A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday January 23rd 2022
You think you know your pet so well, then s/he does something quite unexpected, contrary or apparently inexplicable.
I had intended, in my first 2022 post, to review Isis’s little idiosyncracies which I’d noticed during 2021; my intentions, however, were thwarted by the ferret saga.
For some time I have been aware that Hairy One’s toys, particularly her snakes and her squeaky tiger are decidedly the worse for wear. Shortly before Christmas I buy her new toys. These comprise: a rubber duck with a very loud quack, and two Orvis toys: a squirrel and a duck. The Orvis toys have interesting textures which will surely appeal to a dog. They are strong and each has several squeaks. ‘Ideal for Isis’, I think, pleased with my carefully considered choices.
I decide to give her the quacking duck and the squirrel as soon as they arrive, and to keep the other duck until Christmas.
First to be delivered is the honking rubber duck. She’s always been thrilled with noisy toys. I can’t wait to see her response.
There she is sitting in her dog bed. I give her the duck to sniff, then place it close to her hairy ear and give it a hearty squeeze.
It emits a very loud and long drawn out Q U – A – R – K !
Instead of being fascinated, poor Isis is terrified. She stumbles from her bed, ears flat and tail between her legs, looking absolutely panic stricken.
Oh, that worked out nicely then.
I apologise and reassure her. I’ll leave the duck next to the rim of the bed, and let my dog her make his acquaintance in her own good time.
But when, some time later, she returns to her bed, she sits as far away from duck as she can and completely ignores him. And next time I look, I find duck on the floor. Well, at least she’s no longer afraid of him. That’s something.
Patiently, I return him to her bed. But each time I am absent from the room for a while, she throws him out again. One morning I find him several feet away from the bed. In his place is a nestful of snakes.
Right, perhaps she’ll be happier with the squirrel. It’s very sweet, has a big, fluffy tail, and is much quieter. I offer it to her to sniff. She can’t be bothered. I sit next to the ingrate, and play with squirrel. I tickle her with it, make it bat her gently with its little paws, sit it down next to her, even put it against her muzzle, then snatch it away. She usually enjoys this kind of play and will snatch a toy back and hang onto it like grim death.
Not this time.
At least she’s not afraid of it. I leave it in her dog bed, next to quacking duck during the day, and place it on our day bed when she is ready to sleep. Inevitably, by morning, squirrel has been hoofed off the bed and is lying on the floor.
Hairy One’s Christmas presents are not, to say the least, going down very well She is somewhat less than captivated by them. Sometimes now, if I pretend to steal one, I can persuade her to play tug with it, but not often. I tell her how lucky she is, and how many poor dogs don’t have any toys.
She is unmoved. Her old, niffy, decrepit snakes, her equally malodorous, ancient tiger, even polar bear which my dog Ellie had before her, are what she chooses to keep in her bed. Several times a day, she picks them up, shakes them, growls at them, snaps them vigorously to and fro, flings them up in the air, tosses them out of the bed, then rushes to retrieve them. When she has finished playing, she lies down and eventually falls asleep with one of them in her mouth.
I’ve not yet given her the last toy, the textile duck. Perhaps if it smells of me, she will be more inclined to accept it. I’ll take it to bed with me and let it take in my scent. After all, she usually finds my scent reassuring.
For two weeks I sleep with this duck next to me.
Meanwhile, Isis sleeps alone. Rubber duck and squirrel sit, pristine but unloved, in the dog bed, or, more often, lie on their backs on the floor, with their legs in the air.
I’ve not yet given her the textile duck which has been marinating in my sweaty bed, but I think she is as unlikely to be impressed by parfum de human as she is by her other presents.
Finally, the most powerful test of all. As I’ve commented previously, if I take tiger, the snakes, or even her old teddy or polar bear and put them on the rug in the front room, as soon as she discovers them, Isis immediately carries them back along the hall and places them in her bed.
In turn, I take the honking duck, the squeaky squirrel and the textile duck into the front room while Isis is otherwise occupied. When she comes in to find me, she ignores them and leaves them there.
Oh well, much loved tiger and the remaining bits of snakes will not last forever.
Then we’ll see.
P.S. I often leave one or another of the new toys on the day bed, and, one morning last week, when I come downstairs I find Isis fast asleep with her head resting on her squirrel.
Being a soppy human, I am foolishly pleased. Who knows, one day she might claim her presents.
On the other hand, of course, ……………….