Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday July 12th 2020
I have identified seven of Hairy One’s vocalisations.
A gentle ‘oof, oof’ says “Haven’t you forgotten something?”
At the moment this is a very necessary vocalisation. She uses it only once a day. That’s when I descend after a few hours of working upstairs.
A few months ago, I reward her with a Markie for being such a good dog as she’s been downstairs on her own for almost four hours and hasn’t complained once.
A few days later, I am again upstairs working for several hours. Once more I reward her with a Markie.
The following day, when I come down she is unusually keen to be let out into the garden, and she returns suspiciously quickly and utters a single oof.
I look at her vacantly. Another oof.
Again I stare at her and wonder what she’s oofing for.
Then she stands near her food cupboard as dogs do, head pointed treatwards for a few seconds, then head turned back towards me. After a quick shuffle the process is repeated. And again. Eventually, the reason for her performance dawns on me.
Isis: Can’t believe it’s so difficult for Human to understand. She must be a very stupid human. Dog! It takes her a long time to get it.
It’s so easy.
She’s been upstairs for ages.
I’ve been on my own downstairs for ever.
She comes down.
I act like I need a pee.
She lets me out.
When I come in I get a Markie.
It’s getting better though. Now I only have to bark and she goes to my cupboard. It’s definitely worth the time it takes to train them.
I still often forget about the Markie reward. Then comes the gentle reminder “Oof! Oof!”
However, There’s most definitely nothing gentle about her “Rah! ….. Rah!”
This is delivered at a louder volume and in a sharper tone. It definitely means “I’m waiting. Get a damn move on.”
It’s always about food. It’s not a polite reminder, and does not, therefore, elicit the desired response.
There’s one exception. This is very late at night. I’ve already ‘hidden’ three treats for her to find when she comes in from the garden, so I nip into the kitchen to put the kettle on for my last coffee of the night.
Her exasperated “Rah Rah! Rah!” is not neighbour friendly at this time of night, so I only pause long enough to let her know I’m not yet totally enslaved.
Her excitement barks are short, echoing, hard-on-the- ear hammerings which sound like “Yowf! Yowf! Yowf!” (brief pause while she takes a breath, then) “Yowf! Yowf! Yowf!” again.
In between times, there are yawns which end with a shrill “eek!” or are drawn out into a delightful dog yodel.
I’ve been trying to recall other occasions on which she does her excitement barks, but I can’t. I think that they are reserved for our pre-walk ceremonies in the porch. Since it’s not only an audio entertainment but a full dance performance, it is, as I’ve mentioned before, not the easiest of tasks to get her harnessed!
As soon as she’s ready to go, she releases a relentless volley of high volume yowfs until I open the door.
After this, silence reigns – unless someone has just passed by on her pavement. When this happens, there’s no mistaking what she means. Her guard dog barks are very fierce and threatening. This is my territory, and I’ll tear you apart if you don’t get off it.
Yet if anyone passes us by on any other bit of pavement, even a few feet from our frontage, she ignores them. Out in the park it’s the same. However close she is to a stranger, she doesn’t make a sound.
Her irritated barks, like a baby’s cries of discomfort, are impossible to ignore. They are jagged, penetrating, snappy, and sound something like, “Yag! Yag! Yag! Yag! Yag! Yag! Yag!”
The yags are always a response to the intense discomfort she feels when artificial light is too strong for her, or natural light is coming through a window. As soon as the source of irritation is removed, she stops.
Her rage barks and screams have been described before in detail. Suffice it to say that they are truly blood curdling. Thankfully, she no longer employs them to defend her meals. Still, though, she will growl, shriek and snap if she’s asleep and I touch her without warning, or accidentally poke her with a knee or foot. Nowadays, though, she’ll calm down when I put my hand close to her nose and she realises it’s me.
She’ll begin to rage when she thinks she’s lost a bit of gravy bone down the side of her bed, but she’ll stop if I search on her behalf, even if I find nothing.
The same horrible shrieks which used to be a very frequent occurrence when she slept alone at night are increasingly rare. She obviously thought that something very horrible was happening to her, perhaps that she was being attacked. I put them down to nightmares, and, thankfully, I can’t even remember when the last one happened.
Strangely, she is rarely vocal outside the house. She makes odd rumbling noises when she tosses a toy aside just before she gets into the car to return home. These sound as though she’s snapping with her mouth closed.
And once or twice, when the car park’s been busy, she’s given a truncated territorial bark if a stranger has come close to her car. Twice she’s stopped and emitted a single, loud, startled bark when she’s been walking ahead of me in a dense wooded area. I assume she’s picked up a strange scent.
Otherwise, our walks are silent, except for the jingling of Hairy One’s bell.
*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