Monday, 31 October 2011

Keeping faith with Hamish

Sometimes, posts on other dog blogs prompt Gail to tell me a story about my predecessor Hamish the Westie. So it was with Saturday's Rottrover post, in which Bart and Ruby's humans donated treats to the local dog rescue home, but decided they were not yet ready for a new pup. (In case you don't know them, I should explain that the Rottrover household recently lost one of their brave and much loved Rottweilers, Gizmo, to a nasty form of cancer).

Well Hamish, who also had a blog of course, was getting to be a very old chap by the winter of 2010. At the end of his post on Wednesday 17th February, he related how he'd collapsed on a freezing walk by the beach in Aberdeen and had to be carried back to the car. Gail has now filled me in with more details from that day.

Just before the walk they'd been to the big pet store to buy a new bag of kibble. Gail knew that her dear old Westie's health was failing, and the thought had even crossed her mind "is it worth buying him a large, 19kg bag? I'm not sure he'll last that long". She picked up a 5kg bag, then looked down at Hamish and his characterful, expressive face, and set the bag down again, feeling guilty, as if she had been about to break faith with her beloved first ever dog. She purchased the 19kg bag of 'senior' dog kibble after all.

Hamish only lasted one more day.

Shortly afterwards, an unopened 19kg bag of dog food was donated to the local stray animal shelter.

Two months later, I came to live with Gail and bring new joy to her heart.

Gail says she doesn't regret one penny she spent on that last bag of 'formulated for the senior dog' kibble.

And, phew, what a relief, she says she definitely doesn't regret that I came into her life so soon after she lost Hamish. Although she will now admit, there were moments when I was a troublesome wee pup (troublesome, me?), tearing noisily around the house and looking for more clothes to shred, when she would picture in her mind dear Hamish resting contentedly by her side on the sofa and wonder how well she and I would bond and if indeed she was the one who had bitten off more than they could chew.

Friday, 28 October 2011

As if the bicycle were not bad enough (Bertie has a wee rant)

I knew my readers were smart!

Yes, several of you guessed correctly. The cloud on the horizon referred to on Monday's post was indeed Gail's new ONE PERSON sea kayak.

Oh if only I had had the chance to discuss matters with Gail before the kayak was finished.

See, I found this picture on the internet:

And this one:

I cannot imagine why I was not thought of. I mean, it isn't as if it is a shop bought kayak even. Gail keeps telling me how Florian, who built the vessel from a design by Thomas Yost, is a most wonderful craftsman. Well Florian, I have to tell you, I'm not convinced. I mean, if you really were such a 'Handwerksmeister' (he's German you know) then you could easily have put in a berth for a wee wire-haired fox terrier could you not? After all, ich bin ganz klein. Nur acht Kilogramm. Kein Problem für einen sogenannten Handwerksmeister, glaube ich!


What's that Gail? You're saying I'd have to wear a life jacket and a 'skirt', which wouldn't suit a dog that can barely tolerate a bandana?  Oh don't be ridiculous. I don't see those fine pups in the photos above sporting any kind of strange get-up.

Friends, it is so tiresome to live with a human who has hobbies. Just when I thought the whole bicycling thing was the final straw.

And no I am not "making a fuss about nothing". In fact, I've barely even started...

As if it were not hurtful enough that Gail should want to venture on to Loch Torridon without me, separated from the chilly salt water only by a piece of PVC glued onto a skinny wooden frame, now I learn the reason she wants to do this.

Otters. Seals. Puffins. Dolphins and porpoises. Yes that's right. She wants to look at OTHER ANIMALS out there on the sea loch.

Now I'm a tolerant sort of a chap. Wire-haired fox terriers are few and far between in Northern Scotland so I can accept that Gail might want to cast a glance at different type of terrier every now and then. Just to reassure herself of my own exceptional handsomeness, you understand. And I act quite good natured (despite seething inside) when she goes all weak the knees at the sight of an Alaskan Malamute. But really, is it necessary to look beyond the species Canis lupus familiaris when we are so many and so varied?

Well there is no other option. If you can't beat 'em join 'em.

Gail, please stop harping on about tedious irrelevances like "but you won't even go near water normally Bertie".

I am going to write to Florian and request my own personally designed sea kayak. And yes I do realise that doggy paddle is nothing to do with propelling a canoe.  I shall, naturally, be expecting Gail to give me a tow.

Now let me see, where's the German dictionary...?

Sehr geehrter Herr Florian,
ich hätte gern ein schönes Seekajak für einen kleinen Hund der vom Wasser ein bißchen Angst hat...

Monday, 24 October 2011

A cloud on the horizon...?

It might seem to you, looking at these photos taken last weekend over in Torridon, that I was having a simply splendid time with Gail and her friends.

Well that was true, up to a point, I suppose.

But there was one new development that I am really not at all happy about.

I can't tell you more just now, 'cos Gail is extra busy this week and she says she won't be able to help me with my typing for a few days. But take a close look at the pictures below, and perhaps you can guess what might be worrying me?
Posing in front of Slioch
Breakfast time, and some new admirers: Angela, Sebastian and Alexander 

 I agree with Gail. Monopoly IS boring.....

Supervising Florian, as he puts the finishing touches to Gail's new sea kayak

Florian takes the new kayak (which he built from scratch!) on its maiden voyage

Don't go too far out across Loch Torridon, Florian, it's getting dark!

One can lose patience posing, even with the nicest of families

Sometimes it's best just to hide in the undergrowth

Can you believe Gail threw me into Loch Maree at the end of this walk?

At least all is well when I'm with my new best friend Sebastian

To be continued.....

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Hula Hoops versus salt marsh lamb

I inadvertently caused confusion amongst my non-British readers with Monday's post, in which I told of my extreme disappointment at being offered Hula Hoops to eat, when I had explicitly asked for salt marsh reared lamb from Marks and Spencer. 

Who knew that 'Hula Hoops' (the foodstuff) were unique to the UK?  Is the rest of the world missing out?  I think not.

To plagiarise Wikipedia "Hula Hoops are a potato based snack, in the shape of short hollow cylinders".

They don't look exciting. They don't taste exciting.

Whereas salt marsh lamb on the other paw.....

... would be well worth a wet walk to Marks and Spencer.

Oh. Sigh. If only I were allowed inside.

[Note from Gail: I have long observed that Bertie is a supermarket snob. He is in fact quite happy to be tied up outside M&S, and tolerably content waiting by the entrance to Sainsbury's or Tesco.  He barks his little head off if taken anywhere near an Asda*, and as for discount stores Lidl and Aldi, well I'm afraid we're in teeth baring and vicious snarling territory.  One day we'll make a pilgrimage to Waitrose in Edinburgh, to test the theory further.  I predict Bertie will be rolling on the pavement in ecstasy. (Apologies again to readers from outside the UK, but you're a smart bunch, I think you'll get the gist).]

Sadly, there was no sign of salt marsh reared lamb anywhere on the shelves of M&S this week. So we had to settle for the plain jane option instead:

I am delighted to report that Gail came over all generous for once, and gave me a good sized portion. And that the Scotch lamb loin chop, "slowly matured for succulence and tenderness", was...


But I am still going to email Markies and ask when they'll have their salt marsh special in again.

*owned by Walmart

Monday, 17 October 2011

Disappointment on Bennachie...

Bennachie - a distinctive Aberdeenshire landmark topped by an ancient hill fort

So on Sunday afternoon Gail and I went out for a walk up Bennachie with her friend Ian the oil man, home for a week from Dubai.

In such a glorious sunny October weather, you would have thought nothing could possibly spoil the day.

You would be wrong.

When Ian stopped for a sandwich half way down I minded my manners and waited patiently. (I hope that Michael is reading this...)

Then, I caught a whiff of Marks and Spencer's salt marsh reared lamb on the gentle autumn breeze, and moved just a wee bit closer to Ian.

Now I know that Ian is missing his two Westies, Florrie and Lucy, who are currently lodging with his son Jonathan whilst Ian is working abroad.

So I was utterly confident he would be unable to resist my pleading eyes, framed by my cute, fuzzy little face.

Oh I am so disappointed to have to report that he was able to resist, and parted with only a microscopic quantity of lamb, then tried to fob me off with these.

Yes, hula hoops. Life is so unfair.

But the story may yet have a happy ending. Gail, whose favourite meat is lamb, has absolutely promised me that we will go down to 'Markies', only a ten minute walk from home, and seek out this special delicacy as soon as possible and that I will be allowed a decent portion.

Please cross your paws that this really happens.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Delusions of grandeur

Long time readers of this blog will recall that I once tried to persuade Gail to move into a country estate with a castle.

Well, I have become resigned to the fact that I am basically going to be a city dog, and that's fine, that's quite OK with me, so long as I am taken out at weekends for long and adventurous country walks. Which I often am.

However, my visit to Diane and Bunty's residence last week brought home the fact that I live in neither the grandest nor the prettiest house in this part of Aberdeen. This doesn't seem right, does it?

So now that I am feeling much bouncier again, but am still not allowed to fraternise with my pals in the park on account of my cough, I have been out and about in the local neighbourhood, looking for an upgrade.

Do you not think this impressive corner residence would suit me well?

Of course it would be nice to have a place with columns,

and a pleasingly curvaceous end.

Or how about some interesting window detail?

Maybe a Flemish style frontage?

Oh look, this one's actually for sale.

Gail is making such petty objections. Like that she has no need of a gym when she has me. And that 'offers over £700,000' is rather a lot of money....

Well if we can't have a bigger house, why not a prettier one?

I quite like these cottage style homes.

Especially the ones with colourful front gardens.

Or what about this? It might be cheaper 'cos the windows are in need of repair.

Yes, come to think about it, if only Gail would buy a big old house to renovate. That would be such fun. I'm fantasizing about a constant stream of workmen feeding me jaffa cakes, just like my blog pal Wilfy in France.

Oh, Gail is saying she is not sure that Wilf's blog is the greatest ever advert for the joys of renovating an old house.....

And I am being asked what exactly is wrong with our own home anyway? Is it not comfortable, solidly built of Aberdeen granite, the right size, in a quiet yet convenient location, surrounded by kind and friendly neighbours, just perfect for us in fact?

Well yes, you know, put like that, I guess I don't want to move after all.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Square dog?

Health updates:

Bertie: the vet poked me in various places and diagnosed kennel cough. He prescribed "just wait a few days and he'll probably feel better" therapy. Thirty pounds well spent??? I did eat a bit of food yesterday (marmite smeared kibble and some scraps of chicken) but I'm still coughing and lacking in bounce.

Gail: feeling just hunky dory after my operation - three cheers for the 'free at the point of use' NHS and for keyhole surgery.

Thank you so much, dear readers, for all your good wishes.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Not feeling so bouncy

Oh woe is me. And I am normally so full of beans.

This last couple of days I haven't been full of anything. No appetite, not much energy, the occasional bout of trembling and my throat feels all sore and I've been coughing a nasty dry cough, especially when I pull on my lead.

Gail is looking all concerned and it seems I will be visiting the vet later today. Meanwhile, I am being offered (but mostly refusing) soft food, and am wearing this harness for walks so I don't further irritate my throat.

This is the first time ever that I've been poorly, and of course, given that I am possessed of a Y chromosome, I am feeling exceptionally sorry for myself....

PS from Gail: Could it be kennel cough? Although Bertie was innoculated against this virus back in April.

Friday, 7 October 2011

A lady of impeccable taste

"Come on Bertie, rouse yourself!" Gail said yesterday morning. "We're going round to my friend Diane's for coffee. And she has something in her living room I particularly want to show you."

It had better be worth it, I thought to myself, having just settled down for my morning nap.

It's only a five minute walk to Diane's elegant residence.

Gail pointed to the tower on the corner of the building, and said "You're not going to believe what's in there Bertie".

Once we were both inside, Gail kept pointing in excited fashion towards a fireplace.

So I went over to investigate.

Wow! Oh this really is exciting. (I confess I had had my doubts). Can you see what I see?

Are those really wire-haired fox terriers on the fire irons?

 Let's have a closer look.

I asked Gail to move them so we could get a clearer photo.

I can't tell you how thrilled I am. I feel so special now. You can keep your Westie mugs and border collie calendars, how many dog breeds have their very own design of fire irons?

Oh, Gail is now telling me about Diane and what an amazing person she is. Well, to be frank, as a dog, I am not all that interested in the best-selling books she's written about local history. And awards and prizes and honorary degrees aren't really my thing. Yes I'm sure it's impressive to be one of the first female Burgesses of Aberdeen, if Gail says so, but...

But what I do know is that anyone who exhibits wire-haired fox terrier fire irons in her living room is indeed a quite remarkable lady of impeccable taste (and never mind that her own pup Bunty - sadly not present yesterday - is a border terrier.....)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Aberdeen MacTaco: for Jazzi

Several of you reading this will know my wee Scottie pal Jazzi. She lives in Illinois, has a troublesome bulldog sister Addy, and every single one of her frequent blog posts will make you smile. (For evidence of this, click here to see her special post for my Earth Science class last year....)

Well anyway, Jazzi has a bit of a thing about tacos. 'A bit of a thing' - that's British Understatement, by the way. So today, 4th October 2011, she is celebrating National Taco Day, and she has invited all her friends to participate by posting a photo of themselves eating a taco..

Oh this has caused me so much stress and anxiety. I have never seen a taco, except on Jazzi's blog. They are not part of the Scottish diet. Plus, Gail cannot drive while she recovers from 'the belly button thing', so I am not in a position to scour the length and breadth of Aberdeen to hunt down taco ingredients. Whatever they are anyway. What to do? I so wanted to join in.

Well I wrote to Jazzi about my dilemma and she kindly suggested I could 'improvise', and indicated that the definition of what constitutes a 'taco' would not be interpreted too strictly.

So Gail allowed me to have a rummage around the food cupboard and the fridge, and this is what I have come up with. An original creation, I am sure you will agree.

In this 'MacTaco', I feel I have achieved a successful blend of the traditional and the novel, and incorporated a uniquely Scottish flavour with the oatcakes. Gail has suggested that it might be helpful to readers if I label all the ingredients....
Can you believe Gail confiscated the chocolate almonds before I even had a chance to taste one!

PS I want to thank Jazzi specially for organising such a fun event. Do visit her blog for more on National Taco Day. I am so over the rugby.