A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday January 16th 2022
Last week I meanly left the story thus:
‘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? It’s unlikely that I’ll ever know.
But, then, …………………………………………….. …………………………………….to be continued next week!’
After about ten minutes, a young couple appears. They must have come up from the playing fields. As they walk through the patch of woodland, they smile at Isis, who continues to cavort ecstatically beneath the trees.
Then I notice that the woman seems to be carrying a little bundle wrapped in what looks like a shawl – a very young baby, I conclude.
They are only a few yards away from Isis when the man glances at her, then ducks down and scoops something up from the ground. I wonder what he’s found.
Now he’s definitely cradling something in his arms.
They walk out through the trees and up onto the path. Then the man bends down again, and carefully places something small and furry on the ground. Ah, a very small dog, or even a cat or a rabbit on a lead, I guess. From where I am standing, I can see that the something small and furry has a long, slim body. A dachshound? But no, it has a thick, furry tail. A baby fox?
The small creature is standing in the grass. It’s very alert, and it’s sniffing intently. Ah, now I know what it is. Wow! Fascinating!
Isis, tail still waving, mouth open and nose awhiffle, receives a full-on hit of the animal’s scent.
The man, spotting Hairy One, quickly lifts up the little animal. The predator sniffs her way towards the spot in the grass where the creature had been set down. Sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff- SNIFF! Yes, she’s right, this is exactly where it stood. It’s even peed here. Her enthusiasm knows no bounds. While she is picking up the trail again, I walk over to the couple.
Each of them is cradling a beautiful ferret. The young man has the jack, and the young woman the jill. The animals are very alert and full of curiosity. Both have their shiny, dark eyes fixed on me. They are siblings, the jack a dark chestnut, black and fawn, the jill white with two black patches. He, they explain, is the more confident of the two. His sister is far more timid and afraid of strangers.
I am enchanted.
Their humans explain that their ferrets are not used for rabbit hunting but are pets. They’ve had them for a year, from when they were pups, They are hilarious to watch when they play in the living room in the evening, chasing each other round and under and over the furniture (the ferrets, not the couple).
I ask if I can stroke the chirpy little jack. His small mouth is round and pink, his whiskers translucent, and trembling with curiosity. His nose is rather like Isis’s, pink, speckled with black, and his fur is soft and and dense. I could almost stuff him down my jumper and run off home with him. He seems perfectly relaxed as I stroke his head and his curvy little back. He hoovers around my wrist, pushes his snout into my sleeve, then gives my wrist a quick nip.
After a few minutes, Isis sniffs her way to the man’s feet and stands, transfixed, her little face turned up towards him, as if she’s asking, “Can I have it, please?” This is, to say the least, completely uncharacteristic of Isis, who always flinches away from strangers. I’ve never seen her with a happier expression: she looks as if she’s smiling.
Time for us to go, I think. I say goodbye to the ferrets and their humans, put the hairy hunter on her lead, and walk her back to the woods.
Here, she is as excited as she was when she first rushed down the slope. Again, she flies from tree to tree, desperate to pick up the ferret scent again. She follows the lovely smells to a large holly bush which protrudes onto the path. Then she dashes back among the trees, turns and sniffs her way back to the holly bush. The fourth time she does this, she doesn’t rush back to the woods. I walk round the bush to investigate.
I hurry to the first bend in the path.
There’s no sign of her.
Now I feel the beginnings of panic. She’s never run off like this before. She couldn’t have disappeared down the path so quickly. She’s probably walked round the holly bush and popped out the other side. If I rush back, I’ll find her in the woods.
But my gut feeling tells me otherwise. She’s following those ferrets. And at the end of the path, there’s Moor Green Road, then Dogpool Road, both streaming with cars and buses.
I begin to run. But it’s a long way, and soon I have to slow to a quick walk.
At last I spot her. She’s already walked around the vehicle gate, and is on her way to the road. Her head turns in my direction. She pauses. I’m striding as fast as I can, but if she walks on, there’s no way I can catch her before she reaches the road.
Two walkers, a man and a woman, are coming towards me. They’re walking past Isis, the woman a short distance in front of the man.
I’m shouting to them to stop Isis, but I’m gasping, gulping air, and they can’t make out what I’m saying.
Isis is turning towards the road. Now they’re getting nearer and I’m shouting as loudly as I can,
“Please can you stop her. She’s blind! If you stand in front of her, she’ll stop.”
The man can’t make out what I’m shouting. But the woman can, and shouts to him, telling him what to do. Now he’s running back past Isis and planting himself across her path.
The man doesn’t move.
Isis turns round, and now she’s walking slowly away from him, towards me.
“I’m so sorry,” the man’s saying, “I didn’t know she was blind.”
“Of course you didn’t. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.”
Isis wags her tail a little as I clip the lead to her collar. She’s not looking at all upset.
Just a little puzzled.
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.