Sunday, 31 July 2011

Gail shows me her holiday snaps

So Gail asked me if I would like to see some photos from her Newfoundland holiday.

To be honest, I was in two minds. I mean, why not rub it in Gail, that you were over the other side of the Pond, gallivanting with your friends, while I was stuck in prison 'my special vacation residence'.

Then she told me that she saw some statues of dogs, and I decided I was at least a teeny bit interested after all.

But first I was anxious to find out more about her travel companions, Marse, David and Jody, and most relieved to learn that they are all dog owners too, so must be a good influence. 

Marse, pictured below, lives in Tacoma, Washington State with Liddy, a part-corgi part-Tibetan spaniel, and Boo, a border collie who, as a tiny puppy, was rescued from a locked mail box by Marse and her Cuban sister-in-law (hence Boo, from buzón, Spanish for mail box). 
Marse in the cloud on top of Gros Morne
And David (Marse's youngest brother) and his wife Jody share their life in Austin Texas with a mellow Australian Shepherd, Jessy. 
David and Jody by Bakers Brook Waterfall
I can see from the pictures that there were lots of interesting places in Newfoundland where Liddy, Boo, Jessy and I could have thoroughly enjoyed exploring, had we not all been left at home. Or in our 'special vacation residences'. 

I would not have minded at all that the ground was so swampy the trails through the forest were mostly on boardwalks.

The houses in St Johns looked so colourful on the outside

And dog-friendly, surely, on the inside.

It would also have been nice to have met all Marse and David's relatives (their mother came from Newfoundland).  Here are Aunt Frieda and Uncle Dan in Corner Brook. 

Aunt Frieda won this year's local downhill ski race (over eighties category) and is president of the Scottish Country Dancing Club!

Oh and if only I had been there to appreciate Gail's lecture on the Table Lands Ophiolite Zone, where the serpentinised peridotite rock from the earth's mantle is exposed at the surface. It is not clear from the photo that Gail's American friends were all that enraptured by this rare geological occurrence.

I learn that in Newfoundland you are never far from water (which I, as a terrier, have mixed feelings about.)

You are never far from a moose either.
Gail says it wasn't like 'The Shipping News' after all. Apart from the fact that the local radio station did spend a lot of time talking about car wrecks...

Finally friends, can you help me with this one, please? Supposedly there is something amusing about the changing uses of this building on George Street, St Johns. Beats me though. Perhaps if you biggify it you will be able to tell me the joke?

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Creature of habit

After a stay in the 'special vacation residence' it's so nice to be home, and back to the familiar daily routine.

An early morning run in the park, greet my pals, then stop by the paper shop on the way home to pick up the Guardian. (We are proud to be Guardian readers in this household, where a boycott of all Murdoch-owned media has been in operation for decades.) A quick post-walk grooming session, accompanied by a crunchy treat to keep teeth busy and away from the brush.... Curl up in favourite armchair and watch Gail fire up the computer and focus on her work. Occasionally remind her of my presence by jumping up and snatching a pen or a tissue off her desk.

Mid-morning coffee for Gail and playtime for me.

(See my new toy, a Newfoundland dog stuffie. Friends you were right, Gail is not so mean after all.)

A lunchtime romp in the garden and a noisy conversation across the wall with next door neighbour, springer spaniel Molly.

Later on, another, longer walk, maybe by the river, along the old railway line, into town, or, on a good day, a short drive in the car to a nearby wood.

Then it's dinner time. Kibble and perhaps another treat. A cuddle from lodger Marie-Thérèse if she's in.

A five minute pre-bedtime trot round the block, then down for the night on comfy kitchen cushion, with hot-water bottle (yes, even in summer) and another wee treat.

Then sweet dreams 'til morning.

Monday, 25 July 2011

What kind of a present is THAT!

So Gail goes all the way to Newfoundland and this is my reward...

"Well Bertie", she says, "you seem so fond of eating sheep droppings, I thought Puffin Poop would be just the perfect thing for you."

Friends, I've been missing you all, and am so looking forward to catching up with your news.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Shipping News

In the normal course of things, I would be in quite a huff about having to announce that my computer help is jetting off on holiday very shortly, and I am being consigned to prison "my special vacation residence", so will be out of contact for a week or two.

However, I have been perusing a novel set in the land where Gail is meeting up with her American friends, and I am now not sure that I am the one that you should all be feeling sorry for.

Why ever do you think Gail might want to abandon me for ten days, when the rival attractions appear to be:
  • Squidburger and seal flipper pie 
  • Fog and damp (as if she doesn't get enough of that in Scotland)
  • Winds so strong that houses are held down with cables*
  • Dirty and dingy (but expensive) motels
  • Gruesome boating accidents
  • Peculiar natives (not all friendly)
  • A local press concerned mainly with incest and car wrecks 

Did I do something terribly bad?

PS In case you are still puzzled as to Gail's destination, here is another clue. She expects to be seeing lots of these!

*I have been reminded that our garden shed in Torridon is similarly anchored.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Burns the Harrier Jump Dog

I have the solution for Britain's cash strapped armed forces!

Cutbacks in spending have compelled the RAF and Navy to decommission their fleet of Harrier 'jump jets'.

Well anyone can see that it's useful for the military to have at their disposal something that can spring vertically into the air from a standing start and attack.

Let me introduce you to 'Burns', an American rat terrier and fellow trainee at Deeside Dog Agility Club.

This alert little fellow, despite legs shorter than my own, can leap several times his own height with no run up at all!  And although he has always been friendly to Gail and me, I can see that he has a fine set of gnashers, which could prove handy in combat mode.

Now I am no economist, but I am pretty sure that a Burns would be cheaper to run than a Harrier jet.

Just a suggestion Mr Cameron, to save a few £££££s and keep the country safe ...

Thursday, 7 July 2011

An operatic tragedy!

There was all sorts of commotion in Duthie Park on Monday morning, with my normal walking route barricaded off, can you believe?

Gail explained that they were preparing for a big outdoor event that evening, a live relay of  'Madam Butterfly' from the Covent Garden Opera House in London, sponsored by BP.

Here is the tent where all the BP bigwigs would get to sit. (Only the most extreme kind of optimist trusts Aberdeen's weather..)

Well I can tell you, this was most exciting. I could barely contain myself. I snuck off to a quiet corner of the park, the wildflower patch, and practiced my arias. I mean, surely, everyone would welcome a dog that could sing along so lustily.

Just imagine my disappointment when Gail announced at about seven o'clock that she was going off to the park with the neighbours, equipped with wine, snacks, and a warm fleece, while I would be staying a home, alone... 

Disappointment turned to outrage when Gail came back later in the evening, radiating enthusiasm, telling me that, not only had everyone had a splendid time, the weather stayed fine, the music was gorgeous etc. etc, but also, there'd been several dogs present, who were well behaved and had not attempted to join in.

And her point was, exactly?

Monday, 4 July 2011

"Why the long face, Bertie?"

I hear this question too often. I think it is supposed to be some sort of a joke.

Like the way people will look at me and say "oh I used to have one of those, with wheels on"....

Of course, regular readers will realise that the 'long face' thing merely pertains to the shape of my head.  That I am the happiest, bounciest little chappie you could hope to meet should be clear from these photos from Sunday's outing to Millstone Hill and Paradise Wood, where it was so nice and sunny I even ventured into the river Don for a wee paddle, voluntarily... 

I kept my back dry and my paws on terra firma, mind.
Oh and Happy 4th July to all my American friends! 

Friday, 1 July 2011

"He's a fantastic little dog"

I have been most remiss in not keeping you up to date with news of my training activities.

You might remember that I attended an agility class earlier in the year. It was such good fun, the highlight of my week in fact, but we had to miss loads and loads of sessions 'cos the time - Saturday at noon - was apparently inconvenient, and after a few weeks Gail withdrew me from the class. She insists it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the chap who led the sessions had such a strong NE Scotland accent that she only caught one word in three of what he was saying. Absolutely not at all.....

So anyway, after my stellar performance at the Feis Alligin agility demo, Gail finally got around to contacting another group, Deeside Dog Agility Club, who meet on Tuesday nights in a field just couple of miles away from my Aberdeen home. And, guess what? I have been accepted on to their training programme!

I can't tell you how excited I am.

Gail is pretty excited too, as this time she has no problem understanding the trainer. He was super enthusiastic and encouraging, and said (of me) at the end of the second session, earlier this week:

"He's a fantastic little dog".

Here I am, at home the morning after, basking in all the acclaim.