Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday October 2nd 2016
It’s two years and a month since Isis came to live here and now I mostly seem to get it right. But not always. And with Isis, there seem to be no half measures: life is either good or disastrous.
As you might be guessing, this weekend has been one of the latter.
I wrote about the slow feeder last year. It’s like a little feeding bowl maze intended to slow the fast canine eater down by presenting a challenge. I soon realised that it wouldn’t be appropriate to use it for feeding as Isis was already hysterically defending her food when she ate from a normal bowl. And she was equally hysterical when I tried it with treats. I put it away for a year.
A few days ago I filled it with little treats and offered it again. Although she uttered a few barks when thwarted by a particularly difficult to dislodge treat, she managed to eat them all without becoming distressed. The first three days were promising.
On Saturday I clean her genital area – advised by the vet as Isis has a slight problem. Hairy One, recognising that she has endured a very unpleasant experience with fortitude, pops into her bed to await her reward.
I fill the slow feeder with treats and try to get her to leave her bed. Three or four times she pops out towards the feeder but when she smells the treats, pops back in. That’s where she is served special treats, so what is human playing at?
At last I succeed in getting her to the feeder. But by now, of course, she is really narked. As I lean down to the feeder, she leaps up and bashes my upper lip against my teeth with her sledgehammer skull. It’s an accident, of course so I don’t say a word, just sway gently and wait for the stars to recede.
She begins to eat the treats and then flies into a rage. I remove the feeder. She bites my hand. I give her thigh a short, sharp slap. Which, of course, I instantly regret.
I retreat to my computer chair. After sniffing around carefully for the treats, she retreats to the futon.
We both hang our heads. I because I smacked a little animal, Isis because she didn’t bite me hard enough.
I have made huge mistakes. I should have recognised that she had already endured the stress of being washed and it wasn’t a good time to continue with the slow feeder experiment.
After the event, it dawned on me that when I tried again and again to show her where the feeder was, she interpreted this as teasing. I know that she was kept short of food in her previous life, and have always been convinced that she was teased with food.
How could I be so stupid? Easily, it appears.
We are both grumpy for the rest of the evening and that night she won’t settle. It’s nyaff, nyaff, nyaff, settle for a few minutes, then nyaff, nyaff, nyaff again. I put her Doggles on her so the light coming through the blinds (and screen) won’t upset her. She takes the Doggles off. This happens several times.
Eventually I wrap her briskly in her Thundershirt while she growls menacingly. She stops the performance instantly, stretches out on her side and falls asleep. Heaven be praised for Thundershirts.
I, of course, stay awake for a long time feeling exhausted, jangled and guilty.
In the morning, when she stands up I am shocked to find that she has gnawed a patch of hair off one of her back legs. The bald patch surrounds quite a deep scratch, probably a bramble scratch, which I had not noticed.
If any of her hurts, this complicated little dog always responds by attacking it. Sadly, she never comes and shows it to me, like my previous dogs did.
But now she allows me to examine her leg and to smooth Sudacrem onto the wound.
Then she jumps down off the bed and waits to be carried downstairs.
She is at her most irritatingly obstinate all day. I grit my teeth and mutter but restrain myself from committing canicide.
But as I write, angry snaps come from the futon. She’s having one of her nightmares. Not that long ago, it would have taken at least twenty minutes to calm her and she would have snapped and growled at me as I tried to bring her round. But now I make a very loud noise and she wakes. Then I gently touch her head and she realises it’s O.K. The monster’s gone.
Tomorrow, another day, another chance, little dog.
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