Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday November 29th 2015
A mixed week for Isis. As we head towards Kings Heath Park on Friday morning, a pale sun is threatening to disentangle itself from wreaths of cloud.
Sensing the threat, Isis is hesitant. Shrinking and flinching, she pushes herself against the walls and bushes as I march determinedly on.
When we reach Poo Forest, the sun stops dithering and pops out. That’s it. Isis cowers against the damp trunk of the nearest tree. There’s no way she is going anywhere. Convinced that she is in great danger, she slides into passive resistance mode. She sits, then lies down, front paws stretched before her. Satisfied that this is definitely the most advantageous posture for a dog who is definitely not moving, she shuffles her body into the fallen leaves.
O.K. We’ll wait until she is ready to go.
After ten or so minutes, she creeps forward. But as she moves away from her tree, the sun blinks at her; seeking the comfort of a shrub, she lies down again.
Another ten minutes pass and at last the sun retreats. After peering skywards to make sure it’s safe to shift, she emerges. Immediately she switches into explore mood and pushes her way through a dense mass of dogwood stems, creating her own private tunnel.
The Hairy One loves to fight her way through whatever lies between her and an interesting scent. Although I didn’t make a conscious decision to spend my dotage crawling around assault courses, I want Isis to have as active a life as possible and often creep after her among the stalks and brambles.
But today only a grass snake could follow her as she slowly disappears and I have to release her string of leads before darting round to meet her as she emerges triumphantly between tall clumps of grass a few yards away.
She loves climbing too, and her next stop is an old, overgrown sycamore the twiggy outgrowths of which afford useful pawholds for an ambitious dog. She manages to clambour three or four feet up the trunk. She has no fear of falling and I have to keep a hawklike eye on her.
We emerge from the ‘forest’ at a trot and she begins to dance among the trees adjacent to Avenue Road. Time for a gallop, I think. I lead her onto the big field. The leads are already attached to my stretchy dog running belt and off she goes, trotting, cantering and then galloping in huge, joyful loops.
Recently, she’s made a delightful discovery about trees. Although they tower and menace when the sun shines, on a blustery November day they drop lovely branches and twigs. These may be swirled around in a dog’s mouth, tossed, paraded, nibbled, snapped, chomped: the possibilities are endless. Oh joy!
A tired dog is a good dog, thinks Dr. Dodman, veterinarian and animal behaviourist.*
Absolutely. A very contented Isis is flat out for the rest of the day. And late in the afternoon when I open the front door as a prelude to a second walk, she turns away her head and retreats upstairs to bed.
But things do not go well for a dog every day, and Wednesday is another story!
*Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman (2008), The Well-Adjusted 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk