Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Wednesday March 2nd 2016
Very gradually Isis has become accustomed to being touched. For a very long time any handling, however gentle, was suspect. Even after twelve months, she could not tolerate her legs being touched. When I was teaching her ‘down’ by placing an index finger on each of her legs, she threw herself to the floor with a thump and a snarl!
When she bit her back leg and I bathed or tried to dress it, I was bitten hard too. Drying her wet hair when we returned from the park was a no-no. Grooming was done between snarls and brush grabbing. Tails, also, were off limits, of course.
Although she can disappear upstairs in seconds, she is afraid to come down and has always allowed me to carry her. And last summer when she insisted on pruning the kerria, she let me to dislodge the nipped off stems from the roof of her mouth.
When I began to discriminate among her many and varied rage episodes it became clear that touching Isis while she was drowsy or sleeping would always prompt vicious snarling, growling and self harming. She responded in the same way when she had what appear to be nightmares. In any of these scenarios it was impossible to comfort her as any physical contact just exacerbated her rage.
It is only over the last couple of months that she has tolerated any physical contact between us when she is resting or sleeping – as long as it is initiated by her, of course.
A few weeks ago we lie on the ubiquitous futon. Hairy One begins the usual dog pre-curling routine, turn, turn, turn, But, amazingly, instead of making absolutely certain that she and I are at least six inches apart, she butts her bottom against the back of my legs. She sleeps for a while as I keep statue still.
Then, a few weeks later, she butts her way into the space between my bent legs and my thighs. She snoozes. Again I manage not to move.
It is now eighteen months since little Isis came to live here. On Monday evening as I lie on the futon (again), a little face appears from behind my right thigh. The face is book-ended by two hairy paws and fronted by a delightfully pink and white spotted nose. On either side of the little face hangs an exquisitely hairy ear.
Very, very, carefully, I extend a finger and let it brush against her face. She twitches a whisker or two. I move the finger under her chin. More very tentative strokes. More whiskers twitch.
Enchanted, I stroke her ears, her eyebrows, her muzzle, her cheeks, her neck. She doesn’t move her head away. This goes on for about twenty minutes after which, sighing contentedly, she allows her head to sink onto her paws and falls asleep.
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