the prickly season



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Wednesday November 14th 2018


The prickly season appears to be lasting a long time this year.

Dried thorny bits appear very early in September. I guess they are prunings. Anyway, Isis manages to pick up one particularly nasty specimen with her tail.





How long it has been nestling there, I don’t know, but it must have been for dozens of twirls and tail wags as it is very deeply embedded in her hair.

Isis announces its presence by frustrated growls and angry attacks on her tail. It is a two-handed challenge as many of the hundreds of hairs have to be unwound individually from the twig. Fortunately, we are walking with Gr., Bev and her dogs, and Bev. holds Hairy One’s collar while I tackle the twig.

Ouch! Several thorns pierce my skin so I can vouch that they are particularly vicious. No wonder poor Isis gives  little growls of pain.

The whole procedure takes about ten minutes.

Then the seed heads – those big pointy ones in the flower bed by the hedge –  dry themselves out and leap on her. They like settling in malicious clumps on the insides of her thighs, the long, dangly hairs of her tail, her fluffy ears and her underside. Even her chin and whiskers rarely escape the attack.





Several times, when we’re about to set off for home, she sits down firmly and refuses to move. When I examine her I unearth sneaky seed heads decorating various tender bits of her.

One day a few weeks ago, things get really nasty.

Before walking back from the park, I remove any seed heads which seem to be bothering her, leaving the rest until we reach home. After she’s eaten I sit with her on the day bed and begin tackling the rest.

These seeds are particularly difficult to get out. Each one has a hook on the end with a little spur on it. When you try to unwrap her hairs from a whole seed head, unhelpfully, the seed head disintegrates so that you have to pick every seed out individually.

Poor Isis is extremely patient.

After a careful all-over examination, I decided that we’ve finished and begin to brush her. When I tackle the tangled hair under her tail, she gives a piercing shriek and flies at her rear end. She bites her right back leg and, on the way, my right hand.

When we have both calmed down, which takes a while, I very carefully investigate. I gently lift aside the hairs under her tail to discover an intact seed head jammed against her anus.

Poor little dog. Unknowingly, I’d pushed against it with the brush. It must have been extremely painful. To her credit, she stands patiently without even a growl as I remove the offending case of seeds one by one.

Now, thank goodness, these damned seed heads appear to be rotting into the ground, since she hasn’t picked one up for several weeks, nor has she collected any thorny twigs on her way round.

A week ago, though, as she trots through the pines by the old bowling green and onto the grass above, she begins to limp. She doesn’t stop – I assume she’s too keen to get to her dancing mound – instead, she hops along on three legs.

Oh dear! Is it a drawing pin, or, even worse, a shard of glass?

Once on the mound, she comes to me, stands still and allows me to lift that most sacred and untouchable of all of her hairy self: her right back leg.

I lift her paw.

There, embedded firmly among her little pink pads, is a large, spiny beechnut case.






I have to squeeze my nails under the edges in order to dislodge the case, but Isis

doesn’t even flinch.

It’s a hard life being a dog!


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 or

This entry was posted in dear little Isis, poor Isis, relationship building, strange behaviour and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to the prickly season

  1. Ian Simkin says:

    We had an Irish Setter during my late teens-twenties, & you know how big & hairy they are….. bloody nightmare sometimes getting thing out of her ears, tail & feathers. She would not behave to have them cleaned or brushed, (she could turn nasty – but only ever in this situation, rest of the time a total softie), so it often took at least 3 of us to tackle the job….. Still miss her after all this time.


  2. Amber Lipari says:

    Oh, my gosh, this worries me so much! I think maybe we’ve had this discussion before, so forgive me if I repeat myself, but those barbed grasses are so dangerous! Boo had one embed itself in her stomach and had to have surgery to remove it.
    Glad to hear they seem to be disappearing. Poor, Isis 😦


    • That must have been very frightening. No, you’ve not mentioned the incident before. I’ve heard of seeds getting into dogs’ ears and causing infections, or getting under the skin in other places but never causing such serious problems as poor Boo’s. After reading your story, I examined Isis again in case there were any nasty seeds left.


    • Forgot to say I checked out the ref. Very interesting and informative. Never thought of seeds being such a serious hazard.


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