haven’t you punished Human enough?



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday October 31st 2021


Unquestionably, it was a bad idea to subject Isis to a veterinary health check, for her payback does not end with the unsavoury happenings recounted in the last post.

The following night, before I retire, I pop my head round the back room door to bid Isis a final goodnight.

Oh. She’s fast asleep, but is lying right on the edge of the day bed, with her back towards me.

Now Isis does not like to be disturbed when she’s sleeping. But if she moves, she could easily fall off the bed onto the wooden floor.


I don’t want her to hurt herself. What shall I do?

I decide to move her back a few inches.

Very carefully, I attempt to insert my hands, palms down like miniature spades, under her prone body.


I don’t withdraw my hands, just wait a while before gently, very gently, wiggling my fingers a few millimetres further in.

“Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, errrrrr!

I stop again and stand very still.

Deep intake of podengo breath, “Herrgh…..grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….errrrrraff!”

“All right, you foolish animal,” I hiss, “Stay on the b. edge of the bed. But don’t expect me to get up in the middle of the night to come down to comfort you.”

I am awake for a long time, but eventually drop off at about three a.m.


I am jolted awake.

Yes, the inevitable must have happened. I switch on the clock radio display and squint bad-temperedly at the time.

It’s five o’clock.

I mutter very rude things about my dog. I sit up in the darkness and listen very hard.

Can’t hear anything. No little barks to alert me to a dog in pain, not even a squeak.

She must be O.K. She’s tough. She’ll be fine. I’ll go back to sleep. She’ll let me know if she’s hurt.

But she might be in shock. She might be lying on the floor with a broken leg.

I’m sure she’s fine. She’s probably asleep again by now. Dog, I’m tired.

She might be unconscious. Lying in a pool of blood. Freezing cold. She might be dead by morning.

I crawl out of bed, lurch down the stairs, and stumble along the hall.

When I switch on the overhead light, it looks as though she’s just jumped back up onto her bed, and is preparing to rearrange herself on her sheet. I keep her standing, and sit down next to her.

“Dear, dear, dear,” I croon, as I feel every inch of her, pressing and probing her back, her neck, her flanks, legs, ankles and toes, her ribs, her chest, under her chin and along her jaw.

She doesn’t flinch.

I let her sit, wait until she organises herself into a tight curl and falls asleep, then make myself a drink.

Leaving her sleeping soundly, I return to bed. And stay awake.

Next morning, while she seems none the worse for her nocturnal adventure, I feel wrecked.

It’s not a good week.

On Tuesday I have my booster vaccination. The first two were Astra Zenica, and the after effects were mild, but this one’s Pfizer, and soon afterwards the site is very painful.The throbbing in my arm keeps me awake all night.

We go for an early walk next day. When we park in Yew Tree Road, to go into Highbury Park, Isis tugs on her lead and it slips out of my hand. To my horror, she walks swiftly round the back of the car and straight out onto the road.

I grab her, pull her away from the road and shriek, “No! No! No!” into her ear.

It’s a busy road, but, thankfully, nothing was coming. What on earth has got into her? She’s never done such a thing before. I’m still shaky half an hour later.

We go to Highbury again at the end of the week. It’s Hairy One’s least favourite weather: racing clouds cover the sun for a few minutes and then scud away and reveal its full glare.

This makes poor Isis very twitchy, so we eschew the car park where there is no cover, and  park on the side of the road again, close to the wooded walk which is shady and full of distracting wildlife scents.

All is well until we walk down through the orchard and into the main park. Here, there are patches of bright light interspersed with deep shadows.

Isis is becoming increasingly uneasy. She wants to get back to the safety of the car.

I walk towards her to put her on the lead. She knows I’m close behind her. She is convinced that the car is in the car park, and hurries towards it.

Usually, when she sets off in the wrong direction, I catch her up easily and redirect her. If I’ve not caught up with her, she’ll stand and wait for me when she nears the car park.

But not today. She’s frightened and walks briskly on.

But the side effects of my booster vaccine have reached a new level today. My legs are leaden. I feel as if I’m walking up to my arm pits in thick silt. I will myself to run but I can’t. I’m frightened. I could weep with frustration.

She turns towards the car park, and out of my sight. That feeling of dread with which all dog persons are familiar, is rising inside me. It seems as if the more dangerous the situation becomes, the more slowly I move.

As I trudge up the slope towards the main path, I can hear vehicles arriving and leaving. I expect to hear a scream. I imagine finding Isis lying dead on the gravel.

I still can’t see her.

Now someone already on the main path is calling to me, telling me that it’s O.K., that a lady is with Isis, looking after her.

Isis is very frightened. She is standing between two stationary cars, and the lady is close to her, blocking her in.

A group of dog walkers I know are close by. I can’t thank them enough.

“No,” they tell me, “Thank that lady. She got to her first.”

I do thank the lady, of course. While I’m busy with the harness and lead, she tells me that Isis was quite calm at first, but suddenly seemed to realise that I wasn’t there and became very anxious.

When we get home, I remove her lead and harness in the porch, then push open the front door so that she can go into the hall.

But she won’t move, even when I tap her under her chin to give her the ‘walk on’ command.

She stands in the porch until I walk into the hall. Then she follows me.

Now she does this every time we return to the house, as though she’s afraid that I’m about to abandon her.

I didn’t leave you,” I tell her, “You left me.”

She doesn’t believe me.


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 terrified dog, a very naughty dog, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis in danger, Isis in danger, Isis in trouble, oh dear, park people, poor Isis, sleeping, strange behaviour, these dogs!, VERY early in the morning., we don't like bright light, we don't like bright sun, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

a podengo’s revenge



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday October 24th 2021


Yes, this week Isis Podengo definitely gets her own back on Human.

It’s Sunday, and we are sitting relaxing on J’s patio, eating chocolate eclairs.

I release Isis from her harness. Immediately, her nose begins to twitch. She stands up, raises her muzzle, and begins to move her head from side to side, slowly, deliberately, like an observation turret on a submarine.

Ah, she must have picked up a scent. I follow the direction of her enquiring nose.

There, sitting on the inside kitchen windowsill of the flat next to J’s, is a pretty little tabby cat. It’s craning its neck in Hairy One’s direction, eyes huge with horrified disbelief: there’s something white and grey and fluffy standing in its territory. And it smells.

The little tabby stares, transfixed, at Isis.

It can’t be.

It is.

It’s a dog.

Head still raised, Isis strolls purposefully towards the patio next door. I scramble out of my garden chair and retrieve her.

About forty minutes pass. While Isis is firmly tethered, kitty becomes braver. Two stripey paws are planted on the outside window sill, the small head reaches further round the edge of the window. Prudently though, the rest of the furry remains firmly planted on the inside sill.

Then kitty, feeling, no doubt, that it’s won round one, has a long, leisurely wash.

I think five o’clock must be tabby cat’s teatime, because when I look up again, the window space is empty.

Isis, naturally, is very keen to explore the scents in the garden.

I watch her as she follows her nose to a particular spot of grass beneath a large shrub. Hmm. She appears to be eating grass. That’s fine.

Suddenly, a horrible suspicion forms in my mind. For the second time I leap off my chair.

Eeeew! Horror of horrors! She is nibbling at something. But unfortunately it’s not grass.

Isis, unhappy with the reduced diet she is being given at home, has discovered the new cat’s poopery.

Making my disgust clear, I put the revolting animal back on her lead.

That night I set the alarm. I have an appointment at ten thirty a.m. I’m not a morning person, so decide to give myself plenty of time to get ready, have a swift breakfast, then relax with a leisurely coffee before leaving the house.

Unfortunately, things don’t work out like that. Not quite.

When I walk past the back room, Isis is asleep on the day bed. As I step towards the back door to unlock it for her to go out, I am confronted with a huge, unsavoury heap on the door mat.

It takes me at least twenty minutes to clean up.

Definitely, Isis will have picked up my scent. She’ll know I’m next door, but she doesn’t get up.

Peering round the door, I see that she’s awake but looks very subdued.








This is upsetting. I’ve never been cross with her for the very, very rare ‘accident’; after a cuddle, though, she springs up to have her collar put on, and follows me out into the garden.

I decide it’s not circumspect to give her breakfast, and there’s no time for me to have mine, nor, regretfully, the long anticipated coffee. I hastily glug down a couple of glasses of water, and scamper out to the car.

Oh 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 dear little Isis, Isis at home, Isis is no angel, oh dear, poor Isis, scenting, sleeping, something's not right, these dogs!, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Isis speaks her mind


A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday October 17th 2021


I have had a horrible time. Human should be ashamed of herself.

Don’t forget that I went for my speshul scritch fiting injection only a week and two days ago.

Well, this Friday Human and I go for a nice walk in Highbury Park. Lots of walking, and lots to sniff.

When I get in the car to go home, I settle down as usual, looking forwood to getting back, having my mini treat, and then streching out on Human’s feet while she has her coffee.







But when we leave the park, we turn the rong way. ‘This is strange,’ I think. But I don’t say anything.

When the car stops and she opens my door, I can smell where I am.

It’s the Dog Doctor’s again. Well, I usually smell cats and sometimes rabbits and other small, furry things, so it’s not only for dogs. We’re the most important tho.

What is going on? I shouldn’t be here again. I spect she’s made a mistake. She often makes them. In a minute, we’ll tern round and go home.

She makes me get out. She sits down on the bench. I stand next to her. I wunder if I can get back in the car. Wud she notis? I do a little tug on my lead.

She’s still on the other end.

After I stand around for ages, a man comes out. He bends down. He must be speaking to me. I can’t hear a thing, so it’s a bit of a silly thing to do.

Anyway Human does her tapping thing, and makes me go in with her.

I don’t like it. I can smell scaired animals.

Human makes me walk in front of her. We follow Dog Doctor down the corridor. Oh my dog! The smells are wers here. He holds the door open. I want to go home. I turn round quickly. Sumtimes if I do that, it makes her fall over. But she doesn’t fall over. She terns me round again.

I’m NOT going in there. I went in last week. It’s not fair. I stand very, very still and grip the carpit with my nice, long claws. I AM NOT GOING IN THAT ROOM.

Then she pushes my bottom. She pushes very hard. She makes me go in.

I’m fritened. I can feel my back leg shaking. Human strokes my leg and my head. She’s pretending she cares about me. She doesn’t. If she did, she would take me home.

I get terned round. She sits on a chair and strokes my head. She keeps stroking me. Dog Doctor stands in front of me.

I feel vibrayshuns. He’s talking to Human. Human is talking back to him.

He feels me all over. He lifts my tail. Ugh.Then he holds up my ear. I hate it wen peeple do that. I can feel him breathing into it. When he stops, I shake my head to put my ear back in the right place. Then he does the same to the other ear. Then he ecsamins my eyes.

Next he opens my mouth. He must be looking at my teeth. Dam cheek.

I’m glad wen he opens the door and goes away. Good. We can go home. Quick! Quick – before he comes back.

But Human doesn’t stand up. She pats me and kisses my head. That’s no dam help.

He comes in again, and waves something around close to the back of my neck. Don’t know what he’s doing, but I know he didn’t ask me if he could do it.

That’s the werst thing abowt been a animal. Nobody asks you what you want or don’t want.

He puts something cold on my chest.

He sticks sumthing sharp in me.

Oh dog! This tore meant must be over now.

Oo! What’s happening?

Human is lifting me up. Now she’s putting me down. I am high up. I won’t be able to xcape. I can feel cold metul on my pads.

Human is holding my head. That’s a bad sine.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Horrable. Horrable! Help me! Help me! For dog’s sake help me. He’s lifting up one of my frunt paws. He’s lifting the hair away from my pads. He’s pushing something cold and hard on my toe nails. He’s pressing on it.

Save me, Human! Save me! He’s chopping off my paws.

She isn’t doing a thing to save me. She’s holding my head so I can’t bite him. I growl. Not too loud, in case he murders me.

It goes on and on. He puts my frunt paw down. Thank dog.

Owwwwwwwwww! He’s lifted up a back paw now. He’s chopping me again.

He’s finished with this paw now. Aaaaaaaaaarg! No he hasn’t. He’s chopping further up wair my big curly nail is. It hurts. He keeps on doing it. Human turns me round and he starts on my other feet.

At last she puts me back on the floor.

Then he opens my mouth again. I think he’s counting my teeth. How can people be so dam nosey?

Human stands up. At last. We’ve been here for hours and hours.

I can’t beleeve wot my person has let Dog Doctor do to me.

When we are back in the car, I get a big treat. I shud dam well think so.

I’ve never been so releaved to be going home.

I don’t feel like lying on Human’s feet.

I just have to keep licking my nails. They’re still here, but they feel very P.Q. lee-er.

How cud she let peepul do such crule things to me?

I thort she loved me.


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 terrified dog, a very good dog, a vet visit, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis in danger, Isis in trouble, off to the vet, oh dear, poor Isis, scenting, something's not right | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

a scritchy relapse





A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday October 10th 2021


Oh dear. Oh dear.

After her apparent improvement, poor Hairy One’s frantic scritching resurges. The skin on the outside of her ears is red again, as are all four pawpits, and I find a scab on her lower back.


I feel very sorry for the poor little creature. Every time she scratches, I jump to it and place a cold hand (my hands are almost always cold) on the hot spot. Previously, she snapped and tried to grab my hand. Now she growls, but allows me to touch her. Perhaps the cold hand gives her some relief.

At the beginning of the week I phone the veterinary practice to ask whether I should increase the dose of Apoquil from 32mg to 64 mg daily. Unfortunately, her vet is working at another branch of the practice. The receptionist says she will try to catch him and will get back to me.

I increase the dose that evening, but then realise that I’ll not have enough tablets to last until her next appointment: she is booked for a booster and a wellness check on October 15th.

For the next few days, she scritches and scritches. She has to wear her Elizabethan collar most of the time.

When I’ve still not heard by Thursday, I ring the practice again. The receptionist apologises. I explain Isis’s problem and we’re offered an appointment for 9.00 next morning.

I am very surprised when the vet comes out to fetch Isis. It’s A., the excellent vet who was working at KHVC when I moved Isis there after she’d been misdiagnosed, and became very unwell.

Some of you might recall that I’d tried to get through to the practice for forty minutes while poor Isis lay in a heap in the park.

I contacted another practice and was offered an appointment as soon as we could get there.

At this new practice, A. diagnosed severe dermatitis which, she was almost certain, had been triggered by an allergy. Given appropriate treatment, the condition gradually cleared.

I was told by a dog walker that there was a high turnover at the practice, so when A. moved on, so did we.

On Friday, my dog trots off happily with A., who remembers that Isis needs chin taps to get her walking in the required direction.

I think that the return journey must have begun very slowly, as soon I behold A. striding into the reception area. She’s carrying something white and hairy. Its four legs are dangling, and it looks rather sheepish.

Isis has been given a double dose of an anti-allergy injection. She is to continue the lower dose of Apoquil for two weeks, by which time the injection should have kicked in. If Isis seems to be thriving, the tablets can then be stopped.

We have an appointment for a check-up in a month’s time.

I have high hopes as Nancy (Bev’s dog) who has had severe allergies for years, is thriving on this same monthly injection.

But something most unexpected happens.

After the injection, Isis scratches less and less. Unbelieveably, I’ve not seen her scratch once today.

True, I have been mixing anti-allergy food in with her usual dry food. But the food only arrived on Friday. It can’t be having any effect yet.

Today we have a good, long walk along the little path which runs above the canal, then come back via the tow path.

After a brief stop for a coffee, I take Isis to visit J. We sit outside and Isis is full of beans, exploring the grounds, and getting very excited about some particularly riveting scents.

J. provides chocoate swiss roll. When we’ve demolished our slices, someone hunts vigorously around J.’s shoes searching for minute crumbs.

Then she jumps up and down, and barks at something J. and I can’t see or hear. After a while, J. realises children are playing about a hundred yards away on the other side of the wall. Obviously, she’s picked up their scent.

When she is not otherwise occupied, she jogs on the spot, and paws me for attention. She wants pats and hair rufflings. And more. And more.

Amazing. She just doesn’t behave like this.

What’s in this new medication?, I wonder!

Lately, she has chosen to lie on his carpet while J. and I are outside.







But not today.

Not until much later, when we retreat into the flat to escape a cold breeze, does Hairy One follow us in, stretch out on the floor and sleep.

It’s now approaching nine o’clock. I have been with my Isis all day, and have not observed even a single scritch.

I am delighted, of course. But I’m very puzzled too.

There’s something most peculiar going on here, me thinks.


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, a vet visit, dear little Isis, Isis at home, Jasmin Fields, off to the vet, oh dear, poor Isis, scenting, sleeping, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, walking my deaf/blind dog, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

and off we go!

A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday October 3rd 2021


It’s a very good week for walking.

There are few of those days which Isis hates, when the clouds race across the sun obscuring it completely, then scud off again, revealing its full glare. Most days this week are dull and murky, which is perfectly acceptable to her. And, joy of joy, on three days it rains non-stop.

At the beginning of the week, in the late afternoon, we drive to the garage where the car is to have its MOT the following day. It’s a long walk back, but the weather’s not doing anything particularly scary, and Isis walks home with little hesitation.

The next day, thankfully, it pours non-stop. Hairy One can’t wait to get out of the house. There’s no decision to make. Naturally, we’re walking to King’s Heath Park.

She scampers down the drive, scrambles through the gate, executes a sharp left turn and, snapping raindrops as she goes, skitters along the pavement.

Then the scenting begins. It’s a while since we’ve walked these pavements, and there’s a lot of catching up to do. So many dogs, cats and wild creatures have left scents for her to investigate. They’re everwhere – on the paving stones, around the tree trunks, up the garden walls and among the weeds.

I’m sure she’s not missing one of them. So assiduously does she snuffle and so often does she pee that instead of taking us thirty minutes to reach the park, it takes almost forty-five.

There are very few people in the park, so I let her wander where she will, and just follow. We stay for an hour and she enjoys every minute.

I wonder how she’ll react when she discovers that the car hasn’t driven itself to the car park, that she has to walk home.

But she doesn’t turn a hair. She trots beside me at a very brisk pace. When it’s dry, she plods along as though she’s ancient, and when we meet someone new to us, they sometimes look at her sympathetically, and ask, “Is she an old dog?”

When this happens I glare at Isis and reply, “No, she’s not. She’s just cross because she has to walk home.”

I don’t know why I get so irritated. Perhaps it’s just transference: I’m getting old and I don’t like it!

But today I don’t have to persuade her to walk past the car park. She doesn’t balk at leaving the park. Of course she doesn’t: it’s raining.

On Tuesday, I walk alone to the garage. There’s no way Isis is coming with me. It’s dry today.

Next day I’m meeting a friend at ten fifteen for a coffee at Beckett’s Farm. I have an appointment soon afterwards and won’t have time to take Isis out. So we leave the house early next morning.

Oh dear, the sun’s out already. She’s not going to like this. I decide we’ll go to Highbury because there are several shady little pathways we can follow.

But even after seven years, Isis can still surprise me.

As soon as I open the car door, she sniffs the air tentatively. Then, ignoring my suggestion that we make our way towards the sunless path, she walks across the tarmac to the flower meadow.







She’s alert and excited. Her tail is up, and she’s sniffing the air. Suddenly, she shoots off this way and that, leaping up, then landing with contented little oofs.

I can’t believe this. It’s as though she doesn’t even notice the sun. What on earth’s going on?

Then I notice that every blade of grass is glinting with droplets. It’s not rained during the night, and it’s very cold. There must have been an early frost, I realise, and she can smell it. Hence the excitement.

She snufles along the ground. The meadow has been mown very recently, I realise, and small mounds, frosted into brown on top but still green underneath are scattered everywhere.

Isis, who loves heaps of cut grass, begins pushing her nose into them and tossing them around.

Eventually, we walk on. Although she balks a little at the shadows cast by the trees, she is enjoying her walk immensely.

Well, well, what do you know?


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, deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, rain, rain and more rain, running running, strange behaviour, these dogs!, VERY early in the morning. | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

preparing for a guest



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday September 26th 2021


Phew! Feels like we’re approaching winding down after several frantic weeks. The ‘frantic’ element is, as always, my fault. It is unreasonable, I discover, to imagine that it is possible to dejungle-ise three years’ worth of neglected garden, and sort out even more years of negected house in a few weeks.

My friend A. is arriving on Saturday and staying overnight.

So no sooner have I removed all the hazardous plants and rubble from the garden in order to provide access for the roofers, than I have to face the fact that I only have a few days left to tackle the housework.

I do feel though that Isis has to share the blame. True, the dust of ages I discover behind the big pine chest and wardrobes and under the bed are my affair. But the heaps of white fluff lurking beneath the bed, the floating mounds of long, white hair which sail upwards  when anything is moved and the seemingly endless clumps which scutter across the boards as I walk past? These belong entirely to Isis.

One expects hair to come with dogs. I have had a number of dogs, but never one who shedded as Isis does. More to the point, I guess, I’ve never had a white dog. Black hair doesn’t stand out as much – except if you have white or pale carpets, which I certainly do not. Even grey or blond hair seems to blend in sufficiently with the dust to allow one to overlook it.

Many people comment on the bright whiteness of Isis’s coat. Glowing like the dazzling teeth of Hollyood filmstars, her hair is almost fluorescent. I am often complimented on her pristine coat. I feel obliged to admit that her coat is like a ‘self cleaning’ oven: it just stays white.

This is a mixed blessing: she rarely needs wiping or bathing, and even when she accumulates dirt on a wet, muddy day, it just seems to drop off her. Some in long, wet grass, some on her dog blanket on the back seat of the car, but most, unfortunately, on the floors and the day bed.

Anyway, blame set aside, a back-breaking amount of cleaning is called for. The alternative is to provide my guest with a clinical PPE outfit.

Procrastinator par excellence, I am so overwhelmed by the amount I have to do before Saturday that I withdraw from the horror and spend most of Monday and Tuesday dossing on the day bed reading my Kindle.

Isis is very pleased. She always enjoys a long snooze after her walk, and stretches out contentedly beside me.

It’s Wednesday now. The proximity of Saturday galvanises me into action. When Isis and I return from our walk, and she stands waiting for me to relieve her of her harness and lead, I point out to her that she is responsible for all of the earth, grit, seeds and hair embedded in the porch mats, and, by rights, it is she who should be doing the cleaning.

She is unmoved.

This is our normal post walk routine. Isis retires to the day bed, lies down and waits. I make coffee. As soon as I have made the coffee, she walks up the hall and lies down in the front room, waiting for me to emerge from the kitchen.

How does she know when I’m about to exit the kitchen? I can only guess that she must recognise the smell of the coffee.

However bright it is in the south facing sitting room, she doesn’t make a sound until I join her. Then she leaps up and barks to complain about the bright light, or, even worse, the sun shining on her. I adjust the blinds, and sit in my armchair. Immediately she turns around a few times and settles on my feet. She will stay in situ for ever, and generally   I read for longer than I should.

Often she sleeps soundly enough for me to be able to wriggle my feet carefully from beneath her furriness, and go about my business. When she realises that Human is missing, she takes herself off to the day bed to resume her nap.

On Wednesday, knowing that he (or she) who hesitates is lost, I forgo the coffee and attack the porch as soon as we get back. Well, I think, at least my guest will begin her visit in a clean space. Now, every time Isis sets paw in the porch, she is forbidden to drop a hair or a grass seed.

The kitchen is next.

Since the roof blew off my garage and the pedestrian door jammed, my gardening boots, jeans, bramble proof smock and small gardening tools have resided at the far end of the kitchen. Inevitably, other items are added, and the unsavoury pile seems to creep further and further towards the opposite wall.

Although I am very untidy and disorganised, I am also quite fanatical about hygiene (putting aside the earthy boots on the floor) so I don’t have to do much cleaning above ankle level. Balls of Isis hair trundle like tumbleweed up and down the hall, but they’re swiftly removed if they float into the kitchen. Sadly, this doesn’t prevent the odd hair finding its way into one’s coffee.

Behind all the gardening stuff, it’s a different story. The skirting boards are indescribable. Fortunately, there are not many of them.

I am well aware that I’ve not yet tackled the hoovering, so I put in several loads of washing instead.

On Thursday, the bathroom is another easy one. It’s impressively clean above ankle level. The floor is black with dark grey spots. Dave, the plasterer told me when I first had the flooring, that it would show every speck. And he was not wrong. Every dog hair hits you in the eye as soon as you walk into the room. I try to keep my eyes averted.

I’ll not do the vacuuming yet, I decide. There’s plenty of other stuff to do. Just keep going, Human.

Recently, I reallocated the front room as a bookcases, desk and sitting room, and put the dining room furniture in the back room. At the moment it looks like a warehouse, but at least, I think, it should be a less chaotic warehouse. So I do what we procrastinators have to do. I shove into cardboard boxes the heaps of miscellaneous papers which cover the dining table and other surfaces. The boxes are then piled up against the far wall.

This is the room in which Hairy One spends most of her time, so I’ll leave you to imagine the fluffiness of it (the room and all its contents, I mean, not Isis.)

Now it’s Friday. The thought of all there is still to do would have glued me to the bed until midday, but fortunately the doorbell rings at nine-thirty, so I feel bound to get up. Isis is pleasantly surprised to be given an early breakfast and walk.

Yuk. Serious cleaning day. I have to accept that there’s no way the spare room can be made into a guest room by tomorrow. I’ll let my guest have my bedroom, and Isis and I will share the day bed, I decide.

Isis and I celebrate not having to sort the spare room: she snoozes on my feet while I allow myself a coffee and thirty minutes of reading.

The rest of the afternoon is spent changing the human and the dog covers on the day bed, and putting away all the washing.

The new smells in  the house are disconcerting to a dog. Human has sprayed smelly stuff on the furniture and rubbed it in. Dog keeps lifting her head in the air, wrinkling her nose, and sniffing around suspiciously. Her dog bed smells safe. She lies in it. She looks quite disgruntled.

It’s almost seven now. Since I only have a couple of hours or so before I’ll switch off the vacuum in deference to the neighbours, I really have no option other than to get on with it.

I won’t go into the boring details, except to say that I have to begin by changing the hoover bag which is stuffed with white hairs.

Then, when the switch is clicked on, nothing happens.


I detach the head and peer down the pipe. Yes, just as I suspected, the pipe and head are blocked with a solid wad of  – – –   – – – – .  No prize for filling in the blanks. It’s so thickly compressed that I can’t pull it out with my fingers, cut it with a knife or push it down with a length of dowelling. Eventually, wielding a straightened out coat hanger, its end bent into a hook, I begin to dislodge it.

The machine roars into life. Poor Isis who has forgotten about the very existence of hoovers, feels the vibration and the warm air,  and twirls in dismay before rushing as far away as she can.









Since Isis never goes upstairs, the amount of hair collected from the bedroom and bathroom is incredible.

How does it get there?

Very easily. It clings to my clothes.

Never mind. The cleaning’s finished. Feeling smug, I pick up the last hair from the bathroom floor.

But it’s not my lucky day. I hang up the last load of washing on the drier over the bath, and down come hundreds of white fragments.

I can’t believe it.

I must have left a tissue in one of the pockets.


Definitely can’t blame Isis for that.


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 clever girl, Isis at home, oh dear, poor Isis, sleeping, sleeping arrangements, something's not right, these dogs!, we don't like bright light, we don't like bright sun, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

a difficult week



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday September 19th 2021


Isis’s skin has been much better this week, and the scratching much reduced. Her skin still looks pinker than normal though, is hot to the touch, and she still scratches several times a day. She also continues to nibble and lick her front legs. This has always been a stress response. Clearly, she is not happy with herself.

She’s not had to wear her plastic collar this week, but tonight I put it on her to prevent her from worrying her legs.

She falls asleep almost immediately. She doesn’t wake up even when I place tonight’s tablet, wrapped in a tiny bit of cheese, literally under her nose. We won’t panic though: she’s just found it!

O., her vet said that he thought she would need to continue with the medication after this first course is completed. I’ll ring the practice to discuss the situation tomorrow. Bev told me on Friday that the Apoquil worked well for Nancy, who has had summer allergies for years. Let’s hope that another course will sort Isis out.

This week has been a difficult one for Isis. In addition to her dermatitis, she’s had to put up with the capricious behaviour of the weather. I look at the forecast each day and try to take Hairy One out during a settled period. But even though we leave the house under an Isis-friendly still, grey sky, within minutes of our arrival, it seems, the clouds part and there’s a blast of bright sunlight.

This terrifies poor Isis. Her cheerfully elevated tail disappears between her legs, her ears flatten and she begins to slink off towards the car park.

On top of all this, the roofers are in her garden for two days so her territory doesn’t smell as it should. Returning from light traumas in the park to invasive smells at home is very unsettling for a dog.

Usually, as soon as I take off her harness and lead, she is confident that she’s not going to be bathed and she trots happily into the hall; but this week she stays in the porch with me while I change my shoes, and won’t enter the house until I do.

Another nerve wracking phenomenon is the puppy epidemic. No sooner does one begin to relax and enjoy the scents, than some interfering four-month-old fluffy little git rushes up to leap, yap and snuffle around one’s paws.

On Friday, Rufus and Nancy rush up to greet us. As always, Rufus desires immediate full frontal muzzle canoodles with Isis, while Nancy elects to check out what Human may have to offer in the way of treats.

Although the initial greeting startles her, Isis is obviously pleased to be with her friends. She always seems more relaxed and confident in their company.

When we walk back down to the park through the orchard, Isis lingers to investigate all the new smells. Meanwhile, Bev, Rufus and Nancy, who are about a hundred yards ahead are making the acquaintance of a stranger and his human.

When they draw level with us, the dog, who is lively and inquisitive, trots up to sniff Isis. He is a sweet dog and is quite gentle around her. She, of course, cringes and backs towards the hedge. He is a rescue dog from Romania, his person tells me, and has been with her for over two years.

Suddenly, he bursts into a exubriant gallop, races past us back down to Rufus and Nancy, turns on a pinpoint, zips back up past Isis, and back down again. He does this three or four times. It’s a daily routine, his person tells me, apparently just for the pleasure of it. It’s lovely to watch.

But every time he thunders past Isis, she retreats further and further into the hedge.

Rufus looks up, realises that she is afraid and runs back up the slope to her. He nuzzles her face very, very gently and she slowly emerges.

(The image below isn’t a new one. I’ve posted it before. And no, Rufus doesn’t wear his mudcoat at this time of year.

There are two reasons for using it: 1. I love the look of concern on Rufus’s face, and 2. I have to get a new camera card before I can upload any more images.)




Don’t worry Isis. I’m here.





It’s good to have friends at times like these!


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 terrified dog, adopted dogs, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis meets other dogs, oh dear, park dogs, park people, poor Isis, rescue dogs, self-harming, sleeping, something's not right, these dogs!, walking with Rufus and Nancy, we don't like bright light, we don't like bright sun | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

we’re coming round



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday September 12th 2021


I ring Fivelands as soon as the practice opens on Friday, and when I explain poor Isis’s predicament, we are offered an appointment at 2.30 that afternoon.

So off we go, poor Isis in her Elizabethan collar.

For the first time since ‘lockdown’ officially ended, I am allowed to accompany Isis to the consulting room. As we are relatively new clients, I think that we might not see the same vet this time, but yes, here is the charming O.

On her first visit, he had given her a steroid injection to bring down the inflammation, but had warned me that it was likely that she would require more long term treatment.

O. is now ninety-nine point nine per cent certain that the dermatitis is caused by an allergy. He goes over the treatment options again, and we discuss them. We decide on a relatively new, non-steroid medication, Apoquel.

She has to have half a tablet twice a day for seven days, then half a tablet once a day until the course is finished.

We will discuss her progress over the phone a couple of days before the tablets are finished. If she needs a repeat prescription, which O. thinks is likely, I can collect it.

He advises that she wears the collar for another three days.

I note her perfect behaviour throughout the examination. She stands statue-still while O. parts her hair and examines different bits of her. Not even the faintest growl passes her lips.

I am, of course, very pleased that she behaves so beautifully at the vet’s. At the same time, it’s a bit galling, since one of my fingers is still decorated with a small tooth mark and a large bruise, inflicted by we know whom.

And all I did was attempt to examine a little scab on her neck.


I hasten to add that such uncouth behaviour on her part is never tolerated. I immediately express my disapproval in the usual way, with smats* and a very loud growl in her right ear. Then, of course, I resume my examination.

* ‘Smats’ are very firm pats – at least three in a row with a gap between each. They are delivered with fearsome ‘growls’ and ‘snaps’ and, of course, without cuddles and strokes.

And a canine is not rewarded afterwards, however long she has to put up with human riffling through her fur.

She always makes me laugh when something difficult, like having her whiskers combed, is completed. She waits until I signal ‘finished’ then leaps onto the floor and dives into her dog bed where she sits, ramrod straight, awaiting her reward.

Gradually – as we know, I’m a bit slow – I realise that Isis never sits down when she visits the vet. I wonder whether she feels that this being a formal occasion, a dog is required to stand.


The next time I need to groom her underside, or other delicate parts, I make her stand. When I did this in the past, she would complain, growling fiercely. But now she accepts that it’s going to happen and stands until we’re finished.

Last year when she first had severe dermatitis, she obviously felt very unwell. All she wanted was to do was sleep near to me.

This time, I check with the vet that it is O.K. to take her for walks. Definitely, he opines.

Isis doesn’t concur.

Is it too warm out? We’ll wait until evening and walk then.

No we won’t.

She wants to stay in the house and sleep, thank you. And she’d appreciate company too.


After three days, she becomes more lively. On the fourth evening, I’m at the front of the house when I hear loud ‘Ooffs’ and clonks coming from the back room. She is jumping around in her bed, thrashing poor snake to within an inch of his life.

Right, Isis. Time to walk again I think.

The next day she can’t wait to get out of the front door, even though it’s sunny.

Over the next few days, we go to all of her favourite places.

Aware that a lot of interesting dog-stuff has been going on while she has been in her sick bed, she sniffs and snuffles like an animated hoover.








And she pees on her territory as if there’s no tomorrow.


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 very naughty dog, a vet visit, crisis, Isis at home, oh dear, poor Isis, these dogs!, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

scritch, scritch, scritch, scritch ……scritch ad infinitum



A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday September 5th 2021


Oh dear. What a week. Poor Isis.

The clouds begin to gather last weekend. It’s a bank holiday weekend.

Of course.

It would be.

Isis is miserable and very irritable. She begins dive bombing her rear end and tearing little clumps of hair out of her tail. Each attack is accompanied by an angry sound track: ‘Nyaff-nyaff-grrrr-yank!’

By Monday the nyaff-nyaff-grrrr-yanks have escalated to such a degree that we are both well strung out.

This is all very puzzling. The vet found poor Hairy One’s anal glands so full last time we saw him that we decided to revert to having them emptied once a month as we used to, instead of every six weeks. Her next appointment though, isn’t due for well over a week.

So as soon as her veterinary practice reopens on Tuesday morning, I’m on the phone asking for an appointment. There is none available that day, and I am advised to ring at eight the next morning to request a same day appointment.

When I ring, we are told that Isis can be seen at two-thirty.

Yes,  the nurse tells me, the glands were very full.

For a while after we return home, Isis is a happier dog. But the next day she begins scratching herself. On Thursday evening, I administer her anti- flea (and anti every other known parasite, according to the blurb) medication.

I am surprised that she continues to scratch on Friday, but assume the medication takes a while to work.

I groom her regularly, of course, since she’s so hairy, and there’s never been any sign of  infestation – although, of course, some mites are invisible to the naked eye.

For weeks now, of course, grasses have been shedding their seeds so it’s been necessary to de-seed Isis every day. She doesn’t like it if I just pick out the seeds with my fingers, and is apt to utter a snappy ‘nyaff!’.

So a degree of deception is called for here. Having her head, ears, face and whiskers gently stroked with a very soft baby brush, is a different matter altogether. She interprets this as petting. She squirms sensuously and wags her tail. As long as I’m very careful, she doesn’t appear to register the sneaky seed picking.

Despite all this, I have only spotted two tiny scabs.

Last night and during the early hours, there are several muffled grumbles from downstairs. She’s probably been scratching on and off all night; this morning, her skin  very pink indeed.

I need to examine her more closely, so I give her a bath. I am horrified to find that there are now five or six scratched and very inflamed patches of skin.

It looks like a return of the severe dermatitis she had in August/September last year.

(She has attacked herself twice over the last twenty minutes, so now she’s wearing her Elizabethan collar).

Poor Isis.





She already has an appointment for her booster next Friday, but the dermatitis needs attention before then. I’ll ring the practice at eight tomorrow morning.


Oh Dog! The vet’s receptionist will think I have Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy!


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 vet visit, crisis, Isis at home, Isis gets bathed, Isis is sad, oh dear, poor Isis, self-damaging, self-harming, something's not right, strange behaviour, these dogs!, who'd be a human? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

how could you, Isis?


A post should appear each Sunday!


Sunday August 29th 2021


You have to smile: On Friday, Y and her dog Blitzi visit for a coffee in the garden. Although he is strong and heavier than Isis, and has in the past slept with her on a shared rug, he is very wary of her. On her own territory, she bullies him mercilessly. He trots hastily past her doorway. When she picks up his scent, she jumps into the hall, sniffing and twirling menacingly. Blitzi can’t wait to escape into the garden.

Now Isis doesn’t like going into the garden in the dark, so, as usual, that night I accompany her to the edge of the grass for her late night pee and then nip back into the kitchen. Generally she follows me  very promptly.

This time minutes go by with no sign of Isis. That’s very strange. What on earth is she doing? Perhaps she’s found a creature in the garden. Perhaps someone’s come into the garden and stolen her.

I step onto the grass and peer round the teasles. There she is walking very slowly but purposefully, nose to the ground. She’s following Blitzi’s scent, sniffing everywhere he has been.

Finally, after remarking her territory, she returns to the house and dances for a while in her dog bed.

This morning, on a dirt track in Holders Woods we come across what looks like a dry, dead leaf folded in on itself along its length.

I pick it up to examine it: it’s a chrysalis. It looks like one cast off by a hawk moth, although I’ve not seen a hawk moth or caterpillar around Birmingham. Hmmmm.


It’s Wednesday and it’s dull with a light breeze: just as Isis likes it.

She’s chirpy today and, when released from her harness, leaps and dances in the long grass. I let her wander wherever she wants to go, and follow close behind, enjoying the quietness and the grassy fragrance of the wildflower meadow.

She takes us on a very peasant walk: she crosses the little stream; follows zig-zagging scent trails over the sloping meadow which butts up to the beech wood; and picks up the path  leading to the park-keeper’s lodge.

Here, we have our only altercation of the day. The lodge is close to Yew Tree Lane where we often leave the car.

Isis decides that it’s time to go home and begins to make her way towards the lodge. Although I explain very carefully that the car isn’t at this end of the park today, she persists in heading off towards Yew Tree Lane.

She’s certain that I’m lying, and every time I turn her round to face the opposite direction, she turns back.

After arguing with her for about ten minutes, I resort to putting her in her harness, so that I can drag her forward, inch by inch, without strangling her. Every now and then I ruffle the hair around the base of her tail, pretending to be a large dog sniffing her bottom. This usually makes her move forward. It does seem to work. The last resort is to bend over her menacingly and snap, ‘COME!’ loudly into her right ear.

I always take a surruptitious look around before I begin to harrass her, just in case some vigilant member of the public accosts me and accuses me of dog abuse. I can just imagine the scene.

Member of the public: ‘That’s no way to treat an innocent little animal!’

Me: ‘Ah, but you see, she’s blind and deaf so she thinks ………

Member of the public: Sharp intake of breath. Look of outraged horror spreads across his/her face:

‘My god, how could you be so heartless  – you should be ashamed of yourself!’

Fortunately, no-one is around today.

At last we are walking back down through the avenue of pine trees. Isis is free of her harness, her tail is back up, and she’s sniffing around the blackberry bushes apparently without a care in the world.

Down we go, into the home meadow. Isis knows this meadow like the back of her paw, and is relaxed enough on this sunless day to be a hundred yards or so away from me.

She’s found something extremely good. She turns round and round, waving her tail and sniffing the ground. She’s riveted.

So riveted, in fact, that she appears to be endeavouring to stand on her head!

Round and round she goes, head down to the ground by the looks of it. Ah, bless her, I bet she’s found some fox poo.

I smile to myself smugly. I never have to worry about such things because Isis has never rolled. Either she didn’t learn because of being chained up as a puppy, or she daren’t roll because she would be too vulnerable to predators.

Now, I don’t particularly want to go through the palaver which other dogs’ humans do, trying to manoeuvre their stinky pets into the car without smearing indescribably revolting goo all over the interior. In fact, I feel quite smug that I’ll never have the problem.

At the same time, I often wish that little Isis could learn to roll, to enjoy that utterly relaxed feeling of lying on her back with her feet in the air.

Oh well, never mind.

Here she is, coming towards me now, looking pleased with herself.

I smile.

Dear little dog.

Oh. What’s that wide band of brown half way across her lovely white neck?

I can’t believe how she managed it.  She definitely didn’t roll.

I hope I’m wrong.

When she reaches me, I give a cautious sniff.


I’m not wrong.



What we waitin’ for?



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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