Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’
Wednesday July 12th 2017
Human is feeling sorry for herself again. In addition to bruised ribs, she has torn a muscle in her shoulder. This time Isis played no part in the injury. Foolish Human achieved it all on her own by dismantling a heavy fence.
But, as we know, of course, human follies impact on their pets.
Only a few weeks after she came to live with me, Isis found her way upstairs and onto the bed. But she has always refused to walk back down.The stairs are steep and past attempts to persuade her to descend, even with me holding her harness, have succeeded only in frightening her witless.
Nor is it feasible for me to sleep with her downstairs on a regular basis as there’s only a very narrow single mattress on the futon.
Even I have to accept that it is no longer safe to carry Isis downstairs. I don’t suppose it ever was, really.
On Saturday night, very reluctantly, I close the back room door on poor Isis and make my way upstairs.
How mean. How treacherous.
Then comes a dull clunk as the betrayed one walks into the door.
The door of the back room is always open so Isis is not used to approaching it carefully as she does other doors.
The rat upstairs winces and feels even more guilty.
Then comes a puzzled scritch, scritch at the door. The scritch of dog who knows that she should be upstairs on the bed. That’s what always happens. That’s what we do.
The rat upstairs attempts to read her kindle.
At regular intervals. the scritching at the door continues. The rat feels worse and worse.
And more and more tired.
At about four in the morning, the scritching ceases. Is Hairy One all right? Perhaps she has splintered the door and cut herself. She could be bleeding to death at this very minute.
But there she is in the morning, warm and sweet, stretching and wagging, delighted that I’ve arrived to let her out of her prison.
It would, I decide, be much better to put up an improvised stair gate so that when she is banished from the bedroom at night, at least she has the run of most of the downstairs space.
So the following night, that’s what I do. Then I disappear upstairs, leaving her on the other side of the gate, her little pink spotty nose sniffing in disbelief at the edges of the barrier.
About twenty minutes later, I hear an unusual sound: a faint, muffled sliding. This is followed by the unmistakable soft padding of a dog ascending the stairs.
Clicky claws rattle on the wooden floor, alongside the bed, close to my head. She wags a little to tell me that, despite my carelessly leaving the gate across the stairs, she has sorted it out and we’re reunited.
Then, flumph! She arrives on her part of the bed and wriggles down to sleep.
When I check it out, the gate is still standing, but clever little Isis has pushed it along and squirmed through the gap.
The descent next morning is particularly hazardous. I put my left arm under three quarters of Isis, and balance her little back feet on my right hand. She is always very co-operative during our morning descents and, even today’s strange arrangement doesn’t phase her. She curls her front feet round my left arm, leans her head into me and stays absolutely still.
In this way we arrive safely in the hall.
But I can’t take any more risks, and that night I lay the gate directly onto the stairs.
Although Hairy One makes a brave attempt to scramble up between the struts, she has to admit defeat, and lies down in the hall looking sad.
She doesn’t cry. She never does. She utters three subdued woofs to remind me of my meanness, then she retires.
Thankfully, her night terrors are much less frequent than they used to be. When she is upstairs with me, of course, I can wake her and reassure her. It is only recently that she seems able to come out of these episodes without my intervention, and I worried that isolating her at night might lead to a regression.
So far, this hasn’t happened, but I am horrified to discover that she has nibbled a large patch of hair off one of her front legs. This, I’m sure, is a stress response, so I’ll need to keep a very close eye on her.
Only one positive has come out of all this. For months I’ve been looking for a suitable aid for walking her downstairs so I don’t have to carry her. And at last I’ve found one. It’s a strong, soft sling with a handle. It’s intended to support dogs with hip or back leg problems as they walk up and down stairs, but one review describes how it has been used to enable a very frightened blind dog to walk downstairs.
I’m measuring Isis up for one tomorrow.
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