Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes
Wednesday June 11th 2017
As she leaves Holly Trees, a dog worries a little about where she might be going next. But she recognises the familiar smell of her scruffy old car. Sniff. Sniff. Yes, here’s the edge of the door arch where she puts her front paws to jump in.
Sniffy-sniff-sniff. Here’s her fleece blanket. SNIFF – Lily’s sat on that.
Ji.’s with us. That could mean Highbury Park. Well, it feels O.K. to lie down, stretch out her paws and relax.
The car stops. Ji. opens her door. Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. She draws in her breath. Then gives a happy, spluttery sniff. It smells like the park.
IT IS THE PARK!
She hurries out of the car. On the gravel car park, a slight hesitation. Is the sun threatening to shine at her? No. And who cares anyway? Her lead’s being exchanged for her running extension.
KERWHOOSH! The meadow grasses have grown exponentially since she was last here. With the lead as her pivot, she gallops past the wavering buttercups, leaps over clumps of dandelions, scampers through the clover, a dog reborn.
Remembering, as she always does, her preferred place to scramble down the bank, she lands with a quiet splosh in the little stream, has a drink, then turning herself round, pees. She always does this. It seems very anti-social to me, but then, she’s a dog. I think she does it to claim the stream as her water source.
Next, a climb up the slope to her beloved fir trees, which, of course, she greets ecstatically.
We have been joined by B. and her two sweet schnauzers, Ziggy and Laurie, who soon observe two more schnauzers, playing with their human who is sitting under a nearby tree. Armfuls of schnauzers, all very pleased to be meeting.
Then there’s M. with Bill, a pretty, deep brown cocker spaniel.
I go over to greet them all, feeling fleetingly sad, as I often do, that Isis, who can’t read dog body language, can’t enjoy the company of other dogs.
But there she is, tail as high as a demented flag, racing around from tree to tree, leaping and clicking her teeth, watched solicitously by Ji.
When she has played fir tree games for about forty minutes, I take her over the grass, well past the bench which Ji. and I like to sit on when we’re feeling lazy, to the edge of the beech wood. Feeling unusually obliging, she plays there while we sit and watch her.
Fortunately, there are brambles straggling across the nearby path into the woods. Not surprisingly, she doesn’t care for brambles. That’s good. She won’t wander out of sight. When we’re walking together, I lift the nasty things aside so they can’t bite her. On her own, she’s begun to avoid brambly and hedgy barriers, and carefully sniffs out gaps between them.
After a further half hour or so, Ji. and I begin to walk back down towards the pond. Isis follows, walking tentatively, following the zig-zags of our scents until she catches up and bumps against my legs.
When directed to ‘the clean pool’, she refuses to drink, but when I encourage her to find her way over the stepping stones across the little waterfall, she pauses on the stones to drink where the water is running fastest.
A dog likes to be home again. Sniff-sniff-sniff. It’s her porch. Still the same smell it had when she last sniffed it: dry mud, dust, old boots.
Today she doesn’t retire, as she usually does, to the back room for a twenty minute snooze, but follows us into the front room and, while we indulge in coffee and cake, she stretches herself out on the rug, sighing contentedly.
In the evening, we stay at home and she plays for an hour in her garden.
She’s so delighted to be there again that she tears round the lawn in wild loops before discovering her snakes, toys which she’s not played with for almost two years: she wasn’t allowed to access the lawn last year as it had been re-seeded.
(We won’t dwell on why the lawn needed re-seeding.)
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