concerning old dogs and new tricks


Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday December 1st 2019


Old dogs and new tricks.What’s she on about? Isis isn’t old.

No, but I am. And I have been given an iphone in exchange for two bottles of wine. Slowly and painfully – extremely slowly, and extremely painfully, with an unprecedented amount of blue air forming around me, I erase the old content and set up the phone anew.

Well, almost. The last straw, I mean step, is when the blasted thing asks me to verify my email account and enter the matching password. Seven million times (surely, it must have been) I obediently follow the instructions. This, in itself, is challenging as I’ve not used an iphone before. 

Still no luck.

It keeps telling me that I’ve made an error. Exasperated beyond description, I shriek and curse at the top of my voice. What a good job Isis can’t see or hear me, I think. If she could, she would run all the way back to Portugal.

I limit the phone recovery efforts to one or two sessions a day in an effort to stop before I become completely hysterical.

Isis snoozes calmly through the hassles, unless we’re in the front room and the sun suddenly emerges. When this happens, we’re both hysterical: Isis because she’s been attacked by light and I because I’m so wound up already.

Thank heaven for dog walks.

Every day this week, we both enjoy at least two hours in the pouring rain in Kings Heath Park. This park, like all the other local parks, is full of mud, but the steep bank by the old bowling green drains very well. If she plays there, her pink pads and fluffy white undercarriage remain clean.

We stay a long time so that Hairy One can use up lots of energy. It’s a tricky time of year for walks. Every day this week the sun comes out in the late afternoon and remains  until dusk. As we know, Isis refuses to walk in combinations of sun and shade, and there’s no way she will step out of the front door when it’s dark.

She does, of course, delight in the rain. She loves playing on the bank too, unless a dog she doesn’t know very well joins her, whereupon she departs through the hedge onto the next level. She’ll play there too unless she’s interrupted again, in which case she takes herself off to the Colour Garden.

There’s only one problem with the bank. Planted there, are young fir trees which Isis enjoys decapitating. Standing nearby, preempting her attacks is very monotonous, especially with plump rain drops chasing each other along one’s nose.

Hmmm. How can I distract her? If I give her one of her favourite toys, she’ll want to take it straight back to the car. She’s very protective of her favourites.

I have an idea. Perhaps if I can find something she’s not familiar with, she might behave differently. In the understairs cupboard I dig out a long, sturdy rubber tugger. It belonged to my previous dog Ellie, and I’ve never had the heart to throw it out.

Next day, I drop it near the little, headless tree.

She picks up its scent, and is immediately interested. She dances around it before picking it up and giving it a shake. She plays with it and ignores the fir tree.


The following day, when she runs up the bank and begins to play, I place the tugger close to her, drag it down onto the field and then pull it along a few yards.

Very quickly, she picks up the scent, follows it and claims her prize. I’ll increase the distance each time, and see how far she’ll follow the scent.

That’ll give her a new activity.

I don’t have a new activity. It’s back to the phone for me.

It takes ten days for me to notice that I made a typo the first time I entered my email account. I missed out a letter. At last I understand why the Apple ID code isn’t accepted.

Now what?

I have a brainwave. I’ll erase all content and return the phone to factory status. Then I’ll begin again.

Clever me!

There’s only one problem, I discover: to begin this process, I have to verify my email.


Let’s go for a b. walk, Isis.






Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or





Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, scary shadows, scenting, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

a tag for Isis



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday November 24th 2019


Isis isn’t a quiet, laid back, cautious dog. She’s a boisterous, high energy, adventurous creature. If you don’t know her, you can tell by her identity tags and her bells.

One day in Highbury Park J. tells me that he can’t hear Hairy One’s bell. I turn up my hearing aid. No, neither can I.

I examine the bell. No wonder we can’t hear it. The hole through which the sound should come is plugged with dried mud and fragments of grass. When I poke it clean with a twig, the bell looks a very strange shape. I squeeze it back to a resemblance of its former self and give it a shake. Not a sound. I shake it more vigorously. Silence.

I peer into its depths. Ah. No clapper.

We surmise that our anything but dainty little dog has mashed her bell against a hard surface, distorted the casing and facilitated the escape of the clapper.

Oh well, it’s only the second bell in about four years, so that’s not bad going. It’s survived better than her ID tags, I note. She’s wearing tag number six at the moment and it’s so bent, scratched and scraped that it’s illegible. Dear me, thank goodness I noticed. Careless human.

