a tough day for Isis



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday April 24th 2022


Poor Isis has a tough day on Thursday.

First she is ambushed and plonked in the sink to have her rear end washed, then she is taken to the vet’s where she has a thorough M.O.T., her anal glands are emptied and, worst of all, a kennel cough vaccine is shot up her nostrils.

The cleansing of her rear end is the culmination of a campaign of deep cleansing: here is the shameful confession of neglectful Human.

Two months ago, when she went for her monthly anal gland emptying, the nurse pointed out to me that my dog’s genital area needed cleaning. She suggested shaving off some of Isis’s hair with clippers. To my shame, the shaved area revealed that my dog was, indeed, far from pristine.


Needless to say, I keep an eye on the visible parts of her; however, I’d forgotten about her urethra. When I examine the shaved areas on the insides of her thighs, I am horrified to find a dark yellow stain.

Fortunately, the stain is easily removed with warm water and cotton pads. There is no redness, nor any sign of infection. I guess our wet weather helps, as when she comes in from the rain, she is always dried all over.

Anyway, that’s how I come to be paying so much attention to her private parts before our vet visit on Thursday.

She isn’t impressed.

I must watch myself in case I make these examinations part of a compulsive – obsessive routine.

This appointment is with vet and practice partner Christian Hughes as Hairy One needs a health check and a kennel cough vaccination. Watching him work with Isis, I can see how the ethos of this excellent practice has been formed. Isis, too, is obviously impressed, and when we enter the consulting room, seagues immediately into angelic mode.

When I attempt to examine her ears, she flattens them so tightly to her head that it’s almost impossible to find the openings. When I’ve managed to lift an ear flap, and am peering inside an ear, she jerks her head away and turns her back on me, so that the procedure becomes an acrobatic challenge.

While Christian examines her ears she doesn’t even twitch.


She is just as composed when he holds her mouth open and examines all of her teeth, listens to her heart, completes all the other checks, and empties her anal glands.

Little creep.

But we are both taken by surprise when she vigorously resists the kennel cough vaccine, flinging her head around to avoid the touch of the syringe. In the end, she has to be positioned between my knees, her rump under the chair on which I’m sitting. While I grip her head firmly with both hands, vet places one hand firmly on the top of her head and administers the vaccine with the other.

“That was very frightening for her,” he says, “Not fair when she can’t see what’s happening.”

He tells me that there is an injectable version, and advises me that when she needs another dose, I should contact the practice a month beforehand so that the alternative vaccine can be ordered.

Poor Isis.

Like the veterinary nurse, he thinks it would be a good thing for me to clip Isis, and this time I remember to ask the make of the clippers the practice uses. Bev has lent me her clippers so I can check that Isis will tolerate my clipping attempts. Tomorrow I will have a go!

Another task I have is to reduce Someone’s food intake. She’s not much overweight, but we agree that fifteen kilos is an ideal weight, not going on for seventeen!

By the time we return home, poor Isis is exhausted. She just wants to sleep!









Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.

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out and about on terra firma



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday April 17th 2022


At the moment, Isis is part way through her annual undercoat moult. This process never fails to fascinate me.








She’s stopped dropping the long, white hairs from her top coat. I only trimmed it a few weeks ago, so that there was no fringe visible along the back of her legs, just a faint seam. Now, as you can see, it’s regrown with a vengeance.

Just above her legs, and across her shoulders and flanks, are dense, fat balls of undercoat, almost – but not quite, ready to be shed. Sometimes I can’t resist giving a helping hand to any which are no longer attached, but mostly they separate and drop off as she moves, leaving behind soft, warm, little swatches. When I collect them, almost immediately, I can feel their warmth seeping into my fingers, and it’s quite clear why she doesn’t want a dog-coat, even on the coldest of winter days.

I’ve always enjoyed sharing her fluff out at birds’ nesting time. It has never occurred to me that that this could be potentially harmful to adults and their chicks when used as a nest lining. But Bev tells me that she has read that the chemicals used in parasite treatments for dogs can be toxic to birds.

I wonder whether the toxicity diminishes over time, so that if a dog were not treated over the winter months, it would be safe to use its hair at nesting time.

Must do more research.

In the meantime I’m thinking of lining my walking boots with discarded clumps of undercoat. Or perhaps my bedsocks.


It’s been a good week for walks. Because we’ve had mostly dry days lately, the mud patches are gradually shrinking, which has enabled us to return to some of our most interesting haunts. This means that we have shady, sheltered venues we can retreat to when Isis struggles to tolerate the bright light.

Here, she is interrupting an enjoyable stroll on a narrow path alongside the river Rea, in order to check that Human is not too far behind her.







I still marvel at her ability to navigate this narrow, winding  path without stumbling into the river. There are numerous twists and turns, and in several places the bank has crumbled into the river, creating miniature ravines and narrowing the path to barely twelve inches.

Very challenging for  a deaf/blind dog, one would think, but Isis walks on confidently, following that remarkable pink and black spotty nose.

The tracks above the canal have been like mini quagmires for weeks, but they, too, are drying up and are navigable once more.






It’s very pleasant to be able to walk without sinking up to our ankles in thick, black mud.

Isis loves these tracks with all their exciting scent trails, and I love the emerging wild flowers, especially the delicate, bright white wood anemones.

So we’re both happy.

One day we walk the perimiter of Earlswood lakes with Bev and Nancy. It’s years since I did this, and it’s Hairy One’s first time here. At first she is hesitant, unsure of herself, and wanting to have her lead on, but after a while, she gets used to the paths.

Soon she becomes so intrigued by all the novel smells, that she is happy to be free, and so immersed in her world of smells that we have to keep stopping to wait for her to catch up with us.

I am taken aback by the variety of water birds we see: cormorants clustered round the edge of a small island, golden-eyes with their sharp, tapered beaks who dive deep beneath the surface as soon as you lift your camera, coots with their thrown together, lop-sided nests, an immobile heron staring at the surface of the water. Bev identifies a number of water birds I’ve not seen before, the names of which I’ve now forgotten.

There are also the ubiquitous robins – one of which eats mealie worms from her hand – and dozens of little woodland birds, mostly varieties of tits, flitting among the trees on the edges of the paths.

When we return home, Isis sleeps for hours like a hairy log.

Another day, in Highbury, we note again how much more confident Isis seems when she is with Nancy, even when we’re walking through splashes of sun and shade. Nancy is  calm and gentle around her, and, of course, Isis has known her for more than seven years.




Photo by Bev.



Altogether, a very enjoyable walking week, don’t you think, Isis?


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.

Posted in a joyful dog, clever girl, clever Isis, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, park dogs, park people, relationship building, scenting, we don't like bright sun | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

so what’s new?



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday April 10th 2022


It took this dopey blogger several months to realise that the reason she was unable to upload new images or videos was that the blog’s media library was full. She had misinterpreted the messages from WordPress. As always, the experts speak in an impenetrable code. Human would have understood if they’d said, ‘ Your media library is full. Delete stuff.’

Last week she wondered if erasing several thousand irrelevant images could possibly help, and hey presto!

Conclusion: Not the most competent I.T. person. Should always seek advice from someone more sensible. Not hard to find someone more sensible.

Anyway, it’s brilliant to be able to upload current Isis images again.

So what’s new?

Well, there’s the temporary door step which I was lucky enough to be gifted by a local Freegler. I mentioned it a while ago. Here it is.






And here is Isis demonstrating how to use it.









Then there’s her new dining room fixture.





She didn’t notice this, but never mind, it looks quite smart. (Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the decor. The evidence of past times when Hairy One went up the wall – literally – while defending her food from imagined creatures  – is still there.) The rest of the kitchen doesn’t look quite like this, honestly.

Now we come to this week. We’ve been having some lovely walks. Isis’s recent decision to tolerate patches of sunlight and shadow as long as I’m on the other end of her lead is very liberating: it means that we can walk to Isis-friendly areas like woodlands.

It’s not difficult to interpret her body language. The rapid descent of her tail until it becomes invisible = ‘EEEEEEEK! I’m frightened. Put my lead back on quick.’ While her tail popping back up = ‘Now take the lead off again and set me free to follow this scent.’

On the very changeable days which have characterised this and last month’s weather, Human is up and down like the proverbial yo-yo.


But this arrangement works well for us, and, who knows, it could be good for my health.

On one day this week, just before I intend to take her out, the sun goes in and the sky becomes helpfully grey. Then, as we step over the threshhold, the sun flashes out, the grey immediately dissipates, and Isis becomes rooted to the spot.

Fortunately, I manage to persuade her that we can reach the car safely, and she flinches her way forward.

It looks as though the sun is set in for the day, so when we get out of the car in Kings Heath Park, it seems ridiculous to put on waterproof trousers.

As we follow the familiar paths, the sky darkens a little, and Isis sets off happily down past the old bowling green towards some of her favourite places. We are just walking past the conifers, climbing the slope on the other side of the old bowling green, when the sky turns black and it begins to rain.

Isis, of course, is very pleased. She begins to trot.

I’m unconcerned. I’m used to these light showers. They don’t last long.

But the light rain becomes more insistent. Isis is delighted and begins to run around on the field above the old green. Hmm. It’s lasting longer than I expected. I’m going to get a bit damp, but hey, never mind, Hairy One’s so happy.

Then it happens: the drops becomes heavier and heavier until there’s a deluge, and a cold, strong wind whips the rain in sheets across the field.

Glancing around, I realise that there is no other person or dog in sight, and the downpour is obliterating the outlines of trees and hedges. My sodden jeans are draining into my waterproof walking boots, and when I wiggle my feet, I can feel water sloshing around between my toes.

Oh dear.

But my little dog is in seventh heaven. She’s racing up and down, head raised and jaws snapping. She’s eating the rain.

It’s getting late, but she’s so high, I can’t bring myself to take her back to the car park. Anyway, I can’t get any wetter.

We linger on the field for another twenty minutes.

When we reach home, I wring out my jeans and socks, put on dry clothes and hurry downstairs to dry Isis. I recall the first time I dried her and she flipped into hysteria. She quite likes being dried nowadays, but I have to be very, very careful or she takes offence.

Like a snail on tranquilisers, I go over her with the lightest of little pats.

It seems to take for ever, and I’m an hour late for my art group.

It was a lovely walk though, and when I return three and a half hours later, Isis is fast asleep.


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.

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news from Isis*

* transcribed by Human


A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday April 3rd 2022


You’ll never believe what happened last week. We are walking on the fields beneath Holders Lane, when I catch a very strange scent. I follow it. It isn’t  the smell of little feet close together like very small animals have; it isn’t the further apart smell of a very big dog or a human. It’s the smell of something with its feet very far apart. And it has made deep holes in the grass, so deep they’ve gone right through to the earth. There are four of them, and there are very long gaps between them. Each one has a slightly different smell, but you can tell they’re made by the same animal: a very big animal.

It’s amazing. It’s the most enormous smell I’ve ever found.

It’s very odd: I can smell the thing’s skin, but the skin smell isn’t on the grass, it’s a bit above the grass. It’s definitely the smell of someone’s feet, but not someone furry with sweaty paws like a dog or a cat. It isn’t the smell of someone with rubbery shoes on, like a human either. You won’t believe me, but the holes it’s made smell of metal.

After the four spread out holes, there’s a gap, then another four holes, then another gap, then four more.

I’m so excited that when I put my muzzle down the holes and find the strange scents, my tail won’t stop wagging. I’ve never found a scent like this one even though I’ve been on hundreds of walks.

The scents and the holes go on for a long time, not only going forward but sometimes curling around towards the left or the right, or going round in a very big circle. I follow them across two fields and nearly up to the car park.

Human keeps patting me and saying something. Dog knows what. I expect she’s certain she knows what the creature is. She doesn’t, of course, that’s for sure because she doesn’t even put her nose on the grass, let alone have a good snuffle in the holes.

When we next walk on the fields, I go straight back to where the lovely smelly holes are. But when I try to push my nose down them and give a huge sniff like last time, so I can enjoy the wonderful scent, lots of little seeds go up my nose. They are very tickly and they make me sneeze. I sniff around a few more, then I feel them with my paw. The holes aren’t there any more. They’re all filled up with seeds.

Who would want to spoil scents like that? Only a human, of course, and I can smell him.


Today, when we walk along the fields again, there aren’t even any dips in the grass where the holes were. You can still find a faint scent, but it’s not fresh and exciting any more.




Something exciting does happen soon after, though. We are in Highbury Park, high up near the beech wood. Suddenly, the wind blows through my whiskers, and I can smell something wet in the air. I stand very still, lift my head up to the sky and breathe in hard. I feel all excited inside, and wag my tail.

Human, of course, doesn’t do anything. She just stands around. It always takes her a minute or two to catch on.

Then it happens. Yes!

There’s something very light landing on the hairs on my back, and I feel little damp flakes on my muzzle.


I feel more alive than I’ve felt for weeks. I sniff the air again.

I sniff to the left and, just to make sure, I sniff to the right.








It’s still coming down!

I’m all tingly inside. I can hardly believe it. I jump up in the air. I open my mouth so I can taste it.










I set off at a run. I dash back and forth. Then I do something I’ve not done for ages – not since I felt very anxious and sad and kept getting upset at night –  I feel a stick under my paw, I snuffle for it and grab it with my teeth.







Then I run off with it.

Here’s the video so you can see it all for yourself …………………………………








I think I’m a happy dog again!


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.


Posted in a joyful dog, dear little Isis, frost and snow, Highbury Park, Holders Lane, scenting, something's not right, we don't like bright light | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

bright light



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday March 27th


Hmmmm. Not the best of weeks. First I lose my new hearing aid in Highbury Park, then my driving glasses disappear into thin air somewhere between the front garden and the back door.

And, as a jangling, nerve stretching background to these frustrating incidents, Isis ramps up her screechy, distracted barking.

Yes, she has stopped barking through the night. Unfortunately, she now barks in the early hours of the morning, beginning around dawn. She also barks quite frequently in the daytime and evening. After each outburst, she grabs her right back paw or barbers her tail.

She is unhappy, jumpy, tired and very irritable.

That makes two of us.

Like very knotty balls of wool, Hairy One’s problematic behaviours take a lot of untangling.

Every now and again, I think I may have found a thread which could lead to an explanation, and, hopefully to a remedy.

First I decide it has to be her anal glands, and book an appointment with the veterinary nurse.

But no, it’s not her anal glands. They’re fine, the nurse tells me, and points out that she emptied them only two weeks ago.

Whoops! Obviously, Hairy One’s hysteria is catching.

Is her skin allergy returning? Much to her disgust, I riffle through her coat, and examine her skin, millimetre by millimetre. No, not an inflamed patch or even a speck of dandruff.

Perhaps she has another fractured nail. The timbre of her barking is the same as it was when she had an injury to her nail bed before. Fighting off her growly protests – they’re sotto voce, because we’re not supposed to growl at Human – I separate each toe and check her nails and nail beds. All seem fine, although she does throw in a red herring by shedding a nail a few days later.

Meanwhile, I realise that while breakfasts are accompanied by volleys of barking, evening meals are generally quiet and uneventful. It is definitely the light which is bothering her while she is eating. Fair enough, Isis.

It’s a difficult one.

Moving her feeding stand to another location is not an option. She becomes hysterical. Understandable in view of food deprivation in her early life.

Cutting out the source of light isn’t possible either, as this would require complete blackout over a wide area.

I try a tall cardboard screen to shield her from the light, but she doesn’t tolerate that, either.

(I’ve just thought of a plan which might work, but let’s not  get distracted. For the time being, we’ll go along with noisy breakfasts.)

At the moment, it’s the escalation of the barking which concerns me most.

Her vocalisations are an expression of intense discomfort, and this is very concerning. Is she succumbing to doggy dementia? Is the behaviour indicative of a deep rooted, sinister problem?

These daytime and evening bouts are a new thing, but looking back to her early months with me, I recall that she used to spin and twirl on the floor instead. That was definitely light related, and the reason that I began keeping the blinds drawn in the back room.

On Saturday evening nothing I do quells the barking. In desperation, I ambush her in mid bark, and secure her Doggles over her muzzle and behind her ears.







When I’ve tried this previously, I’ve generally met fierce resistance, but this time she doesn’t protest when I put them on her. In fact, she seems relieved, and falls asleep almost immediately. She sleeps for several hours without a peep, and only wants them taken off when it’s time to go outside for her last pee of the day.


Human’s brain begins to clank into action. During February, it rained vitually every day. For most of March the days have been much sunnier, and even when it hasn’t been sunny, the light has been unusually intense.

Is it the intensity of the light which is affecting her? Have there been changes in her eyes? Or is it simply that she is less able to tolerate light now she is older?

Who knows? And perhaps it doesn’t matter. I guess it’s time to stop theorising, to focus instead on observing her responses in different environments, and to work out a plan of action.

Watch this space.


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.


Posted in crisis, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis in trouble, oh dear, poor Isis, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, twirling, we don't like bright light, we don't like bright sun, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

a kiss from Nancy



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday March 20th 2022  


On Thursday, Isis and I meet up with Bev and Nancy. Bev tells me how poor Rufus became more and more ill as they waited to take him for his apppointment, and when they arrived, he was unable to stand and had to be carried from the car to the surgery. The vet diagnosed cancer of the spleen, which is usually an indication that metastasis has taken place, that is, the cancer has spread from other infected parts of the body.

I’m not surprised when told that Nancy has not been herself since Rufus failed to return from the vet’s. She’s a year younger than her brother, and has rarely been separated from him. Some time ago, when he was absent for a while, she thought she was alone in the house, and howled like a banshee until Bev came down from the attic to ‘rescue’ her!

Now, apparently, she has lost all her energy, is very droopy, uninterested in what’s going on, and just wants to sleep. On walks, she’s been very clingy, and not wanted to leave her human’s side.

It’s clear that she’s pleased to see us, and wants plenty of strokes and pats. She also moves several metres away from her person and busies herself with some serious sniffing.








Rufus has always been Hairy One’s mentor and protector, while, apart from running alongside her brother as he performed his usual hearty greeting, Nancy didn’t show much interest in her.

But as we are preparing to leave Highbury, Nancy comes up to Isis and gently licks her face. And Isis, very uncharacteristically, doesn’t turn her head away.

Just as well Isis, because you only have one friend left now!









A couple of weeks ago, I am honoured with a unique gesture from my dog. Generally, when I join her on the day bed in the evening, she is snoozing snugly in my preferred spot. Nowadays, she no longer growls at me as I sit next to her, but moves away towards the other end of the bed. When she’s feeling affectionate, she shifts herself against my legs, and stays there, sleeping close to me, as long as I keep still. If I twitch a toe, she’ll express her displeasure with a low growl. She takes her sleeping time very seriously, and is not pleased to be disturbed – except when it’s last visit to the garden time, which she knows is a prelude to bedtime treats.

Almost invariably, she faces away from me, although often she’ll position her tail, with a soft ‘flumph’ on my lap. On this particular night, though, she does something very different: as I slide in behind her, she turns to face me, then wriggles towards my face until her nose is almost touching my chin; then she huffs  a contented sigh up my nose, and sleeps soundly for at least an hour.

I am so touched, so enchanted by this unheard of gesture that I daren’t move a centimetre.

Well, well.

Outside the house, although she is no longer terrified when people or other dogs approach her, she is still anxious, and moves away immediately. 

Only with Bev is she relaxed enough to stand still and accept being stroked, and she’ll not take even the most tempting treat from anyone else.

Similarly, there are only three other dogs  – all males –  of whom she’s not afraid.

The good news for March is that the nocturnal barking has faded away, and we’ve come to an understanding regarding her feeding times.

We are both very calm now. When invited with gentle pats, she walks into the kitchen in a dignified manner, and, prompted by the lightest of touches to her back, sits politely by her bowl until given the ‘eat it’ signal.

However much I try, it is impossible to black out every scrap of morning light, so I retire to another room and leave her to it. Now and then while eating, she barks at the light, but when she’s done, she walks away contentedly: there’s no craziness, no twirling or biting off swatches of her fur.

At present, it’s dark by dog’s teatime, and while she eats, all that can be heard is a steady munching.

Oh bliss!



Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.


Posted in dear little Isis, food rage, Highbury Park, Isis at home, park dogs, park people, relationship building, these dogs!, we don't like bright light, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

goodbye dear Rufus



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday March 13th 2022


Rufus has not been himself lately: he has been very weary and hasn’t wanted to eat. Some days he has seemed much more like the old Rufus, but his humans have been aware that he is gradually deteriorating.

On Wednesday morning, Bev drives the two dogs to Highbury Park for a walk, but Rufus doesn’t want to move, so she takes them home again.

Rufus is clearly very ill, and is deteriorating rapidly. His humans manage to get him an appointment, and soon after he returns from the park, he is rushed to the vet’s. There is no hope of successful treatment, his organs are failing, and they have to make the terrible decision to have their much loved dog put to sleep.

Rufus was twelve and a half, a good age for a big dog.

He first came to Kings Heath Park when he was ten weeks old.He soon joined in the rough stuff with my dog Ellie and her friends, puppies Billy,  Cookie, and Connor, and became part of our regular morning and evening meet-ups.

I don’t have photos of Rufus when he was a puppy,  as there was no blog in those days.

A year later, his sister Nancy arrived, and was quickly initiated into the ways a little sister was expected to behave. One day, his humans noticed little scabs all around her collar line. Clearly, big brother had been taking his responsibilities a little too seriously!

Stoical little Nancy hadn’t complained at all.

The following images are not necessarily in chronological order, but they capture some of the memories I have of him.

I love this one. He looks so soulful, as if he’s thinking








“Do I really have to wear this, just because my human thinks it’s easier to wash the mud out of the coat than to wash the mud off me?

Well, at least Nancy has to wear one as well.”

As Nancy became older, she quickly learned the ropes.

No prizes for guessing what’s going on here.








Yes, gardeners Alison or Dave must be on the scene, dispensing goodies from the treat truck.

Big brother was always keen to discipline Nancy, especially when she was disobedient; for example, if  she ignored their human’s recall command, he always punished her. He would stand a little distance away, completely still, stiff as a statue, and glare at her.

In the image below, she is well aware that Rufus will beat her up as soon as she moves, so she avoids eye contact and pretends that she’s looking at something else.

Perhaps he’ll forget that she’s there.

He won’t, Nancy: he knows that his little sister’s getting a bit above herself. It’s time to put her in her place.









She tries to sneak off, but he’s too quick for her …………………………










A dog has to do his duty, and most of their time they are the best of companions.





We like to share




Rufus loved puppies, but maybe he is thinking that his human is being a bit over attentive to this small interloper.






Nancy doesn’t seem to mind. I think she’s wondering what Isis is doing. (Connor has his back to us).




When Isis comes on the scene, she is terrified of people and she is terrified of other dogs. Eventually, she will play with the small fir trees on the bank, while the others romp around on the old bowling green. But if another dog approaches, she will escape through a gap in the hedge and go hide in the Colour Garden.

First Billy moves away, then Cookie. Poor Connar has to be put to sleep. Then Gilbert and George the greyhounds, who kindly allowed her to accompany her on their walks for months when I was ill, go to live in Wales.

Kings Heath Park becomes very busy with walkers, and almost every day now, Isis walks with Rufus and Nancy in Highbury. Gradually, she loses her fear. Although she still tries to escape their extremely enthusiastic greeting – especially Rufus’s running muzzle bop, it becomes obvious that she is more confident when she is with them than she is on her own. They share sniffs, and she becomes used to them touching against her when they pass on a narrow track. (It must be said that Nancy is less tolerant than her brother, who is always careful with Isis, and waits in a gentlemanly fashion to pass her.

Rufus always looks out for her; on more than one occasion he has seen off canine strangers when they have bothered her.









He was a sweet, kind dog who always looked out for Isis. This image was taken last year in Cannon Hill Park, which was still unfamiliar to Isis. When she sets off down the slope towards the lake, Rufus trots after her. He doesn’t think she knows where she’s going and needs taking care of. He’s right.





Don’t worry Isis. I’m here.




You can see the kindness in his little face. I think she’ll miss him. I will too.

But not as much as his sister and his humans will. They, of course, are devastated.

Goodbye dear Rufus, loving and much loved dog.


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.





Posted in Highbury Park, Isis meets other dogs, Kings Heath Park, learning to trust, park dogs, park people, relationship building, the dogs of King's Heath Park, walking in the park, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments


Wedesday March 9th 2022


Apologies for the missing post. I wrote it on Sunday and forgot to publish it. Thank you Bev for alerting me.

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Human capitulates



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday March 6th 2022


Yes, that’s right. I give in.

Over the last week, Isis’s mealtime behaviour becomes more and more extreme.

The crunch comes one evening, when she gives me a preview of what is to follow.

As soon as I walk into the kitchen to prepare her food, she sits close to the kitchen door, and begins a growly prelude. Then she emits a loud volley of barks, leaps into the hall, spins fast and furiously before twirling her way into the kitchen, and leaping up and down snapping and snarling at the empty food stand. After several minutes of ear-splitting shrieks, in a flurry of nipped off hair and angry barking, she returns to her original position.

I am stunned.

She is well past responding to any attempts at calming her, so I leave the scene, go into the front room, sit down and try to make sense of what my strange little dog is doing.

It’s as though she’s presenting a dress rehearsal of the scenario she has come to expect. Before she has even been given her food, she is enacting what will happen: what I have taught her will happen.

I finally accept that my once successful approach is no longer working.

A decision has to be made. Do I continue picking up her food, and walking away? On more than one occasion this week, I have done this four times before she has eaten quietly. It’s a wearying process:

1. prepare meal

2. unscrew clamp which holds drinking bowl in place

3. remove drinking bowl so that she doesn’t slosh water all over the floor

4. put water bowl in a place where she can’t jump in it

5. give her the ‘come into the kitchen’ sign

6. direct her to sit

7. switch off the kitchen light so that it doesn’t trouble her

8. double tap her under the chin to indicate ‘eat’

9. depart from kitchen cautiously so that she’s not disturbed

10. wait in the dark in the room next door, ready to shoot back in and remove her food bowl as soon as she barks, and prepare to repeat the process a number of times until she eats without defending her food

What will she do, I wonder, if once I’ve given the ‘eat it’ signal, I leave her to get on with it, if I ignore the battle cries?

The next morning I do just that. She barks twice over her breakfast, then crunches steadily until she’s finished. No spinning, no snapping, no tail nipping, no spillage.

Dog’s tea time is similar. So is the next morning’s breakfast.

What a relief.

On Wednesday evening, when I leave her and go to sit in the front room, there’s not a sound. I can’t even hear her crunching.

After a few minutes, she comes to join me. But she doesn’t come over to my chair to check in. That’s  unheard of. She curls up on the rug and closes her eyes. She looks very dejected. There’s something wrong here.

I get up to check her bowl. She pads down the hall after me.

I peer into the kitchen. To my surprise, she’s not touched her food. That’s very odd.

Is she feeling ill?

She squeezes past me, positions herself in her dining area, and sits up very straight. She tilts her head up towards the ceiling, as she always does when she’s waiting  to eat.









What on earth’s the matter with her?

Then the answer suddenly hits me. I forgot to give her the ‘eat it’ signal. But she’s always a hearty eater. Surely she would eat anyway, signal or no signal.

Just to test my theory, I give her the signal.

Immediately, she  begins to eat.

Obviously, I conclude, while it’s O.K. for a dog to carry on like a hound from hell while dining, it’s just not done to begin one’s meal before being given permission.



Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.

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the past revisits us with a vengeance



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday February  27th 2022


The night/ early hours barking is fading. She only barks on two nights, and there are only two outbursts each  time.

On Monday S. the engineer comes to replace and re-route the pipes connected to the fire and the hob. It’s a challenging job, and he works in the kitchen for five hours without a break while Isis and I stay in the front room.

When he leaves, we go for a late walk, arriving home not long before dog’s tea time.

I serve Hairy’s tea, switch off the kitchen light, and retire to the backroom where I hover ready to remove her food dish as soon as she begins her regressive meal time cacophony.


Nothing happens for a minute or so, then a cowed white shape passes through the doorway and joins me on the day bed. I check her bowl. Her meal has not been touched, even though it contains a fat sardine.

I guess that she doesn’t feel secure enough to eat in the area where S. has been working all day. To  her highly sensitive nose, his scent must be oppressively strong. She, of course, has  no way of checking whether or not he is still there. She’s not about to risk being attacked and robbed of her food.

She curls up beside me and goes to sleep. I know that she must be extremely hungry as it’s nine hours since she had her breakfast. Poor little thing. I feel very sorry for her.

In case anyone wonders why I don’t feed her somewhere else, it’s because she becomes extremely anxious and disorientated if her food bowl is relocated; I do, however, take a handful of food from the bowl and offer it to her. As I expect, she turns her head away.

I text the Cornish Oracle, my long time animal expert mate N. He advises me to ignore her and let her eat when she’s ready. This I do – well, I stroke her and talk to her in a sing-song voice, hoping that she’ll pick up soothing vibrations!

At ten o’clock, thirteen hours after she had her last meal, she takes herself into the kitchen and quietly eats her tea.

That night she barks a couple of times, then settles.

By Tuesday she seems to have recovered, and we have another raucous breakfast time.

It has occured to me since we spoke to the veterinary nurse, that Isis is stressed because she picked up my stress following the gas leak, emergency call-out and ensuing days without heating or hot water. And the foot and leg chewing, biting swatches of hair off her side and tail, and the hysteria around food are simply her default responses to stress.







I determine to be very relaxed around her at all times, not to communicate any negative feelings whatever she does, but simply to go through the usual routine: invite her into the kitchen to eat, make sure she sits and waits, give her the ‘eat it’ signal, then move smoothly away. If, or, currently, when she lets out a furious bark, I walk calmly into the kitchen and gently confiscate her food stand. She loses it completely, spinning around in frenzied circles,  growling, snarling, snapping, barking and scissoring off swatches of her hair. Sometimes, after this hysterical display, she sits in the doorway and barks for several minutes. When she stops, I return her food stand, and we try again.

Often, we go through this process three times before she finishes her meal. Several times she comes into the kitchen growling and barking before I’ve even put her food in place. When she does this, I stop my preparations, leave the kitchen, and do something else. It is only in the last few days ago that I remember this ploy and how well it worked years ago.

We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re getting there.

Now, apart from our mealtime challenges, Isis is her sweet self again. Even straight after a feeding kerfuffle, she bears no grudges, but trots happily into the porch to have her harness and lead put on for her walk.

The fact that she never displays aggression at other times, makes me think again what horrible experiences she must have had before she escaped from her home and was rescued by Aeza.

Chained up and unable to see or hear animals or people approaching her, she’d have struggled – and mostly failed – to defend her food from other animals, including birds. She would have been very, very hungry.

So I guess she deserves some tolerance.


Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@azea.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.

Posted in crisis, deaf/blind dog, food rage, Isis at home, Isis in trouble, oh dear, patience is a virtue., poor Isis, scenting, self-damaging, self-harming, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, what on earth's the matter?, who'd be a human? | 4 Comments