understanding Dog



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Wednesday July 5th 2017


An extract from Dr. D. Og’s casebook: case 3, I. Understanding Dog.

Note – In order to preserve the  identity  dignity of the dog, the subjects of this case study are referred to only as ‘Dog’ and ‘Human’


‘In my title I am not suggesting for one minute that Dog is an understanding animal. Not at all. Humans are unfathomable, so why bother? No, what I mean is that Dog is an animal who must be understood.

It should be simple, really. Any dog knows that. All Human needs to do is to stop and think about Dog’s behaviour and ask herself, “Why?”

Following this very straightforward advice would save Human a lot of trouble.

Study these examples, and I’m sure it will be obvious whom to blame. And the culprit does not sport amazing ears and a wonderfully fluffy tail.


Example 1.

Human knows perfectly well that Dog has built up a nose map of the area around and alongside the pine trees in Highbury Park and is now confident enough to run there.

Dog had to concentrate very hard on accumulating this knowledge. There was a lot of groundwork.





It took her almost three years. First, she sniffed and danced on the end of her extending lead, then she did lots of tentative exploration, and after that she had to memorise all of the routes.

But now she’s mastered it, she can really run. And I mean run. She’s been increasing her speeds for months.

It’s not rocket science.

Human even boasts to friends that clever Dog has sussed out where it’s safe for her to run, and how she never runs where there are obstacles to crash into. And so on and so on. Boast, boast, boast.

But does Human take this into account? Of course not. She stands in the way, and before Dog can smell her, crash! It’s too late. Then she wonders why she’s face down on the ground.


Example 2.

Apparently, some people never learn. Last spring there was a similar scenario. After two years on her extending lead Dog is pretty proficient. She knows now that Human will not allow her to crash into anything. She sensibly stands still on all four paws if she is unable to extricate her legs from a particularly intricate lead tangle. (Having spent the first two years of her life tied up, she is, of course, able to  deal with straightforward tangles herself.)

Human must be aware that Dog has taught herself to stop and start on the head of a pin; yet, what does the silly b. do? She stands with her back to Dog, yattering away to Betty dog’s person. Naturally, she doesn’t notice when Dog, bored with the conversation, is ready to leap off in the opposite direction.

The fool is dragged backwards so fast that she lands on her back on the meadow.

The obvious lesson to learn (going forward, as the politicians endlessly say) is this: there are situations in which Dog, although blind and functionally deaf, is completely confident. In these situations, obviously she will want to run.


Example 3

A dog’s own garden, once a dog has become accustomed to the brambles and carelessly scattered flower pots, is a safe place. Yet Human stands in the way watching – even taking photos of Dog dashing around with her yellow snake.




She even stands in front of Dog taking photos. Note: This irrational behaviour is not unusual for some humans.




Fortunately, on this occasion Human walks sideways into a bramble and lurches into the fence (see bottom left of above illustration). Fortunately, on this occasion, a serious  collision is avoided.

It should be noted, however, that this silly behaviour could have had far more serious consequences. It was only by chance that poor Dog’s play was not interrupted. And think of the impact on Dog if she had been seen to drop her prey.


Example 4

Dog has been let out for a pee. She has been playing in the garden for about thirty minutes. Human enters the garden, taps Dog under the chin (the sign for ‘come with me’).

Dog resists.

Human taps again.

Dog resists.

Human grabs Dog’s collar.

Dog growls.

Human is very cross and forces now snapping dog into house.

After eating her dinner, Dog pees on kitchen floor.

Human is astonished. Dog is fastidious and never pees in the house. At last dim Human realises what Dog had been trying so hard to tell her. Dog had been playing and hadn’t had time to pee.

The main point for students to note here is that nowadays, when Dog is tapped under the chin in the garden, she obediently walks into the house. Yet Human doesn’t question the growls or the snapping until she’s mopping up a gigantic pool of urine thoughtfully done in the doorway.

The inevitable result is embarrassment for Dog who didn’t wish to pee on the floor. The unfortunate animal, whose bladder is uncomfortably full, is also forced to eat her dinner too quickly


Example 5

Dog has been caught off guard and is groomed, without warning, in the kitchen. Dozens, but dozens, of burrs and grass seeds are removed from unmentionable parts of her body.

Throughout the whole unpleasant process, Dog stands still. No growl is uttered. Not a snap passes her lips.

Following a long-standing arrangement regarding kitchen groomings, Dog retires to the futon as soon as the grooming is finished.

Minutes pass and no reward appears.

Dog is patient.

More minutes pass. Still no rewards.

Human continues to potter mindlessly in the kitchen.

It is not until she hears two loud, sharp barks from the futon next door that Human recalls that Dog has not had her rewards.

In this case, Dog has had to sit and wait for at least five minutes for what should have been instant.

Remember. A dog does not like, or deserve, to wait.*


*For further information see Chapter 10 Life is Too Short.


In the case of this greatly misunderstood dog, there are many, many, more instances of neglect. Too many to quote here, but readers might like to refer to my earlier works which clearly illustrate  …………………………………………………………………………………………’


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, deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, Isis at home, running, running running, strange behaviour, walking in the park | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

bruised ribs and boxes



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Sunday July 2nd 2017


The drizzle on Thursday is heavy and steady. Isis wags heartily when Am. joins us on the old bowling green in Kings Heath Park at 10.00. Friend Am. dog sat for a night and a day for Isis soon after I adopted her, and always gets a warm reception.

Am. is spending the day with us and, back home, Isis obviously wants to be with us in the front room. But she finds the light too bright and retreats.

Soon, we are startled by loud crashes and clonks. We rush into the back room to discover Hairy One with her back to the door, tugging mightily at the floor of her huge cardboard box den.

Her tenacious efforts to drag her box into the hall, and then, presumably into the front room, have caused all the indescribably horrible piles of files, documents, dog toys and cushions which I’ve dumped on top of the box over the months to cascade onto the floor. This would alarm most dogs. Isis, of course, is oblivious to the noise and just carries on tugging.

I explain to Isis that the box is too large to go through the door, and we return to the front room.

When our guest has left, Isis and I venture out into the drizzle once more, this time to go   to Highbury Park.

There are a few cars in the car park but no-one in sight when we reach Hairy One’s pines. Naturally, neither the dismal weather nor the desolation are of any concern to Isis as she threads her happy way among the trees.

The drizzle settles softly on my hair and clothes as I drift off to other times and places.

As one does.

Absently, I look up just in time to see Isis barrelling towards me at top speed.

But not in time to take evasive action.

SMACK! She crashes into my lower legs. I feel myself lifted into the air. Then I land on the ground with a sickening thud.

I must have lifted my head and both arms up automatically to protect them. I suppose  because 1. it’s instinctive to protect one’s head, 2. I’d already sprained my right shoulder and it’s very painful, and 3. I need to preserve the other arm for everyday tasks.

I land on my rib cage and stomach.

Isis skips away apparently unhurt and totally unaware that her protector is lying, even wetter than before, on the sodden grass.

For several minutes I gasp for breath, not daring to move.

Good news: as there’s nobody around, I don’t have to scramble up, feigning nonchalance.

Bad news: if I’m unable to move, I might end up lying here all night.

Might Isis exhaust herself after a few hours and come and lie beside me to keep us both warm?

Unlikely. She’ll probably dance the night away. And, anyway, she isn’t keen on the cosying up thing.

After a few minutes of this unhelpful fantasising, I find that I am able to move. I sit on the soggy grass for another five minutes, then cautiously get to my feet. Very, very, gingerly, I walk towards Isis, capture her and creep down the slope to the path. My sternum and ribs feel like they’re on fire, but I can’t hear any cracking noises. I think I’ve been lucky. Again.

When we are near to the car park, I sit on a fallen tree trunk close to the main path. I don’t feel steady enough to drive yet and here, even in this weather, there are dog walkers about. If I pass out someone might assist me.

I release Isis to play by the hedge.

Back home, as the evening wears on, I become increasingly anxious. Over the phone, Polymath, sighs deeply. “Not again”, she says, and recommends that I look up NHS choices on-line and check out how to treat bruised ribs.

I do and am not greatly cheered to learn that the pain often takes a few weeks to subside. I also learn that it is important to stand up every hour and take ten very deep breaths to ensure that fluid does not gather on the lungs.

Eek! That’s alarming. As the evening wears even further on, the pain gets worse. I’ve been told that damaged ribs can be excruciatingly painful. So that’s normal. That’s all right then.

But it isn’t all right.

I try not to think about fluid gathering in lungs or any of the other nasty symptoms which the web-site says indicate a medical emergency.

What if a bit of rib floats off and punctures a lung?

What will happen to Isis if I have to call 999?

You can’t lie down without squashing your ribs. Standing up is less painful but I can’t stand up all night.

It would be much easier if I were a bat.

But I’m not a bat, so I phone Am. who lives close by in Selly Park, and explain my predicament. She says she will come over and stay the night. I don’t think this is necessary, but gratefully accept her offer to drive over if an emergency arises and take care of Isis.

We decide that I will hide the door keys in an agreed spot in case I fall off my perch before she can get into the house.

I feel calmer now, but don’t have a restful night. After plastering the injured shoulder with Deep Heat, I stuff a pillow under it and swallow a high dose of Co-codamol.

Then, sitting under the duvet, leaning against five piled up pillows so that I can breathe, I read my Kindle. After that, I listen to the World Service until 4.00. Then I drop off.

I do this again the next night.

But carrying Hairy One downstairs in the morning is increasingly difficult, so I resort to sleeping downstairs on the futon with her. That’s not a bundle of undiluted fun either. Light comes through the glass doors and disturbs her so she frequently jumps up for a quick jig. Not good for sore ribs.

Another negative is that the longer Isis spends entertaining herself in the park, the more burrs and grass seeds she collects, especially in her fluffy ears and whiskers. She does not, of course, enjoy having the greenery removed.

She has, however, concluded that the deal for removing bits should be the same as that for an all-over brush and comb: as long as we don’t snap at human, we get rewards when the ordeal is over.

To draw my attention to this new arrangement, as soon as I stand up, the wily canine retreats to her box and waits expectantly.






How can I resist you, my hairy projectile?


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, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, Isis at home, Kings Heath Park, running running, sleeping arrangements, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Nora’s holiday



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Wednesday June 28th 2017


On Tuesday evening, while Isis is happily playing on the field above the old bowling green, we meet P. and Nora.

Nora is only fourteen months old and just a little smaller than Wilda.




Nora, P. begins to tell me, has just returned from her first holiday. Well, she has visited friends and relatives before, of course, but this time she stayed in a B&B. with her humans, her best friend Milo and his humans.

At this point, we are interrupted by the disappearance of Isis whom I suspect has popped through the hole in the hedge leading to the old bowling green. Unnerved by her vanishing act in Highbury park on Sunday, I scramble through the hole to check on her. P., who is very tolerant, ducks through after me.

Sure enough, there is Hairy One cavorting beneath her fir tree.

While Nora regards her with undisguised surprise, P. shows me some beautiful landscape images taken from outside the B&B.

Soon we are interrupted once again by Isis popping back through the hole. Once more I follow her. Sensibly, P. goes for the more dignified round-the-hedge route this time.

Fortunately, Isis takes a shine to a large tree surrounded by interesting shrubs and obligingly dances round it for the next thirty minutes, and a friendly little cockapoo arrives to play with Nora, so, at last, I hear about her holiday.

P. and R. kindly let me have some of their impressive holiday images for the blog.

Here is Nora en route, a little puzzled, perhaps, about why her biscuits and bed are in the boot, but keen to find out where they’re going.






She soon finds out, and thinks it’s a real hoot.

Milo’s not so sure, but he’ll reserve judgement.




So this is what a ‘dog friendly’ B&B is. Rather like it.



The accommodation is excellent. The walks are brilliant.



But this is a bit embarrassing.




Stop wriggling Milo. If we want more holidays like this one, we just have to indulge our humans.


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

Posted in the dogs of King's Heath Park, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

how to frighten humans



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Sunday June 25th 2017


Well, what a laugh!

Today Liz arrives with Dougie and Fergie while I am playing ‘in and out of the pine trees’. She brings rain with her. Very exciting. There’s only one thing I like more than playing ‘in and out of the pine trees’, and that’s playing it in the rain.

Human keeps bringing an old tugger with her to Highbury. That’s O.K. I’m an obliging dog, as you know, so I play with it several times, just to please her. (Humans can get so touchy.)






But today I’m feeling particularly skittish. Just before the rain comes, I find the most amazing stick. It’s not soft and boring like the tugger. It’s big and spiky, and it fights back.






The Human is getting agitated. We dogs can sense such things, as you know. I expect she’s whining something like, “Sweetheart, you don’t want that nasty thing. It’s dangerous. Give it to me.”

I lie down.






That, of course, means “Yes I do want it”, and ‘Shan’t.

I’m happily playing when the rain gets much wetter. You’ll never believe what she does next. She clips me onto my lead and drags me away.

She doesn’t even notice that part of the prickly stick has snapped off and stuck to the inside of my back leg. I’m really cross now so I swirl round and round, and snap at my bottom. She’s getting really cross too. I can smell it. I bet she thinks I’m just being difficult because I want to stay and play with my stick. The rain is very, very wet now. I make her stop and get the prickly stick off me.

It takes her a long time because lots and lots of my hairs are caught in it. She gets wet. Tee-hee. Serve her right. She should have left me alone.

We run to the edge of the woods where the others are sheltering under big trees.

Boring. But she sets me free and I dash down to the edge of the field to play. I like it here and always stay until she fetches me.

Well, I’m not going to today. I nip back to the pine trees to look for my stick.

Can’t smell any of them now. Good.

But, as every dog knows, all good things come to an end.

When she finds me, she smells frightened. Snigger. Well, I knew where I was. She hugs me a lot. Silly b.

Then we set off to find Ji. He’s over in the corner where I was playing. Don’t know what he’s doing there.

It’s a long time before I can smell L. though. Or Dougie. Or Fergie. When they come back, they smell of the woods. They must have been for a very long walk.

I run into Dougie, so he isn’t pleased. He yaps at me. But L. gives me lovely rubs and strokes. And then Ji. pats me a lot.

Don’t know what the fuss is about, but not to worry, I soon find another big stick. One I had a good chew on only the other day.

She’s not taking this one away from me, but just to be sure, I run off with it into the lovely boggy place where the grass is taller than me.






Sometimes you just have to put your paw down.


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, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, Isis is no angel, running running, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

it’s my tree! it’s my tree!



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Wednesday June 21st 2017


Suddenly, one day last week, when we cross the road from the car park in Highbury, Isis springs through the long grasses of the meadow and before I know it, we are heading for  the fallen tree. The one she was so passionate about last year.





The one where the sticky plant grows in profusion.




and covers Isis from head to foot with its little green and brown burrs which have to be picked from her hair one by one.

The tree which has branches shooting out in all directions, so that when she ducks and dives in and out of them, she weaves an impenetrable web with her extending lead. The only way I can untangle the lead is by crawling after her, inch by inch. This involves squirming under and over the tree trunk, fighting one’s way through swathes of seeding weeds and being prodded all over by sharp twigs. One tries not to think about the insect life which might at any moment drop down one’s neck.

Three or four clambourings was quite sufficient, thank you, and I began to give the tree a wide birth. She would eventually forget it, I hoped. (Silly me.) I felt guilty because she  enjoyed the tree so much, but enough, after all, is enough.

Today, though, Hairy One’s joy at her rediscovery of the tree gets to me and I don’t have the heart to deny her her pleasure.

Ah, though, it suddenly strikes me. It’s different now. Last summer she had never been off her lead except in the garden. Now I can set her free. I know that she will stay in the vicinity of the tree.

Brilliant. She can scrabble under and scramble over the trunk, burrow through the undergrowth, dart in and out of the low branches, and





make little tunnels to wriggle through and follow the scents.




Hairy One’s three main tunnels



Isis has a wonderful time. Her tail doesn’t stop wagging. She is enraptured by all she can smell and feel.

And all I have to do is sit on the trunk and watch her.


This is the life!


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, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged | 2 Comments

Isis and the ginger cat



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Sunday June 18th 2017


Once, years ago, I was good at handling chaos. This was a daily requirement at the comprehensive schools in which I worked. Then, I coped well. If someone threw up in the wastepaper bin while I was reading to the class, at the same time as keeping a preemptive eye on what the potential disruptives might be about to do, I could respond to a messenger sent from the head without losing my place in the book.

Alas, I no longer have this expertise.

It’s Thursday and I’m still tired from my Welsh exertions: I demolished my friend’s fence and emptied her under stairs cupboard.

It’s the Kindle’s fault; I can’t seem to switch it off at night.

I’m coming round from a quick snooze when the phone rings. It’s N., the butcher opposite my house. A small cat has followed a customer over the very busy road, causing  two cars to pull up very smartly. N. informs me that he has advised the customer to bring the cat over to me. (He can’t allow an animal to stay in his shop because of hygiene regulations.)

Thanks N.

The door bell rings as I stumble downstairs. On the doorstep is a smartly dressed, elderly man clutching a small, ginger, Persian cat. Since Isis is loose in the house, I step outside.

“I only went over to buy a pork pie”, explains Smartly Dressed man. “I came on the bus. I don’t know what to do with the cat.”

“Nor do I”, I answer unhelpfully, eying Isis. Fast asleep only a minute ago, now she is very much awake, and her  spotty pink nose is zig-zagging energetically against the inside glass of the porch door like a slug on speed.

She will, I fear, eat the cat if she has the opportunity.

I pick up the very purrful kitty. Isis, who is now even more interested in what is going on outside, begins to spin gleefully in the porch.

I have no crate, cat food, or cat tray. But small kitty cannot, of course, be left to wander across the road.


Handing kitty back to Smartly Dressed Man, I coax Isis into the back room and shut her in. Unimpressed, she begins leaping up and down, clattering at the door.

Just as I pick up purring kitty again, A. arrives to collect the old lawn mower I had offered him via our local Freegle (the recycling by gifting organisation).

Now, the lawnmower, the smartly dressed man, the Freegler, kitty and I are all squashed into the little porch. I feel like one of those characters in a t.v. cartoon whose eyes spin round when they’re very confused.

At this point, Smartly Dressed man, who is looking a little wan, asks if he may sit down as he feels weak.

I invite him in, place kitty in the kitchen with a drink of water, and close the door very firmly.

Isis is beside herself with excitement. I check her door, too, before returning to the mêlée.

A., who works as a volunteer for a children’s charity, relates the interesting story of why he became a volunteer while Smartly Dressed Man rests in the front room, Isis leaps up and down in the back room, and kitty rolls joyfully around on the kitchen floor.

When A. has departed with the mower, I locate paper and pen for Smartly Dressed Man who wants to leave his telephone number so that he can hear the fate of the lost cat.

As I wave him off, the school crossing patrol man T., who knows N. the butcher, comes over to discuss the little cat.

Just then a young couple with a labrador come along the pavement towards us.

“Ah,” says T., “Here’s a young man who will help.” And he introduces Tb., who, apparently, is very nifty with I.T. and will be happy to take photos of ginger cat and put them out over all of his networks.

Tb. and I repair to the kitchen. It is only when we reach the kitchen door that I realise I’ve  left the door knob on the inside of the door.

Since I’m an expert procrastinator, none of the doors downstairs have both of their knobs, so every room has a pair of pliers in it. Retrieving a pair, I manage to open the kitchen door. As Tb. squats to take a photo, kitty dashes out of the kitchen to greet him. Kitty, whom I have by now identified as female and quite advanced in years, rolls on the floor, purring loudly.

In a couple of minutes, images of her are zooming all over the West Midlands.

Then the pace hots up. Tb. very kindly offers to take lost cat down to the vet at the bottom of the road to have her chip read. T. offers to fetch a cat carrier from home and rides off speedily on his tricycle.

In the end, T. takes kitty to the vet on the back of his tricycle, Tb. and his partner and the patient labrador set off for home, and N. prepares to lock up his shop for the day.

When released from the back room, Isis, delirious with delight, shoots into the kitchen on the trail of our departed feline visitor. She investigates every  millimeter the cat has walked, sniffing her way from the kitchen, along the hall, into the porch, down to the gate and out onto the pavement.


What an exciting afternoon!


P.S. The next day N. tells me that as kitty’s scan was being read, her owners saw her on line and rushed to collect her. Apparently, kitty is fifteen.


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 Isis at home | Tagged , | 2 Comments

home again!



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes


Wednesday June 11th 2017


As she leaves Holly Trees, a dog worries a little about where she might be going next. But she recognises the familiar smell of her scruffy old car. Sniff. Sniff. Yes, here’s the edge of the door arch where she puts her front paws to jump in.


Sniffy-sniff-sniff. Here’s her fleece blanket. SNIFF – Lily’s sat on that.

Ji.’s with us. That could mean Highbury Park. Well, it feels O.K. to lie down, stretch out her paws and relax.

The car stops. Ji. opens her door. Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. She draws in her breath. Then gives a happy, spluttery sniff. It smells like the park.



She hurries out of the car. On the gravel car park, a slight hesitation. Is the sun threatening to shine at her? No. And who cares anyway? Her lead’s being exchanged for her running extension.


KERWHOOSH! The meadow grasses have grown exponentially since she was last here. With the lead as her pivot, she gallops past the wavering buttercups, leaps over clumps of dandelions, scampers through the clover, a dog reborn.

Remembering, as she always does, her preferred place to scramble down the bank, she lands with a quiet splosh in the little stream, has a drink, then turning herself round, pees. She always does this. It seems very anti-social to me, but then, she’s a dog. I think she does it to claim the stream as her water source.

Next, a climb up the slope to her beloved fir trees, which, of course, she greets ecstatically.

We have been joined by B. and her two sweet schnauzers, Ziggy and Laurie, who soon observe two more schnauzers, playing with their human who is sitting under a nearby tree. Armfuls of schnauzers, all very pleased to be meeting.

Then there’s M. with Bill, a pretty, deep brown cocker spaniel.

I go over to greet them all, feeling fleetingly sad, as I often do, that Isis, who can’t read dog body language, can’t enjoy the company of other dogs.

But there she is, tail as high as a demented flag, racing around from tree to tree, leaping and clicking her teeth, watched solicitously by Ji.

When she has played fir tree games for about forty minutes, I take her over the grass, well past the bench which Ji. and I like to sit on when we’re feeling lazy, to the edge of the beech wood. Feeling unusually obliging, she plays there while we sit and watch her.

Fortunately, there are brambles straggling across the nearby path into the woods. Not surprisingly, she doesn’t care for brambles. That’s good. She won’t wander out of sight.  When we’re walking together, I lift the nasty things aside so they can’t bite her. On her own, she’s begun to avoid brambly and hedgy barriers, and carefully sniffs out gaps between them.

After a further half hour or so, Ji. and I begin to walk back down towards the pond. Isis follows, walking tentatively, following the zig-zags of our scents until she catches up and bumps against my legs.

When directed to ‘the clean pool’, she refuses to drink, but when I encourage her to find her way over the stepping stones across the little waterfall, she pauses on the stones to drink where the water is running fastest.

A dog likes to be home again. Sniff-sniff-sniff. It’s her porch. Still the same smell it had when she last sniffed it: dry mud, dust, old boots.

Today she doesn’t retire, as she usually does, to the back room for a twenty minute snooze, but follows us into the front room and, while we indulge in coffee and cake, she stretches herself out on the rug, sighing contentedly.

In the evening, we stay at home and she plays for an hour in her garden.

Her garden!

She’s so delighted to be there again that she tears round the lawn in wild loops before discovering her snakes, toys which she’s not played with for almost two years: she wasn’t allowed to access the lawn last year as it had been re-seeded.

(We won’t dwell on why the lawn needed re-seeding.)

















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, deaf/blind dog plays, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, running running, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

a stay at Holly Trees



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!


Sunday June 11th 2017


While I am in Wales visiting Polymath, Isis has a restful week boarding at Holly Trees Kennels/ HART (Holly Trees Animal Rescue Trust). Here, I am always assured by Ray, Tracy, Adam and Wendy, she behaves consistently impeccably.

They are all very kind and tolerant at Holly Trees, and allow ‘impeccably’ to include Isis dancing multiple jigs while they attempt to harness her to take her outside, and Isis defending her food so noisily that she can be heard all over the kennels. As I’ve mentioned before, they also allow her to occupy herself by tearing cardboard boxes into tiny bits.

Even before I’ve left her, I’m looking forward to collecting her a week later. There can be few experiences more heart-warming than being reunited with your dog.

In the past, bringing Isis home was a strange experience, as she never demonstrated any  emotion at all when I collected her. She just followed me passively on the end of her lead,  like a stiff little robot or a passed round parcel.

She doesn’t go crazy today, but when she picks up my scent she wriggles with excitement, and now and again she nudges my hand gently with her deliciously cool, wet, spotty, pink nose.

There is no doubt that she is very happy for when Tracy, Ji. and I pat her, her lovely, hairy tail wags and wags and wags.

I go weak at the knees.

