Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’
Sunday January 21st 2018
It had been a very long time since I had seen D., who moved away from Kings Heath three years ago, and whose lovely labradoodle Billy died last year. On Thursday, she comes to pick us up for a visit to Kings Heath Park.
Although there’s bright sun, I know that Isis will enjoy playing around her shrubbery when she gets there. I tap her beneath her chin while D. tugs her firmly through the gate. Once the reluctant one realises that I am in the car, she hops in too.
I was very fond of D,’s Billy who stayed with Ellie and me several times when D. was away. He was the most gentle, sweet natured dog you could imagine. Even though he was labrador size and weighed over forty kilos, he would try to back unobtrusively onto one’s knee. He enjoyed a hug or six too, as long as it was in the privacy of the house and not in the park in front of his dog mates.
He was an obliging dog in most ways, but not when it came to getting into a car. My neighbour found it hilarious to watch me trying to get Billy into the car to go to the park. I would open the car door and let Ellie in before bringing him out. Although I dashed after him in a vain attempt to preempt his sitting down, invariably, he beat me to it. If he was sitting down it was sometimes just about possible to place his front legs on the back seat. But more often than not, he rolled over onto his back on the drive and waved his legs in the air.
Then we really were in trouble. Encouraging pats left him cold. Stern commands didn’t do the trick. Nor did soppy appeals to his better nature: he lay there with his tongue lolling, looking coy.
Fortunately, he was always a treat enthusiast and something specially tempting would get him onto his feet. The battle was not won yet, however. If I was very lucky, and he rose to his feet right next to the car door, I might be able to pop his large hairy front paws onto the back seat while he was still in motion.
More often than not, though, he’d sit down smartly just far enough away from the car to necessitate another treat and much cajoling to motivate him to shuffle forward a foot or two.
Then, of course, there was the challenging task of lifting his feet, now heavy and stiff with resistance, onto the car seat while preventing him from shuffling backwards and out of range again. This, I found, was best done by straddling his shoulders as I heaved.
Now came the final stage of heaving in his rear end. Not easy with a heavy dog who is by now bracing his forelegs against the car seat in an effort to push himself back out again.
At last we would set off for the park where both dogs would have a riotous time with their friends, often rounding the walk off with a dip in the smelly pond. If we managed to pass the pond, Bill would be on constant look out for a puddle. Preferably one lined with thick, black mud.
When we returned to the car park, life was much easier than when we set out as G., well-built and very strong, lifted Bill in for me.
On this Thursday, D. and I let Hairy One play in the Colour Garden, then walk round the park to meet G. We reminisce about past times when a big group of us met up every morning on the old bowling green. Only one of our dogs, Cookie the labradoodle, is left now. Sad. Inevitably.
But it’s good to be back in the park. And I am in for a lovely surprise. Back in D’s car Isis sits between my feet, but after a few minutes she climbs onto my lap, and there she stays until we reach home.
She’s never sat on my lap before. I’m very touched.
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
Human’s fingers are stiff, but otherwise no deterioration. The rheumatology appointment is next Tuesday, so we will see.