Monday, 30 April 2012

Time to check Horatio's leg lifting progress

Once again, I'm bursting with excitement.

Guess who came to see us last week?

Horatio's 'mum', Mandy, that's who!  And she brought me this super smart bandana, all the way from Scotland's capital.
Those are Mandy's legs in the background

I was a bit disappointed at first that my wiry pal Horatio wasn't with her. After all, I could have given him a master class in how to resist having a bandana tied around one's neck. On top of a refresher leg lifting tutorial of course. Apparently he sometimes gets confused and lifts his front leg...

But anyway, I cheered up hugely on learning that I'll be meeting with Horatio and all his family next Sunday. They are going to be staying by Loch Muick for a week. I've been poring over the map and trying to decide on a good route for a walk.

Loch Muick is on the Queen's Balmoral Estate.

WFTs versus Corgis, anyone?

Oh I just can't wait!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Bertie needs to calm down...

"The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable" is how Oscar Wilde characterised the sport of fox hunting. (As a fox terrier, I know about these things.)

Might I suggest that this week's spat between Donald Trump and Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, is a case of the 'speaks to much' in pursuit of the 'eats too much'.

And that both these gentlemen are flattered by a comparison with their doggy lookalikes.

Grrrrrh. Some things make a chap cross. I think it's time I found another wood to visit, to help me calm down.

 Tyrebagger Wood - a good place to de-stress

PS Gail says to tell you thank you dear readers for all your comments on yesterday's post. I vote for liver treats strewn across the back lawn! (As suggested by Riley's mum).

Thursday, 26 April 2012

But surely, people like to hear me bark?

This is so humiliating.

Gail has told me I have to hand over my blog to her today, 'cos she wants to consult my readers on a 'behavioural question'. At first I thought fine, as she does exhibit several behaviours that could be considered questionable. But then it turns out that it is my behaviour that is at issue, and that treats will be withheld unless I comply with her 'request'....

Thank you Bertie!

Readers, I know that many of you are more experienced dog owners than I am, and I'm wondering if you have any helpful suggestions to deal with a specific, irritating trait of Bertie's that I have so far had no success in modifying.

Although wire-haired fox terriers are known as enthusiastic barkers, in most circumstances - in the house, at night, out on walks, in the car - Bertie is a relatively quiet dog. There is one notable exception to this. Whenever Bertie runs out unsupervised into my back garden, he barks his little head off. Often the barking is triggered by hearing another neighbourhood dog, but sometimes it seems he is trying to initiate the conversation. Once started, he will not stop unless I intervene. I have tried (for as long as I can stand) leaving him to wear himself out. I have tried telling him "NO BARKING" in my most severe voice. I have tried bringing him inside and 'sin binning' him in my downstairs toilet for quarter of an hour as soon as he starts up (a tactic which worked a treat with other annoying puppyish behaviours like persistent ankle chewing...) I have tried rushing out with a reward on the rare occasions when he goes into the garden and remains silent for a few minutes. But he will not learn.

I have a 'dog flap' in my back door. When my old Westie, Hamish, lived here, I would allow him access to the garden through the flap as and when he wished, which was especially useful if I was out for long periods. With all the barking, I don't feel I can use this system for Bertie, if I want to remain on good terms with my neighbours. 

For the past two years, since Bertie arrived on the scene, I have been working mostly at home, but next week I start a new office-based job, initially two days a week, then, from August onwards, four days a week. Fortunately the main office is only a ten minute walk from home (or a five minute bike ride), so I shall often be able to nip back at lunchtime, and when this isn't possible I can arrange for Bertie to be taken out. But, obviously, it would be handy for me, and better for Bertie, if he could run in and out of the garden as he pleases while I am away at work. 

One more perhaps relevant detail. My inner city garden is enclosed by 4ft granite wall, which Bertie cannot see over. 

Anyway, I'd be delighted to hear any ideas on how I might persuade Bertie to break this barking habit and use the garden quietly. Bertie has never, to date, shown signs of separation anxieties, and overall seems a happy, confident wee chap, so I am optimistic that he will generally cope OK with not seeing quite so much of me. 


Monday, 23 April 2012

Ashentilly Wood: mud, mud, glorious mud...

Well I was so keen to get going with my new AWGV* job, I said to Gail, look we can't wait until it's sunny, after all this is Scotland, we might be waiting, like, forever.

Finally she relented and we went, during a pause between heavy downpours, to investigate Ashentilly Wood, ten miles out of Aberdeen and just off the South Deeside road.

Now some friends have been trying to advise me on how to go about my new role. Advice which I considered and then rejected. (Apparently a friend of Gail's once described her as having an 'advice resistant personality type' and happily this is a trait we share).

Bossy Stella told me to "just try not to get carried away with your opinions". No opinions? Me? Can you imagine? Quite ridiculous. Stella, that's like telling the Tea Party in the USA to try to be tolerant for a change. Or George Osborne telling UK voters that "we're all in it together"....

I want you to know I consider it my role to provide the op-ed counterpart to the boring fact-based report Gail writes on the VisitWoods website. Clear?

Anyway, back to the woods.

I did come close to acting on Deccy's intriguing suggestion to pee only on yellow flowers. Too close in fact. Deccy have you any idea how prickly a gorse bush feels on the bum? Oh you do. It was a practical joke. I get it. Hardy har. Not.

Personally I find that a delicate cluster of wood sorrel provides a more pleasing 'facility'.

A mossy bank by the side of the track is just fine too.

Isn't it strange though, and rather sad, how humans seem to miss out completely on the best aspects of a wood.

One can have so much fun negotiating the muddiest paths ...

And rolling around in the less delicately scented woodland offerings. (Believe me friends, this isn't mud...)

But I absolutely can't agree with Gail that it is a plus point when a wood has a clear running stream just close to the car park...

...where a dog can be immersed in near freezing water and "cleaned up a bit" prior to being transported home.

*AWGV - Assistant Web Guide Volunteer for the VisitWoods project. See also previous post.

Friday, 20 April 2012

My very important new role with VisitWoods

Oh I just am so bursting with pride, I must tell you all about this.

I have a new job. It's going to be the most tremendous fun.

I have been appointed 'Assistant Web Guide Volunteer' for the Woodland Trust's VisitWoods project.

OK, I admit it is an unofficial appointment, but Gail is a real bona fide volunteer, and I am going to help her, so that counts doesn't it?

What does it all involve?

Well the idea, basically, is to encourage people to go out and enjoy our country's wonderful woodlands. The project has a website listing all just about every wood you can visit in the UK. You can follow the link and search for a wood near you. No, not if you live in Australia, or the USA, or South Africa, don't be silly!

The volunteers' job is to add content to the website: photos of their local woods, plus comments and information relevant to visitors (car parking, special features, flora and fauna, terrain, amounts of mud etc. etc.)

My unique role, of course, is to add the canine perspective.

For example, last month Gail and I visited Tollohill Wood just a stone's throw from Aberdeen city. You can see her comments and photos here.

But she didn't say anything about the sheer joy of romping around, in freedom and safety, sniffing out every corner of this splendid little oasis ...

inspecting the fallen trees ...

and those that look like they're fallen but aren't ...

and pausing briefly in the stripey sunshine ...

before rushing off to indulge one's natural fox terrier instincts.

Apparently volunteers are expected to comment on the toilet facilities too...
 Most excellent, I would say.

We shall be visiting more woods in the next few weeks (if ever it stops raining). Watch this space.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Gail's cycling trip / Bedraggled Bertie

Can you believe that, having neglected me and gone swanning off to the Continent on holiday for ten days, upon her return Gail has been refusing to help me with my blog, all because she promised her London friends that she would write a report on the bicycle tour?

To add insult to injury, she didn't even listen to my suggestion that she should write it from a canine perspective. And then she ignored all the stuff she tells me, about not writing too much 'cos folk won't have the time to read it.

In the unlikely event you want to read her long-winded (and somewhat idiosyncratic) account of the 'Five Countries' cycling trip - and I have to warn you it contains absolutely no mention of dogs, not even 'Wotan' - you can click here.

And in case you have forgotten what I look like, here is a photo of me, all bedraggled after my morning walk in heavy rain.

Sunday, 15 April 2012


So Gail's just back from her cycling holiday and she's gushing about this beautiful wire-haired fox terrier called Wotan whom she met when enjoying an end of tour bière with her friends in a café opposite the cathedral in Metz.

I'm thinking if she's that keen on seeing a beautiful wire-haired fox terrier she could have just stayed home and not banished me to 'camp'.

And what kind of a name is 'Wotan' anyway?

Friends, I have been missing you. Normal service will resume shortly.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Fur colours and textures - a question

Friends, I think many of you know Stella and her family in Minnesota (and if you don't you really should).

Well recently Stella's Mom Jo posted about the issue of certain people - very stupid ones in our opinion - not wanting to adopt black dogs in the USA, something that we believe is a problem too on this side of the Pond.

Stella herself is a borador with the most beautiful luxuriant and glossy black coat, one any right thinking dog would envy. I have in the past caught Gail looking at Stella's picture on the computer and reaching over to stroke her before remembering that she is just looking at a bunch of pixels on a screen and that Stella herself is nearly four thousand miles away.

I digress. What I really want to talk about today is my coat.

As you know, I have a paw in both camps on the colour issue. In fact, three camps, with my mostly russet head.

When I was a wee pup, I was soft and fluffy, although even then, a certain incipient stiffness to my coat could be detected. Now that I am a fully fledged adult, my coat is coarse and wiry, both waterproof and conveniently suitable for chasing through the sort of brambly undergrowth where humans hesitate to follow.

But I can't help noticing that the texture of my black patch is rather different from the white bits, and my head is different again.

For example, when my back is being hand-stripped, the black hairs come out much more easily than the white ones, and are in general finer and dryer. If Gail applied as much effort to my 'saddle' as she does to stripping my neck area, then my much admired black patch would be reduced to the occasional sorry looking tuft. Then there's my russet ears. (Not 'ginger', please.) They are quite silky, not that different from my flat-coated retriever chum Jake. Moving down my long and distinguished snout, the reddish brown colour fades, and the texture becomes more woolly, or, if you are being rude, frizzy. Gail tries to hand strip this area too, which I don't mind at all, but inevitably she resorts to scissors as she says the fur around my face and eyes just wants to stay fixed to my skin. Obviously, my splendid beard is left alone.

I am very curious to know whether my friends, especially the multi-coloured ones, also have variably textured coats?

Perhaps, if you can provide enough data, I might consider a scientific treatise on the matter.

Plus, it would be nice to know that I am not a freak.

PS This blog will be quiet for a couple of weeks as Gail is going off cycling on the continent with her London-based friends (including 'midges' Michael, boo hiss) and I am going to 'camp'.