Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday July 19th 2020
The beginning of the day is unremarkable. We have the happy greeting, the usual kerfuffle in the porch.
On our way to the gate, Isis picks up the scent of a lady who has had the temerity to walk along our patch of pavement. The kerfuffle Hairy One makes is well beyond raucous, so we walk back to the porch step and someone is ordered to sit.
Our second departure is more sensible – until we reach the car. The lady’s destination was only the nearby post box, and at this point she returns to admire Isis. She is undeterred by the clatter of yaps and whirls and, thankfully, blissfully unaware that this pretty little dog would quite like to eat her. She gazes dreamily at the raver before I manage to stuff it into the car.
She tells me she lives close by, that her dog whom she had had for many years had died and that she hopes to be able to adopt a rescue dog at the end of the summer after visitors have left. I tell her about Dogwatch U.K. while Isis, now in her car where she feels secure, feels able to relinquish her territorial duties and lies angelically on her blanket like a stone dog.
We set off for Highbury and Isis is free to run along the hedgerow, unearth particularly tempting sticks and lie in the long meadow grass to nibble them.
I am surprised when, after about an hour, she comes over to the log to join me. I give her half a gravy bone and she settles next to me. This is a not like Isis. I wonder if something is bothering her.
I check her over. No bitten off bits of stick in her mouth. Nothing embedded in a paw. No thorny or sticky twigs or stems stuck on her underside. She seems fine. I stand up, tap her under the chin, and we set off side by side across the meadow. It seems that she just fancied a change of scene.
We walk across the grass to the bottom of the sloping path which leads up to the orchard, and wander up to the highest woodland path. We’ve not been here for a few days, and Isis is delighted with all the new smells. Her nose hardly rises more than a few inches off the ground as she investigates what must be small mammal tracks criss-crossing the paths, snuffles deep into a thick clump of grass, and susses out an overhanging dock leaf to find out if she needs to pee on it. We make our way past the back of Highbury Hall, down the steep decline where I got stuck in the mud last winter, and on towards the beech wood.
I let Isis choose which paths she wants to follow into the wood, and she trots along happily just in front of me.
But when we reach another of her favourite places, she refuses to play there. This is a first.
Back home, she eats, then snoozes contentedly as I plough my reluctant way through some essential paperwork.
In the evening, Y comes round for a safely distanced garden chat. As usual, she brings Blitzi dog with her.
Isis is not impressed. She’s not keen on visiting canines, even Blitzi who is always kind to her. He pops into the house numerous times during the evening, usually returning to the garden with a volley of Isis barks behind him. Once or twice a cross hairy white face even appears round the corner of the kitchen’s outside door.
We have a very pleasant evening. It’s ten o’clock, and dusk is gathering before we leave the garden. Blitzi will need another walk, so it’s time for them to leave.
As we make our way towards the front door, naughty Isis twirls around, yapping fiercely at poor Blitzi who stands by the front door and rolls his eyes heavenwards. Y comments that she’s never known Isis to be so vocal, and is surprised when I tell her of Isis’s expanding repertoire and steadily increasing volume.
Later on, our bedtime routines completed, we retire for the night.
Hardly have I hit the sack, when there’s a sharp, cross bark from below.
She’ll soon settle down. Tired after the paperwork, I switch on the World Service, stretch out and relax.
“Nyap!” Oh shut up Isis.
Oh no. I can’t let this go on. If she doesn’t stop, I’ll have to go downstairs. ****!
Ten minutes pass. I begin to relax again
“Nyap!” …… “Nyap!” ….. “Nyap!” …… “Nyap!”
The noise stops as soon as I plonk a foot on the staircase. She can feel the vibration. I stand at the top of the stairs for a few minutes. Silence. Ah, she’s got the message.
Thankfully, I climb back under the duvet. I begin to drift.
I’m jerked awake. I make my way downstairs. I switch on the light. The little pest is lying on the day bed, head on dog pillow, eyes closed.
Remembering that she barked like this when she had a fractured nail bed last year, I examine her very carefully, every inch of her, literally from mouth to tail. I peer into each ear. Pink and clean. I sniff carefully. Both ears smell fine. I feel around her mouth, neck, all over her skull, back, rump and undercarriage, and all over each pad and paw.
She doesn’t wince, or jump or growl. Then I recall her uncharacteristic behaviour in the park this morning. Perhaps she’s coming down with something. But she’s eating well, she bounced and yapped around Blitzi, she played ‘find the treat’ with her usual enthusiasm. Her anal glands must need emptying. She’s not responded to anal gland problems in this way before, but I can’t think of any other reason for the barking.
Reassured, I climb wearily back upstairs.
Peace and quiet for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes.
Again, I begin to relax, to drift …..
“Nyap!” Please stop Isis.
“Nyap!” Please, please, stop.
I stomp back down again, switch on the light again, and there she is again, head on pillow as though soundly asleep. I give her a firm poke and hiss very rude things in her ear.
But she doesn’t stop.
The pattern is the same each time: I go down to her, she denies any responsibility for the barking – look, she’s asleep
Her final outburst occurs just after five, or, at least, that’s the last I hear. The house is certainly silent when I wake at six.
Needless to say I don’t have a productive day. I make an appointment at the vet’s for her for Monday afternoon.
That evening, my friend A. rings. I apologise for being half asleep and tell her of the goings on in the night.
She wonders if Isis was disturbed by Blitzi’s scent all over the house, and if, perhaps, his scent having faded by five o’clock, she was then able to sleep.
I’m very doubtful. I do not look forward to the night ahead.
But that night, once she’s had her treats, she falls asleep instantly. She doesn’t even complain when I put the light on in the Kitchen. She’s out for the count. I suppose she didn’t get much sleep either last night.
Hmmm. We’ll see what happens tonight.
Well, she didn’t fall asleep so quickly, but was perfectly quiet when I went to bed, and remained so all through the night.
I have to admit I think friend A. must be right.
Isis was fine after Y. and Blitzi had left on Thursday night. I read my Kindle; she dozed peacefully beside me.
But I think that when she slept after I’d left her, it wasn’t long before the strong smell of Blitzi pervaded her senses and she woke up alarmed.
And yes, it would be reasonable for her to desist between five and six as the invader’s scent grew fainter.
Does it sound far-fetched?
What do you think?
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