Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday May 2nd 2021
We are relaxing contentedly on the day bed when suddenly, for no reason discernible to me, Isis wakes up, lifts her head, and jumps to her feet.
“Wurr- urr- urr,” she says, before sniffing the air meaningfully. I look around the room. I listen hard.
“Wurr-urr-urr,” she repeats, sniffing the air again, and bouncing up and down a little to make sure I am paying attention to her complaint.
“There’s nothing there dear,” I assure her, patting her head and stroking her absently.
After a minute or two, she lies down again. Now she has a quizzical expression.
A few nights later, I am awoken by subdued ‘oofs’ from below. They’re not persistent barks telling me that something is hurting and human intervention is urgently required. They’re not the ‘woof, woof, WOOF, WOOF WARRRRF’ alerting me to a prowler – human or animal – in the garden. They’re most certainly not the snarl-snap-scream barks typical of Isis awakening from a nightmare.
Perhaps some creature of the night came into Hairy One’s territory but has now been warned off.
Then, after about five minutes,there’s another burst of oofs.
Then silence again, and, thankfully, more silence. I go back to sleep.
In the morning there are no signs of any nocturnal disturbance in the house or garden. Isis is not reluctant to trot into the garden for her morning pee. No more reluctant that usual, anyway. She would always prefer to have breakfast first.
The day passes peacefully. There are no signs of disquiet. Not, at least, until the evening.
Then, again with no warning, Isis leaps to her feet. This time, before going into the oofing routine, she executes two or three turns. The mattress on the day bed is firm but springy, so if one is eating or drinking, each time she takes off or lands one is in danger of swallowing one’s fork; or sloshing one’s coffee over one’s right shoulder.
Even if one is only attempting to listen to the latest episode of the The Archers, her oofs obliterate the cliff-hanger and leave one puzzled for the next twenty-four hours. Very irritating.
“For goodness sake, Isis,” I mutter nastily, “There’s nothing there. Silly dog.”
In the past she used to do the jumping up and down every time she picked up a particularly delicious smell wafting from my plate. Cheese, ice cream, fish or, strangely, vegetarian sausage were always triggers.
One of those mattresses which have independently moving halves would definitely be useful. But more practical would be targeted training for a dog. Or etiquette training for a human.
I decide that it is a good idea to do both: the first because, after all, there are only so many times one can tolerate a lapful of baked beans; the second because one day, when lockdown restrictions are lifted, there could be another human dining with me.
One never knows.
So now I usually eat my breakfast and evening meal in the front room. Isis follows me and lies on the rug beside my chair. In the past, carried away by food smells, she has dragged the claws of her nearest front paw across my bad knee in order to alert me to the fact that one of us is eating and it’s not Isis.
The pain is indescribable.
“NOOOO!,” I admonish, resisting the urge to suffocate her. If she repeats the assault, I push her into the hall and close the door.
Nowadays she lies on the rug with her chin on her paw and says nothing.
Now, too, if I am about to eat something she particularly likes, I pop a little bit into her bowl before I sit down. If she stands up, I direct her towards her bowl.
That long-winded diversion is intended to underline that no-one now has any reason at all to leap up and down on the day bed, or by the dining table.
So why are we doing it now?
The strange oofing jig goes on, now and then during the night, but more often as darkness descends in the evening.
Soon, things escalate. The performances happen almost every night. Sometimes, as a finale, the hairy little toad leaps into the centre of the room or scrambles from the day bed and skitters into the kitchen as though she is in hot pursuit of something.
I look around the kitchen. I open the back door. Sometimes I scan the back garden with a torch. There’s no sign of anything which could be worrying her.
On some mornings, I find that her dog bed has been shoved several feet from its usual resting place, and the toys which were in it scattered across the floor.
What is she playing at?
Oh dear. Perhaps she’s under stimulated. Should I play more with her in the evening?
But each evening, she takes toys from her toy box, settles in her bed with every sign of contentment and plays her own little games as she always does. It’s only when she settles on the day bed with me or is sleeping there alone at night that the jumping oofs seem to happen.
It’s a mystery.
But there’s a nagging thought in my head: there’s always a reason for Hairy One’s strange behaviours.
Then, one night, the mystery is revealed.
It’s about ten o’clock. Isis is sleeping. I am glued to my Kindle.
Suddenly, she leaps up, and begins oofing and trampolining on the spot. She seems irritated. Her nose is whiffling. She is staring in the direction of her day bed.
I follow her gaze. Among the toys, a dark shape is twitching.
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! An escaped tarantula? Automatically, my tendons twitch into flight mode.
No. Thank dog. It’s not a spider.
It’s a mouse.
And it’s exploring Hairy One’s bed. That’s where she eats her ‘before bed treats’. It must be searching for crumbs ………………………………………………………………….
I have to be honest, Isis doesn’t actually say, “I told you so.”
*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