Tuesday 22nd September

Hello everyone. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

Isis barked until 2.30 this morning, then just as I’d gathered my sleeping downstairs stuff together, she stopped.

She’s much calmer today & no longer snarling and growling but she still refuses to go outside. She just wants to squash herself as close to me as she can get – not like herself at all. But she is eating & drinking.

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Isis is ill



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


Sunday September 20th 2020


I am sorry this post was delayed. Yesterday, I was too stressed to write, to be honest. Isis had been behaving increasingly oddly, and I was very worried about her. I didn’t want to write ‘Isis is unwell’ and leave people to be concerned about her, so thought the briefer yesterday’s message, the better.

Towards the end of August, the RSPCA is still dealing only with emergencies. I note that Hairy One’s booster will soon be due, and her anal glands will need to be emptied again. I need to make an appointment with the temporary vet.

During the first week of September, said Hairy begins to worry her her right ‘stress leg’, making it raw. I put her into her Elizabethan collar and treat the leg with Sudocrem. When the collar is removed, she nibbles at the leg again.

When I groom her, I find several little scabs around the back of her neck, one or two on her back and two or three on her flank. I know that she’s not had fleas, and wonder if she could have been attacked by mites.

Unfortunately, we have to wait four days for an appointment, and, even though she has the collar on, she’s continuously diving at her coat, trying to pull out hair.

Our appointment’s on September 10th, and Isis behaves like the most saintly dog you could imagine. She stands sedately on the scales to be weighed, receives her booster and her anal gland treatment with equanimity and remains still and polite while the vet looks at the little scabs. In fact, the vet is so impressed that she tells her several times what an obedient, excellent, well-behaved dog she is!

The vet concludes that little Hairy has been bitten by some microbe or other, but not by mites, as there are too few bites. She prescribes Malaseb shampoo which I collect the next day.

The shampoo must be applied twice a week, on various areas of her skin, particularly around her lips, between her toes and under her tail.

She has her third shampoo on Friday. I had hoped that by now the treatment would be taking effect, and her skin would be calmer; instead, she becomes more and more irritated and irritable. She dives at her flanks and her tail, pulling out strands of hair. She growls and snarls. At home she refuses to do anything except eat, and lie on her bed.  She barks frequently, for no apparent reason, snarls when I sit on the day bed with her, and growls when I touch her.







She becomes more and more distressed as the weekend progresses.

I keep hearing strange, raspy noises. Unable to lick her ‘stress leg’, poor little Isis is vigorously licking the inside of the plastic collar.

She has to be pushed into the garden to pee. She has no interest in her toys.

Twice a day I remove her Elizabethan collar so that she can eat. For days now, she has regressed to her old dining habits, ranting and raving while she attacks her food. Then she goes back to bed.

I take her to Highbury early on Sunday morning. She gets out of the car and walks with me. She plays a little, but she would really prefer to return home.

Back at home, she’s beside herself. I realise that even though she has the protective collar on, she has managed to attack the top side of her tail. She’s torn out hairs, and the skin around the root of her tail is very inflamed. I cover the patch with Sudocrem.

She’s very, very miserable. She will still come into the kitchen to eat, but other than that, she just wants to lie down.

She is ambivalent about contact with me. However careful I am, she snaps and growls when I sit beside her on the day bed. After a while, she’ll move until part of her is touching me, but after a few minutes finds this uncomfortable, growls and moves away.

When I move to another room, she drags herself up to lie by me. But when I touch her body, she snarls and squirms away. She will only let me stroke her forehead very, very lightly and kiss her muzzle!

After drinking from the stream in the park, she doesn’t drink again all day. She refuses to go into the garden.

At night, I carry her out and place her on the grass. She refuses to pee. She sits, then lies down. I carry her back to the kitchen door. She scurries in, tail between her legs. For the first time, she doesn’t stand waiting for me to get out her treats. Instead, she lies listlessly on the day bed.

She doesn’t follow our usual routine and search for the treats I’ve placed in her dog bed, or rush to ‘discover’ a Markie under my desk. She only participates in the final act when I sit beside her and she has to dislodge bits of gravy bones from under my hands, inside my fists or between my fingers. I make it easy for her.

