Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday January 22nd 2017
I still get a huge kick out of every one of Hairy One’s tail wags. Whether it’s a greeting or a response to my patting her, her wagging tail feels like a wonderful gift. I guess it’s because it took so long to happen.
Usually, when I have been out and return home, by the time I come in from the porch, Isis has already picked up my scent and emerges from the back room, waving her tail. When I touch her, the waves immediately become wags. With light cuddles, pats or kisses, the wagging increases in intensity. I know my chest is expanding with ownerly pride, and a huge smile is spreading across my face. If I am sensible and don’t overdo it, she doesn’t complain. When she’s had enough, she just wanders off.
Now, too, when Ji. comes and she has checked him out, she will receive a pat or two from him and will reward him, too, with a wag.
She is still very stand-offish with other people in the park, even those with whom she is familiar. She doesn’t wag at kind people who offer her treats, even when she accepts them. She meets Bev., for example, most week days, and happily crunches up the proffered treats. Even so, Bev. has to work very hard indeed for the privilege of giving Hairy One’s back a friendly ruffle. And a reciprocal wag is virtually unheard of.
Meanwhile, at home, the wag opportunities gradually increase. This week, for some reason known only to her, Isis changes her bedtime habit. Usually, if she comes up after me, she snuffles her way to the end of the bed and then immediately pops up and settles on her sheet.
Now she remains downstairs until I am in bed, walks into the room, turns round and walks along the edge of the bed towards me. I hold my hand out for her to sniff. Wag. Wag. Then I smooth her ears and pat her gently on her back. Wag, wag, wag. Then she makes her way to her snoozery.
I am almost sure that the very first time Isis wagged her tail was when she woke in the morning. This is still the time when her wags are at their most vigorous and last the longest. And there are more wags, excited ones now, when she feels her collar being placed round her neck.
We’ll share another lovely moment.
Even at her most relaxed, Isis has never rolled over onto her back. I guess this is very difficult to do when you are tied up, but suspect that is not the whole story. An animal, of course, is at its most vulnerable when lying on its back: in that position a small hairy animal with its paws in the air and its stomach exposed, is an open invitation to a predator.
One morning, about a year ago, I think, I lightly stroked Hairy One’s flank as she lay sleepily on the bed. To my delight, she stretched the leg out in a leisurely fashion. The more I stroked (within reason, of course – one mustn’t take liberties with Isis) the further she stretched the leg.
I continue to stroke her flank in the mornings, and, lo and behold, one day, as I stroke, she lifts her leg a millimetre or so above her sheet.
Wow! I am enchanted.
Slowly, slowly, the millimetre increases to two, then three millimetres. I risk a few very, very light belly strokes.
Then, one day this week, I stroke her flank as usual. To my amazement, she lifts her leg up in the air. She doesn’t roll over completely, but she twists her lower half until it’s almost flat on the sheet, and presents an undefended belly. She remains in this position for at least a minute, allowing me to stroke her previously so well defended underparts.
I’m amazed. And very humbled.
One day, I tell myself, she may even roll over.
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