Sunday 27 June 2010

A walk with John prompts memories of Hamish...

Yesterday evening, I went for a walk with Gail and her friend John. It was my first ever hill walk! (Just a little hill, admittedly. Scolty, near Banchory, 299m high).

Before we went, Gail gave me a long lecture about how, if I were to be let off the lead, I had to promise faithfully to stay really close to her, and not go running off anywhere.

Well, I really couldn't quite understand what she was getting so uptight about. I always stay close by when we go somewhere new. Why all the fuss? I tilted my head to one side, giving her my best quizzical look, and in return was told this story about Gail's former dog, Hamish the Westie.

It all happened one Sunday, in October 1999, when Hamish was just three years old. It was only a few weeks after Gail had adopted him. He was a lively, energetic chap in those days, and loved roaming in the hills. Anyway, on this particular Sunday, Gail had met up with the same friend, John, for an afternoon walk. Another chap, Frederic, a former colleague from Belgium came along too. The plan was to go up Bennachie, a well-known Aberdeenshire landmark.

Well, as those of you who knew Hamish will be aware, he was a dog who liked to sniff just about everything. That was his notion of a perfect walk. Frederic, who had spent time in the Belgian military, had other ideas, and favoured the 'route march' approach to Sunday afternoon outings. John too, likes a brisk pace. It was never going to work.

Well Hamish kept up quite well to start with, but gradually, as his sniffing-things to moving-forwards ratio increased, Frederic's patience wore thin. After about three miles, at a five way junction, Frederic and then John went striding off in one direction and Gail followed, not immediately realising that her dear little Westie was nowhere to be seen. A couple of hundred yards down the track, she suddenly looked back and panic set in. 'Oh my God where's Hamish?' She rushed back to the junction, closely followed by John and Fred.
They searched and searched and searched the different tracks and into the woods and heather, calling Hamish's name, but all in vain. Gail was distraught. How could she have been so careless? And how little time it takes, she remembers thinking, to become so deeply attached to a dog.

Eventually they abandoned the search, went home and telephoned the Forest Ranger Service and the police, to report the lost dog. Then, just as John was suggesting that they go back and resume the search, and about four hours after Hamish first went missing, Gail received a phone call from Inverurie police station. Hamish had been brought in by a walker who had found him on top of a different hill, a mile or two from where he'd last been seen.

So the story had a happy ending. Gail drove the fifteen miles over to Inverurie and was greeted by a friendly policewoman. And there was Hamish, his little nose poking out from behind the bars of the police station cell, where the nice cops had provided him with a bowl of water and a couple of dog biscuits!

Well silly old Hamish, I say. He really should have been looking where his humans were going, shouldn't he? I can promise you after hearing this tale, I didn't let Gail and John out of my sight last night for even one fraction of a second, despite the fact that Gail insists that she has now learned from earlier mistakes and has also developed a sixth sense as to whether her dog is nearby or not.

But seriously, would you trust someone whose previous pet once ended a walk banged up in a police cell?

PS I don't think Gail ever mentioned this episode when trying to persuade my breeders that she was a fit person to 'own' a dog....


  1. Hey, there is lots to sniff out there. You can't rush these things.

    We know you'll keep up, what with your longer legs and all.

    Happy walking.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

  2. What a story - and one with a happy ending thanks to observant hill walkers and the Inverurie boys in blue. You're right it's amazing how quickly we get attached to them.

  3. Oh Bertie, look at you up so be careful!
    You do look very handsome though and standing so nicely!
    We so enjoyed the story of Hamish going sniff about - we do the same thing ourselves - always follow your nose we say.
    Hamish was a very wise dog and like ourselves appreciated afternoon tea - how kind of the police to provide this.
    There is nothing worse than a walk with humans who do not appreciate the need to sniff everything closely.
    They are in such a rush to get to the summit they forget how wonderful the journey can be.
    That is why it is so very important Bertie for you to stay with Gail.
    You can show her the things she would otherwise miss out on.
    One of our human brothers is a Munro bagger - he tells us how quickly he did the climb.
    Whatever is the point of that! He comes back unable to tell you who was there before him - who pee'd where - what bunny or deer passed that way.
    He never ever takes time to roll in anything - be it poo or dead animal.
    Thank dogness Bertie that Gail has you to teach her these things.
    love and kisses
    Martha and Bailey xxx

  4. Hello Bertie!

    Good thing you had a great time with the walkies.

    Thanks for sharing your story about Hamish. It's sweet of the police people to give him treats after such a long walk.

    You are in good hands with Gail for she surely keeps an eye on you.

    -Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Pai, Wai-Max & the Piappies

  5. Hi Bertie that would have been very worrying for Gail losing Hamish, I'm sure she won't let you out of her site with those long legs. It can work both ways, I've looked up after a good sniff and mom's gone missing, keep her in site at all times.
    See Yea George xxx

  6. We're so glad you learned from Hamish's mistake - both you and Gail.

    Lilly, Piper, Carrleigh and Ruairi

  7. That's a good Hammish story! Thank you for sharing, Bertie!


  8. Even though we knew there was a happy outcome, our hearts stopped for a brief moment when Hamish was lost.

    Bertie, if you stay close to Gail, you will set a precedent for us other foxies who are never let off leash.

    We assume there are no squirrels or other varmints on the path that might tempt you, right?

    Wirey love,

    Jake and Just Harry

  9. Well, Bertie, I must say thats a rather shocking story. That a dignified gent like Hamish got tossed in the Slammer because someone neglected him. Its a good thing he was young because I doubt he would have forgiven this in his old age! Looks as though YOU are going to have to be the responsible party here.


  10. Hey there Bertie!
    I really loved the story about dear old Hamish! You must always remember that Hamish was the one who taught Gail such good skills with owe a lot to him.
    I loved seeing his picture again...and yours of course! You really are a beautiful little doggie and I know that Gail is going to LOOOOVE walking with you! You are a natural!
    Sending lotsaluv to you all.


  11. Yoo Hoo!! Over here..we are back on our new pooter..... Enough chatter...ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????? A WIRE OFF OF LEAD???? WE ARE COMING OVER TO YOUR HOUSE>>>RIGHT NOW....the only other wire kid we know who can go off of lead(and that is a sometimes thing unless there is a spare rib or something better to check out) is Eric.... We can go off of lead in the tennis court but THAT IS IT...( we have as they say in the pack leader world pretty much ZERO recall, unless there is a spare rib available) Glad to see you are having fun!! Love and kisses A+A

  12. Oh my word..that Hamish in a police station! I am sure you know better Bertie. Anyhow you would end up in a jail for kids if you escaped.
    Benny & Lily

  13. Bertie! You be mindful of your human and never let her out of your sight, OK? My momma is such a FREAK about that that she never lets us off leash. Sigh.


  14. Oh dear. Stories like that get Moma upset, even when she knows there's a happy ending. (Sometimes she just can't come to her senses, though, even though she KNEW Hamish had to be discovered somewhere ... seeing as how he enjoyed many more years of hikes and walks with Gail. Still. Moma had a lump in her throat and her heart was beating double speed. That's how much she worries about losing us.)

    Anyhow. We're glad all ended well and that you listened carefully. Now is the time to learn that "off-leash" stuff. We hear jail food is not all that good. But maybe that's different in the hills of Scotland.

    Happy traipsing,
    Jake and Fergi xxoo

    Pee esS. John looks TALL! Can your legs keep us with his? AND. We LOVE the picture of you and Gail.

  15. Wooos!nice walkie, Mum laughed at the Hamish story! Well I for one, would be around 10 miles away of I were off leash, so Mum does not trust me at all, he, he, woo must be a very good little dog, or else it must be a fox terrier thing? But what if woo smelled a bunny??? I think Scampi would stay close to Mum but she does not trust the other critters that are out there, as we have bears and alligators...
    ~husky kisses~
    -Kira The BeaWootiful

  16. 299m is still a big hill for such a little dog... you did very well off-leash Bertie to keep up with Gail and not end up in jail!

  17. Hee hee! I just knew my old pal Hamish had spent some time in the clink, behind bars! I did a couple months time behind bars too, but that was at a pet store. Just as bad. Here's a tip about runaway wire fox terriers from our former dog Keddy - wires run in big circles that gradually get smaller and smaller. (It's true! That's why they make such good circus dogs.) So should you dash off, stay in place Gail and eventually, Bertie will get close enough to grab. Sorry for spilling the beans, my wiry friends.

    Your pal Petey who's been known to dash after a tempting squirrel when off lead, much to his mother's indignation.