Monday, 22 May 2017

Home sweet home

Cuddles and ear scritches are all very well…

…but I am absolutely going to insist on a visit to the bar at Inverness railway station very soon.

(We all knew these so-called "cycling trips" were just a front, didn't we?)

PS Can you believe Gail is now making rude comments about my personal hygiene and saying I must have been doused with some special "antidote to kennel odour" spray before I was released from Fairways Pet Haven...

Thursday, 18 May 2017

A postcard from Gail

Missing you already Bertie!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Time and tide wait for no dog...

7:30 a.m. by the River Dee near Duthie Park

Six hours later and a mile away at the Aberdeen city beach

PS I am signing off now for a week as my blog helper has abandoned me to go cycling across Scotland with her friends. Let's hope it does not rain all the time for them, and the midgies are not too hungry just yet...

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Life's ups and downs

So on Sunday I was dragged away from this…

And returned home to Aberdeen to face this...

And if having the decorator in all week wasn't bad enough, I have just learnt that yet again I am shortly to be abandoned for a week in favour of this...

 And consigned to a so-called 'Pet Haven' where the daily regime looks like this…

As the song goes, "Things Can Only Get Better".

Sunday, 7 May 2017

An exemplary roll model?

We were over at the Torridon cottage this weekend, catching the tail end of an extended period of atypically warm and dry weather - a rare event indeed in Scotland's NW Highlands.

On Saturday morning, Gail was hard at work in the garden and so I decided to give her a nice surprise and help out.

You might gave noticed that the patch of grass in front of the cottage is somewhat uneven.

Now it is true that I am not an expert gardener (and believe me neither is Gail) but I have heard how the done thing is to roll your lawn.

So I gave that a go while Gail's attention was elsewhere.

Who knew that lawn rolling is such hard work? With that and the heat (20°C!) I was soon exhausted so retreated inside to recuperate.

For some reason, when Gail came in and spotted me on the sofa, she was less than appreciative of my efforts… 

On Sunday we took a break from the garden and climbed up the Mountain Trail in the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. It was my first proper hill walk in ages, and I'm pleased to report that my paws are feeling really good just now!

The picture below shows you the bottom of the trail and the new header photo was taken near the top. It is a steep climb in places. I try not to feel too insulted when being repeatedly told how my predecessor Hamish the Westie was much more confident at scrambling over rocks than I am.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Is it OK...

… for your human to wear a picture of you on her socks?

And how about when she goes to work?

Oh and I would like to point out to clothing retailer Hobbs that wire-haired fox terriers have russet ears, not black.

PS Just a reminder, it is not too late to contribute to my important and very scientific research into dog and human fitness (see previous post).

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Are you as fit as a barnacle goose?

Hi folks! Bouncing Bertie Boffin here. It's been too long since I posted about an important scientific matter, hasn't it?

Apropos my recent paw-related infirmities (and nothing whatsoever to do with last week's diet of whisky-laced buttermilk ice cream) I have lately had cause to ponder the relationship between fitness and exercise, in both humans and other animals. For example, my human Gail has been complaining about her being unfit due to my intermittent lameness (yes I know, so selfish, but what can you do?) But as soon as my paws stop hurting, I feel as bouncy as ever, even when I have been doing little but lounging on the sofa for the preceding few weeks.

Well I am delighted to report that scientists have not neglected the puzzling question of how some animals stay super fit despite distinctly couch potato-ish habits. You can read all about recent work on this topic here, or, for those of you who are 'time poor', I have summarised the main points below:

Have you ever thought about how the barnacle goose prepares for its 3000 km migration? No need for tiresome marathon-style training sessions for them, apparently. Rather, according to environmental physiologist Lewis Halsey, "they just basically sit on the water and eat a lot".

Likewise, how fortunate the black or brown bear. Unlike your typical human, whose muscles tend to dissolve into unsightly flab over the months of darkness (in Aberdeen at least), lucky Bruin emerges from hibernation with muscles as ripped as when he stepped into his winter hidey hole.

It seems that migratory birds and hibernating animals have genes which respond to cues like daylight or temperature and these genes act to preserve or enhance their muscle mass. Humans do not possess this useful evolutionary adaptation, due to their different lifestyle, and so have been forced to invent the gym and the exercise bike.

It is not yet clear where dogs and cats sit on this evolutionary 'no pain, no gain' spectrum, although based on my own personal observations, I hypothesise that we pups would be somewhere between the barnacle goose and the human.

I wonder if my friends can contribute any useful data about whether the human or non-human species in their household find it easier to  maintain themselves in tip top condition? If so, do please leave a comment. No detail, however trivial, need be omitted. Who knows, I may even publish a scientific paper on the findings...

[PS On the subject of evolution, Gail has reminded me to tell you about an article she has written on Darwin, recently published in online journal 'Assay' (edited by Tootsie's Mom). Personally, I don't really approve of her writing activities other than helping me with my blog, but you may click here should you actually want to read her piece... ]

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Ice and ice-cream - a discussion

Scene near Gail's workplace, 25 April
Gosh Gail, I am wondering why you decided to whip up some home-made ice cream, the very week when it has been snowing again in Aberdeen? Your timing is not good is it?

Bertie, surely you know that criticising your human is not part of the dog job description! Rather, you are supposed to offer non-judgemental adoration at all times. That said, I will concede you might have a point about the poor timing. 

Yes. Please explain yourself then.

Well Bertie, you know how much we both love reading about the adventures of our PON friends Bob and Sophie and their humans Angus and 'the Font', in Angus's daily blog? The writing is so vivid that for a few minutes each morning we are transported to their warm corner of France profonde, and we forget we live in chilly Aberdeen, don't we? 

Er yes I guess that's true up to a point. Although the fact that I am still waiting to be offered a sliver of croissant for breakfast is something of a give-away, I feel.

Anyway, Angus mentioned at the weekend that 'the Font' was making homemade buttermilk ice cream and it sounded so delicious!  No soon as he had kindly provided the recipe than I hot footed it down to Sainsbury's for the ingredients, and it was all in the freezer before the BBC's Tomasz Schafernaker could say the words: "Cold blast of Arctic air imminent".

Hmmm, so now that I have warmed up from my icy walk around the park, I am thinking perhaps we could try a wee sample of the buttermilk ice cream? After all, it might be another year or so before we enjoy properly hot weather, and Gail, it would be dreadful for all your efforts to go to waste.

OK Bertie, I am persuaded, here it is!  A bowl with raspberries for me and a wee morsel for you too.

Oh my goodness this is utterly heavenly! Although I am thinking it is Scotch whisky and not the prescribed Bourbon you have mixed in with the cream, buttermilk, honey and granulated sugar?

Yes Bertie, in fact the Scotch whisky was your very own 'Sweet Wee Scallywag' blend. I'm so glad you liked the ice cream. I did too.

So when are we getting seconds then?

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Spring, Recovery and Earth Day

It’s been a horrid winter – my paw’s been awfully sore,
But spring’s now in the air and in my step.
So with keen anticipation, I’m standing by the door,
As I was weary, aching, low, now I am full of pep!

A brand new day is dawning here in sunny Aberdeen,
And I see no point in lingering inside.
The world beyond awaits us, unsullied, fresh and green,
And I’m all bushy tailed, bright eyed!

I bounce past granite houses to the gates of Duthie Park,
I greet my pals and savour every smell.
Oh I am truly joyful; life is once again a lark,
So I pause for just a moment to give thanks that all is well!

PS I am so proud to have taken part in Louis Dog Armstong's Earth Day Challenge. Click here to see all the entries.

And finally, with my Boffin hat on, I would like to congratulate these 28 Very Good Dogs who yesterday took part in the March for Science.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Top notch Easter Weekend

As my regular readers know, I have come to expect excellent service on the East Coast trains when I travel between home in Aberdeen and visiting Human Granny in her Care Home near Nottingham.

But I must say, the conductor on yesterday's train back north excelled himself. After noticing that I was languishing on the floor while a seat was available next to Gail, he patted the empty seat encouragingly,  saying "Come up here Bertie; you'll be much more comfortable", and he lifted me so I could cuddle up to Gail. Then he took a nice photo of us (see below) and offered to fetch a bowl of water any time I should feel thirsty.

This is what I call Top Notch customer service.

In fact, it was all round a Top Notch Easter Weekend in Nottingham. Of course I got to spend quality time with Human Granny (whom we found in good spirits), played lots of tug-the-roadkill-fox with Gail's friend Janet, and on Easter Monday visited my poodle cousins Coco and Percy in Derbyshire.

I also met a most agreeable WFT called Teddy when out and about in Nottingham.

And finally, when taking a stroll between trains at Newcastle, I had good cause to feel grateful that I am a dog not a human...

Yes all in all, it was a totally spiffing Easter weekend.

PS Gail is betting that somewhere in the world someone is offering colonic irrigation for dogs...

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Fluffy Bunny Ears

On Tuesday last week Gail, along with several female colleagues, received an invitation from her boss Alison, to attend a 'civilised hen party' ahead of Alison's wedding in June.

I understand that Gail replied thus:

Thank you very much for the invitation. I had thought I was past the age for attending hen parties but I shall be very pleased to come along, especially as it seems there will be no requirement to wear pink fluffy bunny ears…

Two days later, we were on the Friday morning train, heading to Newcastle (aka Hen Party Capital of the UK) en route to visiting Human Granny in Nottingham, and we met this party of exuberant young-ish ladies.

PS Gail failed to resist the temptation to email this photo to Alison...


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Feeling left out

Can I play too?


Monday, 10 April 2017

A Gentle Spring Stroll at Drum Castle

So Gail and I were both feeling somewhat delicate this weekend - she still a bit shaken up after her close shave in St Petersburg last Monday, and me 'cos my paw has been playing up again this week.

[Oh and regarding St Petersburg - congratulations to Inca, the first to guess correctly that the 'odd picture out' in the last post was the fourth one down and was a metro station (Avtovo) not a palace!]

But by lunchtime on Sunday I was getting bored with staring out the window, and suggested to Gail that we go for a short walk in the grounds of Drum Castle.

She readily agreed, and as it's only a ten mile drive, we soon were there. I am disappointed to report that, because apparently (and I think outrageously) I am not considered to be an 'assistance dog' I was allowed no closer than this to the actual castle.

Fortunately the ancient oak woods nearby are well worth exploring, and are the perfect place to forget the world's troubles, and one's tender paws, at least for an afternoon.

PS Gail and I read the sad news about our dear blogging friend Dory when we returned from our walk. Dory, we will miss you so much. You were the sweetest, dearest little pup and we send love and hugs to Beth and the rest of the family.