coat wasn’t so long and dangly. I hate the thought of cutting her lovely coat, especially at this time of year, even though she’s not a dog who feels the cold. If she is less aware of the tempting fragles, will she be deterred?

Today, after watching her execute a number of crafty nips in the seconds between her finishing a meal and my replacing the collar, I decide.

Brandishing her dog scissors, I advance. I begin with her left flank. Snip, snip, snip. It looks as though a cow has been grazing on it.

But my skills are honed by experience, and by the time I’ve finished, she doesn’t look too bad. Not from the front and sides, at least.

The rear view is considerably less impressive.

 

 

 

 

 

We’re sticking rigidly to our timetable. All seems to be going well. The damaged areas are all improving already. It looks as though the our next check-up should result in a clean bill of health.

But over this weekend Hairy One’s attempts to bite and scratch herself become more and more frequents. By this evening, despite my frequent interventions, she has managed to create another raw patch.

It’s possible that she needs a bigger protective collar, although that, of course, will not prevent her from scratching herself.

A., commenting on last week’s post tells me of her cat, Daisy who developed a very similar problem and was quickly cured with Cytopoint. I’ll ask about this treatment when we next see the vet.

We can’t wait for the check-up appointment on the 16th.

I’ll have to contact the practice tomorrow.

Oh, Isis!

 

*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 a vet visit, Isis at home, oh dear, poor Isis, self-damaging, self-harming | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

horses, vets and labels

 

 

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

 

Sunday November 1st 2020

 

We’re striding happily along the pavement in the rain, Isis and I, when I spot a funeral cortège making its way towards us on the opposite side of the road. Leading are four  magnificent black horses wearing feathery plumes.

There is a dog walking close behind us. He shows no interest at all in the horses. I wonder what Isis would think were she able to see them.

Just as they’ve clopped by, she leaps backwards, causing the dog and its person behind us to swerve out of her way. Her tail spinning like a helicopter blade, she leaps and twirls on the grass verge in wild excitement. Each time she lands, she emits a joyful little ‘Oof!

The scent of the horses has reached her.

The dog walker’s face is a picture of startled astonishment.

‘It’s the horses,’ I explain. She glances at me nervously before giving Isis and I a very wide berth. No doubt she’s concluded that we’re both unhinged.

‘Was that a specially lovely smell?’, I ask Isis, as she reluctantly allows me to guide her onward.

Obviously it was.

But tomorrow is Tuesday and we’re set for a much less fun encounter.

Yes, we’re off to the vet again.

Sigh.

The original dermatitis has cleared up nicely now, but over the past week she’s been diving at her hips, gnawing the other side of her buttocks and scratching the backs of her ears.

She’s had to wear her Elizabethan collar again. What can be the matter now? Surely the anal gland infection hasn’t returned?

As usual, her demeanour at the vet’s is exemplary. One light tap and she climbs onto the scales, carefully arranges herself so no bits are overhanging, and, lead removed, stands still until I replace it and give her a step down tap.

Our vet, of course, compliments her, and the nurse and receptionist breathe, ‘Oh, she’s so sweet.’

(I refrain from inviting them to attend when we’re back at home and I’m trying to trim off the  fluff obscuring the itchy sites.)

I explain Hairy One’s nibblings, and ask whether the infection could have returned.

The vet thinks it’s unlikely, but she checks the glands and, much to Hairy One’s dismay, collects a little sample. There’s no sign of infection.

I hold Isis’s head while the vet examines the rest of the rear end very thoroughly. Isis wriggles and dances from one back leg to the other. She emits low growls, but doesn’t snap or try to wrench her head away.

The vet points out that Isis has been chewing rather than biting the hair on her right thigh. There are damp curls to prove it.

I tell her that when Isis first came to me, the hair there had been well barbered. Even now, when upset, she roots around  this thigh.

‘Could it be stress’, I wonder.

‘Has anything stressful been going on?’

Ah. I’ve been moving stuff around the house all week. I’ve not put anything where she might walk into it, of course, but dogs do become upset when stuff is moved around. I remember my border collie Feather becoming quite distressed if she saw me putting luggage into the car, and not settling until I let her in to lie on the back seat.

And my Ellie, who used to be my friend’s dog, curled up in one of the packing boxes during preparations for a house move.

