Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Wednesday July 18th 2018
It occurs to me that it’s a long time since we had a table manners update.
Does Isis still growl and snarl between mouthfuls? Does she still jump up the wall to snap and scream at the vultures circling her dining area and round on the hyenas poised behind her ready to snatch her food?
Are our ears yet resounding with the clang of metal bowls and the ring of ragged screeches? Or do dog meal times pass in graceful tranquility.
Well, neither, to be honest.
Things are much better. Most of the time, she is much, much calmer: when she eats, she no longer leaps up the wall or spins round in angry circles.
And I begin to appreciate the depth of her food related traumas, and learn to be more tolerant.
It’s the heat wave which finally brings home to me the level of her distress, how terrified she must have been during her early years. Blind, deaf and tied up, she must have had to fight for any sustenance which came her way.
Sadly, even water, it seems.
I’ve always had water in the car for her, but she’s always refused it.
In this very hot weather, after she has played, she’s very obviously desperate for a drink, but she’ll not go near the communal water bowl. Even though her tongue is hanging out and her sides are heaving, she balks at walking within four metres of the drinking area.
Each day we take her bottle of water from the fridge and try to park in a shady spot.
One day all the shady spots are taken and when we return to the car, it’s necessary to cool it down before she gets in.
She’s desperate for a drink, so I put her bowl of water in the shade by the car. She turns her head away and continues to pant.
I let her into the car and put her drink on the seat.
Her tongue lolls and her sides heave but she’ll not drink. No way. She can smell people and dogs. She keeps turning her head towards the open door behind her. She doesn’t feel safe.
Now we have a mutually acceptable routine. We always arrive early enough to grab a shady spot. On returning to the car, I open the door nearest the fence and she jumps in. She begins sniffing for the water bowl. I place the bowl beside her, pour in the water and slip in beside her pulling the door to after me. She drinks thirstily, but only enough to keep her going until she reaches home.
At home she gulps down half a bowl of water. She obviously feels much safer in her own territory; nevertheless, I must avoid walking behind or too close to her. If I transgress, she growls defensively or leaves the water and retires to bed.
In perfect dining conditions, i.e. there’s no-one in the kitchen, no movement in the hall, no lingering suggestion that Daisy has been downstairs, no scents of pavement traffic floating through the porch window, and Human is standing motionless in another room, Isis relaxes and all that can be heard is a magical, steady munching.
I no longer take away her food if she relapses and barks, only on the very, very rare occasion when she becomes hysterical.
You may remember that when I followed the ‘if you carry on, your tea is removed’ regime, it appeared to work very well. Eventually, she ate in silence. But as soon as she had finished, she snarled and raged and attacked her tail viciously.
It seemed a crazy thing to do at the time, but now I think that her response may be similar to that of the Tourette’s child who manages to suppress the worst of her tics at school, but explodes into tic overdrive as soon as she gets home.
“You’ve come a long way, little Isis”, I tell her. “We can put up with a bark or two.”
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