A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday January 9th 2022
It’s January 2nd when we head down Dogpool Road, turn right onto Moor Green Lane, and park opposite The Highbury pub.
It’s a dull, damp, grey day, just the right conditions for Isis to enjoy a walk through Holders Woods: no flashes of sunlight interrupt the even greyness; no dark shadows are cast on the track in front of her; there’s nothing to alarm her, nothing to disrupt our walk.
Isis potters along beside me, pausing now and again to snuffle among the little mounds of leaves blown against the side of the path. She doesn’t appear to be finding anything particularly interesting today. She’s walking slowly and looking rather bored, as if she’s thinking, “Same old walk, same old smells.”
She’s not actually yawned yet, but I’ll not be surprised if she does. I guide her towards some of the little tracks which meander up the steep banks on the right hand side of the path.
But she’s not that interested.
For months after she first encountered the badger setts, she was wildly excited, and danced around sniffing and pouncing by the tunnel entrances, before following the routes the extended badger family had taken the night before. She would have happily spent the day there, and had to be prised away from the area.
Now those scents are old hat. She’s been there, done that.
O.K. Let’s walk up this part of the bank. We’ve not been up here for a while, and there are numerous narrow little mud paths we can follow to the car park.
We make our way up but find our path blocked by a barricade of woven branches. This is a sign that the rangers are ‘resting’ a specific area to encourage regrowth, or are protecting recent planting.
Isis doesn’t exactly sigh, but looks very much as if she might.
We begin our descent. Hairy One leads the way, as Human, struggling to keep a foothold in the sticky mud, slithers and stumbles.
Suddenly, Isis lifts up her head and shoots down the bank. In a frenzy of arousal, she pelts across the main path and into the small wooded area on the other side.
I am astonished.
You could, as the saying goes, knock me down with a feather.
Never before, in the seven years and four and a half months since I adopted her, has she behaved like this.
Cautiously, tussock by tussock, I pick my way around the slippery mud patches, cross the path, and join my rampaging dog in the wood. Walkers raise their eyebrows and smile at her antics.
Now, nose to the ground, she zigzags among fallen tree trunks, sniffs beneath them, runs her nose along the sides of them, and stands on her back legs to snuffle along the tops of them.
And now she’s raising her head, sniffing the air, running to the trees, snuffling among their roots, stretching up as far as she can to explore the boles of close-by trees.
She prances and dances round the trees, then zips along the logs. Her tail is wagging like a deranged metronome, her nose constantly twitching, her whole body quivering with excitement.
She repeats these investigative routines over and over and over again, while other dogs of a variety of breeds, walk past without even twitching a whisker.
People are looking at us enquiringly. This situation is becoming embarrassing. “She’s picked up an interesting scent,” I explain with a forced smile, wondering if my dog is losing her marbles.
But I know that however weird her behaviour might seem, there are always reasons for what she does. Obviously, she has picked up a very compelling scent, but what on earth is it, and why are no other dogs reacting to it?
I’d love to know, but, sadly, I never will.
But, then, ……………………………………………..
To be continued next week!
Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.