Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’
Sunday July 15th 2018
Just over a week ago, Isis receives a surprise parcel.
A close friend, K., who reads the blog knows how attached Hairy One is to her snakes. K. has been down in Devon for a while and sends her a new snake.
It’s not just any old snake, he explains, but a lesser spotted Devon grass snake, a very handsome and rare fella, found only in this county.
There’s a slight problem though. He’s a not a rubber reptile: he’s a fabric one. Isis has not met one like this before.
I hope for the best and set him down in an elegant but casual pose close to Hairy One’s bed.
Will she know he’s a snake?
She ignores him.
She’s no easy pushover, as we know.
After three days and nights he’s still there on the rug, so I pop him into her basket while she’s sleeping. Perhaps she’ll come across him in the morning and welcome him to her world.
On the other hand, Isis being Isis, perhaps she won’t.
Sure enough, next morning I find that she’s ejected him. He’s lying there forlornly, back on the rug.
It’s Saturday evening. Before we go down to the lane, I go to fetch Half-snake for her to play with. (Yes, I’m the one who takes him out. She never does. If I forget she just searches for him in the lane, poking among the grassy clumps and under the brambles looking depressed.)
I wonder whether she’ll play with Devon Blue if I drop him casually in the lane instead of Half-snake.
After letting the impatient little creature out of the garden before she shreds the new gate, I toss Devon Blue a few metres away and take up my usual position on the old, green garden chair.
Isis doesn’t appear to pick up his scent, but gallops boisterously up and down the lane, emitting blissful little grunts.
After a while, I take out my phone and begin to read the news.
Next time I look Isis has disappeared from view. So has Devon Blue.
I haven’t even noticed her in the vicinity of the new snake, yet I can hear her bell ringing slowly and rhythmically from beneath the ivy, a sure sign of playful contentment.
When it’s time to fetch her, I walk past the ivy den several times without being able to spot her. In order to locate her, I have to lean down low and part the wall of ivy with both hands. Even then I have to stick my head well in between the dense skeins before I eventually glimpse a small smudge of white feet.
The overhang of foliage is much more extensive than I thought. Isis has made a new den, and there she nestles, as far into the ivy as she can get, next to the fence and a good two yards from the track. She’s lying down with Devon Blue in her mouth and draped across her front legs.
After a good deal of ungainly lurching and stretching, I manage to tap the little creature under her chin and, in her own good time of course, she carries out her prize, threading him carefully through the interwoven stems of ivy and out into the lane.
She walks just in front of me, misses the entrance to our garden,
is gently persuaded to turn around, finds the gate and slowly weaves her way through the undergrowth,
through the gap in the wire, around the brambles and spiky teasels
– which are now encroaching, inch by inch, upon the house – and makes her way to the kitchen door.
In she pops.
Now, she always takes Half-snake, that faithful playmate, into her bed.
Will she confer this very special honour on Devon Blue?
Bingo! She does.
That worked, then.
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