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I bought these for Isis today. Each one is over seventy centimetres long when stretched out. The guy in the shop had pushed them into a bag for me but as I carried them through Kings Heath High Street their tails popped out and were waving menacingly in the breeze. I got some very strange looks and one poor little girl who skirted round the snakes shuddered visibly.
I’m hoping that Isis will enjoy playing with them in the garden now that the leylandii twigs are dwindling.
The Hairy One comes up trumps today. She skips after me out of the front door. I don’t want to manhandle her back inside or take her by the collar as she sees these as hostile actions and is likely to go into a rage spin. So I do her latest touch command, ‘come with me’ – two consecutive soft taps on the cheek. Instantly, she walks beside me back into the hall.
The Polymath tells me that I have never explained how Isis was taught her touch signs. So here I go with the first three.
‘Sit’ is the first. She is about to sit in her bed when I quickly hold a treat close to her nose and, as she sits, I give her the treat. Next time, as she hesitates in the act of sitting, I repeat the first action and at the same time touch her lightly once on the rump. After that, when I hold the treat in front of her, just above the height of her nose, she sits. At first she associates the sitting with her bed but soon she obeys the command whenever I hold my hand, treat or no treat, above her nose.
‘Down’ does not go quite as planned. When she is sitting in her bed I gently pull her front legs towards me. She is not amused. She lies down instantly but snaps angrily as she does so. After this, all I do is touch both front legs at the same time and she slams herself down with a loud, very cross growl. It is only this week that she obeys the ‘down’ at normal speed and without comment!
Isis is the only dog I have succeeded in teaching ‘up’. While she is lying down, I gently slide two fingers under her, lightly press them upwards and she stands. After only three or four goes she gets it and stands immediately when I touch her midriff.
I think she’s a smart dog.
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 email@example.com or www.dogwatchuk.com