Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Wednesday April 26th 2017
Isis is finding the weather very challenging. There are too many of those mornings and late afternoons when the the sun bursts without warning from a navy blue and grey sky. And then, just when a dog’s becoming used to the the change, a huge black cloud swipes the sun away and all the shadows run into each other. Very perplexing for a dog. Very disturbing.
Although she never refuses to leave the car nowadays – she loves being in the park too much for that – over the last couple of weeks she’s often been anxious and jittery again. She descends quickly to the ground and presses herself against the car. Once the door is closed, she refuses to move forward with me, turns round and pulls away in the opposite direction.
Unfortunately, I know that if we go that way, she’ll balk again at the next corner. And the next.
I also know that if we go forward she will feel completely different once we’ve changed direction and are heading for her favourite spaces. Her discomfort will only last for a minute, I reason, and sometimes, to my shame, I frog march her along a few yards to the fence. Here, she feels safe and will then cross the path and trot happily down to the old bowling green.
But coercion is not what good dog handlers do. I revise my body blocking techniques instead and increase the number of encouraging cheek pats. Slowly, slowly, we emerge.
The weather on Tuesday is particularly frustrating. Although the sky is conveniently leaden (from Hairy One’s point of view) when we set off for the park, as soon as we leave the car, the sun pops out. Then, just as I’ve almost convinced Isis that it’s perfectly safe to walk on the patch of sun drenched asphalt which leads to the exit, dark clouds race across the sky and everything changes. Now, of course, she knows that am lying. Clearly, it’s very dangerous here today. She was right to be suspicious. She begins tugging backwards until she succeeds in pulling her harness up over her head.
Irritably, I replace it and thread the second clip of her Makuti lead through the chest loop of her harness. This usually conveys a ‘we will now walk like a sensible dog’ message.
We set off. We lurch and stumble as I attempt to body block her and she attempts to trip me up. More little cheek caresses. A tug or two. More pats.
Suddenly, up pop her lovely ears, she raises her magnificent tail and she trots along, head lifted, nose twitching. Now she looks as though she is wondering what the hell I was making such a fuss about.
Although the light continues to change dramatically, which makes her wince, now that she is out in the open there are no stark shadows and she has a good run.
At four forty-five we’re off again. Twice on the way very brief patters of light rain hit the windscreen. Scarcely enough to warrant switching on the wipers. Obviously, it’s not going to be much.
A flash of sunlight as we approach the car park exit distresses Isis, and she makes for the exit which leads straight onto the field. Once there, she leaps into action and races around doing extension lead circuits. I encourage her to run while bit by bit I manage to manoeuvre her across the field and onto the path which will lead us to her favourite areas.
As another little splatter of drizzly rain falls we meet M. with her three dogs heading back home.
“Hmm!”, she mutters, “Thought I was going to miss the showers.”
“Well,” I reply with a fool’s certainty, “At least they’re very light and fleeting.”
Isis trots up to her bank above the old bowling green. She has perked up again and is set to have fun.
Unfortunately, the skies flick rapidly from grey to silver and even drag up some sun and blue bits, so Isis becomes twitchy again and, tail down, ears flat, abandons her fir tree friend and scuttles close to the ground through the hole in the hedge.
Sigh. Big one.
Poor little dog. She had a worrying morning walk and I had hoped that this evening she could really enjoy herself as a dog should.
Bloody British weather. How damned irritating.
Then it happens. Simultaneously the sky turns black, a terrific gale swirls around us and an immense clap of thunder explodes overhead. And, just as though some giant has ripped off our sky ceiling, hail belts down on us by the bucket load.
Soon the hail is joined by snow and the bright green all around us rapidly transitions into white. The sky is now black with menacing, bright silver edges.
The hailstones are getting larger, harder and faster.
And poor little Isis?
‘Poor little Isis’ is beside herself.
She races wildly round and round in huge, joyful loops, lifting her face to the sky, leaping up on her back legs and snapping at the hailstones. Now snow, too, is falling and we are enveloped in whiteness.
This is wonderful. Hailstones bounce off her nose and wafts of snow cover her ears. Her little feet kick up fragments of ice.
The park is empty as far as the eye can see. It’s quite eerie. I pause in my enjoyment of Hairy One’s immense pleasure to take in the fact that we are the tallest objects in a large flat space and thunderclaps mean lightning is on its way. But I reckon the odds are long. And Isis is so happy that it would be unkind to move her on.
I shiver a little and wait for the lightning to strike.
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