Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Wednesday July 24th 2019
Something interesting happened early last week, but this was eclipsed (couldn’t resist the word) by losing Isis last Friday.
Isis rarely has nocturnal panics as she did in the past. If, occasionally, she wakes from a frightening dream, her growly snarls last only a few seconds, then she goes back to sleep. But even brief nocturnal episodes like this are rare.
On the night of July 15th something strange happens.
I awake to her barking.
Now, I have only identified two current patterns of night barking. One I interpret as a warning bark. This comprises sharp, staccato woofs, interspersed with low growls, and tends to be intermittent. If it’s persistent, I put on lights upstairs and downstairs, and survey the garden. Whatever she has sensed usually goes away.
The other I am pretty sure is a bark of complaint that she has been left downstairs. This comes soon after I’ve disappeared upstairs, and consists of one or two cross bursts. They rarely occur over a period of more than ten minutes.
But on the night of Monday July 15th, she barks loudly and persistently. Oddly, this is neither of her familiar barks. I wait for her to stop and go back to sleep, but she doesn’t. It dawns on me that she sounds distressed, and I go downstairs.
She clearly is distressed. She’s wide awake, alert, tense and breathing very rapidly. Generally, if I disturb her for any reason once she’s fallen asleep, she is quite cross and warns me off with a disgruntled snap. Tonight, her tail wags when I sit down beside her: she’s obviously pleased to smell me.
She relaxes immediately, and soon falls asleep. After about forty minutes I creep back upstairs.
Next morning she seems fine when I wake her, but a little jumpy when we pass out of the dark into the light of the hall, then the porch. Yet this is not unusual: the change of light often causes her to duck and dive a bit, even though she’s keen to get out for her walk.
Off we go to Highbury. It’s a dullish day, and I expect her to enjoy herself.
I’m very taken aback when she is reluctant to get out of the car. She must have smelled something which has made her fearful, although I can’t see anything which would normally cause a reaction. In the early days, of course, she’d not emerge into the sun; nowadays, however, she loves Highbury so much that she’ll even face the sun, albeit gingerly.
“Come on, silly dog”, I tell her and haul her out.
Although I manage to herd her a few metres along the path, she is clearly unhappy. She has a hasty pee and a poop, then heads back to the car park.
I don’t understand her behaviour. I can’t remember the last time she was like this. How very strange.
But there’s always a reason for a dog’s behaviour, and I know that I shouldn’t have made her leave the car. Thoughtless Human.
We turn round and return home.
Perhaps she would enjoy playing in the garden.
No, she wouldn’t. She backs away from the door, and retreats to the day bed in the back room.
She stays in one of the two downstairs rooms – whichever one I’m in – all day until about six-thirty in the evening when she is happy to go out into the garden.
The next day, there is talk about the partial eclipse which occurred on Monday night. I relate Hairy One’s strange behaviour, and ask, “Do you think it could be connected in any way to the eclipse?”
“Definitely”, is the response of several friends.
I know that Isis reacts strongly to atmospheric changes but I don’t know much about eclipses.
What do you think?
*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