This morning, when I wake her, she is utterly miserable. She doesn’t want to move, but she’s not peed or pooped since yesterday morning. I carry her into the porch, and chivvy her into the car.

When we reach the park, I lift her out of the car, place her on the grass, and wait for her to oblige.

She can’t be left to suffer until the shampoo takes effect.

I ring the vet.

I’m informed that I’m number 11 in the queue.

Isis pees. Thank goodness for that.

Then she lies down. I speak to Tara, a very compassionate and knowledgeable park mate and an excellent dog walker. She recommends two vets.

After Tara leaves, the phone continues to ring. I’m still only seventh in the queue when Te., another dog walker asks me if I’d like her to carry Isis to the car for me. I hold the lead of one of her two dogs, while she puts Isis in the car.

By the time we reach home, I’m fifth in the queue.

I phone another surgery. The receptionist takes our details and says Isis can be fitted in at 10.30 if we can make it, or ‘squeezed in’ later if we can’t.

We wait in the car until a veterinary nurse comes out and helps me to encourage Hairy in. Strangely, the non-ambulatory Isis now walks. She’s never been here before. It’s as if, scenting the surgery’s smell, she knows that’s where she should be!

Most odd.

The nurse asks me to muzzle Isis, which is reasonable, under the circumstances.

Before examining her, the vet asks lots of questions. She does a very thorough examination, after which she concludes that the severe dermatology could have been caused by an allergy, but not by insect bites.

She thinks that a course of steroids and of antibiotics will sort out the dermatitis.

I mention that Isis has problems with her anal glands which cause her to bite her legs and tail, but that the the glands had been emptied ten days previously. She expresses the glands. They are infected, she tells me, and have been for some time. The antibiotics will clear up the glands too.

Both of us walk back to the car.

She’s had her tablets and slept for three hours, woken for a few minutes and grunted a bit. Now she’s asleep again.

I’d like to sleep too.

Oh, Isis, Isis.


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk








































Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For

Posted in a very good dog, a vet visit, food rage, Highbury Park, Isis at home, Isis is sad, Isis says "No"., oh dear | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

oh dear



Sunday September 20th 2020

Oh dear! I’m afraid today’s post will be delayed until tomorrow.



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seven days: days 4 and 5



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


Sunday September 13th 2020


Perhaps Isis is right. Seven consecutive posts about seven consecutive dog walks could well become monotonous. And seem contrived. They weren’t contrived. They just happened. One after the other.

The problem for Human is that seven weeks is a long time. Other things keep happening. Things she wants to write about.

Be patient, human. Follow your nose …………………………………


It’s now three days after I dropped the house keys near Jasmine Fields, two days after I fell in the stream in Highbury Park, and one day after Isis eliminated my glasses’ case.

I decide that Hairy One needs an evening walk. She wasn’t her usual happy self in Highbury this morning so we only stayed an hour. It’s a dull evening. She needs more exercise. I think I’ll be able to persuade her to do a road walk.

I should explain that this summer, for the first time, she’s not wanted to play in the garden. She goes out, does what’s required and returns to the house. Maybe it’s because Blitzi  marks her garden territory each week when he visits.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that by the evening she has boundless energy and throws her toys around for an hour or so in the house.

Maybe that’s how she likes her day to be. Perhaps interfering humans don’t always know best. I just feel sorry that she’s not outside in the fresh air, sniffing around.

Anyway, I get ready to go.

Isis is playing with her snake. She’s never excited when I wander around getting ready. She knows it takes for ever. She knows it’s only worth getting up when I open the door into the porch.

I’m ready. Isis is still playing with snake. I tap ‘come on’ under her chin. She walks into the hall. She looks quite pleased to be going out.

But not without snake.

I tell her I know what will happen. She’ll drop snake on route and I’ll have to carry him home.

She ignores me. No way does she intend to relinquish her toy.

I manoeuvre her harness around snake. She stands in the porch, wagging happily.


We set off.

