Well, life is full of surprises. Lead on, Isis walks out of the back door into the garden of her own volition. She’s not done this for five mornings. When her duty is done, I unclip her lead. Wow! She sniffs around the garden before trotting in for breakfast.
“Ah”, I think, “I’ll see if we can make Hannah’s dog class today.”
We walk out of the front door. Isis jumps happily into the car.
We arrive in the car park. After a few minutes Isis leaves the car.
But this is the place of last Wednesday’s trauma and she is instantly uneasy. I think it is best to carry her from the car park. I am thinking about the dog class, which has already begun, and not about Isis’s needs. As soon as she is put down and I am tying my bootlace, she scrambles over a felled tree trunk and into the shrubbery.
Once in the shrubbery I realise how stupid I’m being. Again. But now I have another challenge. Isis only wants to get back to her nice, safe car but in her anxiety will not walk to the gap in the fence. Instead, she paces to and fro peering miserably through the railings.
Rocks and hard places. I don’t want her to think that the only way of escaping from danger is being picked up. At the same time I don’t want to stay in the shrubbery and prolong a bad experience. I’m also receiving some very strange looks from people in the car park. They probably think I’m a paedophile.
As this possibility occurs to me I realise that I’m still grasping the neck of a broken bottle. (I picked this up in the shrubbery fearing that it might injure a child or animal. Honestly.) Oh hell, let’s get out of here.
Having long since relinquished any notion of attending dog school, I pick up Isis and make for the car. She jumps in with a sigh of relief and we depart.
I’m not sure why, but I sense that Isis is ambivalent, that she wants to walk but not in our park. I drive to nearby Highbury park and decide to put into action some advice received from the MSE* pet forum yesterday: open the door, sit in the car and wait for as long as it takes.
We park where there is plenty of space around us. I don’t expect her to get out of the car. While I wait I realise that I am completely relaxed. I don’t have to get Isis to dog school before it begins. I don’t have to get back home in half an hour’s time. The time is hers.
Within minutes I notice that she is very interested in what is outside. She keeps stretching her paws towards the ground and then withdrawing them again. After a few minutes, she gets out. I leave the door open. It is very windy. She looks around nervously. Then she gets back into the car. I do not react.
Over the next ten or fifteen minutes, the front paws are stretched towards the ground numerous times. Once, they reach the ground but she changes her mind while her rump is still in the car. She has to wriggle madly in reverse to get back in.
Soon after, she tries again. She sets off and I close the car door. The wind is ruffling her hair and she looks uneasy. But she also looks determined. She heads under the low barrier pole and into the empty field. She sniffs the air. She discovers promising scents and investigates holes and sticks. She begins to run, joyfully tugging at the lead. (I know Hannah, but this is not the time for heel training!)
We run and run for about half an hour. I feel exhilarated. Clever Isis.