A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday October 31st 2021
Unquestionably, it was a bad idea to subject Isis to a veterinary health check, for her payback does not end with the unsavoury happenings recounted in the last post.
The following night, before I retire, I pop my head round the back room door to bid Isis a final goodnight.
Oh. She’s fast asleep, but is lying right on the edge of the day bed, with her back towards me.
Now Isis does not like to be disturbed when she’s sleeping. But if she moves, she could easily fall off the bed onto the wooden floor.
I don’t want her to hurt herself. What shall I do?
I decide to move her back a few inches.
Very carefully, I attempt to insert my hands, palms down like miniature spades, under her prone body.
I don’t withdraw my hands, just wait a while before gently, very gently, wiggling my fingers a few millimetres further in.
I stop again and stand very still.
Deep intake of podengo breath, “Herrgh…..grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….errrrrraff!”
“All right, you foolish animal,” I hiss, “Stay on the b. edge of the bed. But don’t expect me to get up in the middle of the night to come down to comfort you.”
I am awake for a long time, but eventually drop off at about three a.m.
I am jolted awake.
Yes, the inevitable must have happened. I switch on the clock radio display and squint bad-temperedly at the time.
It’s five o’clock.
I mutter very rude things about my dog. I sit up in the darkness and listen very hard.
Can’t hear anything. No little barks to alert me to a dog in pain, not even a squeak.
She must be O.K. She’s tough. She’ll be fine. I’ll go back to sleep. She’ll let me know if she’s hurt.
But she might be in shock. She might be lying on the floor with a broken leg.
I’m sure she’s fine. She’s probably asleep again by now. Dog, I’m tired.
She might be unconscious. Lying in a pool of blood. Freezing cold. She might be dead by morning.
I crawl out of bed, lurch down the stairs, and stumble along the hall.
When I switch on the overhead light, it looks as though she’s just jumped back up onto her bed, and is preparing to rearrange herself on her sheet. I keep her standing, and sit down next to her.
“Dear, dear, dear,” I croon, as I feel every inch of her, pressing and probing her back, her neck, her flanks, legs, ankles and toes, her ribs, her chest, under her chin and along her jaw.
She doesn’t flinch.
I let her sit, wait until she organises herself into a tight curl and falls asleep, then make myself a drink.
Leaving her sleeping soundly, I return to bed. And stay awake.
Next morning, while she seems none the worse for her nocturnal adventure, I feel wrecked.
It’s not a good week.
On Tuesday I have my booster vaccination. The first two were Astra Zenica, and the after effects were mild, but this one’s Pfizer, and soon afterwards the site is very painful.The throbbing in my arm keeps me awake all night.
We go for an early walk next day. When we park in Yew Tree Road, to go into Highbury Park, Isis tugs on her lead and it slips out of my hand. To my horror, she walks swiftly round the back of the car and straight out onto the road.
I grab her, pull her away from the road and shriek, “No! No! No!” into her ear.
It’s a busy road, but, thankfully, nothing was coming. What on earth has got into her? She’s never done such a thing before. I’m still shaky half an hour later.
We go to Highbury again at the end of the week. It’s Hairy One’s least favourite weather: racing clouds cover the sun for a few minutes and then scud away and reveal its full glare.
This makes poor Isis very twitchy, so we eschew the car park where there is no cover, and park on the side of the road again, close to the wooded walk which is shady and full of distracting wildlife scents.
All is well until we walk down through the orchard and into the main park. Here, there are patches of bright light interspersed with deep shadows.
Isis is becoming increasingly uneasy. She wants to get back to the safety of the car.
I walk towards her to put her on the lead. She knows I’m close behind her. She is convinced that the car is in the car park, and hurries towards it.
Usually, when she sets off in the wrong direction, I catch her up easily and redirect her. If I’ve not caught up with her, she’ll stand and wait for me when she nears the car park.
But not today. She’s frightened and walks briskly on.
But the side effects of my booster vaccine have reached a new level today. My legs are leaden. I feel as if I’m walking up to my arm pits in thick silt. I will myself to run but I can’t. I’m frightened. I could weep with frustration.
She turns towards the car park, and out of my sight. That feeling of dread with which all dog persons are familiar, is rising inside me. It seems as if the more dangerous the situation becomes, the more slowly I move.
As I trudge up the slope towards the main path, I can hear vehicles arriving and leaving. I expect to hear a scream. I imagine finding Isis lying dead on the gravel.
I still can’t see her.
Now someone already on the main path is calling to me, telling me that it’s O.K., that a lady is with Isis, looking after her.
Isis is very frightened. She is standing between two stationary cars, and the lady is close to her, blocking her in.
A group of dog walkers I know are close by. I can’t thank them enough.
“No,” they tell me, “Thank that lady. She got to her first.”
I do thank the lady, of course. While I’m busy with the harness and lead, she tells me that Isis was quite calm at first, but suddenly seemed to realise that I wasn’t there and became very anxious.
When we get home, I remove her lead and harness in the porch, then push open the front door so that she can go into the hall.
But she won’t move, even when I tap her under her chin to give her the ‘walk on’ command.
She stands in the porch until I walk into the hall. Then she follows me.
Now she does this every time we return to the house, as though she’s afraid that I’m about to abandon her.
“I didn’t leave you,” I tell her, “You left me.”
She doesn’t believe me.