Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday May 21 st 2017
It’s Sunday and Isis, Ji. and I meet up with Dougie, Fergie and L. We usually do on Sunday. Or, to be more accurate, Dougie finds us. Wherever we are in the park, cavorting among the fir trees, wading across the little steam, up in the woodland area or down at the bottom of the orchard, he always sniffs us out. If she sees us before Dougie arrives, L. shouts a warning, “Look out! Dougie’s coming!”
But more often than not Dougie’s too quick and I only realise he’s there when two muddy little front paws strike the back of my legs.
That’s how it is on this day. Then he leaps all over me hoping for a treat. He doesn’t get one. He is rewarded only when he sits and waits.
The trouble with Dougie is that he is so endearing that every passer-by who is not wearing his or her best clothes succumbs to his charms and gives him a treat or a cuddle anyway. This human, however, knows how bright he is and insists that he sits. Which, of course, he eventually does.
Anyway, Dougie and I complete our usual ceremonial greeting, Fergie, who is much more restrained and gentlemanly, approaches politely for his pats and strokes, and we all set off across the meadow towards the walled garden.
Isis is becoming quite confident, over confident, even, and insists on pursuing her own route through the trees to the landscaped area the dogs love to play in.
Dougie can’t wait to set up base under any tree which he suspects contains a squirrel. He is convinced that if he stares long and hard enough, the imagined rodent will fall out of the tree.
Fergie runs ahead of his person and sits like a little monument. He stares straight ahead at L., waiting for her to respond with one of the three squeaky miniature tennis balls which he knows are in her pocket. Why else would we be in the park?
Lately, Isis, feeling that she’s grown too clever for merely leaping around trees, has taken a shine to the shrubbery which is next to a fence dividing the park from the allotments.
Unfortunately, the shrubbery extends the length of this side of the park, running up to Kings Heath High Street in one direction and in the other almost reaching Avenue Road. And Avenue Road terminates in another extremely busy main road leading out of the other end of the High Street.
For the first few weeks after she discovers the shrubbery, Isis happily puthers in and out of it, not too far away from the fallen tree trunk on which at least one of us is sitting and tracking her movements.
On this particular Sunday, she is punching far above her weight, trotting off to the deep and murky little pond several hundreds of yards away, or attempting to plough her way through the undergrowth in the other direction. It’s a very warm day – the warmest this spring, I believe. And, of course, as soon as the tip of her tail fronds vanishes behind the foliage, I have to leap up and retrieve her.
After many retrievals, she potters off once again. She’s absent for about ten minutes, but I am unconcerned because I can see a distant patch of white hair among the bushes.
But L. is more conscientious. Bent on checking out the adventurous Isis, she and Fergie plough through the undergrowth. When they reach the recreant, they discover her cowering among the brambles. There is an exit – the way she came in. But, of course, poor Isis can’t see it.
L. lifts up Hairy One’s front legs and manages to extricate her from her prison. She manouevres her into the gap. Then, carefully lifting aside any threatening brambles, she guides her out along the narrow path.
I go over to Isis and bend over to pat her.
She carefully sniffs my legs. Then she lifts her head and wags her tail more vigorously than I have ever seen her wag it before.
She was only away for at most ten minutes, and was never completely out of sight, but for Isis, obviously, this had been a very frightening experience.
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