Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Wednesday February 8th 2017
It’s Monday and I’m speaking on the phone to Polymath.
“It’s Hairy One’s R.S.P.C.A. appointment this week, isn’t it?”
“No”, I assure her, “I think it must be next week.”
I hope so. I’m tired.
But then I begin to wonder. I scan my diary and two calendars. No sign of any appointment. At 1.15 a.m. I’m still raking through the tottering heaps on my desk, searching for the bit of paper which has the next appointment on it.
Then it occurs to me that, almost certainly, the appointment was made for exactly four weeks after the last one. If I’m right, then it definitely is tomorrow.
Damn. Gloomily, I set the alarm clock for 6.45.
Since I have to get up at this unearthly hour, of course I find it extremely difficult to sleep.
I awake to the radio switching itself on at 7.20. It’s my back-up alarm call.
In order to get to our 8.15 appointment on time, we should leave before 7.30 as the traffic becomes very heavy after this. And the neighbours’ newspapers, always welcomed by the R.S.P.C.A., have yet to be loaded into the boot.
Scrambling out of bed and uttering really disgusting curses, I lurch into the bathroom.
We leave at 7.43 and, miraculously, arrive at reception a couple of minutes late. Phew!
Isis, brave little dog that she is, is persuaded to walk until we are within three or four metres of the building. Then she is adamant: she won’t budge. I have to pick her up.
As soon as we enter, the poor little creature begins to tremble in anticipation of the anal gland procedure.
But the delightful young vet. is both gentle and quick, and Isis is soon ready to go home; tail erect, she’s looking perky again.
The vet. tells me that he and the nurse had been discussing Isis, and asks me whether she is still twirling and clicking her teeth.
Yes – and how!
He tells me that he is ninety-nine point nine per cent sure that Hairy One’s strange rituals are behavioural, not organic, and are rooted in past negative life experiences. Although this is the conclusion which I have been coming to, I’m not a vet, and feel a huge surge of relief.
Always the optimist, until quite recently, I have been afraid that there is something very wrong with Isis’s brain and that she might deteriorate, become critically ill and die.
The vet tells me that he has a dog and a cat who ‘spin’. He explains that the majority of ritual behaviours in humans and animals are related to grooming and eating. He gives me the very good analogy of human nail biting. It doesn’t improve your exam marks, but you still do it because it’s a distraction from the intense anxiety you feel.
Biting her feet, legs and tail, scissoring off clumps of her coat and banging her teeth together, are, of course, Hairy One’s specialities. When she came, the whole of her right thigh was nibbled down to her undercoat.
Thankfully, it is months now since she made herself bleed, or nibbled off her hair so that her skin was visible.
I think it’s time to stop worrying about her teeth wearing down and, instead, celebrate how much less anxious she seems to be.
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