Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday April 17th 2016
It’s Hairy One’s monthly vet visit on Monday. She still refuses to walk from the car park and is too heavy for me to carry so we have a dispensation to park in a disabled space. Apart from this inconvenient behaviour, she is a very good dog. She waits patiently, stands still on the scale and is co-operative when I put a muzzle on her and when the vet attends to the anal glands.
Over the last couple of months she has nibbled and nibbled at her feet until now they are covered in saliva stains. This is not angry behaviour but it is pretty obsessive. The vet tells me that it’s interdigital nibbling, and can be a seasonal problem. She prescribes Hibiwash. As we know, Isis isn’t very partial to having her feet washed. So that’ll be fun.
After the vet, we’re off to the park where Isis is greeted very enthusiastically by Rufus and Nancy who have been away for a week. Amazingly, Isis actually wags her tail at them – although she soon tells Rufus off for being over-enthusiastic.
I am very pleased later in the week when Keiko approaches and Isis lifts her nose to greet her. But unfortunately, Keiko returns this pleasantry with a quick Akita body box. Isis hastily jumps aside but isn’t terrified as she would once have been. This is progress worth noting.
It is easy to forget how much Isis has changed since last year. This week we are greeted on four different occasions by people we haven’t seen for several months and who express their delight on seeing such a relaxed and happy dog.
On Friday a spaniel puppy jumps all over her in the car park and frightens her. And on several days there are shadowy areas to walk through and she is cowed and anxious. But only temporarily.
None of these mishaps put her off her walks. At this time last year it was still difficult, sometimes impossible, to persuade her to leave the car. Now it is difficult to persuade her to return to it. She wants to stay in the park forever, even if she’s tired out.
On Saturday, for the first time since I bought the little safety strap to attach her harness to her collar, I forget to clip it on. Like a vaselined eel, she twists her head and tugs. She’s free! She knows her territory well now and charges ahead, cantering delightedly over the expanse of grass.
I warn the father of two small boys that Isis can’t see and could flatten the children. They halt their cricket game and watch the show. M. kindly stands next to me with his Sally and Bella, to give moral support, and we watch the escapee. She runs very, very fast, tail up and waving in the breeze. Although there is always the fear that she might change tack and run out of the park, M. and I can’t help noticing how very much she is enjoying herself. I wish I could find somewhere close by where she could regularly run free.
After about five minutes I manage to grab her. As she recognises my smell, the dear little creature wags her tail vigorously. When I try to replace her harness, M. holds her head to steady her. “Grrrr-rr!”, she says ungratefully.
Although she is still very cautious when people approach her, she doesn’t mind Ji. or A. stroking her a little and has allowed one or two visitors to pat her briefly. For a long time now, of course, I have touched her as much as she has been able to tolerate.
She still reacts very violently to what appear to be very bad nightmares. Even when I wake her and she sits up, she is stiff with rage and growls ferociously. At night it can still take up to fifteen or twenty minutes to calm her. It is horrible to see her so distraught, and quite frightening, especially for the uninitiated.
But I think that these incidents are becoming less frequent. Sometimes a gentle pat can pre-empt an hysterical response to an upsetting doggy dream, and often I can subvert a back foot growly grab by putting my hand between her teeth and the foot.
Little Hairy One, I feel, is becoming easier to live with all the time.
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