Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Wednesday January 27th 2016
Strange. Very strange. We’ve just returned from our Reaside gallop after only half an hour.
Earlier, as we prepare for our walk, we follow the usual routine. Human wanders dozily back and forth from the hall to the porch, forgetting and remembering various items: driving glasses, false tooth, keys, Hairy One’s harness and lead and so on.
Hairy One lets out her usual shattering bark as she enters the porch and registers the light. (I always forget that she’ll do this and almost exit my skin.) Unsurprisingly, she becomes tired of waiting and twirls about in the small space, wrapping her lead round my legs.
Then she leaps into the car with her usual ebullience, and off we go.
It’s so exciting when the car stops. We know where we are. It’s running time. Running and hunting. Oh Joy! Oh dog’s heaven! We can’t wait!
We have to, though, as Human now moves exasperatingly slowly into the next phase of preparation.
She locks the driver’s door, forgetting to unlock the back door. She drops her keys once or twice as she fiddles again with the driver’s door. Then she winds the elastic running belt round her waist and attempts to attach the extending lead to the belt at the same time. She drops the belt. Or the lead.
The wait is excruciating for an eager dog.
At last, the safety strap is unclipped and the walking lead is attached. Human scrabbles around under dog trying to locate the dog toy. Then, at last, we’re off.
Not quite though, as Isis is learning to walk to heel. (Hahaha!)
As she gleefully shoots along the pavement, we stop. After a few seconds, she recalls what she has to do, and, almost snorting with impatience, returns to my side. This recurs numerous times as we approach the meadow.
Safely across the road – after a few false starts – the extending lead is clipped onto the harness and the walking lead unclipped.
Oh my god, we’re nearly there. The brake on the extending lead is released and a couple of light pats on our flank signals that we’re off.
We duck. We weave. We gallop and canter. Round and round and up and down we race. Human runs behind as fast as she can so that the lead tugs Hairy One’s harness as little as possible and she can feel free.
“She’s such a happy dog,” calls a new friend as he walks past the edge of our space.
And she is. It’s lovely to watch her.
For half an hour she does all the things she loves to do.
Then, suddenly, she stops, cowers, curls her tail so far down between her legs that it becomes invisible and stares up at the sky.
She is terrified. She begins to run away, back down the meadow towards the car.
Nothing I can do will pacify her.
I draw her to my side, stroke her and pat her, offer her her new dumbbell.
She doesn’t want to know. The light in that sky is very threatening. She just wants to go home.
She can’t wait to get into her car, and when we reach home, stumbles out and, still staring up at the sky, creeps into the house.
I go upstairs and when I return there is no sign of her. I find her under my desk in the back room.
I try to imagine what it is that she is so frightened of. I remember that this sky fright has happened before, many months ago. This afternoon’s sky is reminiscent of the sky then, ‘a certain slant of light’, I recall writing. Then, as today, I had the feeling that something up there had shifted, although I had not noticed this occur. The light was almost eerie, as though something dramatic might happen, snowfall, perhaps, or a violent storm.
What did poor little Isis perceive? I’d love to know.
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