Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Wednesday February 1st 2017
Well, last Friday was an eye-opener. There we are in the porch. It’s four forty-five. There’s still a glimmer of daylight left outside. Isis is wearing her harness and lead and I’ve laced up my boots. Just as I’m opening the door, I recall that there is a delivery coming between five and six. Blast! Now I’ll have to take poor Isis back in.
The best solution, I decide, is to let her step outside. She’ll almost certainly refuse to move more than a few inches. She’s afraid of dusk. I had only decided to give her the opportunity on the off chance because she has only had one walk today.
Yes, you’ve guessed. For the first time ever, she shoots eagerly out of the door and makes her way determinedly towards the gate. Then out of the gate. Next, sniffing cheerily, she sets off along the pavement. Perhaps she’ll have a quick pee on the verge and turn back towards home. Needless to say, she has no intention of having a quick pee before returning home. She wants her walk. And she wants it now.
I allow her to walk to a spot from which I can see the delivery van if it stops outside the house. Then I make her return so that we can do the same in the opposite direction. She is not impressed; in fact, she is clearly disgruntled.
We go back in.
The delivery man comes at five thirty. It’s dark now. I wonder again whether Isis might be persuaded to go out. I don’t think so.
Again, though, I’m wrong.
True, she’s more cautious now, and when we reach the pavement she needs encouragement for the first few metres. But then, off she goes at her usual brisk pace, pausing only to investigate enticing smells and to make her marks.
We walk for forty minutes and she shows no fear at all.
I am delighted.
Today, for the fourth consecutive Wednesday, I have to leave Hairy One at home on her own for most of the day. After her (horribly) early walk, I leave her for two and a half hours, rush back to take her out for a short walk and then depart for another two and a half hours.
I had been anxious about how she would react. I needn’t have worried. She is pleased to see me but doesn’t appear to be upset.
It’s four thirty before we set off to the park for our evening walk, and by the time we reach Hairy One’s favourite dancing spot, there’s only a few minutes of daylight left. I let her off her lead. At first she’s very cautious, staying close to my legs. But the urge to dance takes hold and she begins her little routines.
She doesn’t trot across the field as she usually does in the mornings when we are the only ones around, but stays within a radius of about ten metres. Although she seems perfectly happy when, after about twenty minutes, I put her back on the lead, she does not appear at all anxious.
As we walk up the slope along the edge of the field, she picks up an interesting scent and wants to follow it back down into the darkness. That’s amazing.
The park lights are on by the time we reach the forecourt of the big house and Isis cringes. Reassuring pats do the trick. When we reach the little fence which leads off the main path and round to the car park, she leans against it and hurries along. She can continue along the main path if she wants to, but she doesn’t.
Usually, nowadays, she is very unwilling to approach the car park and to concede that her walk has come to an end. And she is very loathe to get into the car, standing instead by the open door, pretending that she has no idea what she is supposed to do. Tonight she trots towards the car and as soon as the door is open, in she hops.
Nevertheless, she has done very, very well. This time last year an evening walk was out of the question. Even during the daytime, changes of light freaked her out and I couldn’t count the number of times I had to bring her back home part way through her walk – sometimes when we’d only just stepped out into the car park. Sometimes before we got out of the car.
Who’s a clever dog then?
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