Perhaps Isis is anxious about furniture going missing, her home being dismantled.

Has she been left on her own more than usual?

Yes, she has. Not alone in the house, but alone downstairs while I’ve been recommissioning rooms upstairs.

The range of possibilities is vast: parasites, a recurring allergy, a specific skin disorder, stress, a return to old habits because of the anal infection.

As for treatment, the vet explains it might be necessary to send skin samples to the laboratory. This would be very expensive. It might or might not solve the problem. What would I feel about that?

I explain that Isis has her own bank account. When I first had her, I decided that it would be difficult to insure a deaf/blind immigrant dog, so put ten pounds a week away for veterinary treatment.

‘If you think tests are necessary, then that’s what we’ll do.’

The vet weighs up the possible routes which could be taken. She suggests that the symptoms are treated and the patient monitored very closely for two weeks, then she is brought back for a check. If the problem has not cleared up by then, we’ll think again.

She prescribes Hibiscrub to clean the sites of irritation, and a steroid cream to calm the skin. She explains exactly what needs to be done. I’ve never been able to hold any information which contains numbers in my head. Words are fine. Numbers elude me.

I  immediately forget everything she says. But that’s fine, she assures me, it’ll all be on the labels.

By the time we get home, both Isis and I are worn out with the stress of it all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decide I’ll read all the information again the next day, then we’ll begin the regime.

By next morning we’ve both come round. I read the information on the the Hibiscrub bottle, then carefully apply the solution to the affected areas.

Isis expresses her gratitude with long, menacing growls.

Although I am quite gung-ho when treating my own wounds, I feel very apprehensive when treating my animals, am always afraid of getting it wrong and harming them.

Are other pet owners the same?

Probably.

As I screw the lid back onto the Hibiscrub bottle, some of the solution dribbles onto the label, obscuring the ‘how many times a day’ information.

Great.

Never mind, I’ll look it up on the internet tomorrow. Gingerly, I rinse her skin and then apply the cream.

The next morning, I pick up the bottle of Hibiscrub again.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh.

Obviously potent stuff.

I read the instructions on the cream tube. ‘Use twice a day’ it tells me ‘after the Hibiscrub.’

Oh.

When I get to the site for confused Hibiscrub users, it’s full of queries such as

‘Do I put the Hibiscrub on my pet before or after the cream?’

‘Am I supposed to dilute it?’

‘How much is “a small amount”?’

‘How long do I leave it on?’

There are pages of questions. So it’s not just me then. But the answers vary. Now I’m more confused than I was before I went online. I even forget what I could remember the day before.

There’s no other solution. I’ll have to ring the veterinary practice.

It’s all too much. We’ll go to the park first.

When we return I ring the hub. I tell the pleasant receptionist what has happened to the label. ‘Oh’, she titters, ‘That always happens when I use it.’

Right.

After conferring with a colleague, she tells me that an entry will be made in the practice diary to ask the vet to ring me.

She does, after evening surgery. Even after a very long day, she’s still patient and clears up all my queries. I write down every thing she says. It all makes sense.

So Isis has one treatment on Wednesday. On Thursday, we begin the proper daily routine.

On Friday I recall that Hairy’s diet has been changed on the vet’s advice. She thinks more fibre could alleviate the anal gland problem. The change was very gradual and no other signs of intolerance are evident. But I should have mentioned that at the consultation.

We plod on with the routine. When she’s on a walk, I note, Isis doesn’t bother to scratch or chew at her coat. Perhaps she’s bored at home. I must play with her more.

On Thursday, I check the calendar. Isis is due to have her Prinovox tomorrow. That needs to be given every three months. That’s right, isn’t it?  I check the label. No, it doesn’t – it should be given every month.

Then I recall with dismay that it was prescribed by an RSPCA vet because skin problems are very common among dogs of Isis’s hair colour and type. It’s a very effective preemptive treatment for various worms, fleas and other kinds of parasitic invasion.

Perhaps parasites have attacked her because she’s not had the Prinovox every month.

Oh my dog! Another confession to the vet.

 

*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 a vet visit, Isis at home, oh dear, poor Isis, RSPCA, scenting, self-harming, strange behaviour, twirling, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments