A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday 7th November 2021
November is the month for sniffing.
Everywhere a dog goes she is assailed by irresistable scents.
Let out into the garden for what is usually a hurried pre-breakfast pee, she is led off task by the enticing niffs of nocturnal visitors.
On our road walk this week, scents assault her senses. She stops dead in her tracks so that my left arm threatens to erupt from its socket. She is compelled to wrinkle her nose and allow it to hover over a featureless square inch of grey asphalt for at least five minutes. Why isn’t she leaping along, exercising her muscles? What’s in a splodge of asphalt?
Frequently, as we wander across fields, along tracks, or through undergrowth, an enticing aroma yanks her across my path, knocking me off balance, so that I stumble and teeter for several yards, arms flailing.
Or an airborne whiff persuades her to trot to the brink of the canal and lean precariously over the water, causing Human to dart after her, heart thudding, to grab her before she falls in.
In the woods, she’ll plunge her muzzle into a patch of ivy, uttering a loud ‘flumph.’ Dog knows what she finds among the leaves and tendrils but, whatever it is, I know we’re in for the long haul while she savours the bouquet.
It seems that ivy embraces many secrets, for often she’ll push her face so far into it that just her ears poke up from the clump. The only sign that she’s discovered something of interest is an intermittant tail wag. Come on, Isis. This is getting tedious.
I take her to Kings Heath Park. As we meander down the steep slope towards the old bowling green, a pungent odour grabs her attention. She leaps backwards to catch it, and the elderly couple following close behind her lurch into the hawthorne hedge to avoid measuring their length over her hairy form.
There’s a brisk breeze, so I hope that she’ll get plenty of exercise, trotting around following the changing smells. But she doesn’t want to trot anywhere, thank you. She spends all of her time standing still beneath the trees and shrubs, snuffling among the leaves.
She seems to be turning them over individually with her nose, savouring each odour like a fastidious lady at a perfume counter.
Sometimes there are deeply buried fragrances, and she has to push away the leaves and scratch the earth to uncover them.
She moves forward inch by inch, inhaling the essence of leaves, stems, twigs and berries.
I fantasise about what she perceives. Traces of life, I’m sure, spoors left by people, other dogs, birds, rats, mice, insects; inquisitive creatures which, like Isis, paused to investigate the scents; timid things which skittered rapidly over the leaves, worms and insects which burrowed beneath the surface.
The leaves themselves must smell very different as they go through their life stages: new growth, dying, drying out, crumbling, decaying and finally disintegrating.
As I watch her, observe how deeply absorbed she is, I stop being concerned about how much exercise she should be getting, how restricted her activities are on today’s walk, and try to empathise with her, to enjoy her Isis-ness.