Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday March 26th 2017
On Wednesday evening, I sit on a bench watching Isis carefully as she dashes around off-lead on the grass.
She pops up the little slope and checks me out. I pat her. She wags.
I wave to J. who’s walking down towards the old bowling green. I turn back to Isis.
She’s not there.
I can’t believe it. I only looked up for a few seconds.
I rush round the hedge and into the garden which leads onto the bowling green.
Phew! There she is. She’s standing still in the late sunshine, gazing around her. She looks very relaxed. I hastily clip her extended lead to her harness.
She begins to run. I relent and set her free again. Before I can stop her, she trots off merrily into a flower border. Thankfully, no flowers are blooming there at this time of year. Rustle, rustle. She’s tangled up in a patch of dead flora. She moves backwards, stops and tries to shake herself free. Then she moves forwards and tries to free herself again. She’s shakes herself vigorously, ducks and dives, and, at last managing to disentangle herself, threads her way back onto the grass.
Then she begins to trot around, twirling and dancing. She looks very happy. No neurotic circling, no snapping at her tail.
“Ah, dear little thing,” I coo to myself, “she looks so sweet.” I decide to catch her on video, doing a ‘normal’.
Click. Off we go.
But after a few seconds, she slings her head at her rear end. Snap! Snap! She does this for as long as the video runs – well over a minute.
What’s the matter with her? Now why is she biting herself? There’s always a reason, I remind myself. It’s just a matter of determining what the reason is.
She looks very uncomfortable. I place my hand gently on her back. Immediately she stands still and lets me look.
No wonder the poor little creature is distressed. Embedded in her hair are ten or twelve dried flower heads. Upon closer examination, I discover that the a single head contains dozens of seeds, each with its own little barb.
“Dear, dear, dear,” I say sympathetically. I know she can’t hear, but I always say this to her when she is upset. It seems to calm her. Perhaps it’s the vibrations.
A large prickly pod lurks in the whiskers on either side of her mouth. She tries to scratch one of them out with a back foot. She doesn’t succeed. Nor do I when I try to scratch it out with my fingernails.
Back at home, we both eat before attempting to remove the seeds.
I examine her very carefully. The seeds will be very difficult to remove. They are balled up in her hair, next to the skin and attached to dozens, even hundreds, of hairs. Most seem to be in particularly sensitive area. The two on her face are buried deeply in the hair which covers her upper lip. Others, just as firmly embedded, are inside each of her upper thighs, in the hair around her genital area, under the base of her tail, and clustered among the hairs of her under-belly
It’s almost impossible to know where to begin.
The only way I can get the seeds out is to separate them from the hairs. Now and then it is possible to tease a seed from a strand of two, three, or even four hairs, but often a hair has to be dealt with individually. And I need both hands in order to separate the hairs and tease out each barbed seed.
It takes me forty-five minutes to remove them all, and little Isis is absolutely magnificent. She obviously understands that I am helping her. Most of the time she stands absolutely still without being held. When she gets tired, she sits or lies down. When I need her to stand again, I place my hand gently under her and she stands up again.
I try very, very hard not to tug her hair, though I must be causing her considerable discomfort. But throughout the whole procedure, she doesn’t utter even the tiniest of growls. Although I know she can’t hear me, I speak to her softly while I’m working, reassuring her and praising her, giving her kisses and little hugs.
However we are achieving it, we seem to be communicating perfectly, sharing our purpose, at one as we’ve never been before.
When, at last, the tangles have all been separated and the nasty little seeds removed, I hug her and she wags her tail.
She has been amazing. I can’t believe a little animal could put up with all that without even the smallest protest.
She never ceases to amaze me.
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