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The lovely, springy leylandii branches are gradually disappearing from her garden. Isis will be less likely to get sticks jammed in her mouth but what will she play with?
For her first few months in England, her play consisted of eating my clothes, emptying waste bins and, once or twice, chewing on plastic bottles. Sometimes I could engage her for a few minutes with a soft toy but generally she showed little interest in dog stuff. When in the garden she would twirl continuously in a tight circle as though she were still tied on a rope, have the odd sniff and then seek out the clothes line.
It was only when, a month ago, I cut away my neighbour’s leylandii in order to erect fence panels and left branches and twigs in huge piles in the garden, that Isis really began to play. Now she plays happily with the leylandii on her own, for hours. And she no longer circles – unless the rain flies come. And now she knows the garden so well, she actually runs around rather than trotting. All this is wonderful. But she needs safer playthings.
I think about making her an adventure playgound. Polymath says she should have a tunnel. New sewer pipes would be be useful but they are not available locally and would be expensive to transport. It would be difficult to make a tunnel robust enough for Isis so I decide to go mad and order one. I have ideas for other large playground equipment like a very low A frame with safety rails. But toys which she can play with outdoors and in? Not an easy one.
Deaf dogs don’t need to hear a ball in order to chase it. And there are noise making toys which you can make or buy for a blind dog. Isis, of course, has no useful sight and very impaired hearing. It is also obvious that she had very little, if any, experience of playing with other animals, humans or toys when she was a pup.
I spend several hours on the internet reading and watching videos about visually and/or hearing impaired dogs. There is a lovely one of a deaf/blind dog who, like Isis, has been taught basic commands by touch. This dog also plays with toys, other dogs and people as she was socialised from puppyhood.
On a site which sells toys for blind children, there is a variety of sports/games equipment, but almost all rely on good hearing. Eventually, I order a Beeper Box which can be heard over twenty metres. It is small and can be attached to a toy etc. The great thing is, unlike most on offer, it continues to bleep when it isn’t moving. Isis is able to hear some sounds although she has difficulty in discerning from where the sounds are coming. She can now hear the whistle from a metre away. It’s worth a try.
Thinking ahead to the wet and wintry days when Isis will not be able to stay outside, I have also ordered a book, 101 Tricks to Teach Your Dog.
I’m looking forward to constructing her adventure playground. I enjoy making things and my old garage, which I tell myself is a workshop, is so full of reclaimed wood that I am literally unable to step over the threshold. Watch this space!
It has just occurred to me (I am a bit slow) that I should research toys/equipment for deaf/blind children.
And, of course, if anyone out there has any ideas, I would be delighted to know.
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