and one week later …..



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


Sunday February 9th 2020


Praise be to dog, Isis has maintained her equilibrium. To date, she is doing better than I am, as every time she utters an irritated ‘nyaff’, even a small, subdued one, I rush to check that she’s not attacking her foot.

I am very worried too, that her vet will not find any evidence of a physical problem, that the cause of her distress is behavioural.

She seems perfectly happy.

Here she is earlier in the week, enjoying a prance in Highbury.





Even so, it is with some trepidation that I set off with her to RSPCA Newbrook Farm on Tuesday.

As always, although she is eager to hop out of the car, her enthusiasm diminishes as soon as she sniffs out where she is.

Earlier on in our partnership I had to buzz for permission to drive up to the disabled parking spaces adjacent to the Animal Hospital because Isis refused to walk there, but nowadays she is usually much more co-operative.

True, she flinches when we walk past the rescued dog compound, walks more slowly as we approach the door to the reception area, and always has to be dragged into the consulting room. Nevertheless, however reluctantly, she does walk from the car to the reception area.

But it was only a week ago that she was brought to see the vet, and now here she is again. Once I’ve persuaded her to drag herself within about seventy yards of the door, she refuses point blank to move any further. After several attempts to walk backwards, she sits down firmly and refuses to budge.

It’s been several years since I’ve had to carry her in, but I have to do that today. A strong, muscular dog, at 15. 65 kilos, she’s heavier than she used to be. I’m lighter than I used to be, and my arms are less powerful. I struggle to carry the recalcitrant little creature, and have to put her down a couple of times.

The receptionist grins as I push Hairy’s reluctant bottom through the door.

Phew! That was a marathon.

Usually, we have one of the earliest appointments at eight-fifteen or eight-thirty, but I was exhausted when I brought her in last week and opted for ten-thirty.

I shouldn’t have.

Isis always becomes very anxious while she’s waiting to be seen. Today there’s a little cat with complex needs ahead of us, so my poor little dog trembles for thirty- five minutes.

I’ll not opt to  bring her so late again.

Today she refuses even to be pulled or pushed into the consulting room, so I pick her up again, carry her in and deposit her on the floor.

Her lovely vet asks me to hold Hairy’s head, and then lies on the floor to examine her. At one point she asks me, ‘You are holding her head firmly, aren’t you, because if she turns quickly I’m only inches away from her teeth?”

I don’t blame her for checking, but today Isis is very different from the dog brought in last week. I am holding her head carefully, but she makes no attempt to move it. Nor does she snatch her foot away like she did last week. She stands absolutely still and the vet is able to explore the foot thoroughly.

When the vet finds a badly damaged dew claw, she appears to be as relieved as I am.  There’s a trail of dried blood along the line of the nail bed where the claw has been fractured.

She can’t remove the claw as it would be too painful and very distressing. I will need to bathe Hairy’s foot in salt water after walks, and dry it thoroughly. Hopefully, the claw sheath will dry out and fall off on its own. Or Isis may remove it, though I hope not, as she doesn’t treat herself very gently.

No wonder the poor little animal growled and barked and bit her leg. The fractured claw must have been excruciatingly painful.

And what a relief that the problem is physical and not neurological.



*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 Isis says "No"., learning to trust, Newbrook Farm, oh dear, poor Isis, RSPCA | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Isis loses it: part two



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


Sunday February 2nd 2020


In the end I shut Isis, whose raucous outbursts are averaging one every eight to ten minutes, in the kitchen. The back room adjoins my neighbours’ house. Isis is already beside herself, and I am well on the way: we don’t need to drive another two humans out of their minds.

In the kitchen, she stops growling and barking, and concentrates on scraping the paint from the kitchen door. This isn’t a soothing sound, but at least it’s not loud enough to disturb the neighbours.





She does this throughout the night. I go down every hour or so to see if it is possible to allow her back onto the day bed, but each time she resumes the growling and barking and I have to return her to the kitchen.

Needless to say, neither of us have any sleep.

Next morning, I stagger out with her to the car. She growls her way to the park but is fine when let off her lead.

She growls her way back home and bites her foot again.

As it’s necessary to supervise her constantly in order to preempt any self harming. It’s impossible to do anything else.

It’s horrible to see my little dog in such distress. Always the optimist, I wonder if there’s something wrong with her brain. She was born blind and deaf: could she have a degenerative condition? She might have a brain tumour.

I phone the vets’ but there’s no appointment available until the next morning.

Triple sigh.

I ask for some advice. The vet suggests that if I can get to a pet shop, it would be a good idea to buy a cone collar.

I have one upstairs. Why on earth hadn’t I thought of that? It’s so obvious.

I gallop upstairs and dig through the animal store like a cartoon character, scattering various ill assorted items behind me. One of these is the Thundershirt I bought for Ellie, my previous dog, to soothe her on firework night.

Isis growls as I wrap the Thundershirt around her, but once it’s on she wags her tail for the first time in twenty four hours. I add the cone collar.

There is definitely an improvement. She seems less distressed and is definitely calmer. The growling and barking episodes don’t stop, but they become less frequent. By one in the morning, she’s only grrrrrrr-yaffing about once every hour or so, and the grrrrrrr-yaffing is much less explosive, muffled even.

When I creep off to bed, I leave her, still Thundershirted and plastic collared, in the back room.

Ever alert to the noise level downstairs, I doze intermittently.

It’s obscenely early when we leave home for our eight-thirty appointment on Tuesday morning. After a growl and a bark as we drive off, Isis seems to settle, and the rest of the journey is blissfully quiet.

The vet checks Hairy One very carefully, inch by inch: she snips off a hair sample and tests it for fleas; empties the very small amount of fluid which has accumulated in one of Hairy’s anal glands in the ten days since she had them emptied; checks her ears and eyes.

Then I hold Hairy’s head while the vet attempts to examine the damaged foot. Isis does not make the task any easier. She snatches her foot from the vet’s hand like a demented ballerina, making it impossible to investigate the beds of the pads.

The vet ascertains that the pads are sore and very swollen, but it’s impossible to know what prompted Hairy’s attacks. If the self-harming continues, it might be necessary to sedate her so that the foot can be examined more thoroughly.

Something strange happened to her in Highbury on Sunday. Some creature could have stung or bitten her. There could be a thorn deep between her pads. But she didn’t squeak or flinch. She didn’t limp as she walked away. She didn’t freak out. There was no sign of blood.

It’s a mystery. The vet prescribes Metacam for the inflammation, antibiotics to prevent the wounds from becoming infected, and a top-up supply of Prinovox in case invisible mites are irritating her skin.

We drive to the park and return home without incident. Isis has her first dose of Metacam and her antibiotics with her breakfast, then we both fall asleep on the day bed for six hours.

The growling and barking become less frequent, and by Wednesday Isis is well enough to be left on her own for several hours.

On Thursday and Friday she only wears the plastic collar while she’s in the car. On Saturday I take a risk and drive her to the park without the collar. Nothing untoward happens.

She seems fine now. I still put the collar in the car when we leave the house, and keep it nearby when we’re at home.

Just in case.

She’ll finish her course of Metacam and antibiotics on Tuesday, the same day as her follow-up vet’s appointment.

She seems to have recovered, but I keep a close eye on her, and intervene as soon as she chases her tail, or shows any sign of irritation.

These animals.


*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 Isis says "No"., Newbrook Farm, oh dear, poor Isis, RSPCA, self-damaging, self-harming, sleeping, strange behaviour | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Isis loses it



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


Sunday January 26th 2020


Well, Isis continues to teach me that I should never become complacent.

Our day begins well. As it’s Sunday, and we have no commitments until later this afternoon, we have plenty of time for our morning greeting. Isis is lying on the day bed and, as usual, I place my hand close to her nose and wait.

I love to watch her waking up. The speed of her reaction depends on how deeply asleep she is, and whether I’ve come straight into her room or I’ve pottered around downstairs first.

First her nose begins to twitch, then she lifts up her head. A kiss on her forehead automatically switches her tail mechanism on, and she wags faster and faster. In the morning – and only in the morning – she allows me to be as sloppy as I want to be. If her wagging slows down, a kiss on her head or muzzle turns the wagging back up to full speed. A gentle hug prompts her to lean into my side. This morning she even allows me to lift her towards me and then lies contentedly with her front legs across my knees.

This interchange of affection continues until I give her the ‘follow me’ signal, when she walks with me to the back door and out into the garden.

