Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday September 25th 2016
On car breakdown Sunday, while Isis plays in the shrubbery in Highbury Park and I keep a watchful eye out for the breakdown man, I fail to register how much stick chewing Hairy One is doing.
The evidence emerges – literally – early the next morning when Isis leaps from the bed and stands on the mat. She looks distressed and on her little face is that “I’m about to throw up” look familiar to all dog owners. Quickly snatching a newspaper from the next room, I shove it beneath her head, avoiding the particularly unpleasant cleaning task which follows up-chucks on ancient, gappy, old tongue and groove flooring.
Two large chunks of wood remind me that I must up my game again. During the spring and summer months it has been much easier to pre-empt the stick chewing. There have been very few fallen branches around; also, Isis has enjoyed chewing her ball-on-a-string as much as bits of wood. Ball-on-a-string, though, lost its replacement string a couple of weeks ago and she isn’t so enthusiastic about hunting for other outdoor toys. I must refurbish it, I remind myself.
At home, the scope of her playing has increased. Now, when she wakes up from her (all too short) after morning walk nap, instead of twirling and clacking her teeth incessantly, she will go to her cardboard box store and fetch a new box to deconstruct. If there are no new ones, she’ll find a decent sized strip from an old box and flap it up and down as if fanning herself, or rotate it in her mouth, punching deep dents into its surface.
She still doesn’t play with toys as readily as a ‘normal’ dog, but sometimes, if she comes across them on the floor, she will now initiate games with her toys. She’ll shake Big Polar Bear or Squeaky Badger vigorously for a minute or two. Now, she always responds with great enthusiasm when BPB and I attack her together. He swipes her with his paws while I give her underside a quick tickle. Tail wagging, she growls and grabs at him. The other day, however, I must have overdone it. She snatched up BPB, trotted over to her dog bed and dropped him in. Yesterday, I picked up floppy Squeaky Badger and laid him across her shoulders. Looking slightly irritated, she flicked back her head, took him between her teeth and popped him, too, neatly into her bed.
Next time I look, they are back on the mat. Forgiven, I assume.
I am delighted, of course, at her developing playfulness, even though, at times, it can be extremely irritating.
A case in point is her playful futon routine. This is reserved for particular situations. One is when I slide into my narrow space with a meal or a snack. Now she knows that her meals appear regularly, she no longer attempts to grab food from my plate. But however deeply asleep she appears to be, and however carefully I sit, she wakes immediately, sniffs in my direction and begins to dance along the outer edge of the futon, plucking at the base sheet with her teeth and claws.
She is no longer a destructive dog, just a very energetic carouser. As she plucks and scrabbles at the sheet, she dances, shifting the foam cushions, crumpling her blanket and jiggling me up and down.
She does exactly the same when I am ensconced on the futon having a long conversation on the phone. My previous dog, Ellie, used to protest by grabbing a squeaky toy and biting on it incessantly.
The other day, to my surprise, Isis removed the i newspaper from my fingers and tore a page out before dropping it on the mat. Rather clever, I thought. Since she could only smell the newspaper, how on earth did she know I was paying attention to it?
I guess it’s just their way of saying, “Oi, what about me?”
She has one pièce de résistance which causes me to threaten to strangle her – if she doesn’t strangle herself first! At walk time, she rushes into the porch to have her harness and lead put on. She is very excited at the prospect of the walk and her tail is wagging ecstatically. She doesn’t actually mind having her harness put on, but she tosses her head, twisting and turning it away from my hands and scampers round the very restricted space, smacking her flanks into the plant stand and the shoe rack and scattering a stack of newspapers.
“Isis!”, I shout foolishly, “Don’t be so stupid!”
This, of course, has no effect at all. Sometimes, when I can’t stand the performance any longer, I retreat into the hall. She realises that I’ve left and stops. It usually takes two or three exits before the pesky little creature will stand still. But fortunately, I’ve recently discovered, if I open the porch door a slit, enough for her to smell the outside air, she’ll stop the acting out much more quickly.
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