the snakeophile

 

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

 

Wednesday May 23rd 2018

 

As we know, Hairy One is inordinately fond of her snakes. She must have had them for at least three years. Two are very well preserved. These are her house snakes which she keeps in the back room. If I move them anywhere else, they are returned within minutes. If I clear them away into her toy box, she gets them out again.

The other two are outdoor snakes and have fared less well. She’s not a destructive dog where toys are concerned, she just plays with them very enthusiastically. One has died and disappeared into overgrown borders. The other, Green Snake, is slowly disintegrating.

Green Snake spends the winter and early spring at the bottom of the garden, on a block of concrete near the gate which leads into the lane.

When I open the gate, I toss him into the lane, and Isis sniffs him out, picks him up and trots off to play with him. Her favourite game seems to be whirling round with him at break-neck speed, tossing him aside, running off to investigate kitty and fox scents, then returning to hunt for him.

This game she’ll happily play for hours.

So that she’ll not be too upset when he finally meets his end, I attempt to wean her onto other toys. I leave all his disintegrating bits on the concrete post in the garden and take one of her house snakes into the lane. She ignores it and searches assiduously for Green Snake. Eventually she tracks him down and brings a fragment of him back into the lane to play with.

On subsequent days, I take out other toys and close the garden gate behind us. She ignores the other toys and searches for Green Snake. When she can’t find him, she goes off and plays with sticks and brambles.

Sigh.

Then I remember that farmers have a way of getting a ewe who has lost her own lamb to accept an infant lamb rejected by its own mother. Yes, they wrap the orphaned infant in the fleece of the dead lamb.

Feeling rather silly, I thread a bit of Green Snake onto a house snake and drop it in the lane. Isis picks it up immediately, clamping her jaw around the bit of Green Snake.

Oh yes! Aren’t I clever? Yes, too clever by halves. As Isis thrashes around, house snake is rapidly jettisoned and she continues playing with the green rubber skin fragment.

Hmmm. I think that the infant lamb trick will work, but can’t think of a safe way of fixing the skin fragments onto the whole snake. Have to work on that. Meanwhile, I continue to present her with some of her neglected toys.

To go back a bit, at Christmas, a kind friend gave Isis a wonderful present. It’s a special ball for a visually impaired dog. It’s very brightly coloured, deeply textured, has an appetising, beefy smell and emits a very loud, squawky squeak.

 

 

 

 

 

For weeks the ingrate ignores it, of course. Then one day I notice that it’s disappeared under the day bed, so she’s obviously made contact with it. I begin taking it into the front room and placing it on the rug. After a while she sniffs it out and nudges it with her nose.

I keep taking it with us into the lane. Again, Isis sniffs it out but doesn’t play with it. Then, on Monday, she finds it, picks it up, trots around making it squeak and carries it into her favourite nest under the ivy, from whence the squeaking continues.

Great.

In the days preceding this breakthrough, she must have carried Green Snake, bit by bit, from the garden into the house. I notice her drop his tail by the back door one day but have no idea of her grand plan. She is so hairy that it’s impossible to see a small fragment in her mouth.

Then, on Sunday, I see all of his remains on her rug in the back room with the house snakes.

Being an ignorant human, I find this most amusing, and rush to get my camera.

I gather up some bits of snake and sneak past Isis who appears to be fast asleep on the day bed.

I carefully arrange three pieces on a kitchen tile. Just as I am depressing the shutter, I am aware of a hairy presence at my feet, and I get this photo: a ghostly image of Isis in action. She moves so quickly that it’s impossible to be certain of what she’s doing. She seems to be snatching away the tail   …………………….

 

 

My snake!

 

 

 

but, at the last minute, obviously, she changes her mind  …………………………….

 

 

 

 

 

By the time I return to the back room, she’s lying down again. Where’s the bit of snake? I lift her lip. Yes, she has it in her mouth.

You are a very entertaining little dog, Isis.

But there’s being attached to one’s toys, and there’s being obsessed with them.

 

Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Isis at home, strange behaviour | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I need to SMELL you

 

 

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

 

Sunday May 20th 2018

 

We’ve had a good week, Isis and I.

Thankfully, Hairy One’s nightmares have returned to their previous frequency: usually only one or two snarly episodes a night and these are over in a few seconds.

They usually occur soon after she goes to sleep, whether she’s alone at night or sharing the day bed with me at other times.

I’ve just been refreshing my knowledge of sleep patterns, and this has confirmed my growing conviction that the distress occurs during the first, non-rem stages  of sleep when consciousness is only slightly lower than when we’re awake. Of course, I’ve no idea whether animals’ sleep patterns are similar to ours.

Just checked it out. Most mammals, including dogs apparently, have rem and non-rem sleep.

If I’m with Isis, I can tell when she’s about to have a snarly sleep interruption as her lips twitch and she emits little growls. If I don’t intervene, she soon leaps up snarling. Once she’s on her feet she wakes up, checks out her patch and lies down again.

Nowadays, if I see the early signs I can usually stop her at the growly stage. As we know, not so long ago, touching her while she was sleeping was like dropping a match on a petrol spillage. It took stupid Human years to realise that however gentle the touch, it would alarm her. Even so, over the years, she began to come out of the ‘nightmare’ more quickly.

Since I have learned never to touch Isis without first placing a hand in front of her muzzle so that she can pick up my scent, I can usually pre-empt traumas.

I had always assumed that if I was in the same room as she was, she would automatically know it was me. Two things happened to sharpen up my wits. First Hannah of http://www.pawfectdogsense.co.uk informed me that scents do not travel in straight lines, but move in the air in waves and loops, so if dogs are relying only on their noses to track down something, it can take them a while to find it.

(I always wondered why my very smart little dog Ellie never went straight to a  ball if she couldn’t see it, but instead ran hither and thither trying to find it.)

The second pointer only happened a few months ago. A visitor and I were working on my PC and Isis was lying on the futon. When we got up, my friend went to the door first and Isis immediately followed, tail in the air. Much to my surprise, when Isis sniffed her, the previously jaunty tail went down and Isis stopped dead in her tracks.

Clearly, she had mistaken my friend for me and was shocked when she sniffed her closely. Once I offered my hand to Hairy One for her to sniff, she wagged her tail and followed us out.

Similarly, I now realise, I need to let her sniff my hand before I touch her wherever we are. If I don’t, the poor little thing jumps and flinches.

It’s a damn good job that dogs learn more quickly that humans, or we’d never have the patience to train them!

 

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

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things that go woof in the night

 

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

 

Wednesday May 16th 2018

 

The good news: Isis appears to have got over her nocturnal snarling.

The bad news: now we have nocturnal woofing.

I use the word ‘woofing’ advisedly. The sound she makes isn’t the ear piercing clatter of an alarmed dog, nor is it the warning bark which announces there’s someone or something coming too close to her house.

It’s the subdued but irritating iteration of a dog who is demanding that something be done: Woof!   Woof!    ………………….    Woof!   Woof!

Upstairs, I try in vain to concentrate on my catch-up t.v.

After about thirty minutes, and seconds after a loud woof, I hurry downstairs. Isis is lying stretched out on the day bed, muzzle on her paws, the picture of a relaxed, sleeping dog.

Oh.

I go back to bed.

Off she goes again. Woof! Woof!   ………………….    Woof!   Woof!

Sigh.

She goes on and on and on. And on. Eventually I return downstairs and join the little pest on the day bed.

I give her my hand to smell. She gives a small, disgruntled yaff. I offer my hand again.

She gives my thumb a little nip.

I give her rump a little smack.

Then, heaving a contented sigh, she falls deeply asleep.

After about fifty minutes I edge myself carefully from the day bed, taking great care not to nudge her as I draw up my knees, lift my feet clear of her extremities and swivel millimetre by millimetre until I can lower my feet to the floor.

Once clear of the bed, of course, I can make as much noise as I like since she can’t hear me. Even so, I find myself creeping upstairs.

As I creep, the cause of her nocturnal performance dawns on me. I remember that it has happened twice before. On all three occasions I’d fallen asleep on the day bed the night before and slept there with Isis until morning.

She feels that this should continue. A dog belongs with its human.

She hasn’t slept upstairs for months as I’ve been unable to carry her down in the morning.

When I’ve recovered from the operation on my left shoulder – provisional date August 3rd – I’ll buy Hairy One a sling and let her come upstairs again.

Just then, my musings are interrupted by baleful yowls from the bedroom. Daisy cat is reminding me that reintroducing Isis upstairs will be a challenge.

 

 

 

Daisy now considers the first floor to be her domain.

Sigh.

Oh well, sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. As they say.

 

Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in Isis and Daisy, Isis at home, sleeping arrangements | Tagged , | 4 Comments

what’s wrong, Isis?

 

 

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

 

Sunday May 13th 2018

 

Quite a lot of ups and downs over the last couple of weeks.

I ask for it. I decide to blog or, rather, brag, about how well Isis is doing regarding the self harming, and how well she is coping with the light and shade in the lane at the back of the house.

Suddenly, the week before last, everything changes.

We are in the lane. There is a very sharp contrast between sun and shade. Isis stays in the shade. She sits close to our neighbour’s garage doors, venturing out only once or twice and then only a few feet into the shade which extends from the garage door to the hedge.

She’s not enjoying herself, and I decide to cut her outing short.

I walk over to fetch her. There are two little spots of blood on her right foot. When I look at her face, I see that her right eye is very bloodshot. I carefully wipe the corner of her eye. The mucus there is pink.

Horror, horror. Panic, panic. My stomach lurches. Something must have flicked into her eye: a  bramble?

I take her in. She is happy to go.

In the house I keep fantasising about all sorts of dreadful outcomes. Again and again I lift up her fringe and peer into her eye.

But she eats her tea with her usual gusto. There’s no sign of blood anywhere. At bedtime she snuffles around on her treat hunt just as enthusiastically as ever.

Strange.

But every night she growls and snaps. One night she carries on for such a long time that at four a.m. I go down to her. It’s a very long time since I did that. Very soon she falls asleep. I creep back upstairs.

In the evenings too, she flies into her old rages. Not as frequently as she once did, but ferociously.

One evening, we both snap. She’s going for her back right leg, spinning and snarling. I try to intervene. Several times I grab her but she spins so quickly that she drags herself out of my grip. Not once does she try to bite me, but she is becoming increasingly hysterical.

So am I.

She’s hell bent for leather on attacking her leg. I grab her by the collar. She tears herself from my hands and bites her foot. Hard.

It bleeds.

And still she rages.

I grab her collar again, and her back legs, and haul her unceremoniously into the kitchen.

I close the door. She stops  snarling instantly. But she splutters. I am consumed by guilt. I shouldn’t have grabbed her by the collar. I shouldn’t have dragged her like that.

Now we are both very subdued.

Isis has really hurt herself. She limps into the back room and lies miserably on the day bed. Also miserable, I take my food into the front room and try to read.

Later on, though, she allows me to apply Sudocreme to her bitten foot.

In the morning we are both very tired. But dear little Isis still greets me with her usual enthusiasm. I hug her and apologise for being so rough.

Then,  when I open the back door, she refuses to come out of the kitchen with me. She peers up at the sky apprehensively. She ducks her head. She seems as though she wants to come out but is afraid of the uncertain sun.

I try for twenty minutes to entice her from the doorway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She still won’t step over the threshold.

Will she feel more secure on her lead? I don’t think so. I expect her to run off up the hall. I clip on her collar. She wags joyfully. Or perhaps she’s just relieved. She flicks herself merrily out of the kitchen, onto the step, and into the garden.

The blood spot incident happened about ten days ago. Her eye looks as it’s always looked. I think I saw the blood spots and jumped to conclusions. Not once has she pawed at her eye or tried to rub it against anything.

Ever since the incident, though, she has refused to go for a pee in the garden unless I take her on her lead. And she continues to carry on once she’s left at bed time.

What’s wrong, 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

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Highbury, Highbury!

 

 

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

 

Wednesday May 9th 2018

 

 

 

 

Yes! On Sunday at last we return to Highbury. No doubt in Hairy One’s mind. Out of the car she pops.

As she walks nicely across the flower meadow on her lead, Ji. and I reminisce about how she used to be when all she wanted to do was spin; and how Ji. hurried out of the way while she jerked me this way and that, tangled herself round my legs, attacked her tail ferociously and flattened herself on the ground any time another dog approached. Walking wasn’t very much fun then.

She sniffs and marks, sniffs and marks as we make our way up to her favourite Highbury place: the pine avenue.

 

 

 

I love it in the park, but I’m not sure exactly where I am.

 

 

 

The light’s all spotty ……. but it smells like somewhere safe.

 

 

 

It’s all right. It’s all right. It’s my pine trees. Whoopee!

 

 

After a good half hour leaping among her pines, she doesn’t protest when I lead her over to the bench by the edge of the beech wood. Here, I release her again and she heads off to the marshy area where the rosebay willow herb grows so profusely. She loves to play among the plants. They grow so densely that you can only keep track of her by watching their tops moving as she plays. When they stop waving for more than a minute, it’s time to go over and locate her.

But today she seems strangely hesitant. Her tail drops.

Oh dear.

But of course, the plants don’t come up until summer is estabished. Poor Isis is confused. I think she’s searching for them!

 

 

 

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For over thirty minutes she seems to be trying to locate the plants. Then she lies in a nice, cool, marshy pool.

On the way back, Ji. goes to the car to open the doors so it won’t be too hot for her, while I take her to the stream to wash her legs. She doesn’t like this very much, and lifts up each paw in turn. Perhaps she hopes this will protect it from my ministrations.  but she is very good and stands quietly until all the mud is gone.

What a good girl.

What a lovely day.

 

Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or  www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kings Heath Park in April part 2

 

 

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

 

Sunday May 6th 2018 *Sunday May 6th 2018 *Sunday May 6th 2018 *

and what’s the above sunny departure from the norm? Read the post first, and then look for the *

 

It’s an enchanted day when Isis is reunited with her twisty paths.

The magic begins early. I am just about to let her out into the garden when I spot a pair of goldfinches feeding on one of the tall teasels a few feet from the kitchen window.

 

I don’t want to frighten them off, so I take photos of them through the glass of the kitchen window.

 

 

The other images were worse than this one, honestly.

I want to get a better image and I almost succeed. I manage to squeeze out of the back door without disturbing the birds, but just as I have them in the camera’s sights, Hairy One sneaks after me. This, of course, alarms the poor goldfinches and off they dip.

Thanks, Isis.

We set off to Kings Heath park.

Once she’s explored the little twisty paths, Isis does something she’s not done for about two years. The lower bowling green is empty and she trots onto it. Next she climbs the tall bank which used to be her favourite play area until a crowd of boisterous pups arrived daily and jumped on her.

She rediscovers her favourite fir tree.

 

 

 

 

 

Then she sniffs out the hole in the hedge

 

 

 

 

 

and pops through it onto the next tier of grass.

 

 

 

 

 

She is delighted. When she was first let off her lead she used to love running here.  That’s a long, long time ago, but she still knows where the trees are and has no difficulty in avoiding them.

 

 

 

 

 

She’s very happy to be here, and twirls and runs and dances.

Then she scampers along to what used to be her favourite shrubbery, up another bank by the bottom of the basketball court.

She flings herself around with gay abandon.

To make our visit complete, Bev., Gr., S and John appear with Nancy, Rufus, Nanook and Ben.

When they make their way down to the old bowling green, Isis trots off to the  Colour Garden to race around her favourite shrubbery. After a while, Rufus and Nancy collect us and we walk to the park exit with them, Bev and Gr.

It’s so good to be back.

 

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

*THE SUNNY YELLOW CELEBRATES OUR RETURN TO HIGHBURY. TRULY A YELLOW LETTER DAY!

The garage manages to resuscitate my car which has been standing outside the house since July, and they bring it back on Friday afternoon. To my surprise, as soon as I get into the car on Saturday, I feel as though I was last driving only yesterday. I drive around the block first, then to Selly Park – ten minutes away – to visit Polymath.

And today J., Isis and I drive to Highbury Park for the first time in nine months.

We spend over two hours there, watching Isis enjoy herself. It’s wonderful to be back. Isis is ecstatic. It’s remarkable that she isn’t suffering from tail strain.

We’ll tell you all about it on Wednesday!

 

 

 

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

Kings Heath Park in April

 

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

 

O.K. Isis. Let’s pretend it’s Wednesday May 2nd.

 

Isis and I walk to Kings Heath Park. It’s not sunny, but there’s a silvery brightness lurking just beneath the clouds, and Isis is wary as we stroll along the pavement.

Spring has really arrived now. After the seemingly endless downpours we have endured, the park is bursting with numerous shades of green. Very beautiful. My spirits soar. But it’s many months since Hairy One was off her lead in this part of the park. She’s not at her most confident today.

How will she react?

 

 

Oh my Dog, I’m only small and there’s something very, very big up there.

 

 

Oh dear, it’s scary up this end as well.

 

 

Ah, but it smells like ………..

 

 

…… it smells like ……

 

 

……. it definitely smells like ….

 

 

It IS! It’s my little path by the train line!
That’s O.K. then.

 

 

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 I'm off my lead!, Kings Heath Park, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

WHOOPS!

 

 

Thursday May 3rd 2018

 

Would you believe it? Human fell asleep with me on the day bed and didn’t remember it was my blog day until 3.00 a.m.

She’d better do it tonight because lots has been happening to me.

 

Isis

 

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and more and more park ………….

 

*

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

 

Sunday April 29th 2018

 

Apologies. We’ve now arrived at Monday. This is because silly Human forgot that she had made several videos and the image download took hours!

It has been a good week. Isis and I have walked to Kings Heath Park four times now, and have even met our park mates. Oh Joy!

I am very pleased with myself.

Isis hasn’t voiced her opinion, so, since it is late and there’s at least an hour’s worth of tasks to do before bed time, I’ll leave it up to this little video to communicate her feelings.

 

 

 

 

 

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

* Saw the physiotherapist and a member of the consultant’s team and they were both delighted with my progress. I think I’ve been lucky in a way to have been taking steroids for the rheumatoid arthritis because I’m sure the steroids have dulled the shoulder pain and enabled me to do the exercises more easily.

I’m very, very pleased. Next step driving, hopefully.

P

Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, I'm off my lead!, Kings Heath Park, running running, twirling, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

a park, a park, my kingdom for a park

 

 

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

 

Wednesday April 25th 2018

 

On Monday Isis and I walk to the park on our own. This feels like a huge achievement.

Wow! I’m part of the world again.

I worry intermittently about what I’ll do if the sun pops out and stays out and Isis is too frightened to move. I can’t carry her to a ‘safe’ spot further along the road, and I can’t manhandle her either.

Fortunately, the sun mostly sticks to the weather forecast’s predictions and the morning is ‘mostly cloudy’.

Three or four times the sun plays ‘now you see me, now you don’t’, and Isis has to be persuaded to walk forward. On the way back she does a couple of five minute no-goes. I explain that there are only two options: carry on walking or stay on the pavement all day. She is unmoved and unmoving. But I am bigger than she is – nasty bully – and eventually she walks.

Poor Isis.

As usual, she is very happy while she is in the park,

 

 

 

 

 

and as soon as she is released from her lead,  trots at a brisk pace along the little winding paths by the railway line, up along the fence past the old T.V. gardens now run by the Thrift charity, and on to Poo Forest. Here she prances and twirls and snuffles and dances to her heart’s content.

Then off we go to the Colour Garden where she races gleefully around her shrubbery.

I get to say hello to the gardening team, which is good, but sadly, I don’t get to meet any park mates.

Then, just as we’re leaving the Colour Garden, I spot J., Ba. and Ja. going down the slope to the old bowling green with Ben, Ebi and Jess. It’ll be lovely to talk to them and make a fuss of the dogs, I think. But naughty little Isis digs in all four of her heels and refuses to allow me to follow them.

Little toad.

 

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

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