You couldn’t meet a more relaxed, affectionate, co-operative little dog.

How sweet.

How different from the ferocious, snarling and shrieking animal who is doing a very good impression of berserk on the back seat of the car a few hours later.

It is raining when we reach Highbury today. There are only two cars in the car park, and they leave almost immediately.

Then C. arrives with Tia, and we have an indignant conversation about all the poor dogs who are not enjoying the park.

Off we go, Isis and I, along the path which bends round to the left and towards the pond. Our destination, though, is not the pond: it’s the the grass beyond the willow tunnel, the area where the tall plants grow in the spring and last through the summer, so tall that I can only tell where she is by monitoring the movements of the flower heads.

She plays happily in the vicinity of the stalks, leaping and bounding, sniffing and pouncing.

Then she surprises me by walking off across the meadow. I assume that she is aiming for one of her favourite places, the edge of the wooded area which divides the two meadows.

But, no, she’s not. She’s making her way along the path and towards the car park, and it’s too muddy and slippery for me to run after her.

Walking as fast as I can without skidding, I see her walk past the car and over to the other side of the car park where we left the car yesterday.

We’ve only been in the park for an hour, but it’s obvious that she wants to go home. I’m puzzled. It’s not like her. It has stopped raining. Perhaps the sky is brightening, and that’s what’s upsetting her. I catch up with her and walk her to the car.

That’s when the outburst begins.

Deep, fierce growls. Snapping. Shrill yaps.

“Good lord,” murmurs C. who is about to take Tia home, “I’ve never seen her like that before.”

The growling and snapping quickly escalates into self harming. I hold her collar and, ignoring the screeching, I examine her foot, between the pads, around the pads, her claws, her leg. I can’t find anything to explain her behaviour.

Next time she bites her foot, she bites my finger too. Soon there are streaks of blood on her head, neck and back. But it’s not hers.

Eventually, I accept that I have to drive her home. I also accept that she’ll continue to bite herself on the way.

She does. It’s not a pleasant journey.

At home, I put her in the sink, examine her all over, clean, dry and Sudocrem the bites.

She lies on the day bed, panting and on edge. Soon, she’s off again. Not biting herself now, but growling and yipping.

Eventually, she falls asleep, and I leave her for a couple of hours.

When I return, she’s her ‘normal’ self for a while. Until I come over to the computer and switch on the light. Then she attacks her foot again. And again. And again. Each time I grab her and hold her until she stops.

Is it the light? Has it been her ‘light problem’ all the time? If so, she’s responding very strangely.

I fetch her Doggles (protective goggles for dogs) and secure them. She removes them. I replace them. Eventually, she sleeps.





For thirty blissful minutes, I think we’ve cracked it. Then she begins again. I cream her foot in case the bites are irritating her.

Thankfully, she’s not biting herself now, just growl, growl, growl – YAP! Growl, growl, growl – YAP!  Growl, growl, growl – YAP!

I remove her Doggles. I put them back on her again.

I sit close to her. I go back to the computer.

I switch off the main light (which she has tolerated for years) and put on the low wattage lamps. I switch off the lamps. Then I switch off the computer.

Nothing works.

I’m writing this in real time, so if it’s below standard, please overlook it.

It’s very unusual for me not to be able to see a humorous side to our shenanigans. But I can’t tonight. Her distress is wearing me down.

About thirty minutes ago, I take Isis and her dog bed into the kitchen. She scratches the door once or twice. Then silence.

She’s just begun scratching it again.

I’m not sure whether to let her out and see if she’ll settle back in here in the dark, or leave her in the kitchen.

Whichever I do, I’m going to bed.


*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, Isis at home, poor Isis, self-damaging, self-harming, strange behaviour | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments




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


Sunday January 5th 2020


It’s Monday. Storm Brendon is expected this afternoon, and the parks are still a sea of mud.


Bev and I opt for Highbury and choose to walk the woodland paths as here, at least along most of the paths, deep layers of fallen leaves form a barrier between our boots and the mud.

Before we entered the Age of the Deluge, we liked to walk down the steep slope which begins at the back of Highbury Hall and leads down to several little diverging tracks. Usually, we would choose the track which leads to the beech wood.

Now, the slope slides down to a quagmire and the little tracks are flooded with ankle deep mud.

Unfortunately, Isis knows her way to the beech wood and likes to trot off ahead. Then, of course, I have to follow her to make sure the little hairy comes to no harm.

There’s a grassy mound a few hundred yards before you reach the slope. Here, as has been mentioned in previous posts, Isis likes to dance. Generally, as soon as she begins to move from the mound, Bev, who is usually ahead of me, blocks Hairy One’s path and I hurry over with the lead and grab her quickly before she makes it to the slope.

But today she is too quick for me. I stride after her, calling her name in varying pitches. Amazingly, one of the calls gets through to her and she stops for a second, turning her head. This enables me to get closer to her, but not close enough to prevent her from setting off down the slope.

Eek! Foolishly, I quicken my pace and grab her tail. As I do so, she emits a loud squeak, I lurch to grasp her harness, then I fall flat on my face.

Because I’m holding onto the miscreant’s harness with my left hand, I must attempt to haul myself up from the mud with my right. A few years ago this would have been easy. Frustratingly, since the operations on my shoulders and ligaments, my arms are weaker. I press down as hard as I can with my right hand, but I can’t raise my body.

I’ve never had this experience before. Dog! It’s frustrating.

Getting old really sucks.

Bev is some distance away. She’s too far off to hear a mud-muffled call for help. She’ll assume I’ve walked down the slope after Isis, and she’ll set off back to the orchard with Rufus and Nancy, walk them down to the main path, and expect to meet us in the beech wood.

Just as I’m thinking that I’ll have to let Isis go, I hear Bev calling, “It’s O.K., I’m on my way.”

What a relief. Now, I don’t wish to be too dramatic. It’s not as if I’m on the north face of the Eiger; nevertheless, I would like not to have to follow Isis down the treacherous mud slide. I’m somewhat shaken, and I know it would be virtually impossible to stay upright.

Unbeknown to me, on hearing Hairy One’s pained squeak, Rufus leaves Bev’s side and, closely followed by Nancy, rushes round the trees towards the top of the slope. He must have spotted my spreadeagled figure, as he gallops back to his human, followed, naturally,  by Nancy who, by this time, has picked up some of his panic.

Panting and rolling his eyes wildly, he skids to a halt at Bev’s feet. Then both dogs jiggle up and down on the spot, staring intently at her face before breaking away and dashing off again. They repeat this routine several times.

Apparently, Rufus’s panting and wild eye rolling has always been his way of expressing alarm; Bev knows there’s something wrong, and walks to the top of the slope.

When I hear her call, I let her know that I’m O.K. but can’t get up without letting go of Isis.

Considerably more careful than me, she picks her way down to us, and puts Isis on the lead while I scrabble my way upright.

I discover Rufus and Nancy close behind me.Their duty is done. They’ve handed the problem over to their human.  Now they can return to their doggie business. Lowering their muzzles to the ground, they snuffle intently, trying to find particularly tasty samples of mud to eat.

Clever, clever Rufus. Loyal Nancy.




Photo by Bev.



I must admit that I wiped my face before this photo was taken. Not from vanity, I assure you, but because I couldn’t see through the mud splattered over my face.

Even so, there’s no question who needs a bath this time!

Thanks a million Isis.

There are, I reflect, some disadvantages to having a deaf dog – not many, Isis dear, just one or two.

Then again, Hairy One’s personality suggests to me that even if she could hear, she’d ignore me and carry on with what she was doing anyway.


*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, Isis says "No"., oh dear, rain and more rain, walking in the park, walking my deaf/blind dog, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

I.T., Isis and me



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


Sunday January 5th 2020


In deference to Isis and her hysteria when, soon after she came, I switched on my ancient, flickering television, ours has been a television free household for the last five years.

Very recently, she has become more tolerant of indoor light, as long as it’s stable. And modern televisions don’t flicker like the old ones did.

A week before Christmas, our new television arrives.

“You must be excited,” say my friends. No. I’m not. I’ve always been happy with mechanical stuff: things with backs you can detach, innards you can prise out and mend, widgets which can be oiled or tweaked, wires you can reconnect, cases you can kick or thump. Hands on, fine. Memory and sequence dependent, not fine.

Friend Y and I manage to unpack the set and power it up. She gets a picture, but neither of us can work out how to set up channels.

The Thursday before Christmas, an I.T. savvy friend sets up the channels and shows me how to navigate the remote.




I try to watch something, but I’ve forgotten the sequence I need to follow. Thoroughly fed up with my ineptitude, my only interaction with the blasted thing is to glare at it balefully as I listen to the radio.

By Christmas night friend Y. has worked out how to locate a programme. We watch ‘The Big Friendly Giant.’

O.K. Now I can watch T.V.

No. By the next day, I’ve forgotten again.

Resigned sigh.

It can’t be that hard.

It is.

I cover Hairy One’s ears and shout very rude things. When I’ve finished shouting, I uncover her hairy ears and resume scowling at the blank screen.

This week I.T. savvy friend shows me again what I need to do. And shows me again. And again. And then gets me to do it myself. Now I understand what I’ve been doing wrong.

This week too, after the latest monsoon period, Bev and I check out the woodland walk. It’s not bad at all. We avoid the slope behind Highbury Hall, as the paths at the bottom are ankle deep in mud. Instead, we take the highest path back and walk down into the orchard.

Wow! What a lovely surprise.

The Highbury Orchard volunteers have been at it again. They’ve dressed one of the trees with multi-coloured crocheting.

I would love to capture this for Hairy One’s blog but, unfortunately, I have phone trouble. My Windows phone, with which I took most of my blog photos, is no longer in operation.  I am lucky enough to be given a 2013 iPhone, which tides me over well for most apps, but is affronted when asked to take a photo, and shuts itself down, even when it’s fully charged.

For a few months, I re-use images from the media library. But on Thursday my new phone arrives, and by Friday I’m confident enough to use it.



The Community Orchard, Highbury Park.



On Saturday, I lead Isis carefully around the mud patches and up onto the grass below the beech wood. When I set her free, she makes a beeline for the pine avenue. There are dried stems under each of the trees, but one shelters a particularly thick blanket. This is her favourite.


It’s several weeks now since I had to disentangle prickly stems from her coat. I’ll just have to do it again: she’s enjoying herself so much, it would be unkind to drag her away.

As usual, she dashes around perfectly happily, gathering dead stems like a rolling snowball gathers snow. As usual, it’s only when I replace her harness and attempt to walk on, that she stands with a pitiful expression on her face. She’s telling me that she can’t possibly walk another step until I put things right.

It’s not going to be an easy task.






It isn’t, but little Isis is a good dog. She keeps very still. Now and again, when I tackle a particularly deeply embedded stem, or several matted together in her fine hair, she lies down. Unsurprisingly, the poor little creature is apprehensive. No doubt she is also tired after all the running, but she stands up again obediently when I wriggle a hand under her.

At last, we’re fit to move on. If we walk through the stream, instead of squelching along the well used path, we can avoid the mud, and Isis can run free on the flower meadow.

Remember, I said that I was confident when using the phone camera. Confident, not competent.

I shoot four or five videos. I’m on a roll. Oh yes, I soon got the hang of that!

But when I play the videos, I discover that my confidence is ill-founded. Not only is Isis racing around the meadow at the speed of light, she’s also upside down.


Today we go to Kings Heath Park. It’s one of those sun-in-sun-out days which unnerve poor Isis; nowadays, though, she will always leave the car – unless Rufus has his nose in it ready for his affectionate but rough greeting.

She walks slowly, gingerly, from the car to the path. She flinches and glances anxiously around her before scrambling and ducking through the shrubbery towards the pond.

As we make our way towards the old bowling green, she perks up.

But there are menacing stripes of sun and shade here, and when the light suddenly changes, she grasps her tugger and hurries off to the back of the basketball court. Although she’s only been in the park for thirty minutes, she’s on her way to the car park and home.

We can’t have this. Although she protests, I manouvre her into the Colour Garden. If she’ll not play here, she’ll not play anywhere.

After a few minutes she sniffs her way to the shrubbery, her tail pops up and wags, and she begins to play.

It’s only after she’s pelted up and down non-stop for about forty minutes that I decide to have another go at a video. This time I am more cautious. I notice there is a ‘stabilise’ button and think it might be a good idea to tap it.

Unfortunately, by now, Isis is bored with her gymnastics, and is winding down her play, so the video isn’t the most exciting entertainment on offer.

But at least Hairy One is the right way up and moving at a normal speed!





*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, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., Kings Heath Park, oh dear, scary shadows, walking in the park, walking with Rufus and Nancy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

it’s all too much for a dog



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


Sunday January 5th 2020


When I last reported on Hairy One’s table manners, all was going swimmingly. No ear splitting screams. No air shredding screeches. No snarling, snapping, barking or leaping up the wall. Just a normal, calm, little dog eating her meal.


But, suddenly, out of the blue, as they say, everything changes. The hour goes back, the winter sun sags low in the sky in the day time and in the early evening headlights flash past.

For a while stupid Human doesn’t understand what’s turned her quiet, contented diner back into a fraught, barky pest.

First port in a storm is always the ‘bark and your food is removed’ response. To be fair, for a day or two, after her dish has been whipped from under her questing spotty nose three times each sitting, on three consecutive days, Isis does try very hard to suppress the barks. For a day, they emerge as little, subdued ‘oofs’.

But then, instead of responding positively to the retraining, as she usually does after relapses, Isis deteriorates rapidly. Each time her food is removed, she becomes more hysterical, growling, screeching, spinning and biting herself; alternatively, she just leaves her breakfast uneaten, and has only one meal a day.

At last it dawns on her dim-witted housemate that something is very wrong. It must be a relief to poor Isis who has for weeks, I now realise, been standing stiffly over her dish continuously casting anxious glances over her right shoulder towards the front door.

Ah, yes. Near the top of the front door is a sizeable oval inset of textured glass. The large window adjacent to the door has the same kind of glass. The morning sun strikes the panes, and the glass fractures its wavering beam into a thousand jiggling shards. What must that be doing to poor Hairy One’s damaged eyes?

I experiment with numerous possible solutions: I feed her in the back room; I cover the glass of the kitchen door with a blanket; I switch off all the lights in the house while she eats, and creep off in the dark to another room; I stand in the kitchen with her, patting her gently while she eats. At least she is calm enough to eat when I comfort her, but the barking continues spasmodically.

The kitchen is where she’s always eaten, and it occurs to me that moving her food around and changing the dining room arrangements is probably confusing her and making her more anxious.

Fear that my dog will return to her previous chaotic dining room habits has clouded my judgement. (To be candid, I was never over endowed with common sense anyway.)

Come on. Isis is not about to regress: she is genuinely distressed by the light. Soon, the sun will return to its rightful position in the sky, and all will be well again.

I feed her in the kitchen every day. I am completely calm and laid back. I’m never  impatient with her. If she leaves her food, that’s fine. She’s unlikely to starve herself.

This helps. She continues to bark each morning when she has her breakfast. Sometimes  she doesn’t eat. She barks in the evening, but less. I notice that on Saturdays and Sundays, when there’s no stream of motorists passing on their way from work, she is much more relaxed, and often doesn’t bark at all.

I apologise to her. Because she will now walk at night, despite the headlights, and will always leave the car when we reach the park, even when the sun is bright, I overlooked how very deeply embedded is her anxiety around eating in the face of any perceived threat.

Christmas day jolts my complacency. When Y. and Blitzi visit, the humans eat vegetarian, but Y. brings delicious special dinners for the dogs. Their dishes are filled with a tempting layer of Sainsbury’s Turkey Dinner for dogs, and topped with chunks of chicken freshly cooked by Y.

We feed Blitzi first. He gollops down his tasty meal, and licks his chops appreciatively. I can’t wait for Hairy One to have hers. She’ll be delighted.

But she’s not. Although Blitzi is with Y., behind the closed door of the front room, Isis refuses to even approach her dish. Instead, she slinks out of the kitchen and onto the day bed.

I’m sure she’ll eat when the our guests have left.

She doesn’t. When I depart to bed in the early hours, her meal is still untouched.

In the morning, her dish is licked clean.

Many years ago I adopted a little border collie, whom I named ‘Rush’, I think because she rushed away and hid when approached with food, or when a stranger came to the house.   Her food dish had to be left in a room devoid of other animals or humans. She was one of only two survivors from a litter of six or seven pups who were tied up behind a caravan and thrown handfuls of food when their owner thought about it. Thankfully, someone reported him, he was taken to court and banned from keeping dogs – for life, I think.

Little Rush never became a confident dog, but gradually she learned that it was safe to eat around people and animals.

I am almost certain that Isis will never achieve this.

One can only imagine what she went through before she was taken to Aeza.* Poor little creature.

Hey! Isis! That doesn’t mean that it was O.K. to nip Blitzi’s bottom.


*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, adopted dogs, Isis at home, Isis says "No"., oh dear, poor Isis, rescue dogs, strange behaviour, we don't like bright light | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

we’re going THIS way ….



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


Sunday December 29th 2019


Since the beginning of the Months of the Mud, Isis and I have a tussle every time we step out of the car in Highbury Park. It is all a matter of opinion, I guess. I think that it makes sense to walk along the main, tarmacked path, eschewing the muddy morass on the left,  while Isis is convinced that she should be allowed to plough her way down the left side of the field and lollop about in the mud.

She is a very stubborn animal, and is quite prepared to jump backwards on stiff, resisting little legs until she manages to pull her harness over her head, under her chin and around the tops of her front legs. This is infuriating, as one is then forced to remove one’s gloves,  scrabble through her hairy coat, locate three stiff clips, force them open – no mean feat when one’s hands are numb with cold – replace the harness and shove all the clips back in.

By which time, as I hiss menacingly into the nearest pink and hairy ear, “I am very cross!”

It’s not polite to yell, “NO!” at your dog, I’m told, and quite unacceptable in good dog training circles.

I yell “NO!” very loudly close to her ears. She knows that I mean business. Sometimes she walks on. Sometimes she doesn’t.

Today is a doesn’t day, so, after a surreptitious glance behind us to make sure that someone isn’t on the phone to the RSPCA, I haul her by her harness back onto the path and frogmarch her along it.

Her response is to lean as far to the left as she can without scraping the ground.

This does not make dog walking a relaxing experience. My next tactic is to nip over to her left side. She is forced to desist from imitating a motorcyclist on the wall of death, and, after a few attempts to cut across me and trip me up, she gives in, puts her tail back up and walks demurely along by my side.

As I explain to her time and again, we’re going to some of her favourite places, and she’ll have a lovely walk.

She perks up as we near the pond, and concentrates on some serious sniffing.

We walk carefully up the grassy slope below the beech wood, and I unclip her lead. She can run along by the hedge as we walk up. She enjoys that.

But no, she’d prefer to dash through one of the gaps in the new hedge plantings, and go wade through the swamp which used to be her rose bay willow herb plantation.

Click. Back on the lead. Now we bear to the left where it is possible to release the recreant once more.

Sniff. Sniff. Oh joy! The pine avenue! It’s months since she’s played here. She shoots into the trees and segues into an ecstatic dance.

Oh well, it’s probably easier to deal with the prickly stems dropped by the pines than it is to give Isis a bath. And, anyway, she’s very happy.

Eventually, she lies down under the tree, thus embedding the stems even more firmly into her coat.

After persuading her to crawl out, I pick off a handful of lose pine stems, and off we go. To avoid the quagmire of the track, we cross the stream.

Brilliant. Her coat may be decorated with pine stems, but it’s completely free of mud. I remove her harness and we amble happily across the flower meadow. While she explores the undergrowth, I drift off into a contented day dream.

Suddenly, I’m jerked rudely back to the present by dark, dirty looking clods of something flying past me. Eeeeeek! What’s she doing? She’ll be filthy.

She’s having a wonderful time, but, magically, she doesn’t appear to be any dirtier.

She is standing on top of what looks like a thatched mound. Cuttings from the final pre-winter mowing have formed a thick cover over fallen trunks and branches, and Hairy One is enthusiastically scraping them off to reveal the hidden treasure. When she has finished, she stands on the branches, wagging her tail triumphantly.

As her tail wags, a large, barbed pine stem is revealed. It’s over a foot long, is caught under

her tail and sticks out either side. It’s firmly tethered in her hair and wound tightly against her skin.

Detaching her hair from the stem is a two handed job, but, as usual when I’m trying to help her, she’s very cooperative. I snap off small pieces of the stem, one at a time, unwind the hairs from one section, then break off the next. In order to avoid hurting her, I have to unwind most of the hairs only two or three at a time.

Releasing this long stem takes about fifteen minutes. By which time Isis is more than ready to move on.

She trots by my side to the next playground: the log-in -the-long-grass. Here, she eagerly follows the trail I make by dragging her tugger along the ground, finds it, claims it and jogs away to find a comfortable spot in which to chew it.






There’s a strong, cold breeze blowing across the park, and already the air seems drier. I return to the car with a very clean, contented dog.

I told you you’d enjoy yourself, 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 or



Posted in a very naughty dog, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, Isis is no angel, Isis says "No"., learning to trust, oh dear, relationship building, scenting, walking in the park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Christmas Day

Message from Isis.




I had a guest today. It was Blitzi. Human said you have to be very nice to your guests, especially kind, good-natured guests like Blitzi who protect you from other guests in the park.

It’s my house, not his, so when I thought Human wasn’t looking, I nipped his bottom.

I was right. She wasn’t looking. But I missed the first time, and nipped her thigh instead.

Human was very cross. Blitzi went in the front room with the humans and I was shut in the back room.




Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments




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


Sunday December 22nd 2019


Isis and I have been to Kings Heath Park most days over the last two weeks. Temporarily, it has taken the place of Highbury as our ‘all weather’ park. I’ve only found two areas in Highbury where Isis can run free without both of us becoming plastered with mud. These are the landscaped area above the walled garden, and the burr log by the lower park entrance.

When it’s sunny, Isis won’t walk up to the landscaped area, and we don’t always feel like a deburring session, so the bank above the old bowling green in Kings Heath Park has become our default exercise spot.

There are disadvantages: I have to guard the little fir tree which Isis unkindly beheaded some weeks ago. An additional hazard is that other dogs enjoy chasing one another across the old green, and are inclined, upon spotting Hairy One engaged in strange rituals, to trot up the bank to investigate.

Nowadays Hairy One is much less afraid of other members of her species than she used to be. Once or twice lately she has surprised me, after intruders have left, by popping back through her hole in the hedge escape route, and resuming her bank play.

Toss-and-gallop is one of her favourite games. It goes like this: you lie down for a few minutes, nonchalantly chewing on your toy, then you leap up in the air and spin. Simultaneously, you release the toy. Then you gallop around before slowing down, sniffing out the toy and retrieving it.

One day she is playing on the bank with her orange tugger. An energetic toss-and-gallop game is in full swing when no fewer than four dogs arrive on the bank in quick succession. None of the dogs jumps on her, or takes the tugger, but she surrenders her toy and disappears through the hedge onto the next level.

I can see a faint white cloud hovering behind the hedge, and once the other dogs have departed, Isis emerges from the hole looking troubled and begins to search for the tugger. She sniffs around, undercarriage close to the ground. Usually she sniffs out her toys very quickly, but she can’t find the tugger, and is looking  a little agitated.

I pick it up and return it to her, and she resumes her play.






The next day, as soon as I release her onto the old green, she trots happily up onto the bank. While she’s having a good sniff at whatever has happened since yesterday, I place the tugger on the bank and pull it down over the grass. As a challenge for her, I make quite a long trail. Before I turn to walk over to the dog bin, I see that she’s already picked up the scent and is on her way to the tugger.

When I turn round – it can only be a minute later – both Isis and the tugger have disappeared.


I walk up to the Colour Garden, her retreat of first choice. There’s no sign of her. I make my way back by the side of the basket ball court, through the shrubs at the bottom and onto the grassy mound, another place she likes to be.

There she is, dancing exuberantly near the border of shrubs. But there’s no sign of the tugger. Damn. She’s dropped it somewhere along the way.

But that’s unusual. She doesn’t leave her toys behind unless she thinks another dog intends to challenge her.

How strange. She wouldn’t have hidden it, would she?

I walk past her and part the branches of the nearest shrubs.

There is the tugger, hidden behind a holly bush.


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 clever girl, clever Isis, deaf/blind dog plays, dear little Isis, Highbury Park, scenting, the dogs of King's Heath Park | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment




Tuesday December 17th 2019

Isis has just amazed and delighted me. She left the house with me in the dark and we did an hour’s street walk. This is her very first walk in the dark since she came to me five years, two months and a few weeks ago.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments