Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday June 14th 2020
Naturally, the more familiar Isis becomes with the geography of the park, the more confident she grows.
She extends her off lead range. We explore new areas and walk different routes. Some activities she has enjoyed in the past no longer interest her.
Familiar hedgerows, though, are an enduring pleasure. And her favourite is still the edge of the wooded strip which divides the two big meadows near the car park.
On arrival here, her first duty is the early morning patrol. This involves following the edge of the woodland. Beginning with the feral raspberry patch, she quickly checks the bases of the young oaks, sycamores and hazels which slope down towards her special stretch.
Once there, she begins a more detailed investigation. She needs to know who has crept, run or fluttered here since she last visited. This is a demanding exercise. She must snuffle and snort under the low growing elders and hawthorns, whiffle carefully around the grass entangled roots of the blackberry brambles and stinging nettles, and poke her nose gently into clumps of tall buttercups and grasses.
Now, duties done, it’s play time. Wham! Time to play fight with nature, to box and wrestle with the hedges, bushes and plants.
She launches herself at the nearest bush, nipping off an offending leaf. She exchanges swift smacks with springy twigs, and snatches at the stems of young brambles. She scrabbles at sticks, prises them out of the grass, and bears them off triumphantly, head held high, neck outstretched and white tail bobbing.
More often than not, it’s her eccentric play mode which catches the attention of passers by, prompting them to ask, “What’s she doing? What is she trying to catch?”
But today there are no passers by, not even a curious dog. The morning is dull. No alarming sun bursts through the cloud. Everything is stable. The breeze is gentle. Isis knows where I am. She has no need of me.
Once she’s secured a good stick, she likes to trot further down the slope with it before turning round abruptly for a return run.
Then she’ll take it into the meadow grass where she’ll mouth and chew it.
The meadow grass is tall now, and when she lies down in this mini savanna, she disappears from sight. Fortunately, she’s a restless creature, rarely still for more than a minute. Soon, she’ll move into a front legs down, back legs up pose. Then, a bit of tail bobs into view just above the grass line. When she’s done with her stick, her erect, hairy ears flash into view, and she bounds back to the undergrowth.
Usually, after an hour or so, she’ll toss away her current stick and catapult herself into a crazy run. I love to watch her run, and am waiting for this display of exuberance. But today, she doesn’t oblige.
So I sit on my log, enjoying the park and writing this.
Suddenly, a loud drilling erupts just above my head. I keep as still as I can and survey the trunk and branches. No sign of the woodpecker, of course.
Then a loud squawking heralds the flight of the parakeets from one tree to another.
Providing that we arrive early, I can let her play for as long as she likes. This morning, we began our walk at 8.15. It’s going on for 11.00 now, and she’s not come up once to check me out.
As I make this statement, the independent one arrives, calm and alert.
I reward her with a gravy bone which she munches eagerly. A little dachshund whom I’ve met before approaches and wriggles on her stomach at my feet. Yes, she’d like a treat too. I get the OK from her person, and she gets her treat.
Isis stays around the log, waiting for me to make a move. I guess she’s decided it’s time for a dog to go home for breakfast.
We move off and walk side by side towards the car park.
“You’re such a lovely dog,” I tell her.
*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