Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’
Sunday December 3rd 2017
Last year I obtained from Freegle a very long, three foot tall length of plastic-covered wire border edging. This has proved extremely useful as a strong, light and easily portable fence. Over the summer and early autumn, I have used it to protect the latest area of lawn scalped by Isis.
Late, wet autumn and now winter have teamed up with damaged shoulders and feet to make it even more difficult to plod down the garden to touch-sign Isis to come in. At the same time, it has become imperative to protect the fast receding ‘lawn’ and to keep her out of the worst of the mud; hence the fence is now enclosing a small toilet area close to the house.
Now, if this fence were solid, Isis, of course, would have leapt over it immediately, but when faced with something wobbly, on which she is unable to plant her little pink paws firmly, she is stuck – thank goodness.
Unfortunately, and, I guess, inevitably this happy state of affairs comes to an abrupt end when, a couple of weeks ago, Isis, spins into the fence accidentally and flattens it. Realising that it surrenders so easily, now, as a matter of course, she jumps on it, scrambles speedily and nonchalantly over it and bounces into the main garden.
Now I have to go out with her and when her duties have been done, tap her rump to tell her to go in. She’s very quick now to obey her signs and walks back into the house.
It’s Saturday morning and I let Isis out into her area. Because I’ve overslept and it’s well past dog’s breakfast time, I stupidly assume that she will come straight back into the kitchen. I should know better by now. She always puts playing outside before food.
My spirits, never at their highest in the morning anyway, sink even further when I glance out of the window and discover that her fluffy white legs have disappeared under a slicked down coat of oozy black mud.
She is so happy running up and down with her filthy, muddy rubber snake in her mouth, I decide that she might as well stay out and play instead of being taken into The Lane. I can’t lift her into the sinks at present, but it’s relatively mild today, so I can hose her down in the entry.
An hour and a half later, she is happy to come in and have her breakfast, although, once she has eaten, naturally, she’s disappointed that I’ll not let her out again.
I check out the hose only to find that it’s still where I left it last year, snaking down the garden and well embedded under thick grass and brambles. There’s no way I can dig it out.
I look again at the indescribably filthy Hairy One. As we know, I am off the low end of the houseproud scale, but even I can’t let her into the house in this state. There are not just smeary skid marks from one end of the kitchen floor to the other, but large clumps of claggy mud.
I know I shouldn’t, but I am going to have to bath her. I fill the sinks with warm water, and manage to half lift, half roll her into them.
I give her a very, very thorough bath. Since August, I’ve not been able to wash her intimate bits after she’s had her monthly anal gland treatment, and although the vet has given her a good wipe so she doesn’t smell, she needs quite a bit of trimming and cleaning.
She hates it but she is a very good dog, only a few flurries of escaping paws, and she only growls when, unnoticed by negligent human, the tap is poking into her flank.
Even her face, whiskers and under her chin have to be done. Poor Isis. Lots of shampoo, lots of rinses later, we’re finished and I wrap her in a towel. Things are looking up. Her tail rises damply and begins to wag.
Once in the hall, she lets me dry her all over, even those no-go areas, her back legs.
I remember the first time I tried to dry her. She’d only been with me for little over a month and we were in Wales. It was too soon too take her, and she was very unsure of herself, but she loved running in and out of the sea.
I was thoughtless and although I laid the towel on her back very gently, she became hysterical.
Of course she did, I’m sure it was a totally new experience for her. She couldn’t see or hear what I was doing and I had not thought to give her the towel to smell before I tried to dry her.
No wonder the poor little animal was terrified.
Her back legs have remained an issue. I think that someone must have done something very unpleasant to those legs, perhaps, roped them, or grabbed them or worse because if you need to touch them, she still snatches them away. She no longer bites me though, or snaps and growls.
All four legs are dripping. I carefully dry her front legs. I don’t hold them, just place a restraining hand on her back. Then, very, very gently and very slowly I place a corner of the towel against a back leg and pat it very lightly. She lets me dry both legs.
While I’m doing this, I tell her, over and over again, “What a good dog.”
Sadly, though, at night she wakes up in distress. I can’t remember when I last had to go down to comfort her at night. Nowadays she wakes up and snaps and barks briefly once or twice and then goes back to sleep.
Tonight is different. She snarls and snaps to herself, is quiet for a short while, then off she goes again. This goes on and on and on. When I go down she is awake, but when I stroke her head, she snaps and grabs my arm. She doesn’t bite me but leaves two little red marks on my skin. I pat her gently on her favourite place, her rump. But she doesn’t want to be touched, and gives warning growls.
I cover her gently with a fleece, put Polar Bear close to her, and leave her alone. Thankfully, after one more brief snarly barking session, she sleeps until morning.
I feel sad for her and wonder whether the bath, and, perhaps, my drying her legs, has brought back horrors from her past.
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