Isis doesn’t walk briskly. She doesn’t sniff the interesting messages left by other dogs. She doesn’t follow kitty scents. She dawdles along like a recalcitrant four year old, halting frequently to reposition snake.

We’re not having an invigorating walk, but I nudge her on. I know she’s not upset or frightened. She’s just being stubborn.

Well, to be fair, so am I. Why didn’t I just let her play at home?

Then, after we’ve been plodding along for about twenty minutes, she casts snake aside, jumps up in the air and walks on. She begins to sniff the hedges and fire hydrants.

It’s getting on for eight thirty now. We walk to Kings Heath Park where we’ve not been for weeks – it’s too busy in this time of plague.

It’s almost nine when we cross Vicarage Road. It’ll be dark in an hour. A thin drizzle begins. The park is virtually empty.


Isis is beyond delighted to be in the park. I walk her across the field towards the car park, then set her free.




Wha – hay!





It’s the first time I’ve released her in this part of the park. I’ve always been afraid that she might make her way towards the road. But we’ve grown very close over the last few months; we know each other much better.

The drizzle is heavy now. I stand under a tree and watch her pounding up and down, snapping at the wetness, slowing down to weave in and out of the trees, gathering speed for another pelt, completely lost in the joy of the moment.

After an hour, the light is fading. I walk over to fetch Isis. She stands still as I replace her harness and lead. Then, lead in one hand and snake in the other, I lead her out of the park.




Soaked but contented, we walk decorously home in the dark.

After all that hassle, Isis.

The following afternoon we go to Kings Heath Park again. No snake this time. No pussy-footing along the pavement. No resistance.

She walks on the spot as I collect her lead and harness from her box in the porch. She can’t wait to squeeze through the front door.

When I open the front gate, she dives through it onto the pavement and sets off at a gallop.

How strange. How unexpected.

Not at all. The rain is pouring down relentlessly.

What a difference a day makes, Isis.


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk

Posted in dear little Isis, Isis says "No"., Kings Heath Park, learning to trust, rain, rain and more rain, relationship building, running running, Uncategorized, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

seven days: day 3



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


Monday September 7th 2020


If only she could speak ……………………………………………….

Oh no. Not again. Are you really going to trog through five more days? That is so boring.

I thought it was a very good idea. It was so funny that every day something interesting happened.

One day could be interesting, even two. Three, even, at a push. But seven, one after the other. No way.

There’s really important things you should be writing about. Really interesting, like telling them how poorly I am. How I’m suffering. How I need help. I need my human and all she does is put smelly stuff on me and give me a horrible, very long, wet, bath and put a big lampshade round my neck.

The RSPCA wouldn’t stand for it.

Isis, you sound just like Daisy.

Yes, well, she tells me a lot of things.

She’s can’t tell you anything. She’s not here any more.

Humans know nothing about cats. They can do anything.

Don’t be silly.

I’m not being silly. Before she went away, Daisy said if I ever chase a cat ever, ever, she’ll see me and I’ll be punished.

Yes, well, it isn’t kind to chase cats.

It’s very dangerous, because Daisy will ……

Yes, yes, OK. I hear you.

It would be tempting fete. Daisy said so. What’s a fete?

It’s a place with lots of cats in.

Now, let me get on with this. Day 3 ……………………….

Nothing happened on Day 3.

Yes, it did. I sat on the log near the gate, while you played under the tree. And while I was  ……

Looking at the news on your phone, instead of looking after me.

Yes, I was.

Anything could have happened to me.

Don’t be ridiculous. You were only three feet away.

Well, someone could have stolen me. Or a big fierce dog could have eaten me. Or I could have gone off and got lost.

Isis, I can hear your bell.

You can’t hear it if I’ve gone away.



In fact, your bell stopped ringing. That’s why I looked up.

And saw me chewing.


But you didn’t bother to find out what I was chewing.

I thought it was a stick.

But you didn’t check. Tee-hee. It could have been a poisonous snake. It could have bitten me.

There aren’t any poisonous snakes in Highbury Park.

Well, you don’t know everything. Daisy told me. It could have been a python. It could have wrapped itself round me and ….

Don’t be ridiculous. I could see you were enjoying yourself. And I looked up very frequently to check you were OK.

No you didn’t look up threequently. You looked up four times.


And then you still didn’t know what I was chewing. You said that’s funny. There’s a blue bit on the grass.

Yes, yes. Do be quiet Isis. It wasn’t at all funny.

Snigger. And then you came over to see what I had in my mouth. Snigger.


Then you made very funny vibrations. You didn’t warn me. You said nasty things, I know you did. You GRABBED it. You frightened me. You stole it off me.

I didn’t steal it.

No, because it was … tee-hee, snuffle tee-hee …. it was …. snigger …

Yes. Very funny.

It was ………………………. your







glasses case. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… ha…ha!

Or you could tell them about my second helpings. Second helpings for dogs is very interesting. They’d all be pleased I have second helpings.

Oh bog off, Isis.


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk


Posted in a very naughty dog, Highbury Park, Isis and Daisy, oh dear, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments




6th September 2020


Owing to unforeseen circumstances, today’s post will appear tomorrow!





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seven days: day two



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


Sunday August 30th 2020


August 5th and it’s one of those uncertain weather days.

It’s OK, but only just. Isis plays tentatively. Her weather nose is telling her that the sun might suddenly blaze out and kick those menacing shadows onto the grass.

It’s not long before she approaches the log on which I’m sitting, and comes over to stand by my side. This is a relatively new routine, one which has developed over the summer months. Before, if she was anxious, she’d creep, cowering, up towards the car park.

But now she seeks out Human and waits. I greet her and give her a series of light, rapid pats either side of her waist while jogging on the spot. This is supposed to communicate excitement and tell her “Go-go-go!” If she’s just come to check in with me, the pats will ‘release’ her, sending her bounding off for more adventures.

Today, she doesn’t bound off. She looks serious. She sits down.


She’s not happy. The sky looks the same to me. I can’t detect any threats. There’s still quite a strong breeze. There are still grey clouds, but nothing ominous. But what does a mere human know?

I get up from the log and tap her to follow. She’s reluctant. At one time, that would have been the end of the walk. She’d have refused to move in any direction other than towards the car park, and even then it would have been very much a stop and start, pull and push journey.

Again it’s only over the last few months that this has changed. Now, however the light is behaving, she’ll come with me if we’re joined by her lead. If sun and shadows are playing very silly games, she’ll need her harness on too so that I can restrain her without strangling her.

Today, the lead is enough. As she feels it being clipped to her collar, she relaxes, lifts her tail and wags it briefly. Yes, she’ll come.

I let her choose the route. Now she’s looking chirpy again, and I unclip her lead. She walks towards the stream. The bank is steep here. She can’t stretch down far enough to judge the distance, so I place a hand firmly either side of her waist to let her know that it’s safe. She drops into the water, has a couple of laps and then climbs out on the opposite bank and waits for me.


I’m extending my left leg towards the stream when I remember. “**** it in a bucket,” I mutter to myself, “Don’t be stupid. That leg’s not reliable.”

Getting old really sucks, doesn’t it?

I wish to avoid the indignity of sitting on the bank to effect my crossing. Looking around, I notice that the slim lower branches of a young oak overhang the stream. They’re only a few inches above my head. Ah, there’s an easy way out.

I grasp a branch in either hand and launch myself from the bank.

As I do so, the branches sweep rapidly down over the water, snatch themselves from my grasp and deposit me on my back in the stream with a resounding SMERBLUNK!

Then they snap back into their rightful position.

I glance up at Isis. She doesn’t appear even slightly surprised. Well, she’s lived with me for almost seven years.

The bad news – it goes without saying, but somehow balances the sentence nicely – is that I am very wet. The good news is that the phone in my breast pocket is perfectly dry. This is not, I hasten to add, because I am well endowed, but because the stream is relatively shallow.

I lever myself out of the water. Dammit, we’re not going home yet. We’ve hardly been here half an hour. I don’t feel very comfortable, but I’ll soon get used to it.

We both scrabble our way up the steep slope which leads to the back of the pond, and make our way onto the narrow earth path.

When I first brought Isis along the path, I had to guide her round every protruding trunk and every watery inlet. After three guided tours, she was confident enough to do it herself. Now she enjoys coming this way and never falters.

When we emerge from the path, we walk up towards the beech wood. Soon we meet S. with his dog Gemma. I explain why I have taken on the appearance of Stig of the Dump.

S sniggers. It’s about then that we feel the first dots of rain.

“Oh, gosh,” says S, as the dots become splodges, “I’ll be getting on home.”

Within minutes, the wood empties people, children and dogs onto the steep slope which leads down to the pond.

Clumps of sunbathers rise from the grass and scatter towards the main exit.

Soon the shower becomes a downpour.

I smile widely. Isis leaps up with joy.






We stay in Highbury for almost two hours. The rain becomes heavier and heavier.

But we don’t give a damn.


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!, learning to trust | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

seven days: day one



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


Sunday August 23rd 2020


It’s no wonder we British are always snuffling and sniffling. Throughout August bright sun, storms, downpours, gentle breezes and high winds seem to chase each other in rapid succession, sometimes all on the same day. Perhaps most debilitating, is the pervasive mugginess which makes me feel as though the ground is sucking me into it.

It’s widely known as British weather.

I’ve selected seven outings from the last fortnight to write about. Not all have been completely mishap free.

I blame it on the weather.

As far as Isis is concerned, as we know only too well, the weather’s very challenging. I need to check the next day’s weather forecast before I sleep and again when I surface in the morning in order to decide our destination for the day.

One day the sun is fierce and there’s no rain forecast. Off we go to Jasmin Fields. Isis balks at the brightness and has to be persuaded to walk the few metres to the gate. Once guided to the grass path round the field, though, she’s fine. Cautious, but fine.

She trots along sniffing and then turns left down one of the little tracks which meander through the wildlife reserve.

There is, of course, a multitude of scents to savour. When we return to the field, she does a spot of stick hunting, seeks out her little tree, sits under it in the long grass and chews on her stick.

When she decides to move on, I direct her further round the field’s circumference towards a bench. I’m hoping that she’ll potter while I sit.

But no, she soon discovers the path down to the canal and disappears. I meet her on her way back.

Clearly, a rest for Human is not on her schedule.

Hopefully, I point her in the direction of the last bench. She trots purposefully past it. Oh.

Then, oh joy, she rediscovers that wonderful section of hedgerow she spent forty minutes minutes worshipping last time we came here.

Of course, being a mere human, I have no idea what is so inspiring about this patch. Whatever the allure it has for her, I can see that she is set for a lengthy whizz around, so I return, thankfully, to the last bench we passed.

A family group comes up from the canal tow path. They dismount when they see the performing animal and gaze at her transfixed. My bench is set back so that from where they are standing, I am invisible, and after a while, I can see that they are concerned that Isis is her own.

Dad picks up a tennis ball and rolls it gently towards her. She is oblivious, of course. Reluctantly, I drag myself from my seat, walk over and explain her antics.

Obviously relieved that the hairy creature has not been abandoned, they ride off.

It’s comforting that people care.

I roll the ball towards Hairy One’s feet. She’s very pleased with it and carries it, head held high in triumph, until we reach the gate.

Yes, Jasmin Fields was a good choice for her today: plenty of shade which she could find when she wanted it, but no tall trees casting menacing shadows.

The car has become a furnace on wheels, and it’s necessary to open the hatch and several doors before it’s OK to let Isis in. As usual, she refuses a drink. I’m almost tempted to take a few laps from her bowl myself.

That was a good couple of hours. It’s only a few minutes to the house. Hmmmmmmm, elderflower cordial, here I come!

But not quite.

Isis waits impatiently on the doorstep while I, calmly at first, but increasingly less calmly, riffle through all of the pockets in my gilet and shorts. The doorkeys can’t possibly not be there.

Oh but they can.

I tie poor Isis to the door handle of the porch and walk over the  to retrieve my yale key from N. Back I go. Tail wags from Isis.

I open the porch door. More tail wags. We’re both smiling now. I’ll leave Isis in the cool of  the house while I return to the field. All is well.

But not for long.

The inner door is locked too.  We still can’t get in.


Dear little Isis walks back to the car, gets in and settles down without protest. I’ll have to find a shady place for her while I walk the field to search for the key.

Then I remember the clink I had heard while I was pouring water for Isis. Heard and ignored. I’d checked that I’d not dropped the car keys, and then gone merrily on my way.

It could be that I accidentally pulled both sets of keys out of my pocket. If so, the house keys might have bounced under the car and are still on the road.

This time, my luck’s in. As we approach the parking spot, I see a little blob of bright green. It’s the key fob.

When I get out of the car, I see that I’ve been more than lucky. The keys are lying in the road, about an inch from a drain. If they’d fallen into the drain, I would have retraced my footsteps, and, after another long, hot walk would still have been key-less; moreover, I’d have had to call out a locksmith.

Gratefully and very, very carefully – it would be just like me to drop them in the drain – I pick up the keys.

When we arrive home for the second time, I notice that the keys have not survived unscathed.





I must have driven over this one on my first return home. Fortunately, it’s not the key to the inner door. And, amazingly, it still works!


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, deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

it’s him again!



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


Sunday August 16th 2020


Gentleman Blitz, who some months ago intervened to rescue Isis from an attacking greyhound, and who, to this day, if asked to find Isis always dashes off to locate her, visits us again.

You may recall that on his previous visit ungrateful Isis was very disgruntled to find him in her house, and after he’d left, alarm barked until dawn.

Well, a week passes, and Y and Blitzi visit again. This time, Blitzi is taken straight through into the garden. He is given his own bowl of water, and the back door is closed.

Isis soon smells that he’s around, and barks inhospitable barks every now and then, but at least he is not able to violate her boudoir.

When, after a pleasant evening, our guests leave, Isis charges up the hall, barking fiercely. Poor Blitz makes a desperate dash for the front door.

My inhospitable animal is duly admonished but doesn’t show any sign of repentance.

Later, I join her on the day bed and spend an hour or so making a huge fuss of her. When she is let out into the garden, she sniffs around, barking crossly. But after her bedtime treats, she settles quickly, and all through the night there’s not a bark to be heard.

Phew! That’s good.

Y is off to Dorset very early on the following Tuesday morning, so Blitz is having a sleepover with us. He arrives at 6.30 on Monday evening. After Y has left, he sits next to the front door, giving mournful little cries. Eventually, I put a spare dog bed next to the door, and he curls up in that looking sad.

He is not greatly reassured by Isis who, every now and then, skids up the hall uttering threatening woofs. Fortunately, after an hour or so, she compromises by just sniffing at his bed now and then.

Every time I go upstairs, Blitz shoots up after me. He’s not staying downstairs alone with that nasty, fluffy thing.

When we come down, I sit in the front room so that he doesn’t feel abandoned. Isis joins me, having checked on Blitz on her way in, of course.

Several times he comes into the room, but he is immediately rebutted by Isis.

When he’s at home, our guest sleeps with his human. I wonder if he’d feel more secure upstairs so take the dog bed up for him. He curls in it for a minute or two while I’m moving around, but no, he doesn’t want to be abandoned, and when I go down he follows me.

That night, Isis stays downstairs as usual, and Blitzi settles on my bed. Both dogs are calm and quiet.

Early in the morning, we leave the house and get into the car to go to Highbury, Isis in the back, as usual, and Blitz next to me in the passenger seat. Isis makes no comment when he joins us in the car. I secure him with a restraining strap, and turn on the engine.

When I next glance at him, I’m shocked to see that he’s trembling violently. Although I stroke him and say “Park,” repeatedly, he is very anxious until we arrive.

Obviously something bad has happened to him in a car.

Both dogs are delighted to be in Highbury. Y has assured me that Blitz will stay around me as long as I have his tennis balls and chucker, and he does. We walk off lead (yes, human as well) along the highest woodland path, Isis a little in front of me and Blizt diving off on little forays, but always coming back to us.

Isis doesn’t even flinch when Blitz dashes past her on the narrow paths, even though his speed ruffles her coat. She knows who it is, obviously.

When we emerge from the path and walk down through the beech wood, Isis makes her way over to her favourite bog, while Blitzi chases balls and plays with two lively ladies: a large, newly rescued terrier cross and a sweet infant spaniel.

By the time I finally call him over, Isis has disappeared into her bog. Her whereabouts are being carefully monitored by a concerned family who have not spotted me and are worried that she might be alone.

There are four small children. Their father asks if Blitz is friendly. I tell him that he is extremely friendly and loves to play with children. I add that he was rescued and that his new owner is certain that he lived with young children in his previous home.

The children play with him for almost an hour. Later, as we make our way back to the car park, he spots them in the distance, and rushes over for another game.

The evening passes uneventfully. After eating, both dogs sleep for a while. Later, Blitz  comes to join me in the front room, but retires hastily behind the table when Isis arrives and officiously sniffs him out.

When his human comes to collect him, he is quite obviously greatly relieved. As he leaves, Isis, never the hostess with the mostest, serenades him with a volley of barks.

A few days later, when I tell Y how poor Blitzi trembled on the way to the park, she recalls that he did the same for about a year after she’d adopted him.

Apparently, he was found wandering the streets of Stratford-on-Avon. He had no ID, and no-one contacted the police or any of the rescue centres to claim him. She guesses that he was driven to Stratford from an outlying area and abandoned there.

Both Y and I have our birthdays this week, and he comes with Y to visit again. As we reach the garden, loud barks from the house indicate that his scent has been registered by Isis. It’s such a shame, as poor Blitzi is desperate to be her friend.

Then the rain begins in earnest, and the three of us retreat into the house.

I make a drink while the guests settle themselves in the front room. Blitzi follows Y in and stands hesitantly on the rug.

Isis bustles in and chases him away.

This happens several times. Then she snaps at him. I give her a thorough telling off.

A telling off can be challenging when one has a deaf dog, but we have evolved a routine.  This involves loud “No!”s close to one of her ears, accompanied by staccato ‘smaps’ on her shoulder. (‘Smaps’ are sharp index finger taps.)

She is not hurt, of course, but she recognises my disapproval and withdraws to her bedroom.

Emboldened by her disappearance, and by the support of his person, Blitzi comes back in and screws himself into a ball against Y’s feet.

Nowadays, Isis, like most dogs, wants to be where I am. After about thirty minutes, she rejoins us. She sniffs the air to ascertain where Blitz is, then lies down on the rug close to my chair.

Soon, there’s a very brave move from our canine guest. He moves a little way away from his person. He has his eye on Hairy, though.






For a while, both dogs remain alert. Then, when Isis places her head on her paws,  Blitz leaves Y and bravely stretches out on the rug.

He’s quite close now, and he’s still watching her.







But it’s been a long day, and a dog can’t stay alert forever.








Could this be a truce, Isis?


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact kerry@aeza.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk


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that coat of hers



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


Sunday August 9th 2020  


“Hmmmm,” I think to myself as I bite into my Vacon, egg and dog hair sandwich.

“It’s July and she’s still not finished moulting.”

It’s been a strange year for moulting, at least as far as Isis goes.

Much earlier, her spring moult appears to conform to the norm. I can see ripples of her loosening winter layer beneath her top coat.







Then, suddenly, the temperature dips and her hair stops dropping. This intrigues me. Do animals stop moulting if it becomes significantly colder? It would make sense, but I have no idea.

After a few weeks, it warms up again, and soon, tempting little triangles of hair appear. They’re just waiting to be plucked.

But although the soft, warm wedges of fluff are loose, not attached to her skin, she objects strongly to my attentions. She doesn’t growl or snap. She moves away, her body language clearly saying, “Gerroff!”

It’s the right time for a fluff harvest as many of the garden and park birds are looking for nesting material.

After each grooming session, I take huge handfuls of hair to Highbury. It doesn’t stay around for long. For a while, even the crows are more interested in gathering nesting material than in food.

I’ve not known her to produce such a huge amount of hair, nor over such a long period.

Now, of course, the moulting is done. But her coat still feels very thick.

I wriggle my fingers down into her coat feeling for burrs and seeds, but it’s so dense I can’t feel her skin. The only glimpses of pink I see are among the sparse hair of her undercarriage, around her nose, and, of course, inside her ears: ears which close like hairy clam shells at the merest suspicion of a probing finger. Fortunately, so far, her ears have always been clean and healthy so a quick sniff and inspection is all she’s  needed.

When it’s time for preemptive flea treatment, though, we struggle. It’s impossible to expose a site big enough to accommodate even one whole drop of the stuff. By the time we’re done, there are dozens of tiny, fractured pinpricks of liquid scattered around the base of her skull and her neck.

Recent heatwaves have brought temperatures hotter than Isis has experienced since she came to England almost seven years ago, and she spends a large part of several ‘walks’ lying in deep shade gnawing intermittently on a stick.

She eschews the garden too, instead playing wild games indoors in the late afternoon and evening.

“Come on,” I tell her, “You’re a Portuguese dog. “You’re supposed to need a coat in winter and take summer in your stride.”

She doesn’t comment.

On Friday, for the first time since March, we visit J. in the grounds of his sheltered living accommodation.  We sit outside, of course. Isis would prefer to romp in J’s flat but she frightens his little budgie and is banned.

After a while, she finds a boundary and flies around its metal posts for a while. Then she comes to lie by me in the shade.

R, who lives next door to J, has his daughter visiting. Soon, they emerge from R’s flat with chairs and sit outside in the shade with their beers, leaving the door behind them open.

Isis takes a stroll and the next time I check she’s trespassing by the semicircle of potted geraniums which surround R.’s door.

She’s sniffing hard.

I leap up to retrieve her, but she refuses to budge. Embarrassing animal. I hesitate to give her a shove or hiss admonitions into her ear as I know these nice people will be upset.

J has told them all about Isis. They’ve seen her before. They think she’s beautiful. In their eyes, she can do no wrong.

“She’s all right,” calls R’s daughter, “We don’t mind.”

I explain the likely outcome for the pots, and try again to move the stubbornly disobedient animal.

“Oh, let her be,” they insist, and R’s daughter comes over to move some of the flowers  to clear a path for the Hairy One! 

Isis, of course, can’t see the path, so she walks carefully round the outside of the remaining pots, lifting her head to sniff the air as she goes. She’s obviously picked up a scent and is determined to follow it to its source. She finally hones in on the open door. 

Oh no! She walks slowly onto the door mat in order to sniff at the open door. I don’t think she will venture inside, but really, we don’t stand sniffing at neighbours’ doors. It just isn’t done – and, oh my dog, what if she pees on the mat?

Once more I approach the little pest whose whiffling nose is getting closer and closer to the doorstep.

“She’s fine,” they call. “Relax. If you’re bothered, close the door.”

This I do, and return to my seat. After a few minutes, to my astonishment, Isis extends her front legs, drops her rump and settles in a majestic lion pose on the door mat. 

Here she stays.

I can’t imagine what is causing her to behave in this way. Approaching people is not her thing, ever. As for sitting on their door mat. No way.

I wonder, as I have done on so many occasions before, what is prompting her strange behaviour.

When R gets up to replenish the beer supply, is Isis intimidated?

Not in the slightest.

I expect her to run away, but no, she moves politely aside – just enough to enable him to enter. She looks very pleased when he leaves the door slightly ajar. She puts her nose against the crack and sniffs, and sniffs and sniffs.

I know that she’s not sniffing food smells. She’s not a food driven dog. What is she up to?

When R emerges, he says, “I know what it is.”

He explains that they have left a very large fan on in the flat to keep the air circulating and there is also a gap under the door.

Then I notice that the transom window is wide open and the drawn blinds behind it are moving too and fro.

We all return to our seats and Isis returns to her vantage point and her whiffling. I imagine she’s  lifting up her nose and letting it drop in time with the rhythm of the fan.

She is utterly contented.

Towards evening, the air cools and she comes to lie beside my chair.


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 clever girl, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis says "No"., oh dear, scenting, strange behaviour | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments