Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday June 28th 2020
We return contented from a pleasant morning walk.
For Isis a pleasant walk comprises well over two hours of walking, playing and running around. For me, it’s walking and meandering interspersed with log sits and fantasising.
After all the exercise, Isis should snooze contentedly for a few hours while I work in my art space.
I follow the usual routine for these days, shuffling out of my light coat before working up a lather for my 2020 style hand wash. Then I drop the house keys into a mug of washing-up liquid, retrieve them, wipe soap over the porch door handles, and door chain, then disinfect driving glasses, glasses’ case and phone.
Automatically, I mutter myself through the remaining pre-breakfast tasks.
“Check – are the kitchen blinds closed? They are. Check – is the front door closed. It is.
Good. There’s nowhere for light to sneak in, no potential threats to disturb Isis while she’s eating her breakfast, no reason for tantrums.
Next job? Weigh out her breakfast. Perfect: 75 grams.
Isis sits angelically by her dining space.
I place her bowl in her food stand, straighten up and touch her lightly under the chin. She dives forwards.
As I climb the stairs, I hear the clink of her tag against the metal bowl.
Everything’s going smoothly.
Even my dog walking clothes are not scruffy enough to work in. It seems like I only have to look at paint for it to transfer itself to whatever I’m wearing. Just as I’m about to change into my bespattered art clothes, my ears are assailed by a loud “Woof! Woof! Woof!”
Now what category does this voice fit? It’s not sharp and angry, not preceded by growls, not accompanied by snarls.
It’s not a cross, startled bark to tell me some uninvited feline has sneaked into the garden for a pee.
It’s not a shriek of pain or fear.
Perhaps she’s just come across something which she disapproves of, and the barking will be very short-lived.
No such luck.
“Woof! Woof! Woof!”
“Woof! Woof! Woof!”
It’s a firm, persistent bark. It’s a bark which tells me that something needs seeing to. NOW.
Slightly irritated, I clump downstairs.
As always, I assume that there’s nothing which a reasonable human would consider a problem.
She stops barking as soon as she knows I’m on my way, and when I get down, I find her skittering around from the back room to the hall.
I walk into the back room. There’s nothing on her bed, on the floor, anywhere, in fact, to account for her disquiet. The blinds are closed.
I look around the front room. Nothing has fallen onto the rug, the sun isn’t glaring through the window, there’s no-one at the front door. No-one’s standing chatting by her gate. No utilities workman is digging up the pavement. There’s no pile-up on the road.
I walk back down the hall. “What’s the matter with you?, ” I enquire stupidly, as one does.
She looks ……………. how does she look? Not agitated, exactly. Worried? Not really. Concerned? Yes, concerned, I think. Concerned and very serious.
“What’s the matter?” I repeat, puzzled.
A senseless question to ask any dog, let alone a deaf dog.
I stand in the kitchen, looking at her. She’s definitely trying to communicate something. But what?
She follows me into the kitchen and sits down decisively by her food bowl.
Oh, perhaps there’s something in there which I didn’t notice and which is upsetting her.
I peer into the bowl. But it’s clean and shiny and quite empty.
She wriggles and embeds herself back into the ‘dog awaits her breakfast’ mode.
Then, I have to confess, I do something really, really stupid. Stupid even for me.
“But you’ve had your breakfast, you’ve already eaten it,” I tell her.
A flood of sense suddenly bursts into my mind – where from, heaven knows.
Come on. Does she ever carry on like this after she’s eaten her breakfast? No. Does she ever expect more when she’s finished eating? No. Has she ever behaved like this before? No.
Then she’s trying to communicate something ……………………………
I glance again at her bowl. Definitely empty. Definitely clean. Not a crumb to be seen.Very, very clean, as though it’s just been washed.
Could I possibly not have fed her?
I peer into the pan of the scales. There, in the pan, is her carefully weighed food.
I had served her an empty bowl.
*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