what the hell’s going on? part 2

 

 

A post should appear each Sunday!

 

Sunday January 16th 2022  

 

Last week I meanly left the story thus:

‘But I know that however weird her behaviour might seem, there are always reasons for what she does. Obviously, she has picked up a very compelling scent, but what on earth is it, and why are no other dogs reacting to it? It’s unlikely that I’ll ever know.

But, then, …………………………………………….. …………………………………….to be continued next week!’

 

After about ten minutes, a young couple appears. They must have come up from the playing fields. As they walk through the patch of woodland, they smile at Isis, who continues to cavort ecstatically beneath the trees.

Then I notice that the woman seems to be carrying a little bundle wrapped in what looks like a shawl – a very young baby, I conclude.

They are only a few yards away from Isis when the man glances at her, then ducks down and scoops something up from the ground. I wonder what he’s found.

Now he’s definitely cradling something in his arms.

They walk out through the trees and up onto the path. Then the man bends down again, and carefully places something small and furry on the ground.  Ah, a very small dog, or even a cat or a rabbit on a lead, I guess. From where I am standing, I can see that the something small and furry has a long, slim body. A dachshound? But no, it has a thick, furry tail. A baby fox?

The small creature is standing in the grass. It’s very alert, and it’s sniffing intently. Ah, now I know what it is. Wow! Fascinating!

Bam!

Isis, tail still waving, mouth open and nose awhiffle, receives a full-on hit of the animal’s scent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The man, spotting Hairy One, quickly lifts up the little animal. The predator sniffs her way towards the spot in the grass where the creature had been set down.  Sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff- SNIFF! Yes, she’s right, this is exactly where it stood. It’s even peed here. Her enthusiasm knows no bounds. While she is picking up the trail again, I walk over to the couple.

Each of them is cradling a beautiful ferret. The young man has the jack, and the young woman the jill. The animals are very alert and full of curiosity. Both have their shiny, dark eyes fixed on me. They are siblings, the jack a dark chestnut, black and fawn, the jill white with two black patches. He, they explain, is the more confident of the two. His sister is far more timid and afraid of strangers.

I am enchanted.

Their humans explain that their ferrets are not used for rabbit hunting but are pets. They’ve had them for a year, from when they were pups,  They are hilarious to watch when they play in the living room in the evening, chasing each other round and under and over the furniture (the ferrets, not the couple).

I ask if I can stroke the chirpy little jack. His small mouth is round and pink, his whiskers translucent, and trembling with curiosity. His nose is rather like Isis’s, pink, speckled with black, and his fur is soft and and dense. I could almost stuff him down my jumper and run off home with him. He seems perfectly relaxed as I stroke his head and his curvy little back. He hoovers around my wrist, pushes his snout into my sleeve, then gives my wrist a quick nip.

After a few minutes, Isis sniffs her way to the man’s feet and stands, transfixed, her little face turned up towards him, as if she’s asking, “Can I have it, please?” This is, to say the least, completely uncharacteristic of Isis, who always flinches away from strangers. I’ve never seen her with a happier expression: she looks as if she’s smiling. 

Time for us to go, I think. I say goodbye to the ferrets and their humans, put the hairy hunter on her lead, and walk her back to the woods.  

Here, she is as excited as she was when she first rushed down the slope. Again, she flies from tree to tree, desperate to pick up the ferret scent again. She follows the lovely smells to a large holly bush which protrudes onto the path. Then she dashes back among the trees, turns and sniffs her way back to the holly bush. The fourth time she does this, she doesn’t rush back to the woods. I walk round the bush to investigate.

She’s vanished.

I hurry to the first bend in the path.

There’s no sign of her.

Now I feel the beginnings of panic. She’s never run off like this before. She couldn’t have disappeared down the path so quickly. She’s probably walked round the holly bush and popped out the other side. If I rush back, I’ll find her in the woods.

But my gut feeling tells me otherwise. She’s following those ferrets. And at the end of the path, there’s Moor Green Road, then Dogpool Road, both  streaming with cars and buses.

I begin to run. But it’s a long way, and soon I have to slow to a quick walk. 

At last I spot her. She’s already walked around the vehicle gate, and is on her way to the road. Her head turns in my direction. She pauses. I’m striding as fast as I can, but if she walks on, there’s no way I can catch her before she reaches the road.

Two walkers, a man and a woman, are coming towards me. They’re walking past Isis, the woman a short distance in front of the man.

I’m shouting to them to stop Isis, but I’m gasping, gulping air, and they can’t make out what I’m saying.

Isis is turning towards the road. Now they’re getting nearer and I’m shouting as loudly as I can,

“Please can you stop her. She’s blind! If you stand in front of her, she’ll stop.”

The man can’t make out what I’m shouting. But the woman can, and shouts to him, telling him what to do. Now he’s running back past Isis and planting himself across her path. 

She stops.

The man doesn’t move.

Isis turns round, and now she’s walking slowly away from him, towards me. 

“I’m so sorry,” the man’s saying, “I didn’t know she was blind.”

“Of course you didn’t. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.”

Isis wags her tail a little as I clip the lead to her collar. She’s not looking at all upset.

Just a little puzzled.

 

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, clever Isis, crisis, dear little Isis, Holders Lane Woods, Isis in danger, Isis in trouble, oh dear, running running, scenting, strange behaviour, these dogs!, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

what the hell’s going on?

 

 

A post should appear each Sunday!  

 

Sunday January 9th 2022

 

It’s January 2nd when we head down Dogpool Road, turn right onto Moor Green Lane, and park opposite The Highbury pub.

It’s a dull, damp, grey day, just the right conditions for Isis to enjoy a walk through Holders Woods: no flashes of sunlight interrupt the even greyness; no dark shadows are cast on the track in front of her; there’s nothing to alarm her, nothing to disrupt our walk.

Isis potters along beside me, pausing now and again to snuffle among the little mounds of leaves blown against the side of the path. She doesn’t appear to be finding anything particularly interesting today. She’s walking slowly and looking rather bored, as if she’s thinking, “Same old walk, same old smells.”

She’s not actually yawned yet, but I’ll not be surprised if she does. I guide her towards some of the little tracks which meander up the steep banks on the right hand side of the path.

But she’s not that interested.

For months after she first encountered the badger setts, she was wildly excited, and danced around sniffing and pouncing by the tunnel entrances, before following the routes the extended badger family had taken the night before. She would have happily spent the day there, and had to be prised away from the area.

Now those scents are old hat. She’s been there, done that.

O.K. Let’s walk up this part of the bank. We’ve not been up here for a while, and there are numerous narrow little mud paths we can follow to the car park.

We make our way up but find our path blocked by a barricade of woven branches. This is a sign that the rangers are ‘resting’ a specific area to encourage regrowth, or are protecting recent planting.

Oh.

Isis doesn’t exactly sigh, but looks very much as if she might.

We  begin our descent. Hairy One leads the way, as Human, struggling to keep a foothold in the sticky mud, slithers and stumbles.

Suddenly, Isis lifts up her head and shoots down the bank. In a frenzy of arousal, she pelts across the main path and into the small wooded area on the other side. 

I am astonished.

You could, as the saying goes, knock me down with a feather.

Never before, in the seven years and four and a half months since I adopted her, has she behaved like this.

Cautiously, tussock by tussock, I pick my way around the slippery mud patches, cross the path, and join my rampaging dog in the wood. Walkers raise their eyebrows and smile at her antics.

Now, nose to the ground, she zigzags among fallen tree trunks, sniffs beneath them, runs her nose along the sides of them, and stands on her back legs to snuffle along the tops of them.

And now she’s raising her head, sniffing the air, running to the trees, snuffling among their roots, stretching up as far as she can to explore the boles of close-by trees.

She prances and dances round the trees, then zips along the logs. Her tail is wagging like a deranged metronome, her nose constantly twitching, her whole body quivering with excitement.

She repeats these investigative routines over and over and over again, while other dogs of a variety of breeds, walk past without even twitching a whisker.

People are looking at us enquiringly. This situation is becoming embarrassing. “She’s picked up an interesting scent,” I explain with a forced smile,  wondering if my dog is losing her marbles.

But I know that however weird her behaviour might seem, there are always reasons for what she does. Obviously, she has picked up a very compelling scent, but what on earth is it, and why are no other dogs reacting to it?

I’d love to know, but, sadly, I never will.

But, then, ……………………………………………..

To be continued next week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Posted in a joyful dog, clever girl, clever Isis, Holders Lane Woods, scenting, something's not right, strange behaviour, what on earth's the matter? | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

what IS the matter with Isis?

 

 

A post should appear each Sunday but hey! It’s holiday time, so things are a bit different. Isis and her human are taking the next two weekends off, and, hopefully, will be posting again on Sunday January 9th – if my adding up is accurate.

 

Thursday December 22th 2021

 

The Christmas card debacle occurred because the cards, which I ordered online several weeks ago, didn’t arrive until late on Saturday. Isis and I had arranged to visit J. on Sunday afternoon after our walk, and afterwards, by the time I had written most of the cards, it was 2.00 a.m. and I was good for nothing.

Yes, I know I didn’t post on Wednesday. I’ll not bore you with excuses. Sorry.

 

As we creep towards the end of 2021, I will leave you with a conundrum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, Isis and I seem to have consolidated what we have learned from each other, and I grow more fond of the little toad each day.

Sometimes it occurs to me that she might not feel the same about me.

Take last week, for example.

If, for any reason, I have to leave her at home on her own for a few hours, or I’ve been preoccupied, and she hasn’t had the amount of attention a dog deserves, or I fall asleep and can’t be bothered to go to bed, I spend the night with her on the day bed. This is no sacrifice: she is as warm as a little convector heater but much squishier, and I have a supply of pillows and a duvet stashed at my end of the day bed. Usually, we sort out our sleeping positions without any arguments, and everything is nice and cosy.

One afternoon, I strip the day bed and replace all our bed linen with pristine items.

That night I snuggle under the fragrant duvet, and settle myself contentedly on the equally fragant pillows.

‘Little Isis will be so pleased,’ I tell myself. ‘Isn’t this lovely sweetheart?’, I intone in my sloppiest voice.

Isis promptly stands up and jumps off the bed.

Oh.

I guess she wants a drink of water.

She doesn’t.

She pads into the hall, pauses, then returns to settle herself on the floorboards below me.

She’s never done this before in all the seven years and five months she’s lived with me. Perhaps there’s something wrong. Has something fallen into her drinking bowl? Did I forget to check the level of water in her bowl? Has she finished her water?

I wriggle out of my warm nest to check. She pads after me into the the kitchen. No, as I thought, her water is fresh and her drinking bowl is full. She follows me back to the day bed, waits until I creep in, and then she returns to her previous spot on the floor.

I wait. Several times, she shuffles, sits up and lies down again.

I lean over to stroke and pat her. I whisper sweet nothings into her nearest ear. I pat the bed forcefully, indicating that she should jump up onto her blanket.

Realising, perhaps, that I am requesting some response, she gets up, walks over to her own bed, then lies in it, looking solemn. I pick her up and deposit her on the day bed. I check to make sure that there’s nothing stuck in her hair, or any tender spots on her body. She has shown no sign of discomfort or distress at any time in the day, and, as I expect, I find nothing.

As soon as I approach the bed, she gets off, and returns to her chosen spot on the floor.

Eventually, I take the hint. I put away my stuff and leave the room. I make a coffee. When I peer round the door, there she is, on the day bed, on her clean blanket, relaxed and ready for sleep.

I have to admit, I feel somewhat disgruntled. “Please yourself then”, I mutter, before covering her with a clean mini-fleece.

What on earth is the matter with her?

I can only guess, so I’d really appreciate your suggestions.

After all, the silly teasers inside your Christmas crackers are pretty uninspiring, aren’t they? You’d be much more challenged by trying to solve this one!

 

SEASON’S GREETINGS TO YOU ALL, AND I HOPE YOU HAVE A POSITIVE AND REWARDING NEW YEAR.

 

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 dear little Isis, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., oh dear, patience is a virtue., sleeping, sleeping arrangements, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

apolgies, apologies

 

 

Sunday/ Monday December 19th/20th 2021

 

A post should appear each Sunday  …………………..

 

But, owing to a seasonal debacle, I have only just posted my Christmas cards. Now I have to take Isis into the garden, hide her treats and bed her down.

I am incapable of writing an intelligible post; in fact, I am incapable of writing a post at all.

I hope, with Isis’s assistance, to publish a post on Tuesday or Wednesday – by which time, of course, many of you will be too busy to read it.

Hey-ho,

Pat

 

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 Uncategorized | 2 Comments

and where shall we go today, dear?

 

 

A post should appear each Sunday!

 

Sunday December 12th 2021

 

Now we have a tried and tested portfolio of walks: Kings Heath Park, neighbourhood roads, Highbury Park, Holders Lane, Cannon Hill Park, Clowse Woods, Earlswood Lakes and Jasmine Fields are all within a ten or fifteen minute drive away.

The most important criterion when deciding on each day’s venue, is, of course, the weather.

When it’s dull and wet, Isis is happy to go anywhere, but invariably chooses a road walk. Usually she wants to walk to Kings Heath Park, but sometimes she prefers a circular tour of the neighbouring streets. These walks are all about smells. As I perceive it, the only challenge for her is whether she can retain enough urine in her bladder to pee on absolutely every scent she picks up.

Highbury Park, large and varied enough to offer a choice of routes, used to be a sea of mud at this time of year, particularly during the Covid lockdown when hordes of people stomped round, intent on grabbing their hour of exercise.

Now, thankfully, there’s space again, and since the new paths have been laid, it’s possible to circumvent the muddiest areas. Even if the sun is popping in and out, and making Hairy One nervous, the park is large and the landscape varied, so it’s possible to choose ‘safe’, shady paths for her.

And when the weather is settled, she can pick her own itinery,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or, when it’s very warm, even spend much of her time in her cool, watery apartment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking through the tree-lined paths in Holder’s Lane can be difficult for her when the light is changeable, or even when there’s steady sun, because of the alternating strips of light and shadow; but there are so many off-path tracks, so densely wooded that the sun can’t penetrate them, or deep down beside the river, shielded by high banks, that it’s usually possible to find a non-threatening sections which she can enjoy.

Isis loves exploring Clowse Woods, which she has visited many times with Rufus and Nancy. The trees and undergrowth there are so dense that the light rarely penetrates as far as the ground, and the woods are so extensive that even Bev can lose her way, so there are always new areas for dogs to explore. Unfortunately, when there are prolonged periods of rain, as there generally are at this time of year, most of the paths are swamped with mud.

Bev reports that the through pathway to Earlswood Lakes, closed for over a year because of extensive drainage work, is open again, so that a walk round the lakes is now viable. It’s years since I walked there, and Isis has never been, so that should be interesting for her.

When the weather is unkind to us, when clouds scud across the sky, the sun plays peepo, and poor Isis cringes on her way from the house to the car, our default destination is Jasmine Fields.

Even though we have to face the sun when we enter the main field, once we’re through the gate, Isis has choices: she can run into the centre of the field which is completely open so that there are no shadows, or she can turn left or right. Any one of these routes gives us access to the walk above the canal where the tangle of trees protects her from any glare. Whatever the weather, she feels safe here, and she’s thrilled with the stimulating scents left behind by nocturnal creatures.

She is more wary when we descend from our happy meandering and reach the canal towpath. For about two hundred yards the trees are not dense enough to shield her, and when it’s sunny, there are stripes of light and shade to walk through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her tail drops, and she has to be coaxed to walk on; soon though, the path is shaded by high banks and tall trees, and she can relax again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, as the Beetles almost sang, ‘Jasmine Fields forever’!

As we urban dog walkers often tell one another, we are very, very lucky to have access to so many open spaces.

 

 

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 Clowse Woods, Highbury Park, Holders Lane Woods, Jasmine Fields, Kings Heath Park, oh dear, rain, scary shadows, scenting, walking in the park, walking with Rufus and Nancy, we don't like bright light, we don't like bright sun | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

breakthrough

 

 

A post should appear each Sunday!

 

Sunday November 28th 2021

 

Sadly, stupid Human has accidentally deleted last week’s post, the duck with the orange feet.

But now she’s trying very hard to stop gnashing her teeth and renting her garments, as they used to say, and is determined to concentrate on the good news. (Although, if anyone knows of a way the post can be retrieved, she would be delighted to know.)

Last week we left Isis refusing point blank to have anything to do with her lovely new honking duck. However many times he is offered to her, she turns her back on him. Ever hopeful, I replace him in her bed, and wait.

He is one of her three presents. I await the arrival of the other two. Perhaps she will find them more acceptable.

Then, the very next evening  …………………………………………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m delighted, of course.

Now, when I pick up her duck, squeeze him very gently, and pretend to steal him, she grabs him and holds onto him very firmly. I’ve discovered that if you squeeze his head or neck, the honk is much quieter than when you grasp his middle, so when playing with her, I can modify the sound.

It’d be interesting to know how the stimulus works for her. Normally, I can clap my hands, click clickers, blow a dog whistle or make any loud sound a few inches from her and she doesn’t stir until she smells me; yet that first loud honk terrified her. I can only guess that she was startled by the vibration or the honk has a specific tone which she can hear.

Two days later, the other toys arrive. This time Isis waits until we are in the porch before  she tells me someone has been to the door.

Ah yes, clever girl: on the floor, there’s a card from the postman. The parcel has been left at my kind neighbour’s.

Both of the soft toys are made by Orvis. They had good reviews, and I’m not disappointed. They are a good size, look to be of excellent quality, and each has an interesting variety of textures. They should be perfect for Isis.

In last week’s post, I said I’d ordered a sloth, but I am wrong. It’s not a sloth who arrives with the new duck,  but a squirrel.

Here she is.

 

 

 

 

 

This time, Isis isn’t afraid of the new toy. Not at all. She just turns away her head when I give it to her to sniff. Then she ignores it.

She ignores it the next day.

And the next.

And the next.

And the next.

Sigh.

Now it’s Saturday. Every day it seems to me that Hairy One’s coat is an inch longer than the day before. In the evening I give her a thorough nose to tail grooming. After this, I present her new toy again for her to sniff, then rub it, very lightly, along her back and across her chest.

I think that perhaps if it smells of her, she’ll be happier with it.

But she looks mildly irritated and continues to ignore the creature.

Oh well.

I retire to the kitchen to make myself a coffee.

Before going to bed, I peep round the door. To my surprise, Isis has moved to the end of the day bed and is fast asleep with her head resting on her new toy.

Aw!

Now we have one more present to go: the soft toy duck.

Here he is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decide on a different tactic this time. The new duck can be her Christmas present. I’ll put it in my bed and leave it there for the next few weeks so that it absolutely reeks of me. It could be that she takes to this toy immediately.

Or not!

 

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 dear little Isis, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., oh dear, patience is a virtue., sleeping arrangements, these dogs!, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

the duck with the orange feet

   

A post should appear each Sunday!

 

Sunday November 21st 2021

 

Poor Isis. Each day she spends between ninety minutes and two hours out for her walk, then that’s it for the day. Most of the rest of the time, except for thirty minutes in the evening, playing by herself with her toys, she spends snoozing. Hunting the treats at bedtime only takes about five minutes. There’s the grooming, of course, but that’s hardly a fun experience for her.

This isn’t good enough, I decide. I must engineer more fun time for her. I’ll play with her for two twenty minute sessions a day, devise a more interesting treat hunt, and replace her now mostly silent squeaky toys. Even tiger, who came with a magnificent twelve squeaks, has only two left. He and the remaining snakes are the ones she still seems to prefer, and they are but shadows of their former selves.

O.K. We’ll begin by finding and ordering the new toys.

It’s not as easy as you’d think. Isis likes soft toys with long tails and multi squeakers. There are plenty of soft toys, but very few have tails; and multi-squeakers seem to be out of fashion.

By now, though I’m going cross-eyed with searching, I can’t find even one soft toy with a tail and lots of squeaks.

In the end, I have to compromise. I order a large, soft and squishy but tough duck with orange feet and bill. It doesn’t squeak, but, the seller claims, when squeezed, it gives out a  very loud honk. I’m sure this will entertain her for hours.

I also choose a fluffy looking sloth which sports a long, hairy tail, but only has one squeaker, and a bird with a textured, knitted look. It only has a short tail, but there are four squeakers.

Goodness me, it didn’t take this long to research vacuum cleaners.

The honking duck, from Pets At Home should arrive first, and the other two in about a week.

We wait with baited breath.

My neighbourly shop keeper will always let my parcels be delivered to him, if I am out, so on Tuesday I check in with him, then leave delivery instructions on my window.

When Isis and I return from her walk, I wonder if the duck has arrived. Isis soon gives me the definitive answer. When she’s a few feet from the front door, she gives two of her announcement barks. Yes, someone has approached the house.

After ushering her into the house, I collect the parcel. My neighbour puts it on the counter for me. There it lies, on its back, in its transparent bag, feet in the air, looking for all the world like an item for sale.

Yes, he confirms with a grin, the duck does have a loud honk.

You know how it is with we soppy humans. I can’t wait to see Hairy One’s delight when she is given her present.

I leave it in its bag on the floor, thinking she might enjoy unpacking it. My dog Ellie used to love unwrapping her gifts.

Isis walks past it. Stupid human. It doesn’t have an interesting scent and she can’t see it, so why would she be interested?

I remove it from its wrapping and place it in her bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although she sits in her bed, next to the duck, while waiting for me to give her a post walk treat, she ignores the intruder completely.

Later she returns to bed to play with the remains of her snakes. When she’s finished and is about to walk off, I pat her, and invite her to sniff the duck. She’s still not interested, so I squeeze it. Wonderful. She’s going to love this.

HONK! HONK! HONK!

But she’s petrified. Her tail drops like an old fashioned train signal. She flattens herself on the floor in a frantic act of submission, then jumps back and makes for the safety of the day bed.

I’m mortified. I’ve terrified my poor little dog.

I leave the duck in her bed.

Two days later, I notice that she’s cleared her bed. Three snakes and her tiger have been unceremoniously evicted, and lie nearby. A few feet further off, on its own, is the duck.

So much for that idea, then.

 

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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the other extreme?

 

 

A post should appear every Sunday

 

Sunday December 5th 2021

 

I’m a happy blogger again, so here’s a public THANK YOto Kerry at AEZA cat and dog rescue (see footer) who emailed me a copy of the accidentally erased ‘duck with the orange feet.’

To my delight, the post is now back on site in its correct chronological order.

 

***

 

Shortly after complaining about Isis’s lack of interest in her new honking duck toy, I recorded this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday, when we wake up to the first scattering of snow this year, Isis is thrilled. Usually, she considers being sent outside when I get up just the annoying prerequisite for getting her breakfast.

Naturally, breakfast looms large on a dog’s agenda. But today, stimulated by the snow, she explores the terrain and then launches herself into a series of little games.

Before breakfast, she dances in the back garden for about thirty minutes. After breakfast, she asks to be let out again. She plays for a further ten minutes. I notice that several times she goes up to the little, home made gate and nuzzles it. On the other side is the path leading to the big gate to the lane.

Ah. Of course, she would love to play in the lane on a day like this. If the scattering of snow survives until tomorrow, she can play there.

The next day I pile on the layers, pick up Honking Duck, and off we go into the lane. The snow is still there. I toss Honking Duck aside, knowing that, after a sniff around, she’ll find him.

She does. She picks him up and trots around with him for a while. After this, her greatest desire is to lie in the grass and squeeze the honks out of him.

She lies down tentatively, wriggles a little, then rises again. She does this several times.

Strange, she’s not usually so particular about where she lies.

But then I realise what’s going on. It’s bitterly cold today, and the snow has turned into ice. Although the rest of her is protected by a thick undercoat and a long, hairy overcoat, her underside is not. Every time she lies down, her bare, pink skin meets the ice. Hardy though she is, this is obviously a discomfort too far. Each time she tries to settle down, she barely manages to squeeze out one honk before she rises to her feet again.

After ten minutes, she strides purposefully to the gate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S** this for a game of soldiers. She’s had enough, thank you.

O.K. We’ll go to Highbury instead.

Isis is very keen to have her harness put on. As usual, she wags her tail and jiggles around in the porch.

There’s only one problem: she’ll not let go of Honking Duck.

Have you tried getting a harness over a hairy head with a large rubber duck clenched between its jaws?

Not easy. But eventually we succeed.

I expect her to drop her toy once we leave the house.

She doesn’t.

Well, never mind, she’ll drop it once we reach the car.

She doesn’t.

It is more difficult to jump onto the back seat of the car with a mouth full of duck. But after a few adjustments, she manages it.

Funny little dog. She’s sure to leave it in the car when I let her out.

She doesn’t.

Despite my mutterings, cajolings, and quick, sneaky tugs she hangs on to that ruddy duck. (Unfortunately, I’ve not taught her a ‘drop’ command.

Silly me.)

She’s never exited the car with a toy before.

Sigh.

I know exactly what will happen. Once we’re well away from the car, she’ll pick up a scent, drop H.D. and Human will have to carry him around for the rest of the walk.

Little toad.

But I’m wrong. She doesn’t let go of him. She doesn’t explore. She doesn’t sniff. She doesn’t mark interesting spots. She doesn’t even poop.

She refuses to walk until I put her on the lead; then she plods round the park as slowly as she can, looking morose.

However much I cajole her, whisper obsceneties into her beautiful ears and attempt to prise her teeth apart, she will not surrender H.D.

“You didn’t even like him yesterday,” I mutter, “you unspeakable animal.”

What an unedifying spectacle. What a miserable walk. What on earth’s the matter with her?

I’ll never know.

It’s not until well over an hour later, when we are within a few feet of the exit gate, that she executes a brief twirl, drops H.D. unceremoniously on the asphalt and abandons him.

She doesn’t even look back.

When she’s hopped back into the car, I place her toy next to her on the back seat. She ignores him.

When we reach home, she leaves the car without a backward glance, leaving me to carry in the toy from which, only fifteen minutes ago, she refused to be parted.

In the house, she behaves perfectly normally (for a podengo, that is). She eats a hearty meal, she stretches out and falls asleep. Next day we have a delightful walk.

On our own.

 

 

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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she’s a darling!

 

 

A post should appear each Sunday!

 

Sunday Novenber 14th 2021

 

My narrative, as usual, is in black print. The blue print is my interpretation of her canine thinking.

 

‘S/he’s a darling’ is a Black Country expression which means the opposite, that is, she or he is being a pain in the neck.

This morning the expression suits Isis down to the ground.

When I let her out into the garden, a quick pee is all we get.

I’m very, very hungry. I want my breakfast.

Sigh.

This means I’ll have to carry two or three full dog bags around if she elects to take a pavement walk.

We set off. It’s a nice, dull day, so I’m not sure whether she’ll decide to walk wherever she wants to go, or choose to be driven.

Her chauffeur is prepared for both. She wears her trainers, and stows her walking boots in the car. Her pocket is full of dog bags. So is the car. The house keys are zipped into an inside pocket. The car key is poised for action between forefinger and thumb.

She walks over to the grass verge on the right. Strange. She never turns right here. She’s never about to walk up this way, is she?

No, she isn’t. She’s engrossed in sniffing the grass. Something needs immediate investigation: it’s urgent.

I wait.

And wait.

Ah, she’s completed her task. Perhaps now she’ll walk on. Or approach the car.

No, that’s not her intention. She executes a ninety degree turn, then waits, facing the main road. That’s OK. We sometimes cross the road, walk down to Broad Lane, back up along another road, and home. We complete a rough rectangle, and it takes us about an hour. Usually, she walks very nicely on her lead, except when she catches a whiff of kitty and lurches forward to pursue it.

On this route, though, there’s a certain point, less than a quarter of the way to Broad Lane, where she always stops and turns back towards home. I realise that this is the point where we used to turn back when I came home from my art group at lunch time to check her out and give her another, albeit brief, walk.

Understandably, she is a creature of habit. Once she is realises that no, we’re not retracing our foot/ paw steps, she trots along contentedly.  She takes some persuading, and may stop again, but eventually we’re back on piste. I always manage to persuade her to continue.

Sometimes, on our way back, we walk down one of the paths leading from Jasmin Fields. She enjoys this.

Today, she soon stops to attend to her needs. While I am employing the dog bag, the naughty little creature turns back in the direction from which we’ve just come and tugs at the lead. Very helpful at such times. Not.

I turn her round.

What’s the matter with her? I’ve just produced an impressively huge poo. That’s what I agreed to come across the road for.

As we know, Isis can be very stubborn. I guess that’s how she escaped from her chain in Portugal. But today she is exceptionally recalcitrant.

When I stop in my tracks and refuse to move, she always taps me under my chin to tell me to walk on.

Or she keeps tapping as we walk. I comply for a while because bending over to tap me makes her lose her balance. Snigger.

She even blows on my bottom, to make me rush forward, thinking I’m being pursued by a randy dog.

Can you imagine it?

Today I won’t be bullied. Quite honestly, if she doesn’t mind looking like a pervert, why should I care?

I am not, I repeat NOT, walking.

I hiss, “No” into her ear, then, “Come!”

She ignores me and segues into her rodeo act. She bucks, and she twists, and she wriggles. Then she lowers her head.

It’s show down time.

As she does so, she heaves herself backwards, step by step, as though she is competing in a tug of war.

Just as she intends, her harness is dragged over her head, and drops to the pavement between her front legs.

Then she turns towards home.

“Little toad,” I mutter.

You didn’t leave me any choice. I kept trying to tell you. Now do you believe me? I’m not happy. I DON’T WANT TO WALK ANY FURTHER!

Dragging her harness over her head is her end of the line protest. I can’t even remember when she last did it. She’s serious.

O.K. The light looks fine to me, but what do I know?

I replace her harness, and we walk back to the car.

We get in and drive to Jasmin Fields. We’ll walk along the little tracks above the canal.

She leaves the car and allows me to lead her into the field. Then she does something unheard of. Instead of trotting across the field, she turns right and, checking first that I’m following, makes her way happily along the hedgerow, tail aloft, nose ready for action.

Now, I realise, we are walking at a right angle to the route she refused to follow a few minutes ago.

It must have been the light which disturbed her.

Stupid Human. You know there’s always a reason for what animals do.

I let Isis choose the tracks she wants to follow on the way back to the field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a very enjoyable walk.

I don’t bear grudges. I know you can’t help being stupid.

 

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 in trouble, Isis says "No"., Jasmin Fields, oh dear, scenting, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, walking my deaf/blind dog, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

November is for sniffing

 

 

A post should appear each Sunday!

 

Sunday 7th November 2021

 

November is the month for sniffing.

 

 

 

 

 

Everywhere a dog goes she is assailed by irresistable scents.

Let out into the garden for what is usually a hurried pre-breakfast pee, she is led off task by the enticing niffs of nocturnal visitors.

On our road walk this week, scents assault her senses. She stops dead in her tracks so that my left arm threatens to erupt from its socket. She is compelled to wrinkle her nose and allow it to hover over a featureless square inch of grey asphalt for at least five minutes. Why isn’t she leaping along, exercising her muscles? What’s in a splodge of asphalt?

Frequently, as we wander across fields, along tracks, or through undergrowth, an enticing aroma yanks her across my path, knocking me off balance, so that I stumble and teeter for several yards, arms flailing.

Or an airborne whiff persuades her to trot to the brink of the canal and lean precariously over the water, causing Human to dart after her, heart thudding, to grab her before she falls in.

In the woods, she’ll plunge her muzzle into a patch of ivy, uttering a loud ‘flumph.’ Dog knows what she finds among the leaves and tendrils but, whatever it is, I know we’re in for the long haul while she savours the bouquet.

It seems that ivy embraces many secrets, for often she’ll push her face so far into it that just her ears poke up from the clump. The only sign that she’s discovered something of interest is an intermittant tail wag. Come on, Isis. This is getting tedious.

I take her to Kings Heath Park. As we meander down the steep slope towards the old bowling green, a pungent odour grabs her attention. She leaps backwards to catch it, and the elderly couple following close behind her lurch into the hawthorne hedge to avoid measuring their length over her hairy form.

Oh dear!

There’s a brisk breeze, so I hope that she’ll get plenty of exercise, trotting around following the changing smells. But she doesn’t want to trot anywhere, thank you. She spends all of her time standing still beneath the trees and shrubs, snuffling among the leaves.

She seems to be turning them over individually with her nose, savouring each odour like a fastidious lady at a perfume counter.

Sometimes there are deeply buried fragrances, and she has to push away the leaves and scratch the earth to uncover them.

She moves forward inch by inch, inhaling the essence of leaves, stems, twigs and berries.

I fantasise about what she perceives. Traces of life, I’m sure, spoors left by people, other dogs, birds, rats, mice, insects; inquisitive creatures which, like Isis, paused to investigate the scents; timid things which skittered rapidly over the leaves, worms and insects which burrowed beneath the surface.

The leaves themselves must smell very different as they go through their life stages: new growth, dying, drying out, crumbling, decaying and finally disintegrating.

As I watch her, observe how deeply absorbed she is, I stop being concerned about how much exercise she should be getting, how restricted her activities are on today’s walk, and try to empathise with her, to enjoy her Isis-ness.

 

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, dear little Isis, Isis says "No"., Jasmine Fields, Kings Heath Park, lovely leaves, oh dear, park people, patience is a virtue., scenting, these dogs!, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment