Sunday October 5th 2014
Isis is very good in the car except for chasing ‘flies’ energetically up and down the back seat as I negotiate the Stourbridge ring road.
She sleeps in her bed and receives a sausage with enthusiasm at Dinky’s Diner.
When we arrive she barely gets inside the front gate before Daisy Cat approaches to investigate.
Once inside, she leans against the front door and is very disinclined to budge.
Unfortunately, when she eventually creeps into the front room en route to her bed she passes too close to Daisy who (being a right minded cat) smacks her nose. Poor Isis jumps out of the room backwards and refuses to re-enter.
Night comes. Isis sleeps in the hallway while Daisy smugly joins me in my sleeping bag in the back room.
Monday October 6th
6.00am. Isis woofs, requesting to go out. I take her into the garden and hope I am unobserved as I stand there in my black and white striped onesie. The Polymath thinks I look like a convict or a pierrot.
Isis enjoys her walk in the nature reserve. She amazes me: no anxiety, no refusals. She just sniffs and sniffs and sniffs.
5.00pm. The sea! The sea! Hugely excited she rushes towards the beach, scampers across the sand and jumps into the surf. She leaps in and out of the water continuously and, since we are attached, so do I. I am enchanted. And very wet.
Back at home Daisy is enthralled by the new kitty TV show. Wide-eyed, she follows Isis’s every movement.
It’s a cold night and Isis is restless. Disentangling myself from my sleeping bag I feel my way into the hall. She is cool to the touch. I carry her to my bed where she falls asleep immediately.
Tuesday October 7th
9.oo a.m. and Isis begins to nibble me affectionately. I am not easily persuaded to leave my bed, but Isis has very sharp teeth.
Later in the day she discovers treats in her dog bed and begins to reclaim it. But the fiend has been sleeping there. When Isis lowers her head to curl, she smells the intruder and leaps up as though shot.
We walk for an hour along the promenade and then back along the beach. Again Isis is electrified by the sea and the sand. She seems to sense the huge space around her and runs and runs.
Will buy a long line tomorrow so that she can be more free.
I think about the complexity of animal behaviour. Isis displays alarm when a light is switched on and when the sun comes out. She flattens herself, staring upwards. She does the same when a shadow falls or when there is a shadow in her path. At the beach the sun is glancing off the the eddying surf and the wet surface of the sand but Isis shows no fear.
When I first had her she wanted to stay outside all night. Now I have to coax her into the garden and stay out with her. In Wales she will not leave the house at all at night unless I take her on the lead.
Clearly, her light and shade issues are less straightforward than I thought.
Polymath says she is a charming little dog and unexpectedly calm.
She has surprised me too. I was prepared to return home early if she was unable to settle but she has decided that the back room is her safe place and she appears to be coping well.
Wednesday October 8th
She allows the Polymath to stroke her for the first time.
We have a very long walk around all the twisty paths in the nature reserve, ascending and descending dozens of stone steps. At the beginning of each flight I draw her attention to the height and depth of the steps by putting my hand in front of her muzzle and getting her to follow my hand with her nose to the step so that she can gauge its height and depth. I feel overawed by her bravery and her willingness to tackle such a hazardous route. She does not baulk even when she slips and slides down two steps. I am humbled by her trust in me and very aware of the huge responsibility I have for keeping her safe.
Thursday October 9th
On the off-chance that Isis might feel OK about walking in a small seaside town, I take some money with me and we set off to walk to the DIY shop for a grooming brush and six metres of nylon rope. Isis is unfazed until I open the door of the shop. Then she sits down firmly on the pavement and refuses to move.
I pick her up and carry her to the first floor of the shop. We find what we need and, fascinated, I watch her coming down the stairs behind me. They are carpeted and have aluminium strips at their edges. She descends very slowly spreading out her toes on the edge of each step, until you can see the pink skin stretched between them. Then, very tentatively, she stretches one paw down to the next step. Her timing is perfect.
Down at the beach, lead off and nylon rope attached to her harness, she prances ecstatically in and out of the sea.