Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday March 19th 2017
On Saturday we spend three hours in Highbury Park, today almost as long. Both days Isis and I are discovered by Dougie the miniature poodle, followed by his housemate Fergie.
When they find us, Isis has already danced among her fir trees and enjoyed a good sniff around the bench by the little beech wood, so she’s happy to set off in another direction on her extending lead.
There has been a strong wind for three days; hopefully, it will have dried out some of the boggiest parts of the new paths which weave their way from the beech wood to the community orchard.
L. and I and the three dogs wind our way round the huge mud puddle where the main path leaves the edge of the wood and begins to wind downhill.
I release Isis from her lead and she walks ahead of us behind Dougie and Fergie. Now and then, she pops off the path and has to be retrieved.
We have a tricky time when we reach the little wooden bridge. First, Isis decides she’ll trot round the end of the bridge to where there’s only a narrow plank across the thick mud. L. alerts me and I nip round and grab her as she approaches the morass. I guide her back and onto the bridge.
Then she ducks under the right hand lower railing and makes her way back to the edge of the bog. L., quick off the mark, snatches her back just as she is about to plunge over the edge. Once more, the adventurous animal is retrieved and replaced on the straight and narrow. This time she ducks under the left hand railing and is soon poised precariously on the edge of a deep, black, muddy pool. I lunge at her, aware that she is so close to the edge that a slight touch could push her in.
Lucky again, we stagger back to the bridge. This time I walk very closely behind her as she sniffs her way across. Once over the bridge,we pick up the higher path. Soon, off nips Isis, back to the grassy mound, one of her favourite prancing sites.
Off I rush after her.
She doesn’t complain when she is recaptured, just wags and trots off at the end of her extended lead.
Today we keep to the higher paths, avoiding the bridge. Again Isis trots along confidently, tail held high, sometimes behind Dougie and Fergie, sometimes just ahead, checking out the edges of the paths, navigating protruding stalks and brambles.
L. and I notice how careful the little poodles are with her. They have always greeted her extremely carefully, with gentle sniffs, and she’s never been afraid of them. Now we observe that when there isn’t room to pass without pushing against her, they hang back. And we often notice them watching her, as though they know that there are things she’s not supposed to do, places she’s not supposed to be in.
We are both very impressed with her today. Sometimes she hesitates and turns round to check that one of us is behind her, but when I give her the ‘follow me’ tap under her chin, she carries on along the path.
She doesn’t try to escape back to her mound. Amazingly, most of the time she keeps to the path. Often, she appears to be following Dougie and Fergie; also, we think, she is getting used to the area.
I can hardly believe what she has done today. It feels like a remarkable achievement. It’s difficult to express how delighted I am with her. Of course, she has enjoyed stretches of freedom in the parks for some time now, but to have her walking with us is a whole new world.
It’s very, very exciting.
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 email@example.com or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk