A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday April 17th 2022
At the moment, Isis is part way through her annual undercoat moult. This process never fails to fascinate me.
She’s stopped dropping the long, white hairs from her top coat. I only trimmed it a few weeks ago, so that there was no fringe visible along the back of her legs, just a faint seam. Now, as you can see, it’s regrown with a vengeance.
Just above her legs, and across her shoulders and flanks, are dense, fat balls of undercoat, almost – but not quite, ready to be shed. Sometimes I can’t resist giving a helping hand to any which are no longer attached, but mostly they separate and drop off as she moves, leaving behind soft, warm, little swatches. When I collect them, almost immediately, I can feel their warmth seeping into my fingers, and it’s quite clear why she doesn’t want a dog-coat, even on the coldest of winter days.
I’ve always enjoyed sharing her fluff out at birds’ nesting time. It has never occurred to me that that this could be potentially harmful to adults and their chicks when used as a nest lining. But Bev tells me that she has read that the chemicals used in parasite treatments for dogs can be toxic to birds.
I wonder whether the toxicity diminishes over time, so that if a dog were not treated over the winter months, it would be safe to use its hair at nesting time.
Must do more research.
In the meantime I’m thinking of lining my walking boots with discarded clumps of undercoat. Or perhaps my bedsocks.
It’s been a good week for walks. Because we’ve had mostly dry days lately, the mud patches are gradually shrinking, which has enabled us to return to some of our most interesting haunts. This means that we have shady, sheltered venues we can retreat to when Isis struggles to tolerate the bright light.
Here, she is interrupting an enjoyable stroll on a narrow path alongside the river Rea, in order to check that Human is not too far behind her.
I still marvel at her ability to navigate this narrow, winding path without stumbling into the river. There are numerous twists and turns, and in several places the bank has crumbled into the river, creating miniature ravines and narrowing the path to barely twelve inches.
Very challenging for a deaf/blind dog, one would think, but Isis walks on confidently, following that remarkable pink and black spotty nose.
The tracks above the canal have been like mini quagmires for weeks, but they, too, are drying up and are navigable once more.
It’s very pleasant to be able to walk without sinking up to our ankles in thick, black mud.
Isis loves these tracks with all their exciting scent trails, and I love the emerging wild flowers, especially the delicate, bright white wood anemones.
So we’re both happy.
One day we walk the perimiter of Earlswood lakes with Bev and Nancy. It’s years since I did this, and it’s Hairy One’s first time here. At first she is hesitant, unsure of herself, and wanting to have her lead on, but after a while, she gets used to the paths.
Soon she becomes so intrigued by all the novel smells, that she is happy to be free, and so immersed in her world of smells that we have to keep stopping to wait for her to catch up with us.
I am taken aback by the variety of water birds we see: cormorants clustered round the edge of a small island, golden-eyes with their sharp, tapered beaks who dive deep beneath the surface as soon as you lift your camera, coots with their thrown together, lop-sided nests, an immobile heron staring at the surface of the water. Bev identifies a number of water birds I’ve not seen before, the names of which I’ve now forgotten.
There are also the ubiquitous robins – one of which eats mealie worms from her hand – and dozens of little woodland birds, mostly varieties of tits, flitting among the trees on the edges of the paths.
When we return home, Isis sleeps for hours like a hairy log.
Another day, in Highbury, we note again how much more confident Isis seems when she is with Nancy, even when we’re walking through splashes of sun and shade. Nancy is calm and gentle around her, and, of course, Isis has known her for more than seven years.
Photo by Bev.
Altogether, a very enjoyable walking week, don’t you think, Isis?