Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Wednesday March 15th 2017
Isis is very territorial. She barks aggressively when we walk out onto the pavement in the morning because she can smell that someone has just walked, or is about to walk past her garden wall.
In the house last year, on two separate occasions, she snapped at a visitor who tried to pat her. Since then I have been very wary of introducing her to visitors she doesn’t know.
My friend T., whom I’ve not seen for several years is visiting. She’s been at Crufts since the early hours of Thursday. One of the North West team, she’s been processing scores for the obedience scoreboard.
Isis and T. have not met before, so when she arrives on Monday, I caution her to ignore Hairy One completely, and wait for the doggy approach.
Isis is snoozing deeply on the futon. It takes her a few minutes to pick up T.’s scent. Interestingly, she doesn’t bark, but performs her usual scenting circles from the back room along the length of the hall. Then, still sniffing hard, she enters the front room cautiously and sits down close to me.
The blinds, of course, are open – we have to draw the line somewhere, and the line in my case is drawn at keeping the back room virtually blacked out, switching off the landing light when Hairy One is about to climb the stairs, and only having lights on in the kitchen and bedroom when absolutely necessary.
I have explained to Isis that I will not close the blinds or switch off the light when she joins me in the front room, that, inevitably, the light will irritate her, but it’s her choice. She ignores the advice.
Generally, when I am in the front on my own, she snoozes by herself in the back room, and only pops in briefly now and then to check on me. But nowadays, if there are visitors, she insists in joining us.
I warn T. in advance that, intermittently, Isis will leap up with a ferocious snarl and complain very loudly about the light.
Predictably, Isis does exactly that.
Just as predictably, poor T. jumps violently, almost leaving her seat. Each time Isis performs, I apologise and suggest to Isis that she retires to her own room. Each time, T. assures me that there’s no need to apologise and that she doesn’t wish Hairy One to be banished.
Over time, T. learns to recognise the signs: first, three cross tail wags, second, a slow, deliberate raising of the head. Next, there’s a deceivingly quiet pre-snarl growl, then – prepare yourselves folks – an ear-piercing RA-RA-RA-RA-RA; the snarly intake of doggy breath; lastly, further long outbursts of RA-RA-RA, before a disgruntled subsidence into low growls.
T. has quite a jumpy time, but, like the confirmed dog lover she is, she tolerates Hairy One’s anti-social behaviour.
Each time Isis pops in to join us, she sniffs her way towards T. before moving back to settle on the rug. Each time, she retreats less far away.
After a few hours, she cautiously investigates the toe of T.’s left shoe and some of her belongings which are on the floor.
On Tuesday evening, Isis approaches T.’s armchair, gives her face a thorough sniff, and then settles down only two feet away.
This morning I get coffee in bed. T. peers at Isis who is stretched out on the duvet. She looks totally relaxed. Just one paw twitches rhythmically.
“Doggy heaven”, comments T.
I get up for a shower, return, dry myself, dress, and leave the room. Isis sleeps on. Obviously, the rôle of hostess has been very wearing for a small dog.
The visitor prepares to leave. It’s just after ten, and still Isis has not appeared.
We are by the front door when the click of little scratchy claws is heard from the landing above. A flurry of wild, white hair appears round the newel post.
Isis is pleased to see me and snuggles against me comfortably as I carry her downstairs. When we reach the bottom, T. runs her hand lightly through the hair on Isis’s back.
Hairy One doesn’t say a word.
It’s been a good visit.
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