searching for Isis podengo



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


Sunday July 21st 2019






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

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

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

Oh. O.K.

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

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

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

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

She’s not there.

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

She’s nowhere to be found.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A steady drizzle sets in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, clearly, she is completely traumatised.

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

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

This is very kind, and very touching.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

Posted in a terrified dog, Isis in danger, Isis says "No"., Kings Heath Park, poor Isis, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

a surprise for Isis



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


Wednesday July 17th 2019





Sniff. Something smells damp.



Sniff. Snuffle. And over here.



What d’you think, Human?



Could it possibly, possibly..



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







*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or



Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, Isis at home | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

the ‘garden’



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


Sunday July 14th 2019


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

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


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

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

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

Long grass, obviously, can resist obliteration. Hmm.

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

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





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

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






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






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

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

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

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

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

This is wonderful.

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

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

Who wants a boring old lawn, anyway?

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

What’s not to like?


*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or




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



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


Sunday July 7th 2019


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

Bev leapt into action and caught our soppy exchange.






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

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

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

He couldn’t have a more caring home.






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

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







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

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

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

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






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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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


*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or


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

Daisy, Daisy



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


Wednesday July 10th 2019


Oh, Daisy, Daisy. You’ll be the end of me.







Daisy is not well. She has had diarrhoea on and off for two weeks. She has gradually eaten less and less. Now she refuses to eat more than a mouthful or two in a day. She isn’t joining me at night as she usually does, but spends all her time lying beneath the wardrobe where a drawer is missing. (It came apart about a year ago, and I’ve not got round to repairing it yet.)

I have to bite the bullet: I must take her to the vet. She was nineteen last April. I am a pessimist. I convince myself the vet will take one look at her and tell me that the kindest thing would be ……………………………..

The evening before, the car key jams in the lock and, try as I might, I can’t get it out.  If I call the breakdown service, and they can’t free it, or they break it in the lock, my garage will have closed for the night and I’ll not get Daisy to the vet. I could, of course, leave it in the lock overnight, drive to the vet’s and then take the car in tomorrow.

I can turn the ignition on and drive. That’s not a problem. Ah, yes. I’ll put something over the wheel so no-one will notice that the key is in the ignition, lock the car and hope for the best. What a sensible idea. But, of course, modern technology doesn’t work like that. The car won’t lock while there’s a key in the ignition. Yes, very sensible.

But it doesn’t help me. Spending the night in the car is not an attractive proposition.

I am anxious enough about taking poor Daisy to the vet. Now I’m winding myself up more and more tightly by the minute.

Fortunately, sanity returns and I phone my garage. The owner, C. is not only very skillful, but helpful and kind too. He will call in on his way home.

He does. After many turns and much oil squirting, he is able to release the key.

I don’t sleep well.

Isis plays in the garden while I gather together all the accoutrements which past experience has taught me may well be necessary when transporting a cat. Check. Yes, they’re all there: spare cat carrier, rubber gloves, baby wipes, puppy training pads, toilet roll and bin bag.

Wise precautions. About three quarters of the way there, we pull off the road for a clean up.

The vet does not suggest the immediate purchase of a small kitty coffin, and my gut slowly returns to its normal position.

Kitty definitely has problems. As I feared, she has lost weight. But it isn’t possible to determine what is causing the diarrhoea and the food refusal. A very thorough examination ascertains that there are no obvious signs of swellings or lumps, her heart is functioning normally, her chest  is clear and she hasn’t a temperature. She is taken to the next room for blood samples.

We wait for the thyroid result. No significant change, so we can continue with the current medication for that condition.

The vet will ring tomorrow with the rest of the results. Daisy could have an infection, of course, and the diarrhoea must be treated. We leave with antibiotics and a syringe full of a probiotic paste, which I am advised, tastes yeasty, and is liked by most cats who lick it eagerly from their dishes. That’ll be easy then.

