Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday January 17th 2016
Watching Hairy One gnawing on sticks with her head held high, I realise that she is swallowing some of the ground up bits. Not a good food supplement. This must stop.
I need to find substitute prey but this, I am certain, will be very difficult as Isis loves all things woody from twigs to branches. How can she be weaned?
Pessimistic as ever, I trot out with her onto one of the clean, wet, meadowy stretches at Reaside. I exchange the walking lead for the retractable lead, pat Isis lightly on her right flank to indicate that she can run, and off she goes.
As soon as she slows down and begins to search for sticks, I drop her plastic dumbbell and wait. She circles, snuffling intently, closer and closer to the toy. When she touches it with her paws, she is delighted: she grabs it enthusiastically, runs with it for a while, tosses it away and gallops round exuberantly. After her gallop she begins searching for the toy again, pouncing on it with joy, as before.
The next day a present from Adopted Niece arrives: chocolate father Christmases containing mini Smarties for me – yum – and a squeaky hamburger for Isis. Off we go to Reaside with the new toy.
Isis is over the moon.
Sticks? What sticks? She is perfectly happy with her toy.
Since Hairy One was unwell last week, I have wondered whether some of the greenery which she has picked up or stripped from hedgerows has disagreed with her. Surreptitiously, I begin clearing away branches and twig clusters from our Reaside haunt until the grass is free of anything stick related.
Stick-y stuff is also to be avoided on our road walks of course.
Now that feeding times are almost ‘normal’, I decide that I will concentrate my energies on trying to train Isis to walk calmly by my side on her lead. I have never been a good ‘heel’ trainer, mostly because my mind wanders off somewhere else and my commands become erratic.
I am determined to be consistent and really work on her walking. But our sessions are out of this world. Every time Isis pulls and the lead tightens, I stop, stand still and attempt to give out patient, neutral vibes. Just as the trainers predict, if I am patient, Isis does, eventually return to my side.
But in the interstices, she leaps and twists and twizzles, snips strands from her tail and wrenches jawfuls of overhanging foliage from front gardens as she passes.
The first ‘training walk’ is a battle; nevertheless, half way along, I am beginning to think that something is getting through to Isis. Until, that is, a voice from behind makes me aware that we are being followed. The voice belongs to the owner of little chihuahua Sky.
“We’ve been behind you for ages,” my park acquaintance tells me, “I love to watch Isis playing.”
“Actually,” I reply lamely, “I’m trying to teach her to walk to heel.”
My friend giggles.
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