After getting high on sleet flies and shaving her foot, Isis rests for a while. But she doesn’t wind down.
Doors are always a challenge for her so I am prepared for trouble when she asks to go out. I unlock the door but when I attempt to clip on her lead she flies into a rage. I hold her and stroke her gently until she subsides. We go into the garden without further incident and I carefully steer her back into the kitchen.
Then it’s time for her to eat. As regular readers know, Isis has big issues around eating. It seems certain that in the past nasty things happened to her. Perhaps she was fed inadequately. Perhaps she was teased with food. Or perhaps her problems arose simply from having to compete with sighted rivals. Whatever the cause, until very recently, she often became hysterical with rage when eating .
For over a month now I have followed a strict routine: I begin to prepare her food but stop immediately if she barks, spins and/or snarls. Then I sit on the floor next to her and hold her bowl while she eats. She still clears her dish within seconds and she still gives little woofs as she eats. But now she almost always waits quietly for her meal. And she eats without snarling and growling.
But on this Sunday, she barks and twirls and spins as soon as I begin to prepare her meal. I stop and step away. She carries on. Eventually, I leave the kitchen and sit down in the back room leaving her to rage. I know this is a risk because she may bite herself.
She does. When she has become quiet and I go back to her there is a small drop of blood on the foot which she shaved earlier.
But now she sits quietly waiting. I hold out the dish for her. She begins to eat. And she begins to woof. It is important to pre-empt any escalation so I take another risk. Immediately after the first woof I remove the food. I only need to do this twice before she finishes her meal calmly and quietly.
Next, she tears out clumps of her hair.
Deciding that she needs time out, I pick her up, ignore the ferocious growls and snarls, carry her upstairs and gently place her on the bed.
After ten minutes, a burst of protest barks. I turn up the radio.
Shortly after, I check on her. She’s fast asleep. She sleeps for four hours.
Usually, when we return from our morning walk, she eats and then takes herself off upstairs or into the back room to sleep. She wants to be on her own.
But now she has gained confidence, she likes to stick around when someone she knows visits. She did that today. And I think that following on from the sleet drama, it was all too much for her.
A gentle day tomorrow, I think.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.com