Obviously it’s time for the seventh tag.

Surely a dog shouldn’t get through six tags in just over five years, should she? The tags she’s had seemed strong enough when they were new, but perhaps I should look for something more substantial ……………………………………………


Or not.

I google ‘good quality, long lasting dog ID tag’, and I select a company which introduces itself thus:


‘A year ago we started working with a Spitfire Engineer to design the most robust and suitable way of making a Dog Name Tag from restored equipment and recycled or recyclable materials and doing this so well we could confidently guarantee it for Ten Years.

Now you can buy a Dog Name Tag that’s Guaranteed for Ten Years: Even If You Lose It

…for £10!’


The tags are made from brass, continues the advert, are two millimetres thick and deeply engraved.

The advert is dog centred and has a humourous tone. I am convinced.

I order two tags.





When the postman rings the bell and hands me a brown paper parcel tied with real, hairy string



– not a fragment of plastic to be seen – I can’t imagine who on earth has sent it. (When did you last receive a brown paper parcel tied up with string?)

When I open the parcel, I find a tasteful brown envelope on the front of which is my name, while the back of the envelope



is neatly closed with a fat, red seal on which is imprinted a small paw.

Stranger and stranger, as Alice in Wonderland would have said. Intrigued, I open the envelope.

It is only when I discover this image inside




that it finally dawns on me where the parcel has come from. I’d forgotten all about the tags I’d ordered. Now I remember wondering at the time why I was asked for the the breed of my dog. How lovely.

Enclosed too is a small card.



Inside are instructions and a request for a picture of your dog!

And, most exciting of all, there is a little, round, shiny tin with a screw top.




Inside the tin, surrounded by a tiny sheet of waxed paper, are two beautiful brass tags.




Printed on the tiny sheet of paper is a little verse.




I had been feeling quite low and grumpy before the parcel arrived, but opening it is like opening an unexpected birthday present and revealing layers of surprises. It bucks me up no end, as they say!

P.S. The tag looks lovely on Isis, and she will truly test the ten year guarantee!


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, Isis is no angel, oh dear, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

three dogs and a tortoise – part three



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday November 17th 2019


Oh dear. One really has no right to complain about the weather when one sees the plight of the flood victims in the UK and elsewhere who have had to move out of their homes, some for the second or even third time.

I guess that for most of us the continuous rain is, at most, an inconvenience.

In Highbury Park we dog walkers seek the least squelchy areas in which to exercise our pets; alternatively, we give up and accept that they’re certain to return home from their walks covered in mud.

Often, Hairy One’s favourite stamping ground along one of the narrow woodland strips looks green and clean when I first check it out. When she dashes up and down she remains mud free; however, when she decides to run on the spot she soon creates the claggiest mini bog you could imagine.

Usually, I neglect to notice what she is doing until, by the time I approach her to move her on, her underside and legs resemble those of a chocolate dog.

Then off we go to an effective dog washing spot: the little brook which runs down to the stream.

For most of the year the little brook is a slow trickle, emerging from a culvert and disappearing into the stream which flows along the bottom of the meadows. During a dry summer it vanishes altogether.

I have not previously seen it as wide and deep as it is now. And because it has overflowed onto the grass, the water is clean and odourless. Just perfect for rinsing down your revoltingly hound.




Another, even easier, way of cleansing your dog’s undercarriage, legs and paws is to encourage her to play in long, wet grass.

Unfortunately, this isn’t so easy now as it was a few weeks ago, because, at the end of summer, the flower meadow and almost all of the rest of the grass in the park is cut very close to the ground.

An exception is the area around Hairy One’s favourite log on the far left of the flower meadow. Here, one summer several years ago, Isis, having played happily for an hour, emerged from the undergrowth covered in burrs. Since then, I’ve avoided this area in the summer time.

One day recently, Isis plays in a lovely boggy patch. She tramps merrily through all the squishy bits she can find. Her feet are filthy. This isn’t enough though. Not yet. She decides to lie in the mud to chew a stick.






Ah. A brainwave.

It’s almost winter now. The plants which bear the burrs will be dead. I’ll take her to play in the long grass around the log.

Off we go.

Isis is delighted when we get there, and soon disappears into the long grass. She rediscovers the tunnels under the log and beneath the ground hugging branches of the surrounding trees.

For well over an hour I catch only brief glimpses of her as she runs and leaps and pounces among the undergrowth.

