Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday November 11th 2015
After the foot biting incident earlier in the week, I Sudocreme Isis’s foot and give her her tea. Because she’s had a rather traumatic day, I hold her bowl as she eats rather than placing it in her stand, so that when she barks and leaps up the wall, my snatch away will be less dramatic. Amazingly, she eats quietly. No leaping. No snarling. No barking.
Between walks and in the evenings, we play tug-and-fight with big Teddy or Isis helps herself from the flattened cardboard box store by her bed. She prances round the room gleefully, tearing the boxes to pieces just as she does in the garden. This is good: playing vigorously indoors will use up some of her energy during the claggy garden winter days, I reason. Perhaps the evenings may be easier.
One evening, relieved to see her active indoors, I lean back on the futon and drift into a relaxing daydream.
Then, suddenly, a rather unusual shape impinges on my vision. Oh hell. She has surreptitiously removed a large, coffee table type book from the bookcase. Gripping it firmly by the spine, she is tossing it joyfully around her bed. To add insult to injury, she makes no attempt to read it.
A row of toothmarks indent the spine, but I manage to rescue it.
I note with interest that she no longer snaps at me when I remove her (inedible) prizes. I think she’s beginning to understand ‘no’. But this may be just a crazy moment of optimism.
The late evenings and the nights are the most difficult times this week. They are punctuated by sudden, apparently unprovoked outbursts. They go like this: low, short growls become louder and longer. I tap her very gently with my fingers and sometimes she subsides. More often she doesn’t, instead becoming more and more raucous: growls become threatening snarls before she dives viciously at her back feet.
Twice, I have to admit, I have given her a less than gentle prod with my toe, prompting her to slither off the futon. The shock of such an assault actually silenced her for a minute or two. Usually, I resort to covering her foot with my hand or holding her still until the noise subsides.
Two or three times, these attacks have continued intermittently all night until she has fallen asleep in the early hours of the morning. Then she greets the morning with another volley of expletives.
Like Popeye, by Thursday, ‘That’s all I can stand, and I can’t stand no more.’
Leaving her in the back room in the dark, I decant to the front room and enjoy the luxury of light.
Isis is much calmer without me – and I without her. When it’s dog’s bedtime, she emerges and comes into the front room to tell me the time.
We’ve stuck to this routine and life has become much easier for both of us.
The last two nights have been calmer too. Only two pre-sleeping attacks and one early morning one.
Today, at last, it dawns on me that when she last went through a phase like this, she improved after her anal glands were emptied. A quick sniff. The unmistakable anal gland whiff.
What a fool I am. Poor little Isis.
I could be wrong, of course, but it’s possible that this physical problem is at least contributing to her difficult behaviour. A phone call to RSPCA Newbrook Farm tomorrow, I think.
During all of her trials and tribulations, one shining success: I have not had to remove Hairy One’s meal for three days now.
Twice a day I have stood by with my thick gardening gloves on, waiting for the inevitable ruckus.
But no ear splitting yaps. No leaping up the wall. No menacing growls at imagined predators. No snarling or rage spinning. True, for the first day or two, she woofs when she’s finished eating. Just to tell me that it is she who has made the decision to eat more genteelly.
I am very pleased with her. I thought that it was possible to retrain her, but I wasn’t sure that we would make it.
As several of you pointed out, there are steps forwards as well as backwards.
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.co.uk