Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday March 9th 2020
The highest mound of the landscaped area in Highbury Park, to which I trudged last week in search of my lost spectacles, is the only part of the park from which Isis is able to return with clean, pink feet.
This is the mound closest to the High Street. You can climb the steep bank to access it from the main path; alternatively, at present you can (almost) swim to it over the lower grassed area.
There’s a third option: you can follow the track which runs from behind the car park, parallel to the railway line and then the allotments.
Our dogs enjoy this track as there are always very interesting smells here. Even through this wettest February on record, some intrepid dog walkers follow the track, their dogs emerging with shiny, mud thigh boots.
As we know, Isis enjoys paddling through mud. Unfortunately, she is not as enthusiastic about being bathed afterwards.
Since I am less than enthusiastic about either activity, I prefer her to play on the high mound.
A perfectly simple solution to the mud problem then?
There’s always a challenge with Isis, and here’s the rub (as Shakespeare would say.) The only mudless approach to our mound is the main tarmacked path which runs from the vehicular entrance up to the High Street.
And Isis does not like this path. In the early days, she refused to walk on it. It was summer, the sun was directly behind us, and a short avenue of trees cast deep stripes of shadow on the tarmac.
Oh horror! There was no way she was going to walk along here.
So we always avoided the path, tramping instead along the grass to her favourite play spots. All was well. She was even willing to return to the path once we had by-passed the trees.
Most inconveniently, there is now little grass to walk on, just the odd tuft poking its head valiantly through the quagmire.
In the car park we struggle. Every time.
This is how it goes. We pull up as close as possible to the beginning of the avenue. This means we have to park under the crows’ favourite tree from which the afore mentioned birds poop mightily all over the car.
Never mind, there’s not much we’ll not do for our dogs.
I don waterproof trousers and walking boots before opening the back door closest to the path. If it’s pouring with rain, hailing or snowing, Isis is out of the car like a shot.
If she feels the light isn’t quite right, she is more reluctant, and emerges looking doubtful. Then she stands as close to the car as possible, or even leans against it looking pathetic. I’m aware of people in the car park looking at her sympathetically. Sometimes they say, “Oh, she doesn’t want to go for a walk, bless her.”
“Yes, you b. well do, Isis,” I murmur in her ear.
Waiting until no-one is looking, I get her onto the path with two or three firm yanks on her harness and a few uncomplimentary hisses in her ear. For the benefit of anyone who might be secretly videoing us, prior to calling the RSPCA, I accompany the yanks with loud comments of, “You’ll like it when you get there, dear.”
Soon, she walks along beside me, or to make sure I know that she’s coming against her better judgement, she walks a step or two behind.
All the way along the path we go until we reach our mound. We scramble up the bank. When I remove her harness, she has a celebratory twirl before trotting off to her favourite place,
a long run where the brambles and undergrowth separate the park from the allotments. Here she runs up
she leaps and pounces
and sometimes, but not often, even pauses for thought.
I love to sit on a fallen tree and watch her. She’s so confident when she’s playing here. Lately, she doesn’t even leave the mound when another dog approaches her. She just stands still, or walks a few feet away and carries on playing.
She knows where I am, but she loves her independence.
Just as Kerry told me all those years ago, she’s a brave little 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk