A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday July 17th 2022
Well, that was a nasty episode.
I’ve just realised that, for the first time in at least four weeks, I didn’t even feel the urge to sit down on today’s walk.
The star of the past few weeks of inactivity has to be Isis. She has put up with such a lot: irregular get-up and meal times; dog’s bed times ranging from around twelve to six o’clock in the morning; walks at any old time, and, for several days last week, no walk at all.
On several nights/mornings, she has even found herself playing ‘hunt the bed time treats’ at five, six or seven a.m.
Although she is, as we know, ecstatic at putting on harness time prior to a walk, she has not once hassled me to take her out, demanded she eats right now, or wandered around restlessly as would have been perfectly normal for a dog.
She has taken things as they come, and adapted uncomplainingly to the circumstances of each day.
On the days she has had a curtailed walk, or no walk at all, she has shaken the hell out of her squirrel, duck or lion – or, indeed, any victim who is lying innocently in her dog bed, then lain for hours with the selected victim clamped tightly in her jaws. So tightly, in fact that I can never manage to snatch it from her, even when she seems to be fully asleep.
One day when I was flat out, she managed to reach big old polar bear, who had been furloughed since he began to shed bits of stuffing.
Too fatigued to rise from the day bed, I muttered, ‘What the hell,’ and watched the beginning of a veritable snow storm.
I soon drifted off, although I was aware of jumpings up and down, frequent “oofs”, and, inevitably, being landed on by someone who has no idea how much her claws hurt when all four footfuls of them land on the back of sleeping Human’s legs.
When I eventually come round, the floor looks like it’s hosted a snowball fight. This new look remains in place for at least a week.
Today is predicted to be very hot, so we are up at an obscenely early hour to walk in Highbury Park.
Isis can’t wait to get into the car, and is keen to pop out when we get to the back entrance of the park where we can leave the car in the shade. There are no other cars there, no people, no dogs.
Isis, as we know, is very resistant to being made to walk in any direction chosen by me, so getting her going can be exhausting.
Why shouldn’t she choose her own direction? No reason at all, I decide. So she wanders where she wants to, and I wander behind her.
Hey presto! What a difference. Why, I wonder, did I feel the need to control everything? She’s such a good dog. She stays within a few yards of me, checks regularly that I’m still close by, and when it is necessary, I put her on the lead, she wags her tail, and off we stroll side by side.
She relishes the new morning smells. I guess it’s rather like the pleasure humans get when they come across a pristine, untrodden expanse of snow.
She is always a sniffer, of course, but her pleasure when she comes across a previously unsniffed, unmarked scent is almost palpable.
It is cool, and so quiet. There are no traffic sounds, hardly a panting jogger flapping behind us, and no cyclists from whom I have to protect Isis. (To be fair, it is very rare for anyone to be impatient with her.)
When we reach the pond, Y and S are already there. S’s beautiful German shepherd races up to Isis, as though she is about to assault her. Isis is momentarily shocked, but soon recovers. Blitzi, who is beautiful German shepherd’s best friend, runs up to Isis to check that she’s O.K., and off the two dogs race, diving into the pond after tennis balls, playing on the grass, and taking short breaks to just stand around companionably.
Now and again, one or the other approaches Isis gently for a nose-to-nose.
When Isis, very unusually for her, lies on the grass in the shade, I make several attempts to snap her, but each time I approach, she gets up and comes to me, so I don’t succeed.
But soon after we return home, S. sends Y. this lovely portrait, and Y. forwards it to me. I didn’t realise that S. had taken it. I’m delighted.
Dog owners have been warned not to take their dogs out at all tomorrow or on Tuesday as the forecast is for the highest temperatures ever recorded in Britain. We have been warned that the west and West Midlands will be the hottest parts of the country, and it is expected that even in the early morning it will be too hot for our cats and dogs.
I am concened about the wild life. Surely there will casualties. I’ve topped up my improvised pond, but will put out some very visible dishes of water for the birds.
Let’s hope, at least, the shift of the heatwave up to Britain will mean some relief for the rest of Europe.
Isis and I have a stack of old towels to wrap round our necks and to place between Isis’s back legs and thighs, and we have ice shapes to lick.
We’ll just stay in and think about the lovely time we had this morning.