A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday August 29th 2021
You have to smile: On Friday, Y and her dog Blitzi visit for a coffee in the garden. Although he is strong and heavier than Isis, and has in the past slept with her on a shared rug, he is very wary of her. On her own territory, she bullies him mercilessly. He trots hastily past her doorway. When she picks up his scent, she jumps into the hall, sniffing and twirling menacingly. Blitzi can’t wait to escape into the garden.
Now Isis doesn’t like going into the garden in the dark, so, as usual, that night I accompany her to the edge of the grass for her late night pee and then nip back into the kitchen. Generally she follows me very promptly.
This time minutes go by with no sign of Isis. That’s very strange. What on earth is she doing? Perhaps she’s found a creature in the garden. Perhaps someone’s come into the garden and stolen her.
I step onto the grass and peer round the teasles. There she is walking very slowly but purposefully, nose to the ground. She’s following Blitzi’s scent, sniffing everywhere he has been.
Finally, after remarking her territory, she returns to the house and dances for a while in her dog bed.
This morning, on a dirt track in Holders Woods we come across what looks like a dry, dead leaf folded in on itself along its length.
I pick it up to examine it: it’s a chrysalis. It looks like one cast off by a hawk moth, although I’ve not seen a hawk moth or caterpillar around Birmingham. Hmmmm.
It’s Wednesday and it’s dull with a light breeze: just as Isis likes it.
She’s chirpy today and, when released from her harness, leaps and dances in the long grass. I let her wander wherever she wants to go, and follow close behind, enjoying the quietness and the grassy fragrance of the wildflower meadow.
She takes us on a very peasant walk: she crosses the little stream; follows zig-zagging scent trails over the sloping meadow which butts up to the beech wood; and picks up the path leading to the park-keeper’s lodge.
Here, we have our only altercation of the day. The lodge is close to Yew Tree Lane where we often leave the car.
Isis decides that it’s time to go home and begins to make her way towards the lodge. Although I explain very carefully that the car isn’t at this end of the park today, she persists in heading off towards Yew Tree Lane.
She’s certain that I’m lying, and every time I turn her round to face the opposite direction, she turns back.
After arguing with her for about ten minutes, I resort to putting her in her harness, so that I can drag her forward, inch by inch, without strangling her. Every now and then I ruffle the hair around the base of her tail, pretending to be a large dog sniffing her bottom. This usually makes her move forward. It does seem to work. The last resort is to bend over her menacingly and snap, ‘COME!’ loudly into her right ear.
I always take a surruptitious look around before I begin to harrass her, just in case some vigilant member of the public accosts me and accuses me of dog abuse. I can just imagine the scene.
Member of the public: ‘That’s no way to treat an innocent little animal!’
Me: ‘Ah, but you see, she’s blind and deaf so she thinks ………
Member of the public: Sharp intake of breath. Look of outraged horror spreads across his/her face:
‘My god, how could you be so heartless – you should be ashamed of yourself!’
Fortunately, no-one is around today.
At last we are walking back down through the avenue of pine trees. Isis is free of her harness, her tail is back up, and she’s sniffing around the blackberry bushes apparently without a care in the world.
Down we go, into the home meadow. Isis knows this meadow like the back of her paw, and is relaxed enough on this sunless day to be a hundred yards or so away from me.
She’s found something extremely good. She turns round and round, waving her tail and sniffing the ground. She’s riveted.
So riveted, in fact, that she appears to be endeavouring to stand on her head!
Round and round she goes, head down to the ground by the looks of it. Ah, bless her, I bet she’s found some fox poo.
I smile to myself smugly. I never have to worry about such things because Isis has never rolled. Either she didn’t learn because of being chained up as a puppy, or she daren’t roll because she would be too vulnerable to predators.
Now, I don’t particularly want to go through the palaver which other dogs’ humans do, trying to manoeuvre their stinky pets into the car without smearing indescribably revolting goo all over the interior. In fact, I feel quite smug that I’ll never have the problem.
At the same time, I often wish that little Isis could learn to roll, to enjoy that utterly relaxed feeling of lying on her back with her feet in the air.
Oh well, never mind.
Here she is, coming towards me now, looking pleased with herself.
Dear little dog.
Oh. What’s that wide band of brown half way across her lovely white neck?
I can’t believe how she managed it. She definitely didn’t roll.
I hope I’m wrong.
When she reaches me, I give a cautious sniff.
I’m not wrong.