There will be no blog next week (Sunday August 14th) as Isis and I are having a short break.
A post should appear every Sunday.
Sunday August 7th 2022
We leave the lovely, dirty spaniel to proceed to her hose-down, while we head towards the Thrive garden (known to we old timers as the Television Garden because the site was used regularly in the filming of a television gardening programme.)
The chainlink fence which separates the garden from the rest of the park, is covered with burberis which is allowed to grow through the fence. Someone had an excellent idea there, for instead of just a fence, which would be jarring in our gentle Kings Heath Park, we have a wall of green which bursts into egg yolk yellow when the shrub flowers.
Following the line of the hedge, we turn left to the edge of the small wood. Isis likes trotting along here, and always marks what she considers to be significant territorial divisions.
Now we have climbing roses, cranesbill and honeysuckle leaning through the fence. I always enjoy inhaling the scent of the honeysuckle. Isis, of course, prefers the scent of canine urine, and all the little creatures which have paused, prowled or scurried along the borders of the wood since she last came.
Sometimes, a particularly mesmerising scent beckons her into the wood. Here, there are several earth tracks pottering in different directions, and plenty of undergrowth and shrubs for a dog to poke its nose into, as long as it doesn’t mind getting its head and ears wet, which, today, is guaranteed.
Isis doesn’t mind at all: she’s no wimp.
The track we usually choose bring us out opposite the main children’s play area, so we walk on the springy turf between this and Avenue Road. Now I am entertained by the children’s antics, while Isis is entertained by their smells – and by the enticing waft of ice cream and crisps.
Something for both of us, then.
Now, led by Isis we meander towards the rockeries, then wind our way through the trees and shrubs: plenty to sniff here, which, I assume, is why she always wants to return to the car park via this route.
Happy dog. Happy human.
But it’s not always like that.
Especially, of course, when the sun casts deep shadows. When I take her to Jasmine Fields at the beginning of the week, then along the path above the canal, she resorts to passive aggression, continuously turning round towards the way we’ve just come, standing still and refusing to move on, and, once or twice, even lying down. She doesn’t want to walk through the patches of sunlight which are scattered here and there across the track.
She has managed dark and light patches much better lately, which is why I thought she’d be O.K. But I was wrong. She is unhappy, and I am frustrated.
No more late morning walks, I decide.
I’m up just after six this morning, as I was yesterday and the day before, and we’re in Highbury Park around seven – what about that, Bev!
Up until today, she has enjoyed these early morning walks with their subdued light and fresh scents. Her nose has hovered a few milimetres above the ground, and she has even uttered an excited yip before darting after whatever has left its scent on the grass.
Brilliant. Problem solved then?
But no. This morning, although she has a few exploratory trips around the trees, it soon becomes clear that she wants to hover close to the entrance.
I put her on her lead, and she shoots off at high speed to follow a long gone fox. She’s full of confidence while she’s attached to her human.Unfortunately, I can’t run fast enough to keep up with her and remain vertical.
Quickly, I unclip her lead. Immediately, she loses her confidence, stops and looks anxious. For a while it’s clip, unclip, clip, unclip.
I am convinced that she can’t enjoy the park while on a lead. She is convinced that something dreadful will happen to a dog who walks alone.
I give in, and she completes her walk on lead.
On the way home I try to work out why today’s walk has been so problematic. I realise that as we approach the longest day of the year, the sun rises earlier each day. Today is to be very hot. Even though it’s disgustingly early, the sun is very strong, and the shadows it’s casting are very dark.
Poor Isis is unable to tolerate the contrast.
Hmmm. Perhaps I need to rise at five, or even four, but that’s ridiculous.
As I’m writing, I remember the extra large retracting lead which I bought for her years ago, before I dared set her free. It’s very long, but would be safe to use because there is hardly anyone else in the park early in the morning, and it could afford her freedom and security at the same time.
I had intended to give it to Ray Deddicoat who runs Hollytrees Animal Rescue and Kennels, but I’ll try it out on Isis first.
Here’s to tomorrow!
And roll on autumn!