I forgot to put treats in her going away bag, but no problem, Ray tells me, as she’s happy to eat their treats. He picks up a nice, green, dental chew.

“What!”, say I, “She refuses to eat those at home.”

“Well, she gobbles them up here,” Ray assures me, bending down to offer her the chew.  But the little toad barely sniffs at it before turning away her head.

Clearly, we’re both liars.

She is very well cared for at Holly Trees, and obviously feels happy and secure. And she always comes back home looking and smelling as clean and as sweet as she did when she went away.






When I first had Isis, I couldn’t imagine a kennels being willing to take her on, but they’re brilliant with her at Ray’s. No need for me to wonder whether she’s O.K.

No need for me to phone to see how she’s settling in.

I do, of course.


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, relationship building | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

what’s this then?



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!


Wednesday June 7th 2017


Isis and I find the Kings Heath Park lot on the level above the old bowling green this morning.





What a wonderful variety of dogs: sweet little Ruby and Millie the pugs, Malamute pup Reggie, growing fast; naughty terripoo Maggie; mud bath aficionado Scout and Charlie the cockerpoos; stalwart labradoodles Nancy and Rufus; Jack Russell Louis, and, of course, aloof from the others, my hairy podengo, Isis.

I’m lucky today. Generally, naughty Scout rushes up and jumps on poor Isis who, ruffled by the unannounced assault, departs hastily through the gap in the hedge. But now Scout is engrossed in her play with the other pups, so while Isis amuses herself, happily uninterrupted, behind us, I take in the scene. It’s lovely to watch all these dogs, from a few months old to seven years, mingling so contentedly.

Then, suddenly, through a gap in the hedge, walks a man whom we’ve not met before. He has a lead in his hand, and there, on the other end of it is a tiny black and tan cat-sized creature stepping daintily through the grass.

There are several small canines here today, but none as small as this.





“Behold a baby Manchester terrier,” I think, smugly.  No-one else recognises its breed. And, I hasten to add, I am only able to identify it because my previous dog Ellie had a Manchester terrier dad, and I was so fascinated when I met him that I spent ages looking at the breed at Crufts.

The stranger introduces himself. Like most dog owners, I remember the dogs’ names much more readily than those of their owners, so I’ve forgotten this nice man’s name. The beautiful little pup is ‘Pixie’.

I’d forgotten how delicately made Manchesters are. And this little dog is exquisite.





We all watch as she slowly emerges from behind her owner’s legs, watching the noisy goings on with some trepidation,






yet, at the same time, very tempted to be part of the dog scene.






Most pups are overwhelmed when they meet our lot for the first time, but this Pixie is a surprisingly daring little dog, and soon makes little forays into the crowd. Everybody falls for her, of course, and the old bowling green echoes with cries of







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 I'm off my lead!, Kings Heath Park, park dogs | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Isis can find me!


Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flash


Sunday June 4th 2017


When, on one or two occasions, Isis, off-lead in the park, arrives next to me, gives me a sniff and wags her tail, I assume that she just happens to have come across me.

Over several weeks, however, I am proved wrong. It becomes clear that she is searching for and finding me.

I observe her tactics. First she lifts her head and, turning it this way and that, sniffs hard and long.

I imagine her eyebrows are drawn down and her nose is wrinkled with concentration.

When she’s decided in which direction to go, she sets off. She alternates between sniffing the air and following scents on the ground. She is not, of course, able to run straight towards me, as a sighted dog can. But moving a few metres sideways, a few forwards, a few back, she traces an intricate pattern of curves, zig-zags and overlappings, following the meandering scent waves until she finds me.

When I welcome her with admiring pats and cuddles, she is clearly very pleased and wags her tail with unusual vigour.

On my phone I have a lovely video of the dear little creature doing her ‘search and find’.

But here the boasting has to end. After hours and hours of trying, and help from WordPress support, I still can’t get the *!*!*!* thing to upload. I could upload it via  YouTube, of course. But not only is it a very long time since I’ve used YouTube so I’ve forgotten the procedure, I’ve also mislaid my password and I’m too damn frustrated to go through the hassle of retrieving it.

So you’ll just have to take my word for it!



Fair play, she’s telling the truth, honest. I’m a very good sniffer.




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, I'm off my lead!, Kings Heath Park, running running, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , | 4 Comments