Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday May 3rd 2020
Highbury Park: Friday April 24th
Isis sniffs half-heartedly along the wooded area between the two meadows. This spot is her default choice. But today, she’s uneasy. The trees make frightening shadows on the sunlit grass. Just as I am settling myself on one of the most comfortable logs, she begins to meander back up to the main path.
I desettle myself and follow.
She turns towards the car park. Oh no, she can’t want to go home again, can she?
I wait to see what she decides to do next.
She stands on the tarmac for several minutes, nose carwards.
Then, unexpectedly, she turns and steps onto the grass the other side of the path. She begins to sniff.
I approach, and, tail erect, she leads the way across the grass, squeezes through the brushwood barricades placed there to protect new saplings from human and dog traffic, and sniffs her way to the little track which runs along the side of the park up to the allotment gate. She likes this track but it resembled a swamp during the rainy weeks and I don’t know whether it has recovered yet.
Isis doesn’t care, of course. She follows the track ahead of me. Her navigation is astonishingly good. She walks the winding track confidently and doesn’t walk into anything. I’m very impressed. Every few yards she stops to check I’m still there before setting off again. A brief sniff of a leg of my jeans, a strip of my sock or a length of bootlace reassures her, and she continues on her way.
She chooses her exit, and we emerge onto the landscaped mounds. She sniffs one or two of the areas where she usually likes to play, but the sun and shadow contrast is too sharp for her, and she elects to return along the track and follow it right down to the end.
I don’t like her doing this. Over the years walkers have created little short cuts down to busy Avenue Road, and Isis finds these very inviting. She always wants to sniff her way along them, despite being thwarted every time by mean Human.
Once harnessed and pointed in the opposite direction, she trots along contentedly enough until we reach the driveway from the entrance gates to the car park.
On the other side is the log she likes to play around. She would happily set off across the road without stopping. I’m attempting to train her to recognise the smell or feel of the road, and to sit and wait on the verge until I signal that it’s OK to cross.
I don’t imagine that this will be easy. When it’s a nice, safe, dull day, we’ll have a park road crossing session. At least now she doesn’t seem compelled to do the opposite of whatever she thinks I want her to do. That’s a huge improvement.
We walk over to the log and she plays energetically for an hour.
Saturday April 25th
It rains solidly all day. Perfect for a walk in Kings Heath Park as I guess it’ll be virtually empty, and there’ll be no problem with safe distancing.
It’s raining heavily as we leave the car. Isis, of course, is thrilled. There is no-one in sight, so, for the first time, I release her outside the café. She is beside herself with joy and leaps and dances, face turned up, snapping at the rain.
She dances for more than twenty minutes, while I stand and watch her, enjoying her pleasure.
She wants to stay here for ever. But her spoilsport person is cold. The hairy reveller repeatedly ignores my tap-tap requests to move on, and, in the end, I put her on her lead to walk down the slope to where the hawthorn hedge begins.
Off the lead once more, she hurries towards the old bowling green, scampers off the path, runs across the grass and begins to scramble up and down the bank. Then she speeds back down to the empty green and begins looping back and forth, as though revelling in the space.
Then she’s back up the bank, gathering sticks, and flinging them away again. Now she’s ducking through the hole in the hedge and bursting out onto the next level.
I follow her, but not through the hole.
Then she pops back again. For a few moments, I lose sight of her, then I become aware of a blur of white flashing across the interstices of the hedge.
She returns to race up and down again. For a few minutes, I even persuade her to run by my side before she runs away to chase the wind, or the rain – or her own fancies.
At last, when she’s sated – or feels it’s time for breakfast, she stops, raises her head, and walks purposefully across the Colour Garden. Before I can stop her, the naughty little animal strides onto the current, pristine bowling green, where, I may say, dogs are definitely not allowed.
When she reaches the centre, she raises her head and sniffs the air.
I stand on the edge of the green, emanating disapproval. I know she knows where I am. I also know she has no intention of coming to me.
I walk carefully across the grass. Hooking a finger into the loop on her collar, I escort her to the path. She doesn’t mind. Much more biddable that she used to be, she leads the way to the car park.
After breakfast, she sleeps very soundly.
I’m not surprised.
And then it’s Sunday again. It’s bright and sunny.
We’ve come full circle.
*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.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 firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwat