Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday June 6th 2021
Friends have invited me to visit them for a week.
Although I know that Isis is always very well cared for at Hollytrees and always emerges calm and well, I still find the prospect of leaving her behind very stressful.
We have an enjoyable two hour walk before we go. All guests need to be signed in by four, so we arrive at three fifty. Little Isis couldn’t make the process any easier if she tried. She knows where she is and walks with Adam down to her kennel block. She makes no protest. She doesn’t look back.
When he returns, Adam tells me that she walked into her bedroom with no hesitation.
I used to think she complied because she was resigned to being left, and that made me feel worse. Now, though, it’s obvious that she feels at home at Hollytrees. She knows her carers well. She trusts them and feels O.K.
It’s not surprising that I’m somewhat neurotic. Some former dogs and cats have not settled so easily. Feather, one of my border collies always knew where we were going well before we arrived.
On one occasion I took her stuff in and when I returned to the car there was no sign of her. The car was locked but she had vanished. Eventually I found her in the driver’s foot well. She had crawled beneath the pedals and coiled herself into an incredibly small curl. I only found her when I had exhausted any remotely possible hiding places and decided to explore the impossible ones.
Needless to say, I felt horrible leaving her.
When little Ellie – the most co-operative and obedient dog you could wish for – was left to board for two nights (not at Hollytrees) in the pen next door to companion Rush, we assumed she would be fine. But when we arrived to fetch her, I was told she’d been dreadful. She’d refused to eat, had growled and barked very aggressively when her pen was approached by staff and wouldn’t allow anyone through the door.
I was told to collect her from the pen myself as no-one else was prepared to. Sure enough, as I walked down towards the end pen I heard menacing snarls and ferocious growls. She was obviously distraught. When she realised it was me, she threw herself at the door with heart rending squeals. Next door, Rush, normally a very nervous dog, was calm and collected. After that, Ellie came with us wherever we went or, if this was not possible, she stayed at a friend’s home.
When Daisy cat stayed at Hollytrees, and her cat carrier was opened, she turned round to face the wall and refused to leave the carrier except to eat and to use her tray. For ten days, her patient carers lifted her up to her sleeping quarters in her carrier at bedtime and back down again into her pen for breakfast the next morning
I should be grateful that Isis is so relaxed, but I already miss her. Saturday night is strange without her, and she keeps drifting into my mind.
On Sunday I set off for Uppingham at six fifty hoping to find the motorways quiet. I should arrive at about eight forty at the latest. Adopted Niece has planned a straightforward route for me, Waze, my preferred navigating app, is set, and the M42 begins only about a couple of miles up the road.
Off we go.
The first setback isn’t far away. I freeze at the plethora of signposts and end up on the south bound instead of the north bound M42. Unfortunately, it’s a very long way before there’s a turn-off.
*** the motorway! I’ll stick to the A roads. “Kettering,” I instruct Waze tersely. And Waze obligingly re-programmes.
I have been driving for about an hour and it’s less than heartening to note that I’m still only about ten miles from Birmingham. Never mind, we’re on the right track now.
Then the next setback arises. We reach a dual carriageway and Waze tells me to turn right. Now, as we all know, it’s not a good idea to turn right onto a dual carriageway. I turn left and notice a sign for Dunmore – wherever that is.
Waze cheerfully continues. We arrive once more at a dual carriageway. Another sign for Dunmore. Waze tells me again to turn right, but again, I elect not to die yet and I turn left.
It’s not until the fourth circuit, that I realise I’ve been here before. Three times, actually. Yes, it’s the same dual carriage way, the same sign for Dunmore. This time I register a notice which informs drivers that the slip road to the right is now blocked off.
OK. This explains why Waze directed me right. It’s quite a relief to realise that I have no choice but to turn left and keep going.
Perhaps this is the time to explain that I have no sense of direction. If I’m walking down a familiar road and pop into a shop, I don’t recognise my surroundings when I emerge. I can even lose my way in Highbury Park. Fortunately, I can rely on Isis to pick the right path.
In the good company of Stephen Fry, I suffer from propoagnosia – the inability to recognise faces or, indeed, locations.
Never mind, I have my trusty navigator. Waze and I arrive at a crossroads. Before us is a very busy A road but no signage. At the other side of the A road is a country lane. Waze suddenly falls silent.
I opt for the country lane, park there and check my phone.
I can’t believe what I see: Waze has disappeared. Even worse, the phone has switched into a very strange mode. A high pitched voice is jabbering at me and there are bright green rectangles around the headings of random functions.
None of the phone’s normal functions are accessible. It’s frozen into weirdness. I stare at the screen in horrified disbelief. Am I losing it? I get out of the car and breathe deeply.
Behind me cars whizz along the main road at a fair old whack. The country road before me is narrow and very, very empty.
Ting! A message pops up from my friends in Uppingham: ‘What time are you setting off and when should we begin worrying?’
I can’t reply, of course, since the phone is defunct. Something else to worry about.
A car comes towards me and passes. Then a 4X4 comes and it stops. I must look as distraught as I feel, because a cheerful voice asks if I need help.
I explain what has happened. The driver tells me he has lived in the area for over twenty years and knows every inch of it. He gives me very precise instructions and I write down every detail exactly as he says it:
1. Carry on down this wibbly wobbly road for a long way until you come to a T junction.
2. Turn right …….
He spends twenty to thirty minutes making sure I know where to go. I can’t thank him enough. When I set off again I am quite relaxed and absolutely confident that I will reach Uppingham without any further mishaps.
And I do. I am so lucky to have met him.
Meanwhile, little Isis, I imagine, has breakfasted, been for a little run on the field and is ready for a snooze on her comfortable duvet.
But this is not the end of my Uppingham adventures. Not by a long chalk …………
*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