Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’
Wednesday May 23rd 2018
As we know, Hairy One is inordinately fond of her snakes. She must have had them for at least three years. Two are very well preserved. These are her house snakes which she keeps in the back room. If I move them anywhere else, they are returned within minutes. If I clear them away into her toy box, she gets them out again.
The other two are outdoor snakes and have fared less well. She’s not a destructive dog where toys are concerned, she just plays with them very enthusiastically. One has died and disappeared into overgrown borders. The other, Green Snake, is slowly disintegrating.
Green Snake spends the winter and early spring at the bottom of the garden, on a block of concrete near the gate which leads into the lane.
When I open the gate, I toss him into the lane, and Isis sniffs him out, picks him up and trots off to play with him. Her favourite game seems to be whirling round with him at break-neck speed, tossing him aside, running off to investigate kitty and fox scents, then returning to hunt for him.
This game she’ll happily play for hours.
So that she’ll not be too upset when he finally meets his end, I attempt to wean her onto other toys. I leave all his disintegrating bits on the concrete post in the garden and take one of her house snakes into the lane. She ignores it and searches assiduously for Green Snake. Eventually she tracks him down and brings a fragment of him back into the lane to play with.
On subsequent days, I take out other toys and close the garden gate behind us. She ignores the other toys and searches for Green Snake. When she can’t find him, she goes off and plays with sticks and brambles.
Then I remember that farmers have a way of getting a ewe who has lost her own lamb to accept an infant lamb rejected by its own mother. Yes, they wrap the orphaned infant in the fleece of the dead lamb.
Feeling rather silly, I thread a bit of Green Snake onto a house snake and drop it in the lane. Isis picks it up immediately, clamping her jaw around the bit of Green Snake.
Oh yes! Aren’t I clever? Yes, too clever by halves. As Isis thrashes around, house snake is rapidly jettisoned and she continues playing with the green rubber skin fragment.
Hmmm. I think that the infant lamb trick will work, but can’t think of a safe way of fixing the skin fragments onto the whole snake. Have to work on that. Meanwhile, I continue to present her with some of her neglected toys.
To go back a bit, at Christmas, a kind friend gave Isis a wonderful present. It’s a special ball for a visually impaired dog. It’s very brightly coloured, deeply textured, has an appetising, beefy smell and emits a very loud, squawky squeak.
For weeks the ingrate ignores it, of course. Then one day I notice that it’s disappeared under the day bed, so she’s obviously made contact with it. I begin taking it into the front room and placing it on the rug. After a while she sniffs it out and nudges it with her nose.
I keep taking it with us into the lane. Again, Isis sniffs it out but doesn’t play with it. Then, on Monday, she finds it, picks it up, trots around making it squeak and carries it into her favourite nest under the ivy, from whence the squeaking continues.
In the days preceding this breakthrough, she must have carried Green Snake, bit by bit, from the garden into the house. I notice her drop his tail by the back door one day but have no idea of her grand plan. She is so hairy that it’s impossible to see a small fragment in her mouth.
Then, on Sunday, I see all of his remains on her rug in the back room with the house snakes.
Being an ignorant human, I find this most amusing, and rush to get my camera.
I gather up some bits of snake and sneak past Isis who appears to be fast asleep on the day bed.
I carefully arrange three pieces on a kitchen tile. Just as I am depressing the shutter, I am aware of a hairy presence at my feet, and I get this photo: a ghostly image of Isis in action. She moves so quickly that it’s impossible to be certain of what she’s doing. She seems to be snatching away the tail …………………….
but, at the last minute, obviously, she changes her mind …………………………….
By the time I return to the back room, she’s lying down again. Where’s the bit of snake? I lift her lip. Yes, she has it in her mouth.
You are a very entertaining little dog, Isis.
But there’s being attached to one’s toys, and there’s being obsessed with them.
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