vets, baths and something else nasty



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


Sunday August 18th 2019


What a relief that the kennels situation is resolved.

Home from the vet’s, poor Isis is subjected to a very long and thorough bath and rear end trim.

She hates every minute, of course. Why wouldn’t she? She has warm water drizzled through her coat until she is soaked to the skin; shampoo is worked into her hair, even into her beard and the streaming strands around her ears.

When she decides that enough is enough, she lifts one sad, sodden, little front paw out of the sink and plonks it on the draining board. Before she succeeds in lifting up the other front paw to join it, nasty Human returns the paw to the sink. Hairy One lifts the other front paw, and the same thing happens. We have a little paw dance, but Isis is defeated.

The torment continues. In fact, things get worse. Human wields the dreaded scissors and trims around Dog’s private parts. Not so private, now, poor little creature.

She knows this isn’t right. She growls and grabs my hand. I don’t blame her: she’s been very patient. I’m expecting a bite, but I don’t get one. She holds my hand firmly between her two rows of sharp teeth for a few seconds, then releases it unmarked.

Dear little dog. I’m  impressed. And very touched. “What a good little dog,” I tell her, “What a very good little dog.”

I rinse her, wrap her in a large towel, and squeeze out as much water as I can. Then we both have our breakfast before setting off for the park.

She’ll only have two fifteen minute outings a day while she’s in kennels, so I plan to give her a couple of hours in Highbury before I leave her at Hollytrees.

Much to my surprise, she’s reluctant to leave the car. Then, having fulfilled her obligations, she turns back towards the car park.

When I persuade her to venture onto the meadow – which normally she returns to happily every day – she walks cautiously by my side until I take off her harness.

Then, instead of trotting off to enjoy the space, she stops in her tracks and stands stock still.





She’ll not move until I return to her side and tap-tap under her chin. And tap-tap again. And again. When I stop tapping, she stops moving.






We’ve only moved on a few feet. Again I tap. She walks slowly forward. I stop tapping. She stops walking.





This is very strange. Clearly, she’s not terrified, just wary and apprehensive.

I walk over to a log and sit down.

She lifts her head and sniffs the air.






I wait and watch her.

She begins to sniff her way towards me. When she reaches me, she lies down very close to my feet, and there she stays, head raised, sniffing the air.

This is unheard of. She never wastes her time sitting with Human when there’s all that space to enjoy.

She’s definitely not happy. Something is wrong. Something which she is aware of, and I am not.

Obviously, she is not about to run around and enjoy herself. What a shame.

She seems quite relieved when I fasten on her harness, and walks, briskly now, by my side to the car park.

Once home, she’s fine. I let her play in the garden until it’s time to go.

That evening, as I sit in the house, dogless, I learn that there have been thunder storms around Birmingham.

I guess that she sensed danger. But I heard nothing, and she is deaf!

How did she know?



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 vet visit, clever girl, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis in danger, Isis says "No"., oh dear, poor Isis, scenting, strange behaviour | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

these humans!



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


Thursday August 15th 2019


First, apologies from Human, who hoped to return to her saga yesterday. Her intentions were beyond reproach, but she fell asleep with Isis on the day bed. When she came round at  2.15 a.m., it was already today, so to speak.

She returned on Tuesday from a week away staying with friends in Uppingham (the other side of Leicester.)

The holiday was very enjoyable: stimulating, peaceful and relaxing.

The days leading up to it, however, were anything but.

As we know, Daisy had been back and forth to the vets for about six weeks threatening to quit this life, and was only just beginning to come round.

Fortunately, Emma, cat sitter par excellence, came to look after her.

Although she’s not eating as much as she needs, Daisy’s digestive system recovered day by day, and is now better than it’s been for years.







I’d made an appointment for Isis (anal gland time again) for Monday August 5th, the day before she was to go into kennels. I knew that her vaccination was due in August and looked at her record to check the date. There was no entry for last year, so I assumed that I’d not taken the record with me at the time.

To my horror, the vet could find no record of Hairy One having had a booster last year. I couldn’t believe it, but, clearly, she hadn’t. She needed to begin again.

The vet asked whether I wanted Isis to have a kennel cough shot. This seemed a good idea, so she went through the pros and cons, the last of which was that a dog should not have a kennel cough shot if anyone in the home had a compromised immune system.

“I do,” I acknowledged, “But I’ll only be with her until tomorrow because she’s going into kennels.”

Then the vet dropped a bombshell. She told me that some kennels will not accept a dog unless s/he has had the kennel cough vaccination, but it has to have been done at least three weeks before.

She kindly checked out Holly Trees online.  They do not insist on the vaccination.


But they do state that all vaccinations have to have been completed at least four weeks before the dog comes in.

Yikes! What should we do?

The vet thought that since Isis had been vaccinated annually until last year, and I had used the kennels for over forty years, they might well feel O.K. about accepting her even if she had only just had the first of the two shots required. But it would be a good idea to speak to them before the first half of the vaccination was given.

The vet kindly held on for thirty minutes while I tried to phone Holly Trees, but I was unable to get through. Eventually, we decided that while Isis might not be accepted if she’d only  just had the shot, she’d be just as likely to be rejected because she’d not had her booster the year before.

So she was vaccinated.

An hour later, when I got through to Holly Trees, T. told me she was sure everything could be sorted out when we got there.






These humans ……..


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 vet visit, Newbrook Farm, RSPCA | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

these animals!



Special notice: Human is taking off next Wednesday (August 7th) and next Sunday (August 11th). She hopes to blog again on Wednesday August 14th.


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


Sunday August 4th 2019


It’s Monday, and I’ve almost arrived at the Q.E. (Queen Elizabeth Hospital) with my original appointment letter and my reminder letter, as requested, when I’m suddenly struck by doubt. The appointment I’m aiming for is at twelve. But, for some strange reason, eleven-thirty flashes into my mind. Oh, hell, am I late? I retrieve the letters from my bag and look at them.

No, I’m not late. I’m early. The time is correct, but the appointment’s on Thursday, not today.


So the week proceeds apace. I make numerous mistakes, lose even more stuff than usual, and frequently forget what I’m doing.

I can’t blame Isis, who is being uncharacteristically well-behaved.

It’s Daisy.







Six weeks ago, she begins leaving most of her food. Then, for three days she barely eats at all. She’s very thin. Her fur is dull. She’s lethargic, sleeping all the time and not demanding attention. Her faeces are loose.

What does the seasoned cat owner do? Yes, of course. Panic.

But I must be sensible. Daisy’s almost nineteen and a half. She’s closing down. I shouldn’t put her through the blood test which she is due to have for her thyroid condition. It’s not fair. I must accept that she’ll not be with us for long and just give her palliative care.

I dread telling her owner Polymath, who is unwell herself. She dotes on Daisy.

Then, after three days, she begins to eat again. It suddenly occurs to me that it’s been  extremely hot. Perhaps that’s what has affected her appetite.

I’m still very apprehensive, though, when we set off for her blood test, and fantasise the vet’s response to our much loved and ailing feline: “Well, she is almost nineteen and a half now, you know …………………”

Not surprisingly, when she’s put on the scales, they register a significant weight loss. She’s given a very thorough examination, but nothing is found which can account for her condition.

We wait for the thyroid result in case her medication needs to be increased. The other results will be available on Monday. We leave with a large syringe of probiotics, and some antibiotics. This will be great fun. Not.

The blood test reveals only one anomaly: her calcium level is significantly higher than it should be. This could be indicative of a cancer, or just a one-off spike.

We do not enjoy our – very frequent – medication sessions. Daisy hates the regime. Of course she does. She’s a cat.

She finds the probiotics particularly distasteful. She knows that she’s being poisoned and does her best not to swallow any. Her little face, my tough calico smock, the duvet and the floor are bespattered with probiotics.

She also refuses to eat her thyroid pills wrapped in cheese, which she usually attacks with joy. So those have to be forced on her too.

After a few days of struggle and strife, I poke her into the bottom of a tight polo necked t-shirt and hold the bottom closed. Immediately she pops her little head out of the neck. She looks very sweet, but this is no time for a photo opportunity; it’s much easier to give her the medicine and tablets though.

After two fraught weeks we see the vet again. Daisy has gained one gram. Not much, agrees the vet, but at this stage, positive.

The vet thinks that getting her patient to eat and regain weight must come before the renal diet. She  suggests that for two weeks I give her anything she’ll eat, then bring her back. We leave with a worming liquid, just in case.

Daisy enjoys two weeks of chicken, fish and Sheba luxury cat food.

Isis’s little spotty nose twitches excitedly while the food is being prepared, so she enjoys some chicken and fish too.

So Daisy is eating. But despite antibiotics, probiotics, worming, chicken and fish, her diarrhoea is not improving. It’s getting worse.

On Thursday, I am on my way to the Q.E. again when I have a call from Ja. who is at my house. She’s very worried about Daisy whom she has just observed expelling a stream of liquid from either end.

She has consoled Daisy and left her sleeping.

Oh dear, oh dear. Shall I get off the bus, return home and miss the appointment? I don’t,  as I have to pick up medication. These appointments are always on time. I shouldn’t be out long.

Arriving home, I realise that I’ve forgotten to collect the medication.


I find little Daisy snuggled under my duvet. She greets me with a cheery ‘prerp’ and stretches out a front paw contentedly.

I make an appointment for her for the next day. And I think. Hard.

She’s not closing down, I conclude. Since the heat wave, she’s always pleased to see me. She pops into bed for a fuss every night. In the morning, when, after a shower, I wrap myself in a towel and lie on the bed to dry off, she hurries over to lie on my chest and purr. Her eyes are bright.She is very alert.

“She’s just like her usual Daisy self,” I explain next day to the vet, “but with a bad gut.” The vet concurs. Again, Daisy is given a thorough examination. No lumps are found. Her  mouth, ears and temperature are O.K. Her heartbeat is strong.

She is given another blood test. We wait for the result, which the vet interprets for us. The thyroid reading is stable, the calcium count is now at the top of the ‘high normal’ range. The kidney function has deteriorated. This is not unexpected since her strict renal diet has been set aside.

The vet spends a lot of time with us, and carefully explains his thinking. Daisy’s kidney and thyroid functions are compromised and she has persistent diarrhoea. He thinks that at the moment we must prioritise stabilising her gut and increasing her weight.

He advises changing her over to a Royal Canin gastro-intestinal diet. If this does not help, the next step is to scan her, searching for cancers.

I leave feeling reassured. We have a plan. The diet may work. We’ve agreed to see what happens over two weeks, then, if there’s an improvement, gradually add in the renal diet over a further week. If all goes well, we’ll return in three to four weeks when she needs more thyroid tablets.

I try not to raise my hopes, but that’s difficult, of course.

We start her on the new diet immediately. She eats it, thank goodness. Amazingly, by the end of the following day, Saturday, there’s already an improvement.

I’ve not had to change her tray since yesterday. She’s eating her new food, seems comfortable and contented, and, after six weeks of worrying about her imminent demise, I am relaxing a little myself.

These animals!


*Daisy was homed when she was six weeks old. 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 Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

…….. and goodbye Gilbert and George



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


Wednesday July 31st 2019


I thought that Isis might be reluctant to walk in Kings Heath Park after her misadventure, but she seems perfectly happy to be there again. She even saunters nonchalantly into the Colour Garden and plays there as though nothing ever happened.

Thank goodness for that.

Here she is emerging from the erstwhile scene of trauma.






It’s Saturday. Human lingered late in bed, so it’s afternoon before we reach the park. It rains most of the day, and the park is very quiet at first. Then, slowly, dog walkers appear. They’ve decided that the weather isn’t about to improve so they may as well get the wetting over with.

The first brave soul we meet is B. with Lori and Manny. They time their entrance well: they discover a lovely fried egg near the pond. Their luck is in; it looks freshly dropped. They give every impression of enjoying their egg thoroughly, their appetites, no doubt sharpened by the fact that their human is in hot pursuit.

It’s still raining next day when Ji., Isis and Human drive to Highbury for a last walk with R., S., Gilbert (Bertie to his friends) and George. They are moving away to a home near to the Welsh border.

Bev. and T are already there with Nancy and Rufus.

Tr. has also come to wish them well, and Tr., Bev and I talk about how much confidence Isis has gained through walking regularly with Rufus and Nancy. Tr. tells us about his latest rescue, a little border collie bitch who had never been taken for a walk or socialised, and is terrified of everything. He asks if he could bring her to Highbury to walk with us, and we agree to set this up when he returns from holiday in two weeks time.

I look forward to meeting her, poor little creature.

Then S., R., Bev, T., J. and I set off around the park with the five dogs.

R. and S.leave tomorrow, and have moved all but the basics from their old house. Although Bertie and George are as high as kites today, they have, apparently, taken in their stride the dismantling of their home. They haven’t shown any signs of stress, although Bertie was a little incredulous about the disappearance of the sofa!

It was S. and R. who took Isis with them to the park several times a week over many months when I was incapacitated a couple of years ago. And it was R. who bravely allowed Isis to play off-lead in the Colour Garden. It was R. to whom Isis made her first ever overture for a treat, giving two loud, purposeful woofs as she stood at the back of the crowd and smelled the other dogs enjoying their gravy bones.

Goodbye, our park friends. You will be very much missed.


*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, adopted dogs, Highbury Park, Kings Heath Park, learning to trust, park dogs, park people, relationship building, rescue dogs, the dogs of King's Heath Park, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

and again



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


Sunday July 28th 2019


How long ago was it when I posted this message on facebook?


‘I’ve just lost my driving glasses in Highbury. I think they’re in the next meadow along from the car park, somewhere between the car park and the group of three dead trees.I was sitting one of the logs beneath the nearest tree when I last remember having them.They are sort of reddish brown, have openwork and plastic ‘stones’ along the arms. They have lenses which go dark when exposed to light.If you find them, it’d be great to have them back, even if you’ve trodden on them or the dog’s chewed them!

Pat the dozy’


It was only five days ago last Friday. I swore, of course, that I’d not wear the (new) glasses  in the park again before I bought a cord with a strong clasp to secure the blasted things round my neck.

I was so lucky to find them, undamaged, on the grass the next day, that no way would I wear them again without securing them. I’m not that stupid.

Oh yes I am.

On Wednesday and Thursday, we take the dogs out early because it’s so hot. Much too hot for photography. It’s crushingly humid too, so once home I stay in during the day time. I don’t go near anywhere which sells spectacle cords.

On Friday we’re back in Highbury.

I always repeat the same pattern. As I walk something interesting catches my eye, usually something which I could use in a drawing. I’m excited by a shape, a rhythm or just the juxtaposition of things – like this, for example





or this


or this.





I reach for my phone, take off my distance glasses with my left hand and focus on the object of interest.

Once I’ve captured the image, I become absorbed in fantasising about how I might use it. So absorbed, that I forget about the glasses which drop to the ground as I walk off.

We’ve reached the community orchard, almost at the end of our walk, when I realise that I’m not wearing my glasses.

Tolerant beyond the call of duty, Bev takes all three dogs over to a log on the meadow below the orchard while I retrace my footsteps to the beginning of the woodland path.

No glasses.

Neither of us, of course, can recall when I was last wearing them. Bev suggests walking back to the old Italian Garden and searching there.

Isis is puzzled when asked to follow the route again. She’s not keen, but complies. A dog never knows, after all, what its human might do next.

Following the order of the images on the camera roll, I check diligently around the spots I  visited earlier.


This is strange. Then it suddenly dawns on me that I not only removed my glasses to focus on objects, but also stopped to check a text I’d received.

I take Isis back to the car. Fortunately, it’s much cooler today. With the sun roof open she’ll be fine for twenty minutes while I carry out one last search.

It’d be a good idea, I decide, to scrutinise the original path we took from the car park to the beginning of the woodland walk.

Staring at the ground all the way to the Italian Garden reveals nothing. Nor does another, even more thorough, search of the garden.

But about a third of the way along the asphalt path the other end of the garden, I find the glasses.


Unfortunately, I’m not so lucky this time. It’s obvious that someone has trodden on them. The frame is bent, and the lenses have popped out. The left lens is cracked.

In the afternoon I take them to the optician. The right lens appears to be fine, but the frame may not be repairable. All the parts must be returned to where they were assembled. The receptionist will phone me early next week.

Whether they can be repaired or have to be replaced, I swear I’ll not leave the shop without a security cord.

Perhaps an iron chain would be a safer bet.


*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, Highbury Park, walking my deaf/blind dog, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , | 2 Comments

what’s up Isis?



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


Wednesday July 24th 2019


Something interesting happened early last week, but this was eclipsed (couldn’t resist the word) by losing Isis last Friday.

Isis rarely has nocturnal panics as she did in the past. If, occasionally, she wakes from a frightening dream, her growly snarls last only a few seconds, then she goes back to sleep. But even brief nocturnal episodes like this are rare.

On the night of July 15th something strange happens.

I awake to her barking.

Now, I have only identified two current patterns of night barking. One I interpret as a warning bark. This comprises sharp, staccato woofs, interspersed with low growls, and tends to be intermittent. If it’s persistent, I put on lights upstairs and downstairs, and survey the garden. Whatever she has sensed usually goes away.

The other I am pretty sure is a bark of complaint that she has been left downstairs. This comes soon after I’ve disappeared upstairs, and consists of one or two cross bursts. They rarely occur over a period of more than ten minutes.

But on the night of Monday July 15th, she barks loudly and persistently. Oddly, this is neither of her familiar barks. I wait for her to stop and go back to sleep, but she doesn’t. It dawns on me that she sounds distressed, and I go downstairs.

She clearly is distressed. She’s wide awake, alert, tense and breathing very rapidly. Generally, if I disturb her for any reason once she’s fallen asleep, she is quite cross and warns me off with a disgruntled snap. Tonight, her tail wags when I sit down beside her: she’s obviously pleased to smell me.

She relaxes immediately, and soon falls asleep. After about forty minutes I creep back upstairs.

Next morning she seems fine when I wake her, but a little jumpy when we pass out of the dark into the light of the hall, then the porch. Yet this is not unusual: the change of light often causes her to duck and dive a bit, even though she’s keen to get out for her walk.

Off we go to Highbury. It’s a dullish day, and I expect her to enjoy herself.

I’m very taken aback when she is reluctant to get out of the car. She must have smelled something which has made her fearful, although I can’t see anything which would normally cause a reaction. In the early days, of course, she’d not emerge into the sun; nowadays, however, she loves Highbury so much that she’ll even face the sun, albeit gingerly.

“Come on, silly dog”, I tell her and haul her out.

Although I manage to herd her a few metres along the path, she is clearly unhappy. She has a hasty pee and a poop, then heads back to the car park.

I don’t understand her behaviour. I can’t remember the last time she was like this. How very strange.

But there’s always a reason for a dog’s behaviour, and I know that I shouldn’t have made her leave the car. Thoughtless Human.

We turn round and return home.

Perhaps she would enjoy playing in the garden.

No, she wouldn’t. She backs away from the door, and retreats to the day bed in the back room.

She stays in one of the two downstairs rooms – whichever one I’m in – all day until about six-thirty in the evening when she is happy to go out into the garden.

The next day, there is talk about the partial eclipse which occurred on Monday night. I relate Hairy One’s strange behaviour, and ask, “Do you think it could be connected in any way to the eclipse?”

“Definitely”, is the response of several friends.

I know that Isis reacts strongly to atmospheric changes but I don’t know much about eclipses.

What do you think?






*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, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., nightmares, oh dear, poor Isis, strange behaviour | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

searching for Isis podengo



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


Sunday July 21st 2019






It’s Friday afternoon, a dull day, sultry, and quite warm enough to sit outside. I decide we’ll go to Kings Heath Park and see if G. fancies a coffee and cake after Hairy One’s had her exercise.

Isis walks on lead with me round the park, then we head down to the old bowling green. It’s empty. Plenty of space for Isis to run.

But she’s not her usual confident self. She sniffs around for about half an hour, then finds a stick and heads off with it towards the Colour Garden.

Oh. O.K.

I follow her. She trots around the edges of her favourite shrubbery for a while, then she weaves her way in among the thick foliage, as she often does. Now and again I hear a loud jingle-tingle from her bell as she moves around.

G. and I have arranged to meet at the park café at four. It’s only round the corner, so it’s not time to set off yet. But at three thirty-five I suddenly realise that it’s at least ten minutes since I’ve heard Hairy One’s bell tinging.

Generally, when it’s time to move on, I walk slowly round the circumference of the bed, Isis picks up my scent, she emerges from the trees and shrubs, and off we go.

I’m surprised when she doesn’t appear, but not concerned. She’ll be snoozing under the dense fir tree. I walk around the tree, parting its branches at different points to peer through to the base of the trunk.

She’s not there.

I go into the bed and look around, lifting up low branches, and peering into bushes.

She’s nowhere to be found.

How on earth she has managed to leave the Colour Garden, without me seeing or hearing her, I can’t imagine. As usual, I’ve been sitting on the bench. When we’re there together, and she’s ready to go, she either trots past me, trying to dodge onto the bowling green, or slips through the trees the other side of the bench. If I didn’t see her, which is highly unlikely, I would have heard the loud and distinctive sound of her bell.

Now I’m getting anxious. I walk quickly onto the basketball court, where a lad is practising shots, and ask him if he’s seen a white dog. He says that he has, and he thinks it was ‘going that way’. He points onto the field which butts up to the little wood, and kindly offers to help me look for her. His name is D.

There are a number of little paths into the wood, and D. suggests that it might be easier if other children help us.

When I look around I see that a huge number of children from Colmore Primary School, and their accompanying adults are gathered at the other end of the field, the pond end. It’s the last day of the school year, and, obviously, this is an outing.

D. soon recruits other children to help with the search, and it’s not long before dozens of children are racing through the wood, searching for Isis. (Yes, I do check with each child I meet, that his/her adult knows where s/he is.)

There are one or two false sightings by two of the very little ones, and their excited cries of, “We’ve found her”, raise my hopes fleetingly.

Some of the older children organise hunts all over the rest of the park, and one or two concerned parents and at least one grandmother join in. I cross and recross the little paths, parting brambles to search in bushes, trying to remember all Hairy One’s favourite spots.

A steady drizzle sets in.

The battery of my mobile is close to shutting down. I never let that happen, but today, of all days, I have.

Fortunately, J. walks into the wood with her three Dogwatch rescues. She has to go to work and can’t stay, but tells not only G., but also the café personnel, the duty park ranger, and everyone else she meets about poor Isis.

It is now almost an hour and a quarter since we began hunting for Isis. I try to remain positive, but it’s not easy. Fantasies crowd in: Isis has left the park; she’ll be killed on the road; she’ll be stolen and ill-treated; I’ll never see her again.

I know I can’t leave the park without her. And, perhaps, if I sit quietly on the field, she might appear when everyone else has left and it’s dark.

I decide that I’ll walk to the car park, just in case she’s found her way back to the car. I can  update G. on the way, then search along the edge of the park by the railway, and check the Colour Garden once more.

Then I catch sight of G. making his way towards me. He intends to search the Colour Garden again because this is the part of the park to which she most relates.

We go over together. G. searches the perimeter of the shrubbery, looking carefully under bushes and trees, while I go into the centre and examine the same foliage from the other side.

I don’t for a minute expect to find her. Most of the children have already checked here. I looked in the bed before widening my search. But Graham is right: this is the where she feels secure, and, anyway, I must re-examine every bit of the park.

In the bed is an enormous hypericon shrub. I’d looked underneath it before from the inside of the bed, and G. has just done so again, from the outside.

On a whim, I drop onto my hands and knees and peer into the base of the bush. Then I stick my head into the bush. At first I see nothing. Then I glimpse a tiny patch of white – a  piece of screwed up paper, I think. But my eyes must have accommodated to the gloom, because I can now make out other patches of white, rough little triangles, separated by criss-crossing branches, twigs and leaves.

And suddenly the shapes come together and I can make her out.

“G!”, I shout, “She’s here! She’s here! I’ve found her.”

“But I’ve just looked inside there!”, replies G. astonished.

She’s so deep inside the bush that I can’t reach in far enough to touch her from here, so I walk round to the front and begin pushing my way in.

She doesn’t move, even enough to sniff my hand when I offer it to her. She has pushed her legs under the roots of the plant, and she just lies there, rigid.

At first I think she’s trapped. But she’s not. “She’s traumatised”, says G.

And she is. Despite our efforts to comfort her, she’ll not move a whisker.

In the end I have to dig under her with my hands, and half drag, half lift, her out. There is no response from her.  I enclose her in her harness, and tug and lift her out onto the grass. She folds up, back into the position in which I found her. She doesn’t even acknowledge our presence.

I carry her a few feet and put her on the edge of the bowling green. She lies down again, stiff and unresponsive.

Yes, clearly, she is completely traumatised.

G. and I are sure that she never did leave the Colour Garden, that she was in the shrubbery all the time we were looking for her, but feeling the vibrations of dozens of feet and smelling the scents of so many strange people, she burrowed her way further and further into the bush.

A., one of the girls’ grandmothers approaches and introduces herself. She’s delighted that Isis has been found. “I have a dog”, she says, “And I wouldn’t have left you on your own looking for her.”

This is very kind, and very touching.

The park ranger comes to see if she has been found, departs and returns with a cup of tea for me. A group of little girls comes over. G. explains that Isis is very frightened, and they all stand solemnly in a neat row, silently regarding her.

When everyone has left, G. and I make our way over the green to the path. This time, Isis walks with us, slowly at first, then at her normal walking pace. Now, when G. offers his hand, she gives it a quick sniff.

We pass our friend S. with her young daughter Da., among a group of parents and children. She calls to the others that Isis has been found. Everyone is relieved.

Isis gets into the car and lies down, but not before barking at two cigarette smoking young guys in a car nearby.

G.has never heard her bark before, and is surprised at how soon she has recovered.

The café is closing. We’re too late now for coffee and cakes.

Before we set off, I look at my little dog, now relaxing on the back seat.

I feel very lucky to have found her, and very grateful for the kindness of all those park people.


*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 in danger, Isis says "No"., Kings Heath Park, poor Isis, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

a surprise for Isis



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


Wednesday July 17th 2019





Sniff. Something smells damp.



Sniff. Snuffle. And over here.



What d’you think, Human?



Could it possibly, possibly..



Oo! Could it? Could it? Could it be rain?







*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, Isis at home | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

the ‘garden’



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


Sunday July 14th 2019


The flower meadow at Highbury, now in its third year, is thriving. Often I admire it, and wish that a chunk of it could be magically transported to my back garden.

My grass, which hasn’t been mowed for two years has grown to two or three feet tall. Now, with two working shoulders, I no longer have an excuse for procrastination.


And we still have the seemingly unsolvable problem of Isis versus grass. I have droned on about it for years, so here’s a very brief reminder. Isis loves to be outside, but when she’s let let loose on a lawn, the lawn rapidly degenerates into a dust bath or a quagmire, depending on the weather. Not an unusual scenario for dog owners, and a seemingly insoluble problem.

Isis has at least one good walk in the park each day, usually two, but sometimes she’s reluctant to go for a walk in the evening, yet keen to be outside. I allocated her about a quarter of the grass area, blocking off the rest to allow it to recover.

Two or three weeks ago, I notice that although she has been dancing relentlessly on her meagre strip of grass, the grass is still there.

Long grass, obviously, can resist obliteration. Hmm.

I move the roll of green plastic covered fencing about two thirds of the way down the garden. It’s wonderful, this flimsy, bendy fencing. Isis, who can leap or scramble effortlessly over a solid barrier, is spooked by this fencing, which gives when she leans against it. It’s been there for three weeks now and she’s not breached it.

Now she has a much larger area of long grass to play in. At first she is a little suspicious,





but she soon spreads her wings. She even plays outside with her snakes, instead of bringing them back to her bed indoors.

I keep a keen eye on the grass. Yes, it’s getting flatter, but there are no bald patches, none of it appears to have been uprooted.






The past few weeks have been hot and dry. The stamped down grass turns yellow.






But it’s still there, with its roots firmly embedded in the ground. And as yet there are no bald patches.

I listen to conservationists urging us all to create wild-life friendly spaces in our gardens, I see how the Highbury meadow withstands the constant onslaught of playful dogs, and I  begin to wonder whether there might be a solution to our problem.

Then, the weather changes. A steady, soaking drizzle descends. Isis, of course, is thrilled. I watch her dancing in the rain, and don’t have the heart to bring her in. Instead, I brace myself. She’ll be filthy. I gather together some dog towels.

Twenty minutes later, I glance outside again. She twirls, kicking up her back feet, and I can’t believe what I see: pink pads. Well, she’s not been out for long. Give her time.

She plays in the garden, in the rain, for an hour, and when I bring her in, she is clean. Yes, clean! Her white is white, her grey is grey, her legs and feet, even her claws are pristine. There’s not a spot of mud to be seen.

This is wonderful.

Right, I decide. I’ll not cut the grass until the end of autumn, then I’ll leave it to grow again through spring and summer.

Recently, I re-seeded the patch at the end of the garden – hope springs eternal, as they say. Isis demolished every blade two years ago, so I’ll keep it closed off for a couple of years. Hopefully, it’ll grow, and Isis will have her own little meadow to play in.

Who wants a boring old lawn, anyway?

It’ll never look like a slice of Highbury, but I can sling in a packet or two of wildflower seeds. And I’ll only have to cut it once a year.

What’s not to like?


*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 at home | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

nice things happen in the park …………………



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


Sunday July 7th 2019


Sometimes, lovely things happen in the park. One morning recently Bev and I sat on a log, and Nancy decided it was just the right moment for a cuddle. She struggled to get all her paws on my lap at once, but she did try very hard.

Bev leapt into action and caught our soppy exchange.






I was very sad, some months ago, to hear that little Bertie had died. I could only imagine the grief of his humans I. and S. He was brought from Ireland by a rescue organisation, and once adopted over here, led the life of Riley.

Bev and I met S. a couple of weeks ago. She told us they were about to adopt another needy dog. One day this week, I. spots Isis waltzing up and down her woodside patch and comes over. With him is Jack, until recently a Romanian street dog.

The very woolly Jack had just had a summer trim. Unsurprisingly, he is nervous of strangers, but he is doing fine, and has bonded well with his humans.

He couldn’t have a more caring home.






The following day, Isis and I drive into the park. J. has told me how much her Martha enjoys sitting on her lap and taking a ride in the park, but I’ve not been in the right place at the right time to capture her riding.

Suddenly, there they are, leaving as we’re arriving. True, Martha isn’t sitting on J.’s lap, but the opportunity is too good to miss, so I pull onto the side and ask for a photo.







Sadly, little Martha was obviously traumatised before J. adopted her, and suffers from extreme separation anxiety. Training exercises haven’t helped. If J. has to leave her at home, even with someone whom Martha knows very well, trusts and is happy to walk with, she is still quite beside herself by the time J. returns home. The little dog greets her human as though she had never expected to see her again.

Today, as Ji. and I walk with Isis in Highbury, he goes ahead. I am surprised to see him fussing a small dog and then sitting next to a lady on a bench, chatting as though he’d known them for years.

I leave Isis to play nearby, and walk over to join them. It’s not until the lady waves that I realise it’s Is. and Zelda from France.

When I call,  “Zelda!” the little dog races towards me and throws herself on me. It’s a while since I saw her. It’s a joyful reunion.






They’re on their way to the Community Orchard, to join the other volunteers who are working to return the site to how it was before the fire.

I don’t work in the orchard, but, like many other Highburyites, try to contribute a little to the much loved park. I decided that this year I would pick up all the bits of plastic I came across.

I break my record one day this week. Under a tree, I find seventy plastic beakers, the sort provided for water machines. I also find their packaging, torn into three and scattered over the grass, and two screwed up serviettes.

On the way to the car park, I add a plastic bottle top.




Seventy-six bits of litter to bin.I don’t think I’ll manage to better that. I hope not, anyway.

To be fair, most people who use the park respect it. Usually, for example, when you see a family leaving their picnic spot, there’s no sign left behind that anyone has been there.

And considering that the park is accessible to anyone, twenty-four hours a day, there are  very few people who abuse the space.

Most people feel themselves very lucky to live in a city which has so many parks as Birmingham does.


*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, Highbury Park, park dogs, park people, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments