Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday July 29th 2018
This week I work hard to avoid being covered from head to foot in Elastoplast. (I don’t own shares in Elastoplast. There are many other products – as they say on the B.B.C.)
I may have mentioned before that for months now we’ve had the company of Visiting Kitty on our evening sojourns in the lane.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am very fond of cats, and I’m a great admirer of Visiting Kitty. Whom, in order to conserve my energy, I will refer to from now on as V.K. But V.K., like numerous other delightful felines with whom I’ve spent time, has a markedly capricious nature.
On three occasions he lulls me into a false sense of security. Each time his strategy is exactly the same. Underside up, he squirms floppily at my feet and switches on his most melodious purr. Then he looks up at me with huge, limpid eyes. He wiggles his bottom seductively and smiles, inviting a tummy tickle.
I lean down with a stupid grin on my face and, very, very gently tickle him. I’m sure you know the rest ………… yes, of course, he switches into attack mode, grabs my left lower arm with his front claws and shreds the skin of my underarm with his back claws. For good measure he bites my right hand when I use it in a vain attempt to detach his claws from my arm.
To add insult to injury, he flashes his tail and glares at me as though I am assaulting him.
Hence, in the following photo, taken on a very hot evening this week, you will observe that I have hastily moved my feet from kitty’s reach.
Daisy, by the way, never scratches or bites anyone.
She does chase dogs though.
V.K. doesn’t. He keeps well out of their way. He only descends from a garage roof once he has made absolutely certain that Isis is at a safe distance and engrossed in play. Usually he waits until she is in her ivy den.
My hairy podengo is much less sensible.
One night she is playing at the opposite end of the lane from her ivy nest. She is close to the bend in the lane. If she disappears round the corner, she’s out of sight and I need to follow.
It’s very hot and I’m very tired.
I look up and she’s vanished.
I’ll have to drag myself all the way down the lane.
But as I heave myself, muttering obscenities, from the garden chair, I hear panting and the tinkling of her bell.
I scan the lane.
No sign of Isis, but the panting and tinkling seem very close indeed.
It takes me several minutes to discover her whereabouts.
I walk past her several times before I see her.
When I find her, I can’t believe it –
who the hell chooses to nest in a bramble bush?
Yes, I know: Isis.
It’s time to go in. I can’t alert Isis to this, of course, except by touch.
On the following night I let Isis out into the garden. After a short silence, there’s a burst of excited woofs. The sort of woofs which mean ‘I’ve found something very interesting!’
I dash out. There is Isis leaping backwards and forwards, tail wagging ten to the dozen. Each leap forward brings her within two feet of ‘it’. She pushes her front legs out stiffly and pulls her head well back before jumping backwards as if keen not to get too close to the shape.
I tap her into the kitchen and return for a better look.
The beautiful, rounded shape is an adult hedgehog, and s/he’s in a perfect, rolled up sphere.
I’m thrilled. It’s more years ago than I can remember since I’ve seen a healthy hedgehog. Even my friend N. who lives in rural Cornwall tells me he’s not seen one for at least five years.
I don’t pick her/him up, of course. One must respect wild life.
Besides, I’m running out of antiseptic.
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 email@example.com or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk