A post should appear every Sunday
Sunday March 5th 2023
When I return to Hollytrees on Saturday morning, I wait in the yard for Isis to be brought out to me. As soon as she gets outside, she picks up my scent and pulls towards me. She’s very happy, gives me head nudges, wags her tail, and allows me to make a fuss of her. Then she walks up to her carers and gives them a sniff and a wag too.
It’s the best greeting she’s ever given me. Clearly she feels safe and secure at Hollytrees, which is great to know. Tracey tells me that Isis has eaten all of her meals. That’s great to know too.
Before we head for home, we walk along some of the little lanes nearby, which Isis appears to enjoy. Then she hops into the back seat, I insert myself into the driver’s seat – no hopping for me at present, as I’m waiting for a hip operation – and off we go.
I take a large coffee into the front room, and she settles herself on the rug next to my feet, and falls asleep.
At six o’clock, she hurries into her dining room. I leave her to eat, returning soon after to admire a polished dish.
This is the life! For a few days she emits just one woof before eating, but now her manners are perfect: she comes into the kitchen, sits without being reminded, and as soon as I tap her under her chin, hastens to her dish and begins to munch.
When she has finished her breakfast she waits on the day bed until she smells me passing along the hall with my coffee and cereal, then follows me. If the door to the front room is left on the latch, she noses it open, comes to join me, and lies on the rug.
In the evening, when she feels contented, as soon as she has finished her dinner, she strolls into the back room, steps into her dog bed, and plays with whichever soft toy is in favour at the moment. When she feels happy she’ll usually amuse herself with her toys for an hour or more. Now this is part of her evening routine.
And she seems to be very happy. For the first week or so of her new diet, she was ravenous, and, of course, I felt very sorry for her, and more than a little guilty: now she’s definitely hungry, but healthily hungry. I worried that she would turn into a park scavenger, but she hasn’t. That’s not to say she wouldn’t gobble up a steak if she came across one, but she doesn’t sniff around for food.
Another very positive outcome is that when I cut her large Nextguard tablet (eliminator of fleas, worms and any other parasites which one can imagine, but would prefer not to) into four chunks and smear each one with a little mature cheddar, she wolfs them down without hesitation.
She still enjoys hunting for her bedtime treats, of course. We’re working through her gravy bones at the rate of three a day, and adding some free-of-everything-nasty ones from Chester’s Corner.
It’s still hard to believe the transformation which has taken place, that my Hairy One no longer leaps around in front of her dish growling and barking; no longer fusses about the light which comes through the glass in the front door, or leaks out from another room; no longer refuses to eat if I am in the kitchen, or if I am not standing by the door encouraging her.
During her early years here, I could understand why she felt the need to defend her food from imaginary marauders. She was truly ravenous, tipping the scales at barely nine kilos, almost half of her current weight. Almost certainly, other animals took her food.
But when, after all her ‘training’ she began to revert to the former mealtime dramatics, my spirits sank. I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to deal with this seemingly inexplicable behaviour.
It has just occurred to me that lately, when she had had enough to eat and wanted to leave the rest, she may have been worried that some other animal would come and take it. So perhaps reverting to her earlier behaviour is not so illogical after all.
I still find it astonishing that Lee had such a straightforward answer to what felt like our very complex predicament:
Lee, calmly: “I think I know why she’s leaving her food.”
Human, gormlessly: ” Why?”
Lee: “She’s not hungry.”
Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact email@example.com or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.