Next day the vet tells me that the blood tests have not come up with any answers. The kidney values have not deteriorated since the last tests. She has idiopathic high calcium levels which can be caused by diarrhoea, by thyroid problems, or can be an unexplained one off. There is a possibility that her symptoms may have a secondary cause. This needs to be investigated.

We agree that if the diarrhoea persists for more that two weeks, Daisy will return for further blood tests. If it clears up, we’ll give her a break and do the tests in a month’s time.

For days there has been no change. Daisy remains beneath the wardrobe, nibbles at the most two mouthfuls of one the vast array of delectable offerings put before her, and it feels like I’m spending most of my time changing cat trays.

There are brief distractions. Unlike all the other cats in Britain, Daisy finds even the thought of the probiotic paste offensive, and won’t touch the antibiotic whatever delightful, strong smelling morsel it’s concealed in. She knows that I’m trying to poison her.

In vain do I rush off to Azda on Saturday afternoon to buy fresh fish, exotic Sheba and Lick-E-Lix. The latter, Bev tells me, her cat scoffs so fast that he doesn’t notice the crushed tablet she’s mixed into it. Daisy is not tempted by any of the treats I buy. She loves the splodge of Lick-E-Lix I give her, but when I pulverise the antibiotic and cunningly mix in even a third of it, she turns her head away.

For three days Human and Human’s bed are decorated with probiotic paste while mere specks of it land in Daisy’s mouth. Every treat which I use to get her to consume her medicines, becomes repugnant to her. For months, she has happily lapped up her thyroid pill wrapped in sardine. Now she  is repulsed by sardine.

I dread medication time. I can’t believe that such a tiny, old, sick cat can fight like she does. I’ve always prided myself on how efficiently I can deal with medicating cats, but this Daisy is something else. She scrabbles and squirms and flails. As I struggle to hold her down, force her mouth open and insert pill or paste, it feels like she has grown a dozen extra paws. Bam! Swipe! Slash.

On Sunday we reach breaking point. Outraged and desperate, she slides off my lap and hangs in space by one claw. Literally. I have to lift her up onto the bed before I can unhook the deeply embedded claw. As, unfortunately, it’s my arm in which the claw is embedded, this process is breathtakingly painful.

So now, four times a day I don my high-necked, long-sleeved, sailcloth fisherman’s smock, haul Daisy from her hideout, wrap her tightly in an old towel, prise open her clenched teeth, shove in a pill before she closes them on my finger, hold her little snout and tickle her throat until she gulps.

During this nerve-wracking process, it is necessary to return to the towel numerous erupting paws, retrieve any spitty bits she has managed to eject, and hoik her back towards me each time she attempts to slither off the end of the bed.

If you can imagine the slipperiness of an eel, the ferocity of an enraged crocodile,and the agility of a leopard, you’re close to the reality.

The house smells like a dead whale. Human is tired, irritable, bad-tempered and miserable. She despairs of kitty. Kitty hates her guts.

Then, on Tuesday, I cook a different kind of fish. I mix in a little of her wet renal food.

I hold it under her nose for a few seconds before taking it over to her eating space. She shoots out from under the wardrobe. She runs so fast that I’m still holding the dish when she reaches it.

She eats it all.

That night I can’t see her in her hideaway. There she is on the bed. When I slide under the duvet, she follows me as she did before she was ill, and presses herself against my side. As I stroke her head, she purrs and purrs.

Oh Daisy, Daisy.

It’s all too much.


*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or


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Isis keeps cool



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


Wednesday July 3rd 2019


On Saturday morning the car park is full of dog walkers: it will be much too hot to bring dogs to the park this afternoon.

It’s already eleven. We should have come earlier.

Again Isis chooses to play along the little wooded strip. She runs up and down as usual, leaping and twirling, seeking sticks and tossing them up in the air.

All seems well. But only for about thirty-five minutes. Then she retreats into the wood and lies down in the undergrowth.

Oh Isis, not again. But yes, it’s too hot for even Isis to want to stay in the park. After less than an hour she’s glad to go home. “What’s the matter with you?, I ask her, “You’re a Portuguese podengo. You should be enjoying the sun now and shivering in a little jumper in winter.”

The hairy lover of snow, sleet and driving rain ignores me.

On Sunday I persuade her to walk with me to the other side of the park. Up above the big pond, on the edge of the beech wood, is another of her favourite play areas. I think she likes it because it’s a corner created by trees, bushes, brambles and dense undergrowth. As I’ve noted before, she seems to feel at her most confident when she’s in partially enclosed areas.





Here she can break into uninterrupted gallops.

The area is also next door to the large patch of rose bay willow herbs which are exciting to snuffle through, and nice and cool to rest in.

After racing around happily in her corner, she makes her way towards the patch.

How beautiful she looks, I think, as she sets off, how amazingly clean. Running in the grass has removed all traces of the mud in which she insisted on standing on the way over here.

I try to take a photo of the fluffy magnificence as she approaches the patch, but she’s too quick for me.






At first I can ascertain her whereabouts from the waving plants, but now all is still. She must be having a rest.

It’s a long rest. After a while I step into the patch to track her down.

Ah, here she is …………………………………






dear little thing. What a sensible place to choose, soft and cool and clean.

She picks up my scent, stretches, and slowly rises to her feet.







What the hell’s that?






*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or


Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, oh dear, running running, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

the case of the disappearing dog



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


Sunday June 3oth 2019


On Thursday, Isis makes her way towards one of her current favourite areas: the tangle of woodland between the two big meadows by the car park.

She looks happy enough, trotting back and forth, but she’s searching for something – probably a fat chewy stick.

She doesn’t find anything tempting. She continues to search. Up and down she goes, sniff, sniff sniffing.

Perhaps she’ll play with her ball if I give it to her. Perhaps. It’s a while since I’ve tried because she usually wants to return to the car with it, to keep it safe from marauding canines, I guess. Or she retreats into a secluded spot and mouths it until we leave. Either way, she doesn’t get much exercise.

May be now she’ll play with it.

I give it to her.

A big mistake. True to form, she picks up the ball, noses her way into the strip and lies down.






(I know, I know, she has a stick in her mouth, not a ball. The image is from my media gallery, but this is her retreating spot.)

After a few minutes, she moves further back and settles behind that branch next to the oak leaves. I can still make out her fragments of white though.

So that’s O.K.

I sit on my log and read the news. It’s quite safe. I’ll hear her bell if she moves.

All goes well. Not a sound. Every few minutes I look up to double check she’s still there. Yes, there she is. No problem.

Then I look up and I can’t see her.

Impossible ! I’ve not heard a sound.

I leap up and dash over to the woody strip.

I peer into the dense foliage. No Isis. I push my way a few feet in, then I’m blocked by an impenetrable wall of saplings and brambles.

Room for a medium sized podengo to squeeze through, but not a human, even a slight one.

She could have sniffed her way through to the other meadow, might even now be wandering into the paths of vehicles arriving on and leaving the car park.

Panic! Panic.

I stumble hastily around the edge of the woodland and into the adjacent meadow. It’s Isis free, as is the car park.

I feel my limbs tighten. I need to keep calm and think quickly.

O.K. There’s not been time for her to move any further away than I can see. She has to be in the area between the two meadows. I hurry in among the trees, and follow the narrow path.

Stretches of it are so overgrown now that they’re hardly visible, and I’m surprised to realise how difficult it is to follow without having Isis leading the way. I take the wrong turn two or three times.

Every few steps, I’m bending down, or standing on tiptoe, parting branches and peering into the dense shadows, anxious to glimpse a patch of white.

No patch of white. No trace of Isis. Not even a strand of white hair.

I emerge onto the meadow, and immediately begin searching the edge of the wood again.

No Isis.

No Isis.

No Isis.

Whoops! A spot of white. I investigate. It’s fluffy with a yellow ball in its mouth. A podengo. My podengo.

And why didn’t I hear her bell? Why was unaware of her movement?

The answer is very straightforward: she’s not moved. She’s in exactly the same spot as she was when I last saw her. Yes, I remember the shapes of the branches now.

I had been looking in the wrong place, a few yards further along.

I reach into the undergrowth and tap her gently beneath her chin. She wags her tail, stretches, and walks with me to the edge of the car park.


*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

Posted in Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, twirling, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Isis has a wonderful time



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


Wednesday June 26th 2019


It’s Monday. Wishing to reduce driving on the gravel to the minimum, I now park in the first space I find. Even a few months ago this wasn’t possible as Isis resisted walking more than a few feet to the meadow. Now she is more confident, much calmer, we don’t have to park so close to the grass.

It’s a few weeks now since we visited Hairy One’s favourite fallen tree. Once she’s fulfilled her obligations, and I’ve dropped them off in the dog bin, she sets her hairy face in the direction of the tree, and jogs through the long grass, following exciting scents along the way.


Oh goodness, somebody definitely walked through here last night.


Mouse? Rat? Vole? Frog? Everything smells very new and exciting over here.


But nothing has prepared her for the delights to come.


My goodness, here’s the tree trunk! And that lovely sticky plant has come back.



I wonder if my dens are still here.



Tail waving with pleasure, she approaches an apparently impenetrable wall.




Here, undergrowth and climbing plants have knitted themselves into the leafy structure of trees.

She pauses for a few anticipatory seconds – oh, the wonder of it all – and plunges in. I can just make out a fragment of fluffy white tail (a third of the way down from the top of the image, and roughly in the centre). And then she vanishes.

I make my way with difficulty round the trees to see if she’s emerged at the other end. She has. She’s standing by the entrance of a previous den.

She’s looking thoughtful.

I think she’s impressed.



Wow! That was a jaw-dropping bit of tunnelling.



She plays, out of sight, for almost two hours. It’s a very humid evening, and I sit on the tree trunk relaxing. No need to worry about Isis. She’ll not leave the area, and I can hear where she is from the the clinkle-clinkle of her raptor bell. When it’s silent for more than a few seconds, I seek her out.

Every now and then, a familiar dog joyfully tracks her down, and disappears from sight among the plants. Then he or she romps gleefully away to join its human, having, I assume, delivered a greeting. Isis doesn’t run away or come to find me, so I guess she’s unperturbed. That’s excellent.

Eventually, I hear an approaching bell, then a great deal of rustling, and the vista of green is invaded by bits of white.



The next time I look down, much to my surprise, Isis has settled below me.




I think even she is tired.


*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

Posted in deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, Isis meets other dogs, park dogs, scenting, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

goodbye little Maggie



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


Sunday June 23rd 2019


This is little Maggie, one of my favourite dogs.




In April, when I took the photo, her human, J. told me that Maggie was off her food, seemed sad, and wasn’t herself.  I recall that J. and I wondered whether Maggie could be grieving for terrier Harry, who had recently died. He had been her companion since she’d joined the household as a lively pup.

Despite much attention and careful monitoring, Maggie deteriorated. She was at the vet’s, having tests, when I last saw J.

Today I see J. walking towards the car park. Maggie isn’t with her. Sadly, the vet’s diagnosis was a large, inoperable stomach tumour.

Maggie was a lovely dog, kind, gentle, obedient and very lively. She always insisted on greeting her human friends. In the parks, she often materialised by my side well before J. hove into view, and would sit waiting for a fuss and half a gravy bone.

I miss her.

J., of course, is deeply saddened by her loss, but wanted to give another dog a forever home as soon as possible.

When J. first met Isis, she was intrigued and wanted to know all about her. She said that  when it was time for her to have another dog, she would approach Dogwatch U.K.

And she did.

First she adopted Sophie.




Then Ruby.



On Friday, she collected Rory





Both dogs accepted him straight away, and he appears to harbour no ill feelings towards cats.

In fact, they all seem to be gelling nicely.






Three sad losses.

And a brilliant new home for three needy dogs.


*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or


Posted in a very good dog, adopted dogs, dogs adopted via DogwatchUK, Highbury Park, park dogs, park people, walking in the park | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

what a well-behaved dog!



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


Wednesday June 19th 2019


Yes, as you might have noticed, Isis and I are very fond of Highbury Park; nevertheless, I didn’t intend to spend four hours there yesterday.

We’ve had a good walk with the doodles and are on our way back to the car. At least, that’s my intention. Isis has other ideas, and skips happily off piste to play. After half an hour, I fetch her. “We’ve been here for two and a half hours. Breakfast time.”

Even if she could hear me, Isis would be unimpressed. When she’s in the park, she doesn’t give a jot about eating.

I’m looking forward to my Shredded Wheat, and I’ve left my water at home, so I’m feeling thirsty too.

As we leave the car park to make our way to the main road, I hear a “flub-flub-flub ” from the nearside front wheel.

Oh no! This was the sound I heard one night a week after I had the car. I was unfamiliar with the car’s sounds and symptoms, had inadvertently driven home from Selly Park with a flat tyre and had shredded it.

I draw into the passing area and stop.

(Do other people stare at one of their car tyres and convince themselves that it’s flat, then look at everyone else’s tyres and realise that they look flat too? Or is it just me?)

I find a particularly large chunk of gravel deeply embedded in the tyre, and remove it. That’s what must have caused the trouble.

Yes, the tyre looks flat. Obviously a slow puncture. I dare not try to drive home on it. Look what happened the last time I did that.

I ring the breakdown service and have to admit that I’m not sure whether they’re my current service or the one I had last year. The patient lady on the other end of the phone can’t find my details and puts me on hold. While I’m waiting, I find the name and phone number of the service, Green Flag, which I should have rung.

Oh dear.

I’m on hold for quite a while, since, unsurprisingly, my details can’t be found. It would be impolite to ring off, of course. I must wait and apologise.

My anxiety mounts. What if my mobile runs out of charge before I can ring Green Flag?

Eventually, I get through to them. They should be here in an hour. Thoroughly annoyed with myself, I sit in the car, read the news, and try not to think about water.

There’s water and a bowl in the back for Isis, although she’ll seldom drink in the car. Fortunately she has had a long drink from the little culvert. I ponder the wisdom of having a glug or two from her bottle, but decide against it.

Drivers travelling along the park road from different directions struggle to get round one another because I am occupying the passing bay. They give me dirty looks just as I do when I come across some idiot blocking the space.

Most embarrassing.

Should I take her back into the park while we’re waiting for the breakdown man?






Perhaps not.

Instead, I empty the boot so it’ll be easy to access the spare wheel. Then I read some more news.

My previous dogs would have been hyper-vigilant and very restless. Not Isis. She is perfectly relaxed and sleeping peacefully in the back. She doesn’t put a paw wrong,  even when the breakdown man gets into the driving seat.

“You don’t have a puncture”, he tells me.

He explains that the ‘flub-flub-flubbing’ was most likely caused by a stone stuck in the tyre: it would have been the large one I removed. He flicks all of the remaining tiny gravel particles out of the tyre tread with a nifty little tool. He tests the air pressure. It’s perfect.

I can’t believe it. The humiliation!

I can’t apologise enough, of course, but the man is very kind, and assures me that “That’s what we’re here for.”

He’ll wait while I drive off, but he’s sure there’ll be no more funny noises.

He’s right, 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 or


Posted in a very good dog, Highbury Park, I'm off my lead!, running running, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments