a week’s worth of walks 3

 

 

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

 

Sunday May 3rd 2020

 

Highbury Park: Friday April 24th

Isis sniffs half-heartedly along the wooded area between the two meadows. This spot is her default choice. But today, she’s uneasy. The trees make frightening shadows on the sunlit grass. Just as I am settling myself on one of the most comfortable logs, she begins to meander back up to the main path.

I desettle myself and follow.

She turns towards the car park. Oh no, she can’t want to go home again, can she?

I wait to see what she decides to do next.

She stands on the tarmac for several minutes, nose carwards.

Sigh.

Then, unexpectedly, she turns and steps onto the grass the other side of the path. She begins to sniff.

I approach, and, tail erect, she leads the way across the grass, squeezes through the brushwood barricades placed there to protect new saplings from human and dog traffic,  and sniffs her way to the little track which runs along the side of the park up to the allotment gate. She likes this track but it resembled a swamp during the rainy weeks and I don’t know whether it has recovered yet.

Isis doesn’t care, of course. She follows the track ahead of me. Her navigation is astonishingly good. She walks the winding track confidently and doesn’t walk into anything. I’m very impressed. Every few yards she stops to check I’m still there before setting off again. A brief sniff of a leg of my jeans, a strip of my sock or a length of bootlace reassures her, and she continues on her way. 

She chooses her exit, and we emerge onto the landscaped mounds. She sniffs one or two of the areas where she usually likes to play, but the sun and shadow contrast is too sharp for her, and she elects to return along the track and follow it right down to the end.

I don’t like her doing this. Over the years walkers have created little short cuts down to busy Avenue Road, and Isis finds these very inviting. She always wants to sniff her way along them, despite  being thwarted every time by mean Human.

Once harnessed and pointed in the opposite direction, she trots along contentedly enough until we reach the driveway from the entrance gates to the car park.

On the other side is the log she likes to play around. She would happily set off across the road without stopping. I’m attempting to train her to recognise the smell or feel of the road, and to sit and wait on the verge until I signal that it’s OK to cross.

I don’t imagine that this will be easy. When it’s a nice, safe, dull day, we’ll have a park road crossing session. At least now she doesn’t seem compelled to do the opposite of whatever she thinks I want her to do. That’s a huge improvement.

We walk over to the log and she plays energetically for an hour.

 

Saturday April 25th

It rains solidly all day. Perfect for a walk in Kings Heath Park as I guess it’ll be virtually empty, and there’ll be no problem with safe distancing.

It’s raining heavily as we leave the car. Isis, of course, is thrilled. There is no-one in sight, so, for the first time, I release her outside the café. She is beside herself with joy and leaps and dances, face turned up, snapping at the rain. 

She dances for more than twenty minutes, while I stand and watch her, enjoying her pleasure.

She wants to stay here for ever. But her spoilsport person is cold. The hairy reveller repeatedly ignores my tap-tap requests to move on, and, in the end, I put her on her lead to walk down the slope to where the hawthorn hedge begins.

Off the lead once more, she hurries towards the old bowling green, scampers off the path, runs across the grass and begins to scramble up and down the bank. Then she speeds back down to the empty green and begins looping back and forth, as though revelling in the space.

Then she’s back up the bank, gathering sticks, and flinging them away again. Now she’s ducking through the hole in the hedge and bursting out onto the next level.

I follow her, but not through the hole.

Then she pops back again. For a few moments, I lose sight of her, then I become aware of a blur of white flashing across the interstices of the hedge.

She returns to race up and down again. For a few minutes, I even persuade her to run by my side before she runs away to chase the wind, or the rain – or her own fancies.

At last, when she’s sated – or feels it’s time for breakfast, she stops, raises her head, and walks purposefully across the Colour Garden. Before I can stop her, the naughty little animal strides onto the current, pristine bowling green, where, I may say, dogs are definitely not allowed.

When she reaches the centre, she raises her head and sniffs the air.

I stand on the edge of the green, emanating disapproval. I know she knows where I am. I also know she has no intention of coming to me.

I walk carefully across the grass. Hooking a finger into the loop on her collar, I escort her to the path. She doesn’t mind. Much more biddable that she used to be, she leads the way to the car park.

After breakfast, she sleeps very soundly.

I’m not surprised.

And then it’s Sunday again. It’s bright and sunny.

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve come full circle.

 

*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwat

Posted in a joyful dog, clever girl, clever Isis, deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park, Isis is no angel, Kings Heath Park, learning to trust, rain, relationship building, running running, scary shadows, walking in the park, we don't like bright light | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

a week’s worth of walks 2

 

 

 

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

 

 Sunday April 26th 2020  

 

Tuesday 21st: Highbury Park

Although it is very chilly, we have an idyllic walk today.

We set off from the front of the car park, across the flower meadow, and over the little bridge. We walk up the main path and past the Italian Garden as far as the fork in the path. Turning right, we walk out into the clearing between the beech wood and the pine avenue.

Isis chooses the pines, and plays there for almost an hour before walking up to me and indicating that she’d like to move on now.

I take her over to the edge of the beech wood where she plays contentedly for two hours. As she plays, I sit on the fallen part of the old oak and jot down observations about the three walks we’ve had so far this week.

 

Wednesday 22nd

Today Isis is very resistant to walking along the main path, so we tussle our way up to the High Street end of the park.

It’s a while since we came up here, and, as usual, once we arrive, Isis is very excited. I guess that a multitude of creatures has visited the area since we last came, as she spends a long time sniffing up and down the base of the tall hedgerow parallel to the High Street.

When she’s investigated all the scents, she comes over to me to check that I am still there, then dances off to the little bramble track where she cavorts merrily.

The sun is gradually climbing, and each time she emerges from the shade, she is outlined in a glowing golden halo.

 

Thursday 23rd

We have another wonderful time in Highbury.

The sun is out again, and we struggle our way round the corner to the second meadow. This is always her default playground when she’s given her head; nevertheless, the sun makes her cautious, and instead of running down to her brambles, she waits for me while I walk over to the dog bin. 

She runs along the edge of the wooded area for a while, then I take her up through the orchard to the top woodland path.

She leads the way, pausing every now and again, waiting for me to catch up with her. Each time, after a reassuring pat, she trots on, snuffling to the right of the path, snuffling to the left, ducking under low branches, circumventing plants, stopping to munch on a tuft of her favourite grass.

We’ve not been down the slope behind Highbury Hall since the winter morning when I slipped on the mud and landed face down. Today, the slope is gloriously dry, and we skitter our way down to the beech wood with impunity.

When I’ve guided her through the trees, she has a short romp at the edge of the wood. Then she sets off towards the pond.

She chooses to take the path to the ‘clean pool’.

Ah, here are the stepping stones across the little waterfall.

And here’s my brave little dog crossing them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwat

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in a joyful dog, clever girl, clever Isis, deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, walking in the park, we don't like bright sun | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

a week’s worth of walks 1

 

 

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

 

 Sunday April 19th 2020  

 

Monday 13th: Kings Heath Park

After a brief play on the bank, Isis ascends to the next level. Here, she frisks around in wide laps, revelling in the big, open space.

Then it happens: she comes across a red, child sized ball.

It becomes immediately obvious that she’s always wanted one like this. It’s perfect for a dog, she feels. It’s firm enough to roll when one pats it, yet soft enough to pick up in one’s mouth.

How delightful!

But, sadly, that’s the end of her galloping. She holds the ball aloft as though she’s just won a world cup final and trots off to the path above.

From here, she hastily scrambles up onto the mound which backs onto the basket ball court, and retires into the shrubbery.

Here, she settles herself comfortably and mouths the ball.

Damn. I don’t like it when she is preoccupied with a ball, or a toy, or a stick, especially now that we’re only supposed to leave the house for exercise once a day. She needs her exercise. Silly dog.

I sit on a nearby tree stump and gaze at her. Silly dog continues to lie in exactly the same position in the dead leaves behind the holly bush, mouthing the ball.

Grrrrrrrr. (Human, not Isis.) She’s there for the day.

Half an hour passes, and I can restrain myself no longer. I cut through to the path which runs along the side of the court, drop down into the Colour Garden, and walk to the back of the shrubbery. Ducking under a series of thin, whippy branches, I manage to chin tap Isis out.

Now, surely, she’ll drop the ball and scud round the big, oval plant bed.

No, she won’t.

After only a few minutes, she turns away from such delights and makes her way out onto the old tennis courts.

She has reached the exit gateway before I realise that her lead and harness are no longer round my neck.

Dilemma. I’ll not be able to get her to the car without them. Quite rightly, she’ll never let me haul her across the park by her collar. And if she did allow this, it’d choke her.

It’s not very far to the tree stump where I sat and watched her performing in the shrubbery. The lead and harness must be there.

 I’m sure she’ll not go far without me.

I pelt back to the mound.

Yes, there they are, sitting on top of a low growing shrub onto which  they must have dropped when I stood up.

I grab them and run.

There’s no sign of Isis when I lurch through the gate, but as I step onto the path, a passing walker points towards a little clearing a few yards away. This is the way Isis always leads me, the direction she always chooses to follow to the car park.

There she stands, waiting for me. She’s still clutching the blasted ball.

Off we set. She has her lead on now, but it’s impossible to put on her harness without handling the ball. In these times of plague, I want to avoid contact with anything which has been handled by a small, drooly, infant germ factory.

Never mind, she always drops whatever she’s carrying before she jumps up onto the back seat.

But not today.

Today she refuses to get into the car.

It’s cold. I begin to shiver. It’s now that I realise my gloves are missing.

I shiver again.

Isis stands there, stiff legged, all four paws planted firmly on the tarmac.

Sigh.

Right, you silly, silly dog, you’ll have to come with me.

I expect her to refuse. She has very strict rules about what we do in specific situations, and when we get back to the car, we don’t set off again on foot, not under any circumstances.

However, she surprises me. She trots off eagerly – perhaps she knows she’s not had enough exercise.

As we make our way towards the exit, the recalcitrant animal tosses the ball into the air and executes a first class twirl.

Off we go again, retracing our steps. This time, she plays happily on the bank above the old bowling green. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As she plays, I talk to C. who’s out with his little dog Daisy. He is the only one of his family who leaves home now, he tells me. His wife and daughter are physically vulnerable and confined to the house. Before moving off, he tells me to phone if I need any shopping, and checks that I have their phone number.

People are very kind.

This time round, Isis makes up for wasted opportunities. After batting across the bank, she trots up to the next level and races exuberantly to and fro on the grass.

When we reach the pond, she decides to deviate from our usual path.

That’s fine – we’ll not find the gloves now, anyway.

But hey! There they are on the path, not far from the main entrance. I must have dropped them when we first began our walk.

Thanks Isis.

Back at the car, my strange little dog jumps straight in, lies down, tucks her front paws under her chest and lays her head on her blanket.

What was all that about then?

 

*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwat

Posted in Isis says "No"., Kings Heath Park, oh dear, park people, strange behaviour, walking in the park | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

oh!

 

 

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

 

 Sunday April 12th 2020  

 

On lockdown here, we’ve been asked to leave the house for exercise only once a day. Now that Isis has just one park visit, it feels even more important than usual that she enjoys it. Except for a few self-obsessed joggers, people are very careful to observe the two metres apart, ‘self-distancing’ rule, so walking in Highbury feels fine.

Thus, last Sunday, off we go to the park . We leave home at 7.50. Yes, 7.50, five hours earlier than our usual Sunday jaunt. It’s quite chilly but my winter anorak and my feeling of unsurpassed virtue keep me warm.

I look at my newly groomed dog with pride. What an immaculate, well cared for animal: every hair is in place – sort of – and there’s not a tangle in sight. As for a mat, heaven forfend it. And those once muddy, glued together facial hairs clotted into revolting clumps? Perfectly soft, smooth and white now. Even her little feet are clean and pink.

 

 

     

 

 

 

As soon as she’s released, Isis sets off, best paw forward, in pursuit of adventure.

Yet she’s not sure where she wants to play today. She has a quick prance round a bramble patch before wandering off towards the pine avenue where yesterday she romped gleefully for at least an hour.

But no, after a quick sniff at something only a dog could find interesting, she ambles off again looking bored.

Perhaps she’ll fancy the Italian Garden. I lead the way, and once there she begins playing with the beech hedge. That’s good. I’m feeling tired today. Must be all the early rising. I can sit on this comfortable log close by the hedge, and listen to the birdsong while she self-exercises. Smiling in anticipation of a long, tranquil daydream, I arrange myself carefully, and lean back.

Hardly am I settled, when she stops playing and pokes her head into the hedge. I stand up reluctantly, and approach her.

“You don’t want to go through there, dear,” I tell her.

But she does.

“It’s much nicer on this side.”

No, it isn’t.

She shrugs her shoulders and shoves. She wriggles. And shoves. And wriggles and shoves. Then, flup! She emerges on the other side.

Sigh.

I hesitate for a few seconds. I could exit the garden more elegantly by using the entrance and exit but the irritating little creature has chosen the mid point of the hedge for her departure. It takes a few minutes to run round it, and dog knows where she’ll be by the time I catch up with her.

I gather her lead and harness and, saying very rude things, struggle through the dry, pointy, little branches. Oh, well, perhaps she’s changed her mind and wants to play among the pine trees after all. There’s nowhere to sit, but never mind, we’re here for her, not for me.

She stops with some interest beneath the nearest pine. Sniff, snuffle, sniff. Then she trots off again.

Perhaps she’d enjoy the beech wood today. There are plenty of scents there. I hook on her lead and we set off. She stands among the beech trees looking slightly puzzled, then makes her way out again.

Sigh.

When we reach the edge of the wood, I note that there’s no-one else in the vicinity. The huge oak logs lying between the wood and the pond are a perfect place to sit, if only one can persuade one’s charge to play there.

I recapture Isis and walk her briskly down the slope. Before we reach the the old oak and its fallen branches, I remove her lead, and point her nose back uphill. She turns round and makes her way towards the boggy area the other side of the hedge.

“Not that way, dear.” I turn her round gently, and point her in the right direction. We repeat this procedure three times. On the fourth, she begins to dance on the spot.

That’s a good sign.

But after a few reels, she sidles back once more. This time she dips behind a small mound and begins scraping at a heap of leaves next to the recently planted hedge.

Thank goodness for that.

I relax and read the news on my phone. I can just see her back and the top of her head,  but she’s only a few yards away, and her bell is tinkling steadily. Every now and then, I glance up. She’s engrossed with her leaves, diving into the pile, scattering and chasing them, tossing them over her shoulder, picking the odd one up with her teeth and shaking it vigorously.

Dear little dog.

Eventually, I get up. It’s ten o’clock. Time we wandered back to the car.

Wondering what is so fascinating about this particular leaf pile, I walk over to look.

There, at the base of the hedge, and surrounded by thick swathes of leaves, is a large, deep,  freshly dug hole. The leaves are dry and brittle, but the hole is wet and sticky.

I can’t believe it.

She lifts up her head.

 

 

     

 

 

Oh.  

 

*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwat

Posted in a joyful dog, deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park, Isis says "No"., oh dear, scenting, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

delayed post

 

 

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

 

Sunday April 5th 2020

 

Hello there. Today’s post should, hopefully, appear tomorrow.

Apologies from Human.

 

 

*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk


 

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a good grooming

 

 

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

 

Monday April 6th 2020

 

Dishevelled, that’s what she is. Not exactly dirty. She doesn’t look neglected, tangled, ratty haired. I peer more closely. No, she doesn’t have bits of pine leaves embedded in her chest. There are no strands of grass stalk woven into the hairs of her nether regions, no balls of hair under her paw pits. She doesn’t smell of anything untoward.

She just needs grooming, I decide, surreptitiously fishing out the plastic box from under the coffee table and placing it behind her on the day bed.

I check that all the required items of torture are there: yes, her special scissors, brushes, comb. Ah, mustn’t forget the plastic bag. She seems to have called a halt to moulting, but there are always a couple of handfuls of soft hair, and the blackbirds, robins, magpies and crows are nesting.

One outing a day isn’t enough for Isis, and she spends at least an hour each evening  flinging her toys around and vigorously shaking the dusty rug. Today she occupies herself in this way for two whole hours, so now she’s quiet and relaxed.

I place a hand very close to her muzzle. She twitches her nose and stretches contentedly. I stroke her head and whisper sweet nothings into her nearest ear.

I sniff her ears. Nothing wrong here. I lift an ear flap. Ah, a dot of something which shouldn’t be there.

It only takes about three seconds for me to take a cotton bud from her box, but when I turn back to her, she has closed her ear opening so tightly that I can’t find it.

Both ears are hidden under an apparently seamless carpet of hair.

Sigh.

I get the message. Deciding to return to the inside of her ears later, I move on to brush behind her ears with the softest of her collection, a baby’s hairbrush.

The brush makes no impression on her hair at all, but I always begin grooming with this one, because its softness seems to reassure her, and she hardly notices when it’s exchanged for the much stiffer, official dog brush.

There are no mats, but two or three little snags need teasing out gently with the metal comb.

Next comes one of the most difficult tasks: her whiskery face. She doesn’t growl or snap at me now, or snatch away the brush, but she hates it when I clean the hair around her mouth and chin, and turns her head this way and that trying to avoid my attentions. 

Oh, it doesn’t look too bad today. Perhaps there won’t be any mud. But when I lift the hair away from her upper lip, I see them: little bundles of damp hair glued together with  streaks of black mud.

Sigh.

I place the fingers of one hand between the hair and her top lip and brush gently against my fingers. As soon as I begin, of course, she moves her head away. This gives me access to the other side of her mouth. We begin the process again.

 “It must be horrible having mud around your mouth,” I croon to her stupidly as I work, “And it’ll soon be done.”

Some of the drier mud comes off in the brush, but the rest I have to pick out with my finger nails. A tiny, plastic doll’s hairbrush dislodges any mud specks which remain.

Once she’s been brushed under her chin, we both relax.

Soon, her shoulders, chest, back, thighs, stomach and tail are brushed and combed, and she is a restored to her usual soft, fluffy self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as I replace her collar, she’s up like a shot, leaping into her dog bed, waiting for her reward: two mini Markies.

Ah.

The following day is Sunday, and off we go to the park. Isis looks beautiful ………. but that’s another story!

 

*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

 

 

 

Posted in a very good dog, dear little Isis, Isis at home, oh dear, poor Isis, relationship building | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

In these strange times

 

 

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

 

Sunday March 29th 2020

 

In these strange times it’s brilliant that we still have access to our local parks. Being able to spend time each day in Highbury is beyond price.

At the end of last week, Bev suggests that we meet earlier from now on so that we’re there when the park is virtually empty. We decide on eight.

We agree not to walk walk together in the current situation. We know that Rufus and Nancy will find Isis and me. They do. Each day Bev and I have a loud catching up conversation with several metres between us, while Isis romps and the doodles attempt to supplement their carefully devised diet with earth and roots.

And it doesn’t rain.

Yay!

It’s years since I was in the habit of arriving at the park early, and, once I’m there, I enjoy it very much.

Now we’re walking on our own, I let Isis decide where she would like to play each day. Once we leave the main path, I release her from her harness, and she leads the way.

One morning she chooses the big bramble patch. We have a magical time. The ground frost lingers, and for an hour and a half I sit close to the earth watching the sharp, hard, little frost shapes in a tuft of grass deliquesce into liquid spheres.

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know how frost enhances the scents, but it certainly appears to do so. Isis is clearly finding smells even more enticing than usual, and zig-zags to and fro, nose twitching, tail wagging with excitement.

Once she’s investigated all the scents, and I am watching the changing forms among the grass blades, she begins a virtuoso performance. There’s no traffic noise, and I can hear her little feet pounding against the hard ground. She runs and runs and runs.

Another day she elects to cavort around on the edge of the beech wood. This is great for me as I can sit on one of the comfortable oak tree logs to watch her.

It’s a perfect perch. I can redirect her quickly if she decides to make a break for the marshy area where she likes to play in the summer and where she would dearly love to paddle right now, up to her thighs in liquid mud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today she plays for an hour in her pine avenue, then makes her way over the little waterfall to the big meadow.

It’s weeks since she’s been able to play by the stream, and she pops down into the water for a drink before taking off and racing around in the open spaces.

Today, lazy Human lingered in bed, so that it was lunchtime when we arrived in Highbury, and, of course, the park is much busier than it is the morning. But it’s a large area and it’s   still easy to make sure that every one keeps the safe two metre distance away from others.

Some cities have closed their parks.

I hope that we can keep ours open.

 

*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in a joyful dog, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, park people, running running, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

hello spring!

 

 

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

 

Sunday March 22nd 2020

 

It’s spring. I know it began some days ago, but now the sky and the sun say it’s for real. There’s a proliferation of buds, and continuous bursts of birdsong. Magpies, jays, robins, wrens and finches: they’re all at it. 

And the weather is forecast to be dry until April 2nd.

No rain? We can hardly believe it.

It’s cold, but that’s fine. People smile on their way round Highbury today.

Tails are wagging all over the place. Dogs are bounding. Dogs are racing after balls.

Whoopee!

(Don’t know why video presents upside down, but it plays the right way up!)

 

 

 

 

Sure, there is still plenty of mud to be found, but the mudless stretches are growing. Today it is even possible for a dog to walk the length of the flower meadow and still have clean, pink feet.

What a relief it is to be able to leave Hairy One’s car seat cover and a towel in the car overnight instead of hauling them dripping from the car every time we return home. And what a relief not to have to find somewhere to hang all the soggy Isis gear and my wet  clothes.

Soon, hopefully, the hall radiator will be empty of damp gloves and neck warmers. (I only have three dog walking gloves left from a sizeable collection: one is brown, one black and one navy. Two are right handed and one left. With luck, they’ll see the cold weather out.)

Isis, of course, being a dog, does not mind mud, and, as we all know, adores rain. So her misery doesn’t begin until we reach home. Unable to recognise that being washed and dried is a consequence of playing in rain and mud, she is uncertain of what awaits her. 

Being left on the lead in the porch while Human peels off her wet socks, signals ablutions, means Dog will be dragged down the hall to the kitchen where a large plastic bowl of warm water awaits her. Then, horror of horrors, she must allow her legs to be immersed in the water, one at a time and washed down with a cloth.

It’s horrible but she daren’t growl or she’ll not get a treat. And heaven forfend that she removes a paw from the bowl.

On the other hand, being relieved of her lead and harness means she is free to hurry down the hall and make herself scarce.

So when we return from our walk, there she stands in the porch, hoping that it’s going to be a lucky, no wash day. Her tail hangs down. She is motionless, like a dog statue. You can’t even see her breathing. 

When she feels my fingers fumbling to unclip her harness, her tail begins to wag. The wagging gains momentum and she jerks back her head, wriggling it out of the harness as I lift it over her ears.

Yes! It’s official. No dog cleaning today. The hall door is open and she scurries away. Funny little Isis. I know she’s very hungry and  thirsty, but if she’s been apprehensive about being cleaned, she’ll always claim her bed and lies on it for a while before emerging for breakfast.

All being well, Isis, you’ll enjoy at least ten days before you even need to be dried, so gallop on, my dog!

 

*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk


 

Posted in a joyful dog, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, park dogs, park people, running running, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

we dig those ears

 

 

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

 

Sunday March 15th 2020

 

How wonderful that it’s still light at six in the evening! Now, at last, it’s practical for me to give Isis two walks a day without getting up at the crack of dawn.

As we know, I am the antithesis of the early riser.

For some time now, Isis and I have met up with Bev and the doodles in Highbury Park between nine and ten in the morning. But they all go away for two weeks, then Bev has a fearsome cold, and, predictably, I regress.

Despite my daily vows to retire before midnight and get up at eight, I consistently fail to achieve either.

This is less than ideal, as I get nothing done at home, but there is one lovely outcome: because Isis and I spend a good part of every afternoon in Highbury, we meet many new people.

The main path through the park runs alongside the area where Isis plays. I sit on one of two quite comfortable felled trees and enjoy watching the following scenario.

Isis leaps around as usual, executing little ‘invitation to play’ bows to her friends – the hedgerows, shrubs and brambles.

People pass along the path from or to the High Street. At some points, Isis is invisible from the path because of the dips and rises of the landscaping. I can always tell when someone’s suddenly spotted her because, inevitably, the spotter does a double take. If he or she is part of a group, I hear, for example, “Ryan/ Helen, look at that dog.”

Sometimes people carry on but keep turning their heads back towards ‘that dog.’ Sometimes they return at the end of their walk and have a closer look. Often, if I am sitting near to the path, people will call or come over to ask what Isis is doing. Then, of course, we get into conversation.

Several times this week, I hear a person who has already discovered Isis explain her to the rest of the group.

Others, who have brought their dogs up onto the grass, will stand and watch Isis for several minutes before coming over to ask me about her, what she is doing, why, what breed she is, and where she came from.

Usually people want to know how she manages not to bang into things at home, how I get her to come to me and whether she knows where I am.

Without exception, they express empathy with her.

Only this week, I have a very interesting conversation with  a delightful young guy who has spent time in Portugal and is aware of the plight of abandoned dogs there. He has his own rescued lurcher with him, and is intrigued by Isis. “She’s so lovely,” he says.

It’s just as well that she is unaware of all the compliments which come her way. She’s already quite assured enough of her own importance.

Here is a selection of comments from this week:

“That’s the sweetest thing I’ve seen today.” (Young woman who has just watched Isis playing with the bramble ‘hedge’ and has asked me what she’s doing.)

“She’s very cute.” (Young girl passing by with her friend.)

“She’s very beautiful.” (Two longstanding and two new male admirers.)

“Those ears. Wow!”

‘Those ears’ are her most remarked upon feature. Friend Y. has been telling me for months that there’s a tree in the landscaped area of the park which reminds her so much of Hairy One’s ears that she calls it ‘The Isis Tree.’

I’d not managed to identify the tree, but this week I meet Y and Blitzi not far from it, and she points it out to me.

Immediately, it’s clear how the soubriquet fits.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, the fall of the dangly growth from the branches is strikingly similar to the fall of the  hair from Hairy One’s ears!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk


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a good place to be

 

 

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

 

Sunday March 9th 2020

 

The highest mound of the landscaped area in Highbury Park, to which I trudged last week in search of my lost spectacles, is the only part of the park from which Isis is able to return with clean, pink feet.

This is the mound closest to the High Street. You can climb the steep bank to access it from the main path; alternatively, at present you can (almost) swim to it over the lower grassed area.

There’s a third option: you can follow the track which runs from behind the car park, parallel to the railway line and then the allotments.

Our dogs enjoy this track as there are always very interesting smells here. Even through this wettest February on record, some intrepid dog walkers follow the track, their dogs emerging with shiny, mud thigh boots.

As we know, Isis enjoys paddling through mud. Unfortunately, she is not as enthusiastic about being bathed afterwards.

Since I am less than enthusiastic about either activity, I prefer her to play on the high mound.

A perfectly simple solution to the mud problem then?

Well no.

There’s always a challenge with Isis, and here’s the rub (as Shakespeare would say.) The only mudless approach to our mound is the main tarmacked path which runs from the vehicular entrance up to the High Street.

And Isis does not like this path. In the early days, she refused to walk on it. It was summer, the sun was directly behind us, and a short avenue of trees cast deep stripes of shadow on the tarmac.

Oh horror! There was no way she was going to walk along here.

So we always avoided the path, tramping instead along the grass to her favourite play spots. All was well. She was even willing to return to the path once we had by-passed the trees.

Most inconveniently, there is now little grass to walk on, just the odd tuft poking its head valiantly through the quagmire.

In the car park we struggle. Every time.

This is how it goes. We pull up as close as possible to the beginning of the avenue. This means we have to park under the crows’ favourite tree from which the afore mentioned birds poop mightily all over the car.

Never mind, there’s not much we’ll not do for our dogs.

I don waterproof trousers and walking boots before opening the back door closest to the path. If it’s pouring with rain, hailing or snowing, Isis is out of the car like a shot.

If she feels the light isn’t quite right, she is more reluctant, and emerges looking doubtful. Then she stands as close to the car as possible, or even leans against it looking pathetic. I’m aware of people in the car park looking at her sympathetically. Sometimes they say, “Oh, she doesn’t want to go for a walk, bless her.”

“Yes, you b. well do, Isis,” I murmur in her ear.

Waiting until no-one is looking, I get her onto the path with two or three firm yanks on her harness and a few uncomplimentary hisses in her ear. For the benefit of anyone who might be secretly videoing us, prior to calling the RSPCA, I accompany the yanks with loud   comments of, “You’ll like it when you get there, dear.”

Soon, she walks along beside me, or to make sure I know that she’s coming against her better judgement, she walks a step or two behind.

All the way along the path we go until we reach our mound. We scramble up the bank. When I remove her harness, she has a celebratory twirl before trotting off to her favourite place,

 

 

 

a long run where the brambles and undergrowth separate the park from the allotments. Here she runs up

 

 

 

 

and down,

 

 

she leaps and pounces

 

 

and sometimes, but not often, even pauses for thought.

 

 

 

I love to sit on a fallen tree and watch her. She’s so confident when she’s playing here. Lately, she doesn’t even leave the mound when another dog approaches her. She just stands still, or walks a few feet away and carries on playing.

She knows where I am, but she loves her independence.

 

 

 

Just as Kerry told me all those years ago, she’s a brave little dog.

 

*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 kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk



 

Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis meets other dogs, Isis says "No"., park dogs, rain and more rain, running running, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments