Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday January 29th 2017
Isis continues to enjoy her freedom. At the weekend, off we go to Highbury where there are several good spots in which she can be free.
Soon, when the daylight stretches into early evening, we will again go to Highbury every day for our second walk. Isis loves that!
Every week day morning we go down to the old bowling green in Kings Heath Park to meet our old friends. Nowadays, Isis can hardly contain herself as we walk down the sloping path. She doesn’t care to wait until she can access the field at ground level. Instead, she bustles along the path, then onto the grass beside it. I release her. She squirms her way between the trees which grow at intervals on the steep bank, and continues on her happy way. If we arrive ahead of Nancy, Rufus and little Maggie, Hairy One will choose the field as her playground. If this area is already occupied, she is likely to head for the bank.
One of the anxieties I had about setting her free was that she might run into other people or dogs and hurt them. I have to be very careful to avoid this when she is on her extended lead. But it appears that I have underestimated her. Again. When she is free, she takes responsibility, and, so far, has avoided any collisions.
So how do I spend my newly gained freedom?
Well, as I’ve mentioned before, conversation is much easier when one doesn’t have to spin round at the end of the very active Hairy One’s extended lead.
It is also, of course, possible to pat other delightful dogs. And, unsurprisingly, much easier to take photos.
Here’s one of lovely Abby and young Russet. It’s Friday morning and naughty Russet trots ahead of owner P. and big ‘sister’ Abby so that she can do her pretending-to-be-a-bird act. P. told me about this last week. Now I am about to witness it! I fumble to extract my phone from my pocket. The zip is stuck. Of course.
Russet begins the performance. Again and again she leaps up, hooks her paws over one of the three raised edges of the bird table, and rapidly snaffles the nearest tasty morsels. She has, P. tells me, already ascertained that if she tries the fourth side which has no edging, her paws slide off – but she checks out the table from all of the other three sides. Just as I think I’ve missed the photo opportunity, Abby arrives, up Russet pops again, and CLICK! Got her!
P. and her husband have bred and trained guide dogs for many years. They’ve always had two dogs, and when Promise, their retired breeding bitch, is left without a canine companion, they take on Abby, rescuing her from a very distressing situation. Obviously, this gentle dog had once been loved, but, sadly, her elderly owner developed Alzheimer’s and lost the ability to care for herself, let alone poor Abby.
On the four hour journey home with the dog, her new owners realised that she was traumatised. Once home, she took to her soft new bed and refused to leave it. For six weeks, she had to be fed in her bed and dragged in it along the passage, into the kitchen and out into the garden to relieve herself.
Lovely Promise took on Abby, building her confidence and teaching her signs. When P. first managed to bring her into the park, Abby was terrified of people. But she began to show an interest in other dogs. P. carefully introduced the park humans. First, glued to her new owner’s side, Abby took a hesitant, long distance sniff. After a few weeks, she would cautiously sniff a proffered hand: now she approaches these once immensely threatening humans for a fuss.
On Friday she lies on the pine needles and rolls over for me to tickle her underside. Wonderful.
When Promise died last new year’s eve, not only her owners were devastated: Abby, too, was very distressed. She refused food and began tearing her hair out.
They had not intended to take on a young dog again, but a nine month old puppy desperately needed a home and they adopted her.
The months following her adoption were hair raising. Hyperactive and in need of a huge amount of exercise, she wouldn’t settle at night and lost any house training she had. This upset the sensitive Abby so much that she followed suit.
In desperation, P. bought a crate for Russet to sleep in at night, and a tennis ball launcher which could be used in the garden and in the park. And sweet Abby began to teach the recreant better ways. Now the new arrival shares Abby’s bed, and races happily around the park after tennis balls.
Interestingly, little golden (in colour, not in behaviour, I hasten to assure you) Russet is the result of an unplanned union between a blue roan cocker spaniel and a black labrador!
The labrador bit, of course, won’t surprise anyone who looks at the above photo!
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