Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday January 26th 2020
Well, Isis continues to teach me that I should never become complacent.
Our day begins well. As it’s Sunday, and we have no commitments until later this afternoon, we have plenty of time for our morning greeting. Isis is lying on the day bed and, as usual, I place my hand close to her nose and wait.
I love to watch her waking up. The speed of her reaction depends on how deeply asleep she is, and whether I’ve come straight into her room or I’ve pottered around downstairs first.
First her nose begins to twitch, then she lifts up her head. A kiss on her forehead automatically switches her tail mechanism on, and she wags faster and faster. In the morning – and only in the morning – she allows me to be as sloppy as I want to be. If her wagging slows down, a kiss on her head or muzzle turns the wagging back up to full speed. A gentle hug prompts her to lean into my side. This morning she even allows me to lift her towards me and then lies contentedly with her front legs across my knees.
This interchange of affection continues until I give her the ‘follow me’ signal, when she walks with me to the back door and out into the garden.
You couldn’t meet a more relaxed, affectionate, co-operative little dog.
How different from the ferocious, snarling and shrieking animal who is doing a very good impression of berserk on the back seat of the car a few hours later.
It is raining when we reach Highbury today. There are only two cars in the car park, and they leave almost immediately.
Then C. arrives with Tia, and we have an indignant conversation about all the poor dogs who are not enjoying the park.
Off we go, Isis and I, along the path which bends round to the left and towards the pond. Our destination, though, is not the pond: it’s the the grass beyond the willow tunnel, the area where the tall plants grow in the spring and last through the summer, so tall that I can only tell where she is by monitoring the movements of the flower heads.
She plays happily in the vicinity of the stalks, leaping and bounding, sniffing and pouncing.
Then she surprises me by walking off across the meadow. I assume that she is aiming for one of her favourite places, the edge of the wooded area which divides the two meadows.
But, no, she’s not. She’s making her way along the path and towards the car park, and it’s too muddy and slippery for me to run after her.
Walking as fast as I can without skidding, I see her walk past the car and over to the other side of the car park where we left the car yesterday.
We’ve only been in the park for an hour, but it’s obvious that she wants to go home. I’m puzzled. It’s not like her. It has stopped raining. Perhaps the sky is brightening, and that’s what’s upsetting her. I catch up with her and walk her to the car.
That’s when the outburst begins.
Deep, fierce growls. Snapping. Shrill yaps.
“Good lord,” murmurs C. who is about to take Tia home, “I’ve never seen her like that before.”
The growling and snapping quickly escalates into self harming. I hold her collar and, ignoring the screeching, I examine her foot, between the pads, around the pads, her claws, her leg. I can’t find anything to explain her behaviour.
Next time she bites her foot, she bites my finger too. Soon there are streaks of blood on her head, neck and back. But it’s not hers.
Eventually, I accept that I have to drive her home. I also accept that she’ll continue to bite herself on the way.
She does. It’s not a pleasant journey.
At home, I put her in the sink, examine her all over, clean, dry and Sudocrem the bites.
She lies on the day bed, panting and on edge. Soon, she’s off again. Not biting herself now, but growling and yipping.
Eventually, she falls asleep, and I leave her for a couple of hours.
When I return, she’s her ‘normal’ self for a while. Until I come over to the computer and switch on the light. Then she attacks her foot again. And again. And again. Each time I grab her and hold her until she stops.
Is it the light? Has it been her ‘light problem’ all the time? If so, she’s responding very strangely.
I fetch her Doggles (protective goggles for dogs) and secure them. She removes them. I replace them. Eventually, she sleeps.
For thirty blissful minutes, I think we’ve cracked it. Then she begins again. I cream her foot in case the bites are irritating her.
Thankfully, she’s not biting herself now, just growl, growl, growl – YAP! Growl, growl, growl – YAP! Growl, growl, growl – YAP!
I remove her Doggles. I put them back on her again.
I sit close to her. I go back to the computer.
I switch off the main light (which she has tolerated for years) and put on the low wattage lamps. I switch off the lamps. Then I switch off the computer.
I’m writing this in real time, so if it’s below standard, please overlook it.
It’s very unusual for me not to be able to see a humorous side to our shenanigans. But I can’t tonight. Her distress is wearing me down.
About thirty minutes ago, I take Isis and her dog bed into the kitchen. She scratches the door once or twice. Then silence.
She’s just begun scratching it again.
I’m not sure whether to let her out and see if she’ll settle back in here in the dark, or leave her in the kitchen.
Whichever I do, I’m going to bed.
*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