Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’
Sunday August 20th 2017
Poor Isis was so traumatised by the fickle sun last Tuesday that I decide to avoid Kings Heath Park while the weather is unsettled. Because Highbury Park is much bigger, there are very large areas where trees do not cast frightening shadows.
On Wednesday, then, off we go to Highbury.
Once in the park, I commiserate with Isis and tell her that, as compensation for her nasty experience, she can choose where she wants to play and what she wants to do.
She is very happy to follow her nose without any bossy tugging from me, and heads off to her favourite fallen tree.
Oh. But then, I think it was winter time when she got covered in burrs. I recall being surprised because all the burr bearing plants were brown and dead.
Now the plants are green and very alive, so they won’t drop their burrs as freely.
And I did promise her a good time today.
I release her from her lead, and off she trots, ready for adventure.
Sniff. Sniff. Snifferty-sniff.
Yes! It really is her lovely fallen tree.
And here is where she made those lovely tunnels last year.
And there’s still a little lead-in hole left! Very exciting for a dog.
In she dives.
And she plays, and plays and plays. We spend over an hour here.
But what’s the matter with Isis?
Oh, nothing. She’s just sheltering from the sun.
There’s a scattering of burrs on the end of her tail. Nothing to worry about, though.
A few minutes later, I take a closer look, just to make sure she’s O.K.
Oh dear me.
Rather more than a scattering of burrs on her tail, I fear.
Time for a closer close-up.
It can’t be as bad as it seems.
Let’s have another look.
But it can. And it is.
I pat her little head. It’s like stroking coconut matting.
My heart sinks.
But she doesn’t seem disturbed, and off we go to the pine trees.
It’s while she is pine dancing that my phone rings. It’s L. She’s just arrived in the park with Dougie and Fergie and asks where we are.
I tell her, but soon Isis wanders across the grass, and past the edge of the little beech wood before disappearing into her much loved boggy rosebay willow herb patch.
Almost immediately, L. appears walking with Js. and his dogs Pixie and Bertie.
I smile to myself. They’re in for a surprise.
I show them one of the close up photos. They are very taken aback, but nothing prepares them for the reality.
Isis eventually emerges from the bog. She looks like a monster from a story book.
She no longer looks nonchalant. Now she looks pathetic. To make matters worse, the sun is ducking and diving again. She cowers and I kneel down beside her.
I stroke her, then begin combing through the hairy tangles on the back of her neck with my fingernails. Last time she had the burr-measles, I tried a variety of brushes and a metal comb before discovering that not only are fingernails more effective, but Isis is more relaxed with them than she is with grooming tools.
L. sits down behind Isis. As she does so, the sun blinks again and Isis wriggles herself against L.’s lap. L. begins to de-burr Hairy One’s lower back.
Soon she is joined by Js. who tackles the left flank.
Thank goodness for kind park friends.
The other dogs wonder what’s going on. They suspect favouritism, and close in to investigate. Poor Isis just retreats backwards, even closer to L. and Js. The other dogs soon discover that nothing nice is happening and wander off again.
We continue to work on poor Isis.
By the time we decide she’s had enough, her back and flanks are clear.
Her head, whiskers, underside and the inside of her legs are still to be done, but we’ve made a good start.
It takes three days, in all, to clear all the burrs.
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