A post should appear every Sunday
Sunday November 20th 2022
The first part of the week is consistently* wet; consequently, Isis chooses pavement walks on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We take a different route each day, so there are plenty of messages from other dogs for her to sniff around and pee on.
*I use the word ‘consistently’ very loosely. It is rare in Britain for the weather to be consistent for an hour, let alone a whole day; thus, when Isis sets off confidently for her pavement walk, you can bet your life that before long, the sun pops out for few minutes and stops her in her tracks.
We don’t remain stationary for long, however, as Human has devised a strategy for moving on the poor, persecuted pet. The strategy arose from Hairy One’s objection to having her bottom sniffed – not by me, I hasten to add, as I’ve not yet reached that degree of depravity – but by other curious canines.
When she’s assaulted by a cold, huffing nose, she shoots forward with seldom demonstrated alacrity, in order to escape. Now, so far, I’ve refrained from kneeling on the ground, but if no-one is watching, I’m not averse to leaning close to her tail and blowing on it suggestively. This, as a last resort, is usually effective. But, to be fair, she has become much more tolerant of light changes, and as long as she’s not walking towards the sun, she copes well.
On Thursday, we shift to drizzly patches rather than downpours, and we venture to Highbury. Human, quite reasonably, she thinks, tries to persuade Isis to walk with her on the grass, rather than squelch through the mud covered track. I wonder why it is that presumeably otherwise sane dog walkers tramp along the edge of this field, following exactly in the boot prints of all the other walkers, and creating a boggy mess.
If Isis smells a path, she always wants to follow it. To her, paths are safer than unmarked routes. This, of course, makes sense to a blind dog. Perhaps the human walkers just become habituated. Anyway, Human soon becomes tired of patting Isis in the direction of clean grass. She also begins to feel guilty about attempting to keep Hairy One’s fluffy feet and ankles clean. A dog should be allowed to get dirty.
We complete our cicuit of the field via the claggy path, and take a short cut to the main, tarmacked path. Hardly has Isis set paw on the main path, than a family walking towards us stops in its tracks. There are three adults, a granddad, his daughter and his grandson, I surmise.
They gaze down in awe at Isis, and the lady tells me, ‘We couldn’t let you go past without asking you about your beautiful dog.’
Beautiful Dog stands patiently close by as I answer all their questions. I explain about Portugese podengos and Spanish podencos and their hunting skills. They are impressed that this dog is behaving so well, waiting by me and not chasing around looking for something to hunt. Inevitably, this leads to my explaining that she has no useful sight or hearing.
‘Would she let me stroke her?’, the lady enquires. As usual, I invite her to let Isis sniff her hand first. This is a person, I observe, who has empathy with animals. She is such a lovely person that I find myself willing Isis to respond.
Slowly and carefully, the lovely lady approaches Isis, and profers her hand.
‘Yes,’ says the lady, ‘I think she’s going to sniff my hand’, then, as Hairy One dodges the hand and trots off, adds, ‘Or not.’
Then, after more admiring comments about fluffy coats and fetching ears, as the trio turns to leave, they thank us for a delightful end to a pleasant walk.
Since autumn began, virtually everyone we meet is visibly startled by the whiteness of Hairy’s coat.
It is a strangely bright white. She could almost be in an advert for Persil.
I hope she’s not radio-active.
Her winter coat is exceptional this year. Here is a selection of her admirers’ comments over the past week:
‘Ooooo – floofy! So-o-o-o-o floofy.’
‘I can’t believe how fluffy she is.’
‘She’s so Christmassy, I could put her under my Christmas tree. What about giving her a red bow?’
‘I just love those ears (demonstrates with hands) how they stand up and the hairs flow down.’
‘What a beautiful dog.’
‘He/she is amazing.’
‘All that hair. I can’t believe it.’
‘She’s made my day.’
And, inevitably, ‘What is she?’
Of course many people want to pat her. I always ask them to let her sniff their hand first so that she knows where the pat is coming from, and explain why. Sometimes people say, ‘Oh no, I don’t want to frighten her.’ Sometimes they proffer a hand, but it’s very rare for anyone to have their hand sniffed, for nine times out of ten, she hurries off as soon as they move close to her.
As Kerry once told her, it’s a shame she doesn’t know how beautiful she is. I’m not so sure. She might become even more entitled!
And even more nonchalant about leaving her beautiful fluffiness all over the house.
(A friend and I used to spend time thinking about inventing a self-cleaning house. His idea was to have in each room a permeable ceiling above which was a ceiling-sized vacuum, so that you could just flick a switch and the dirt would rise and enter a holding tank. I thought that system would make the room super dusty, and posited that it would be better to have the suction underneath the permeable flooring. We agreed on that but never got round to making a prototype.)
I’m sad that Isis is still so anxious around strange people and strange dogs. She has very few human friends, and is never effusive towards the chosen few, but those whom she trusts are her friends for life.
Last Friday we meet up with Bev and Nancy. They have been away for several weeks, and Nancy, who is now twelve, is some distance away. I bend towards her, arms wide, and she gallops towards me for hugs and a treat.
Isn’t that sweet, Isis?
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.
Hello Pat I wanted to write to let you know how much I enjoy the blogs – following your journey with Isis and the amazing relationship you have with her. I also wanted to let you know I have now left the Well and am due to retire at the end of next year. I have much appreciated and been touched by the Christmas cards that you have sent me whilst I have been at the Well – thank you I hope all is going well for you. Best Wishes Siân