With growing satisfaction, I see flashes of clean front paws and clean back legs.

‘What a clever idea of mine’, I think as I entice Isis from one of her hiding places.

Or not …………………………………….




She really doesn’t fancy a photo shoot, and keeps getting up and walking off. I capture a different pose each time I insist on her sitting down again.

I love her expression in each of them, so I’ve included all three.








Well, I didn’t know that the burrs would still be there in November, did I?


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or


Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park, oh dear, running running, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

three dogs and a tortoise – part two



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday November 10th 2019


Now for the beautiful pup I met at the end of last week.

There we are, Y, J and I, sitting on our favourite log in Highbury Park, with half an eye on Isis who is dancing vigorously with her woodland edge. I use the word ‘with’ advisedly, for  she is actively engaged with the brambles, plants and hedgerows, brushing up against them, patting, nibbling and grabbing.

Meanwhile, Blitzi is chasing off crows nearby.

Then J. arrives with Ruby, Sophie and Rory.

When K arrives with Scamp, that makes six rescues: Isis, Ruby, Sophie and Rory adopted through Dogwatch UK, Blitzi hailing from Birmingham Dogs’ home, and Scamp rescued from an unsuitable home in Scotland.

As we are admiring all the dogs, yet another rescue joins us. We are introduced to puppy Simba from Turkey who is nine months old.





J, his human, tells us his story.

Apparently, there are beach bars on the Turkish coast which take on puppies and kittens for the holiday season because tourists find them appealing. At the end of the season, when the bars close, the young animals are abandoned and left to look after themselves.

Concerned about the neglected dogs, a group of half a dozen local residents has formed. These volunteers take it in turns to visit the beach dogs every day to check that they’re OK and to ensure that they have shelter, food and water. They also try to find permanent homes for them.

When J and her partner visit Turkey early this year, they meet the group, fall in love with Simba and make arrangements to adopt him.

They return in September to bring him home and find that Simba now has a best friend – Mikey, an abandoned black labrador – who adores him. He’s two months older than Simba and they are inseparable.

On their last day at the resort, as J and her partner sit with some of the volunteers at a  nearby bar, Mikey squeezes himself between them and sits down too.

They would love to offer a home to Mikey, but can’t afford to take both dogs. J can’t bear the thought of separating them for ever.

“Mikey’s going to miss his friend,” comments one of the group.

“Not for long,” interjects J’s partner, “He’s coming as well when we’ve sorted out the finance.”

J, astonished, bursts into tears.

They have arranged to fetch Mikey in February, and can’t wait to witness the reunion.






With the arrival of all these dogs on her patch, Isis, we observe, is walking purposefully towards the path to the car park.

I catch up with her and put her on the lead. To my surprise, she’s quite happy to walk back with me to the log and rejoin the group. She even stands calmly beside me as most of the humans disperse with their dogs.

Blitzi is in front of her, sniffing Simba, his tail wagging slowly in front of Hairy One’s face. To my surprise and delight, she makes a couple of playful grabs at his tail. This is the first time she’s ever attempted to play with another dog!

What an interesting day.


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or



Posted in adopted dogs, deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, dogs adopted via DogwatchUK, Highbury Park, Isis meets other dogs, park dogs, park people, relationship building, rescue dogs, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

three dogs and a tortoise – part one



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday November 3rd 2019


As soon as Speedy is carried into the house, Isis picks up the strange new scent. Her nose begins to twitch and she twirls on her back legs, muzzle aloft, trying to locate its source.

It’s a tortoise, Isis, and she’s staying with us for a week.

“She’s winding down to her hibernation,” explains Y when she introduces me to Speedy. “I’ve been offering her a bit of lettuce, but she’s not wanted it for the last few days. I’ve brought this just in case, though “.

She hands me a fresh round lettuce.

“What about water?” I ask, uncertainly. It’s a very long time since I had a tortoise and I know very little about their care.

Y explains that some tortoises find it difficult to access water from dishes, and usually prefer to stand in shallow water when they drink. At home, Speedy is put into a baking tray, but since she’s definitely about to go into hibernation, it’s very unlikely that she’ll require food or water.

Well, that all sounds very straightforward.

Y covers the comatose Speedy with a large towel, and places her on the old sheets with which I have covered the floor. She’s in my spare room without heating. “This’ll be perfect for her,” Y assures me.

Unfortunately, after a few days, the temperature drops. Since I have a guest, I have to turn the heating up in the rest of the house. I ram a towel under the spare room door, hoping that this will keep the room at the same low temperature.

It doesn’t work.

Next time I check on her, Speedy is wide awake.


I begin to worry about her well being; after all, she is between seventy and a hundred years old. I need to make sure she gets to 101.

I offer her lettuce. She declines and retreats under a trolley where it’s impossible to see her. I carefully lift her out, put her back on her sheet and replace her towel before making a dash for the internet.

Hibernation, I discover, can be a life threatening experience for an imported tortoise. There is a surprising number of species. And they require different regimes, and specific environments. They all require a low, even temperature for safe hibernation, but the temperature needed varies among species.

Oh dog! Which one is Speedy?

The following days are a little nerve wracking: sometimes she’s deeply asleep, at others she is awake and has relocated. Now and again, her little mouth opens and closes weakly as though she needs sustenance, but she doesn’t respond to offers of lettuce or of water.

She’s lived with Y for fifty three years. I can’t let her die now. I text N, my animal expert friend in Cornwall. He advises me to leave her be.

I don’t disturb her, but continue to check on her, of course. She appears to be alive, but she’s not evincing any interest in me or in her surroundings. I assume that tortoises are passive, undemonstrative creatures, and keep my fingers crossed.

On Tuesday Y. arrives to collect her. “Hello my little Speedy,” calls my friend, picking up her pet, holding her close, and kissing her nose.

What happens next astonishes me.

Speedy stretches out her head and legs as far as they’ll go. Her little black eyes open wide and seem to twinkle, her head bobs up and down. She wiggles her feet energetically, and opens and closes her mouth as though in greeting She looks ecstatic. She’s clearly delighted to be reunited with Y.





As they say, we live and learn. At the beginning of this week I learn that a tortoise can form a close attachment to a human.

At the end of the week I meet a beautiful pup. He has a lovely forever home in Birmingham, but is very attached to his best friend who had to be left behind in Turkey.

And then there’s Isis, who becomes attached to something quite different and leaps from the proverbial frying pan into the proverbial fire!


To be continued ……………………………………


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

Posted in adopted dogs | Tagged | 4 Comments

territory lost and found



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday October 28th 2019


“Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear !”, I coo sympathetically to Isis when she suffers minor setbacks such as prickly bits of pine tangled in her hair, a beechnut case stuck between her pads, or a treat lost in her bedding. Then, of course, I hurry to solve the problem.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. This time I can do nothing to help.




Two oaks, I learn, grew so close together that their trunks melded. I’d always thought that they were one tree. For as long as I can remember, there has been a cave-like hollowed out area in the lower part of the trunk.



Then, last weekend, strong winds tear the trunks apart. On Monday the area around the tree is cordoned off with red and white tape. There are piles of logs, and the tree men are there, removing dead wood.

The tree is much diminished, but, apparently, it is stable and can remain.

Not that Isis has any concerns about tree conservation. But the huge, felled branches have massacred her ‘plantation’, one of her favourite playgrounds.

Only an outer fringe of the tall plants remains. The rest have been smashed by the heavy, crashing branches and boot trampled into the mud.

Poor Isis will be very confused and upset to find her territory has vanished.

I lead her carefully over the grass and guide her round the strewn branches. When I release her, she looks puzzled, uncertain where she is, and steps very cautiously on the unfamiliar surface.





The texture of the churned up grass must feel very different under her feet. There’s a wide open space instead of her familiar jungle. The disturbed earth must be releasing strange new scents.

Bewildering for a dog ………………….



Then she takes a good, deep sniff.




And another. Snuffle, snuffle.

She perks up. This smells interesting.  Hmmmm. Something small and furry has definitely been here.



Soon she’s trotting back and forth, foraging beneath the plants, digging under broken off boughs, retrieving sticks, and lying down in refreshing, shallow pools to gnaw at her leisure.




The wind catches her hairy ears as her meandering turns into a trot.




Suddenly, she gallops to the right. She whirls round and and gallops to the left. She spins again and canters away from me. She stops in her tracks, turns abruptly and pounds back towards me.

Utter excitement! Celebrations!

Whoohoo! Dog magic.

Again and again she leaps into the air.





Confused? Upset?

No way. She loves it. We stay for two hours.


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park, oh dear, running running, scenting, twirling, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

seven soggy days



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday October 20th 2019



My hairy little meteorologist is at it again. She’s perfectly happy in Highbury for an hour, then, when I notice her muddy feet and try to move her on, she protests. I assume that she’s cross because we’re moving on, and insist that she walks with me over to the long grass, where, hopefully, she’ll dance around and her feet will be cleaned.

Usually, she loves playing  here. Not today though.


Something very nasty is coming. Must go to ground.

That’s better. It won’t see me from behind.






It won’t see me from the front.



Eeeek! It still doesn’t feel safe out in the open. I’ll hide under here.











What on earth’s the matter with her? Then I remember. Thunder is forecast for today.

On with her harness. Wag. Wag. Relieved, she trots with me to the car.

Just as we’re about to set off for home, the sky blackens and fat splodges of rain smack against the windscreen.

If she were human, she’d say, “Told you so!”


Late yesterday afternoon, I suddenly discover that my M.O.T. has expired.


C. at the garage has a space on Wednesday, but that means bussing it back and forth to let Isis out at lunchtime. Impossible.

If I bring the car in on Tuesday morning, and someone else cancels, C. will try to fit my car in.

I get up early and clear out the car. Now, a dilemma. I have a hospital appointment in the afternoon, and by the time I’ve returned from the garage – which is not on the bus route – it’ll be too late to walk Isis.

Unless I take her with me and can persuade her to walk back home. If the sun pops out while she’s in a strange place, she’ll refuse to move.

Quickly, I check the weather forecast. Dull all day. Right, we’ll risk it.

We drop off the car. Isis walks all the way home like an angel. It’s a very long pavement walk, but she doesn’t hesitate.

That night I’m too exhausted to go out again. I expect Isis to be tired too. Not a bit of it. While I drift off on the day bed, she leaps around for hours, vigorously shaking her snakes. I only regain full consciousness when she begins vigorously shaking the rug from which arises the dust of ages.

Obviously, a road walk isn’t enough. She needs a play walk too.


The car was fitted in yesterday, so I am at the garage by 7.40 to collect it.

Yes, 7.40.

Then I return home to pick up Isis and rush off with her to Kings Heath Park. At lunchtime, I return from my art group. She’ll not do a road walk in the sun, so off we go again to Kings Heath Park.

When I return from my afternoon session, it’s still sunny, so I take her to Highbury. Guilt at leaving her home alone certainly generates lots of walks.

That night we both fall asleep on the day bed. We don’t get up until ten next morning.


My beautiful dog disgraces herself. Again, it’s dull and cloudy, and she is enjoying herself    in Kings Heath Park. She is playing on the bank above the old bowling green.

A couple of years ago, six new sapling pines were planted by volunteers near the bottom of the bank. One gave up the ghost in its first few months. Another was repeatedly pulled up by kids, and regularly replanted by me. Despite my efforts, it spent a week out of the ground in the summer while I was away, and died. The remaining four are doing fine, I reflect as I sit on a bench at the other end of the green.

Hairy One appears to be enjoying herself immensely. She’s found something nice and floppy and is killing it enthusiastically.

Oh my dog! It’s not … it couldn’t be….I shoot from the bench and pelt over to the bank.

To my horror, and ‘horror’ is no exaggeration, I see that what she is killing is fresh and green. It’s a long, leafy frond from the smallest of the remaining pines, and, at her jiggling feet are two more green, springy fronds.

She has bitten off the top half of the little tree.

Isis, of course, has no idea of what she has done, but I am mortified. I must seek out one of the lovely gardeners and confess, then I will replace the sapling.

I don’t spot anyone today. I’ll see if I can find someone after the weekend.


Wet, wet, wet.

All week.

What fun. Or not. On this, Isis and I disagree.

Today, as on every other day this week, my wellington booted feet suck their way noisily over the grass to my soggy vantage point on a fallen tree trunk. From here I watch Isis happily running up and down the track she has created along the wooded area which separates the two adjacent meadows opposite the car park.

Ahhh, she’s so enjoying herself. How lovely. I smile at her indulgently, and float off into my own head space.

When I come to and walk towards her, I see that her well trodden path is now a channel of deep mud, and she looks like a dog whose lower half has been dipped in chocolate.


How could I be so stupid? I noticed a few days ago that her track was getting a bit squishy. I should have checked it before I released her.

It is, of course, the one day I have arranged to meet someone straight after our walk. Can’t be helped: Hairy One’s filthy, and it was only a few days ago that I cleaned the inside of the car ready for the MOT.

Fussy? Not at all. I think it was when I caught sight of two small plants growing on the floor in the rear, that I realised how disgusting the interior was.

I was surprised by the plants, but I guess grass seeds plus mud plus wet dog equals a fertile site.



Isis isn’t pleased when I insist that we try a different area of the park. She digs in all her strong little toes and refuses to budge. As I stand and wait for her to walk on, I catch sight of the heron. It’s the second time this week that we’ve come across him standing on the edge of one of the meadows.




What’s he doing here? I thought that herons only ate fish, but no, I’m told by two guys who are also watching that herons also eat small mammals. I look them up and find that they eat frogs, snakes, mice, shrews, small rats, and even insects.

Thank you Isis, I could have missed him.


Today the reprobate delights in skittering around the shrubbery in the Colour Garden, until naughty Ebbie sidles up close to her and barks loudly for her ball to be thrown.  Alarmed,  Isis makes off towards the new bowling green. I catch her and bring her back, sit on the bench and plonk her down between my feet, where she shelters for a few minutes.  Then the sun pops out, and she’s off again, this time in the direction of the car park.

Never mind, Isis, we’re visiting J. this afternoon. You’ll like that.

She does. He keeps a water bowl in his flat for her, and gives her a whole digestive biscuit.

Quite a week, Isis.


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

Posted in a very good dog, a very naughty dog, clever girl, Highbury Park, Isis and the snake, Isis says "No"., Kings Heath Park, strange behaviour, walking in the park, we don't like bright sun | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

creatures great and small



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday October 13th 2019


Polymath asked for a natural burial: no pollution, no religion, no speeches, no formal funeral. On Tuesday, we gather at Westall Park Woodland Burial Ground to say our final farewells.

Niece K brings with her flowers picked in the morning from her father and stepmother’s garden near Lincoln. As the car reaches Newark, a stowaway is discovered, a little jewel of a cricket, nestled among the foliage of the bouquet.







Before she places her flowers on the coffin, K. carefully disentangles tiny cricket’s flower stem from the others and lays it on the grass, a few feet away.

Polymath would have loved to know that she has a cricket for company, K. and I agree.


There are other small and beautiful creatures about.


We know that Nancy doodle isn’t small, but I leave her in the image to demonstrate how diminutive puppy Bo is.

Although she’s tiny and only fifteen weeks old, Bo is fearless. She’ll bounce up to any dog, whatever its size.




























One of her favourite playmates is Derek, a large, exuberant standard poodle. Kind-hearted Derek is totally tolerant of Bo’s audacious play attacks, and even lies down so that she can jump on him.

It is rare for larger, older dogs in the park to snap at Bo. Like most dogs, they recognise a puppy’s vulnerability.

And here’s Lexie, S.’s three month old German shepherd/collie cross.






She’s delightful. She’s already trotting obediently by S’s side, and responding diligently to recalls. She’s beautiful, and as soft as the inside of a feather duvet. I can’t keep my hands off her!

She’s much more timid than Bo, though, and shrinks when a much bigger Lexie, also three months old, runs over.

She needn’t have worried. This dog might be a giant, but she’s kind and gentle too.





Finally, here’s gentleman Blitz again. Strong and boisterous he may be, but he is clearly aware that Isis is vulnerable.





While his human Y. and I are chatting, Isis decides she’d like to be somewhere else. She swiftly removes herself from the scene, disappearing into the wooded area adjacent to the car park.

As she vanishes into the trees, Y. and I set off in pursuit; Blitz, however, shoots ahead, finds Isis and returns to show us exactly where she is.

Aren’t animals amazing?


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

Posted in Highbury Park, Isis in danger, Kings Heath Park, park dogs, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

little Daisy



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday October 6th 2019




Daisy August 4th 2019.




Polymath called her ‘Daisy-Bug’, or sometimes just ‘Bug’ because when she was a kitten she scuttled around the floor, over the furniture and up the wall paper like a little black beetle.

Daisy-Bug immediately took to Polymath’s other resident, puppy Ellie, who, having a very small, poodle mouth was unable to pick the kitten up by the scruff. Instead, she took kitten’s head in her mouth and carried her around like that. They played crazy games together, so crazy that Daisy was often taken upstairs for ‘time out’ so that both animals were forced to rest!

Little Daisy has been living with Isis and me for over two years. Regrettably, Isis and Daisy have not been companions. On Hairy One’s first visit to Wales she returned from a walk and stepped into her bed for a rest. Unfortunately, something furry and very cross was already in residence, and confronted her with spiky hisses. Poor Isis was terrified. They remained wary of each other thereafter.

This summer, as I’ve mentioned before, Daisy’s loses her appetite. Over the last few months she gives me more than a few scares, but the RSPCA vets bring her back from the brink with a gastro-intestinal dry diet and appetite enhancer.

She’s been on a wet food renal diet for some years, but a few months ago decides enough’s enough. She puts her paw down firmly and refuses to eat any more of it. We switch to renal diet dry food and she happily chomps her way through a bag of that.

Then, gradually, she eats less and less of the dry foods. The vet advises me to put her diet on hold and give her anything she’ll eat, just to try to increase her weight.

She loses interest in freshly cooked fish and chicken, previously gobbled down. For two or three weeks she is offered Sheba in terrine, in gravy, in jelly; Gourmet Mon Petit and Gourmet Gold. We try flakes, shreds and paté.  Ah, hope arise. She’s delighted with her first taste of ‘ocean fish’. But then she loses interest. And so it goes on. We work our way through tastes of everything we can think of that she might fancy.

Then, she barely eats at all. Then she stops eating altogether. She is so thin and frail that I stop forcing her to take medication. For three days she staggers from my bed to the bathroom for a drink and then lies stiffly in her cat tray. I pick her up and carry her back to the bed.

On Sunday September 29th she stops getting up for a drink but drinks when I take water to her. I torment myself, as we foolish humans do. I can’t take her to her vet. Travelling distresses her, it’s about eight  miles away and she’s too frail for the journey.

Now she turns her head away from the water when I offer it to her. It’s obvious that she is dying. I decide to ask the vet down the road to come and euthanise her the next day. But Monday comes and I can’t bear the thought of the vet sticking a needle into her frail little body.

If she shows any sign of distress or pain, I will call the vet. Of course.

She doesn’t. She sleeps. She no longer wants to be stroked.

On Tuesday morning, I see her flanks heave twice. Two deep breaths. She opens her mouth, releases a quiet little puff of air and dies.

When I check, I discover that I miscalculated her age. She’s twenty and six months. Thank goodness, she’s had a happy life. She’s never experienced cruelty or neglect.


I’ll miss you Bug.


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

Posted in a terrified dog, Isis and Daisy | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

the perfect border



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday September 29th 2019


At the beginning of August, Isis spends a week at Holly Trees Kennels while I enjoy a week in Uppingham with friends. She is there for another week this month while I stay with Polymath.

She is a very good little dog. She leaves the car and walks with me, unprotesting, through the main gate and into the yard. I hand her over to a new kennel person. But Isis doesn’t want to leave me behind, and stops on route to the kennel block. I suggest that under the chin taps will help. They do and, accepting her fate, Hairy One walks off obediently with the young lady.

During both of her stays, I ring to check that all is well. Ray’s daughter Wendy answers the phone and tells me that Isis is fine and jumping around playing with her toys as usual.

When I collect her, she has an excellent report: she’s as good as gold, a lovely dog, pleasure to have her.

Nowadays, I note, she knows exactly where our reunion will take place, and tugs gently towards me, tail at first waving in anticipation, then bursting into pleased wags as she reaches me.

Ray is standing talking to Adopted Niece and I, and, to my surprise, Isis nudges his legs and lifts up her head. “Ah, yes, treats,” says Ray. Apparently, every night Ray does a dogs’ bedtime treats round. He calls the other dogs out for their treats. When he gets to Hairy One’s kennel, he kicks the door!

During her August kennel stay, Isis undergoes a transformation: when she returns home to her dining room, she doesn’t regress to her wild, barky, snarly, growly food defending routines as she has every time she’s been in the kennels up until now.

Must be a fluke. Perhaps all the other dogs were very passive.

But no, it’s the same when she returns from her September stay. Back home, she eats like an ordinary, regular dog.

I ask Wendy whether Isis has ‘carried on’ at meal times while at the kennels. “She hasn’t”,  Wendy tells me, “she seems much more confident all round now.”

Well, I must say, it’s a huge relief not to have to go through weeks of tedious table manners retraining.

What a good girl!

And her reward for such impressive behaviour?

She couldn’t have a better one.






Torrential rain for days on end!


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

Posted in a very good dog, dear little Isis, Isis at Hollytrees, learning to trust, relationship building | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments