Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday July 26th 2020
There have been no more disturbed nights. I am now certain that the all night barking was caused by Blitzi’s scent in the house. As friend Ian commented, she could definitely smell him, but being deaf and blind, she had no way of double checking.
So no, when she comes to sit or lie down next to me in Highbury, she isn’t feeling unwell or unusually amorous. She is afraid of the changing light.
Unfortunately, several times this week, like last week, she is distressed by the rapidly shifting weather patterns.
On Monday she’ll not play even for a few minutes, but follows me miserably to the log and curls as close to my feet as she can. She only wags her tail when I put her harness on to return to the car.
Changeable throughout the day is Tuesday’s forecast. By 8.00 a.m. in the morning, the sun is already glimmering through the light clouds. No point in getting up yet. The Hairy One will not able to tolerate Highbury. Damn!
How on earth is she going to get her exercise today? Over the last few days she has refused to play in the garden, I suppose because Blitzi did a thorough job of marking the territory when he last came. Or it could be that the light is fluctuating so much that even the garden doesn’t feel safe. Whatever the reason, every time I take her snake out and toss it onto the grass, she follows me anxiously, then picks him up and returns him to the back room.
I notice she’s even stashed him at the back of the day bed, presumably to deter me from evicting him again.
Often, the answer to our weather challenges is the little lane at the bottom of the garden. It’s familiar to her and there are places where the backs of garages ensure areas of solid shade.
Unfortunately, at the moment we can’t use our own gate into the lane because the narrow access path between my neighbour’s garage and mine is obliterated by yards of towering brambles I’ve not got round to cutting down. And Isis refuses to walk even the short distance along the pavement to the main gate of the lane because of the flickering sun.
Then, suddenly, a light bulb moment: I’ll take her to Jasmine Fields!
In our built up urban environment, just off Jasmine Road, and only a few minutes’ drive from here, is a small nature reserve. Adjacent to the reserve, is a large playing field. There are trees here, but only round the edge of the field, of course, so there’s a huge space with no shadows. I came across the reserve quite serendipitously only a few weeks ago.
Off we go.
The sun is out as we park close to the entrance. I will it to stay out at least until we get to the gate.
It does. Phew!
We walk onto the field. Isis hesitates. She turns round to walk back to the gate. I turn her round again to face the field. I give her a little push onto the track which runs round the circumference. She hesitates. I think she’s considering sitting down. She sniffs the track.
Ah! She knows this place.
We set off along the track, Isis sniffing and marking the route as we go. Then, not far along, she digs a stick out of the turf, takes it into the tall grass under a small tree and begins to mouth it.
I was hoping to sit on one of the benches further along, but no, she doesn’t wish to walk on, thank you. I sit down on the field. She’s not going to get much exercise lying in the grass chewing a stick, is she? Never mind, she’s happy.
But I needn’t have worried about exercise. Soon she tosses the stick aside and darts out of her retreat.
As it happens, we don’t get to follow the track all round the playing field. After two hours, she’s usually ready to be harnessed and taken home, and she’ll come to find me when she’s ready to go.
But not today. I stand up, ready to fetch her, but she gleefully shoots from her den and does another circuit or two of her territory. Quite clearly, she’s not tired, and I don’t have the heart to spoil her fun.
I sit down again. She plays on in her chosen space.
At last, she seeks me out. I tap the ‘follow me’ signal under her chin and make my way back onto the track. She follows for a few feet but then lifts her head and turns towards the middle of the field.
I look at her. She’s tired. That’s unusual. She doesn’t want to walk the long way back. She wants to go now, please.
We make our way across the field to the gate.
What a lovely walk.
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