Posting days: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
On Saturday I am about to give Jo. a lift home. We walk into the garden to bring in Hairy One. As she follows us her gait is strange and she paws at her mouth. Oh dear. Another stick jammed across the roof of her mouth? Yes.
Amazingly, the dear little creature allows me five attempts to remove the stick with my bare hands before she becomes hysterical and begins to snarl and attempt to bite.
I put one of my trusty gardening gloves on my left hand so I can hold her mouth open. It’s a tough one this, as far back in her mouth as is possible. It takes several more goes and poor Isis is extremely distressed.
She is very jittery all evening and I expect a disturbed night. I leave her downstairs at 12.40 and go to bed.
At 1.00 I hear her padding up the stairs. It is very unusual for her to come up at night so I guess she is seeking comfort. She settles on the bed. During the night she awakes frequently from what I surmise are canine nightmares. She yaps and snarls and growls but subsides when I pat her. By morning she is back to normal and, unlike me, keen to get up.
On Tuesday, another stuck stick. She is already cross because I have just insisted on brushing the hair round her bottom which has previously been a no-go area and is looking somewhat dingy.
I glimpse the stick but she refuses to open her mouth again. I fetch the gloves and, with great difficulty, force open her mouth but she is beside herself and my right hand gets bitten quite badly (or, from her point of view, very well.)
“Well,” I tell her, “I can’t help you if you won’t let me.”
I retreat to clean up finger and thumb before finding my welding gloves – which don’t have fabric panels so should be harder to bite through.
But when I approach, carrying the gloves, and touch her face, she wags her tail and opens her little mouth wide. With a quick twist and tug I am able to remove the offending stick. No gloves necessary. Problem solved. She happily returns to her play.
I have learned a useful lesson. Let her calm down after the initial shock of a foreign object jamming itself in her mouth. Wait until she is ready for your help. The time lapse also allows her saliva to circulate around the stick and seems to make it easier to remove.
It is very, very interesting to observe her patterns of behaviour and to realise what perfect sense they make.
Surprise, surprise, she is managing to ease one end of the tunnel out from its mesh tube. She began yesterday and I rushed out several times to push it back in and stamp down the mesh again.
Today I decide to let her get on with it, reasoning that she will have many happy hours wrestling it out and attacking it and if the fabric is completely destroyed perhaps it will be possible to replace it with a tougher material. Besides, she is learning other ways of playing with it like pushing it all around the garden. And when I ‘hide’ her toys inside it, she enjoys retrieving them.
Unfortunately, I have been spending more time sorting out her environment than I have playing with her. She is beginning to like interactive play and I hope that, with encouragement, she will begin to engage less with sticks and more with other, safer toys.
Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about the centre’s work and/or adopting an animal from the centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.com