Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday April 12th 2020
On lockdown here, we’ve been asked to leave the house for exercise only once a day. Now that Isis has just one park visit, it feels even more important than usual that she enjoys it. Except for a few self-obsessed joggers, people are very careful to observe the two metres apart, ‘self-distancing’ rule, so walking in Highbury feels fine.
Thus, last Sunday, off we go to the park . We leave home at 7.50. Yes, 7.50, five hours earlier than our usual Sunday jaunt. It’s quite chilly but my winter anorak and my feeling of unsurpassed virtue keep me warm.
I look at my newly groomed dog with pride. What an immaculate, well cared for animal: every hair is in place – sort of – and there’s not a tangle in sight. As for a mat, heaven forfend it. And those once muddy, glued together facial hairs clotted into revolting clumps? Perfectly soft, smooth and white now. Even her little feet are clean and pink.
As soon as she’s released, Isis sets off, best paw forward, in pursuit of adventure.
Yet she’s not sure where she wants to play today. She has a quick prance round a bramble patch before wandering off towards the pine avenue where yesterday she romped gleefully for at least an hour.
But no, after a quick sniff at something only a dog could find interesting, she ambles off again looking bored.
Perhaps she’ll fancy the Italian Garden. I lead the way, and once there she begins playing with the beech hedge. That’s good. I’m feeling tired today. Must be all the early rising. I can sit on this comfortable log close by the hedge, and listen to the birdsong while she self-exercises. Smiling in anticipation of a long, tranquil daydream, I arrange myself carefully, and lean back.
Hardly am I settled, when she stops playing and pokes her head into the hedge. I stand up reluctantly, and approach her.
“You don’t want to go through there, dear,” I tell her.
But she does.
“It’s much nicer on this side.”
No, it isn’t.
She shrugs her shoulders and shoves. She wriggles. And shoves. And wriggles and shoves. Then, flup! She emerges on the other side.
I hesitate for a few seconds. I could exit the garden more elegantly by using the entrance and exit but the irritating little creature has chosen the mid point of the hedge for her departure. It takes a few minutes to run round it, and dog knows where she’ll be by the time I catch up with her.
I gather her lead and harness and, saying very rude things, struggle through the dry, pointy, little branches. Oh, well, perhaps she’s changed her mind and wants to play among the pine trees after all. There’s nowhere to sit, but never mind, we’re here for her, not for me.
She stops with some interest beneath the nearest pine. Sniff, snuffle, sniff. Then she trots off again.
Perhaps she’d enjoy the beech wood today. There are plenty of scents there. I hook on her lead and we set off. She stands among the beech trees looking slightly puzzled, then makes her way out again.
When we reach the edge of the wood, I note that there’s no-one else in the vicinity. The huge oak logs lying between the wood and the pond are a perfect place to sit, if only one can persuade one’s charge to play there.
I recapture Isis and walk her briskly down the slope. Before we reach the the old oak and its fallen branches, I remove her lead, and point her nose back uphill. She turns round and makes her way towards the boggy area the other side of the hedge.
“Not that way, dear.” I turn her round gently, and point her in the right direction. We repeat this procedure three times. On the fourth, she begins to dance on the spot.
That’s a good sign.
But after a few reels, she sidles back once more. This time she dips behind a small mound and begins scraping at a heap of leaves next to the recently planted hedge.
Thank goodness for that.
I relax and read the news on my phone. I can just see her back and the top of her head, but she’s only a few yards away, and her bell is tinkling steadily. Every now and then, I glance up. She’s engrossed with her leaves, diving into the pile, scattering and chasing them, tossing them over her shoulder, picking the odd one up with her teeth and shaking it vigorously.
Dear little dog.
Eventually, I get up. It’s ten o’clock. Time we wandered back to the car.
Wondering what is so fascinating about this particular leaf pile, I walk over to look.
There, at the base of the hedge, and surrounded by thick swathes of leaves, is a large, deep, freshly dug hole. The leaves are dry and brittle, but the hole is wet and sticky.
I can’t believe it.
She lifts up her head.
*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*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.dogwat