Sunday 27 February 2011

Feeling used

Last week, Gail completed an online 'Health and Safety' assessment for working at home on her computer.

Perhaps wisely, she decided not to be entirely straightforward when answering the questions about her preferred laptop resting place...

Should I report her?

Oh and I would like to know if I am alone in being exploited this manner?

Wednesday 23 February 2011

What I do (and don't) like about agility class

The Fun Bits

The look of bafflement on Gail's face when she tries to decipher instructor Gordon, who combines Doric dialect with indistinct diction further muffled by a great big shaggy beard. Whereas he just needs to wave his arm and I can tell right away what he wants.

The fact that if I bark when one of my class mates is 'performing' Gail will always pick me up, looking all panicky and anxious, and give me a cuddle.

Obviously, the fact that it is a whole hour of undivided attention and a constant stream of treats.

So far, Gail is too intimidated by Gordon to take along her camera, so there's been none of that tedious "pose nicely now Bertie" stuff going on.

It's the humans not the dogs that get told off! (I don't think Gordon was too impressed when Gail tried to explain that we hadn't been practicing 'stays' outside because it has been raining here continuously for over a fortnight. Real tough NE Scots are not supposed to notice the bad weather apparently).

The tunnel. Sometimes you can find treats in there that other dogs have left behind, if you search for long enough...

Watching labrador Tilly amble round the course in a 'totally can't be arsed' fashion.

The Not So Fun Bits

I don't like the way Gail is always saying admiring things about class swot goodie two shoes border collie Maisie ...

At puppy class we always started with socialisation and I got to jump all over Daisy Dachshund. It was the best bit by far. No such opportunities this time.

Creative interpretations of the route one is supposed to take over the obstacles are frowned on. Were I to take up ice-skating, dancing not figures would be my m├ętier. (Why is that a ludicrous thought, Gail?)

All the other dogs arrive in great big 4WD's and look down with disdain on our little Mini.

And it's so humiliating when Gordon lowers the jumps a notch or two when my turn comes round. And unnecessary. I mean, we all know I have springs in my legs!

Monday 21 February 2011

Spoilt for choice

So many birthday presents:

Black pudding



(The roses were in memory of Hamish).

Oh and I haven't forgotten that I'm supposed to be telling you about agility class. Let's just say for now that it's a good job I can follow what instructor Gordon is saying, 'cos Gail doesn't seem to understand a word he utters...

More on that later in the week.  Promise.

Friday 18 February 2011

A letter to my breeders on my first birthday

To: Calum and Mairi Grant
Grandddach Kennels
near Turriff

18th February 2011

Dear Calum and Mairi,

Gail has suggested that I could demonstrate what a well brought up pup I am by writing to you on my First Birthday and saying thank you for starting me off in life so well, and to let you know how I am getting on.

She also thought you might like to see some recent photos. I am a bit worried that you might think my coat looks rather shaggy. All I can say is that it does get brushed almost every day, but we are waiting for warmer weather before the hand-stripping starts again in earnest!

As you can see, I have grown to be a fairly tall and slender laddie, and the patch on my back is distinctive in shape and still quite black. I weighed 15 lb at Christmas, but I think I have put on a bit since then.  When we are out and about in Aberdeen, lots of people stop Gail to say what a handsome chap I am, with such fine markings.

I am a quick learner and it took no time at all for me to figure out that the toilet is outdoors. I easily mastered all that 'sit' 'stay' and 'come' stuff (did you know I won the 'longest sit' competition at puppy class?)  OK I admit it took me a little while longer to comprehend the meaning of 'NO' although the introduction of a 'sin bin' - otherwise the downstairs cloakroom - hastened the learning process. I do still love chewing things, but I have more or less got over my obsession with human feet. I'm afraid Gail has still not quite forgiven me for the cashmere sweater incident....

Good job that you got me used to travelling in the car when I was a very wee pup. I love going on trips with Gail and I have never ever been car sick. In fact, touch wood (that's what humans say, isn't it?) I haven't ever been sick at all; my only trips to the vets have been for vaccinations and a microchip.

I'm so glad that I went to live in a home with a fit and active human who likes taking me for lengthy walks in all sorts of interesting places where I can run free. You have no idea how much energy I have! (Oh, you do, apparently...)

Right from the start, I've always been adventurous and bold and not easily intimidated, although I have now learned that there are just a few very grumpy dogs around, and it is wise to steer clear of them. Gail sometimes tells me off for bullying tiny dogs, but, between you and me, I think the problem is she has difficulty telling the difference between exuberance and aggression!

So anyway, I think that's enough news from me. I have presents to open!  Oh, and Gail has baked me - or rather herself, I suspect - a special birthday cake* (see below).

I do hope all my terrier friends and relatives back at Granddach Kennels are doing well, and wish Oscar the best of luck at Crufts later this year!

Lots of love,
Granddach Beinn Alligin (aka Bertie).

*Thank you too to the Mama of my American sweetheart Katie, for sending Gail the cake instructions. She (Gail) did her best!

PS I believe there is some sort of a birthday party going on this weekend! To find out more, visit Asta or Lacie...

Tuesday 15 February 2011

In reflective mood

Oh I can't quite think how to begin.  I am going to be one year old on Friday, and I am hoping for some nice presents!  But it will also be sad day for Gail, as the night I was born is the same night that she lost her beloved Westie, Hamish, her first ever dog.

I never met Hamish, but I feel I know him well. And what I really want to say here is a big and affectionately bouncy thank you to the fine old fellow.

You see, I have come to realise that Hamish taught Gail many things, and it's partly down to Hamish that my first year has been such a happy one.

Above all else, Hamish taught Gail to appreciate that a dog is not a blank slate. We dogs arrive on this earth each with our own unique personalities and traits. We are not mere putty to be moulded into whatever shape our human fancies.

For example, Hamish, I'm told, was not one to be hurried when out on walks (British understatement here!) He liked to stop and sniff. Everything.  For him, a walk that was just a 'route march'  was no kind of fun at all, even in the days when he was young and fit and could have ran all day if he chose.  At first, Gail thought "This is no good, I like energetic walks, I don't want to be stopping all the time. Come on Hamish, hurry up!"  But soon enough she realised, that was just not Hamish's way.  So she thought a little more and decided to buy a wild flower book.  Before Hamish came on the scene, she had always been too impatient to stop and identify the plants as she strode onwards in determined fashion.  But through him she discovered the joy of pausing to consider and delight in nature's glories. And Hamish always had plenty sniffing time, and was content too.

Now I am here, a joyous, wilful and insistent presence, an alogether different character from Hamish.  Less about sniffing, more about bouncing.  And I am so fortunate 'cos Gail has learned to let me be me too, and if what I want to do is bounce, then ways will be found for me to bounce, and bounce again, for as long as my legs have springs!

Thank you again, dear and most treasured Hamish.

(A report on my experiences at agility class is coming soon...)

Saturday 12 February 2011

The truth can be so hurtful...

Overheard. Gail. On the phone yesterday.

"Hello. Is that Gordon?  Hi. About the agility class.  You said after you saw Bertie last week that I could bring him along this Saturday morning. Is that still OK?"

"Yes we'll be meeting at midday.  Can you make it then?"

"Yes I can make it at 12 noon, no problem. Will there be other dogs?"

"There's the labrador I told you about. And I've another couple coming too with their one year old collie".

"A one year old, just like Bertie then?"

"No, not like Bertie. This one knows what he's doing".

(Actually what he said was "This een kens fit he's deen" but I don't expect my readers to comprehend the Doric dialect...)

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Cracker Dog Special - the year in review

Just a quick reminder that it's Mango Minster competition week (think Crufts, but in cyberspace, and much more serious). As I am entered into the 'Insane Cracker Dog' category,  I thought it timely to remind you of my credentials. An impressive set of achievements for a pup not yet quite one year old, I'm sure you'll agree. And not even a mention of the cashmere ex-sweater...

(Cracker dog voting is on Friday!)

Thinking back over the past year's activities...

Indications of recklessness at six weeks old

More early promise - attacking the camera strap

A good idea to jump all over an Akita/Rottweiler cross, no?

Dealing with irritating dachshunds at puppy class

Let's not forget the 'blue poo incident'

These very long books so need shortening, don't they?

In for the hamster kill

Ignoring the red card

You can't make an omelette without breaking egg boxes

Some things in life are just beyond reach

How to stop your human going out to work

Cracker dog time with a friendly Dutchman

I don't think Bunty was REALLY scared, was she?

Another cracker dog sleeping pose

And finally: in hot water once again, just last week

Yep, it's been quite a year.....

Monday 7 February 2011

Hamish's view

I am learning what Hamish always knew. There are some places you never tire of.

So we had spiffing weekend over on Loch Torridon, though I had to concede it was not Munro-bagging weather...

Thursday 3 February 2011

Climb every mountain?

Come on Gail! Oh come on, over here, COME ON, COME ON!!!

Look outside the window! All the snow is gone. It doesn't even feel cold. It must be nearly Spring.

And don't imagine I've forgotten what you promised last year. You absolutely promised that come Spring I would be allowed to climb a Munro.

[Readers, you know what a Munro is? A Scottish peak over 3000 ft high. There are 283 of them.  Between you and me, it's my ambition to 'bag' every single one, like boxer dog Kerry did a couple of years ago.]

So Gail, look, I've even found this book on your shelves. Called, yes you've guessed it, 'The Munros: The Scottish Mountaineering Club Hillwalkers Guide'.

Now what do I see here, scribbled this inside the book? A list? In your handwriting, Gail, if I'm not mistaken?

Mount Keen
Beinn Alligin
Sgor Gaoith
Stob Choire Claurigh
Stob Coire an Laoigh
Stob Coire Easain

Oh, is that so? Seriously? You're telling me that my predecessor Hamish the Westie in his younger days climbed each of those peaks on your list. All the way up to the top and him with such little legs?


So these Munros would be, like, no problem at all for an eager, fit and bouncy chap like me, eh?

What do you mean a fine line between 'bounciness' and 'recklessness' Gail? Oh, you're just saying that for the first time, perhaps we should try a nicely rounded Munro, not one of the one with jaggy edges and precipitous drops.

[I guess Gail is frightened of heights but doesn't want to admit it. I'll have to humour her for now.]

Well OK then. How about Ben Macdui? Looks good eh? Scotland's second highest mountain. Dramatic and imposing, yet suitably curvaceous...

Yes, that's the one for sure. What are we waiting for?


Oh what is it now?  Must we really wait for longer days too?


And now I am getting a lecture from Gail who has reached for another of her books* and is reading aloud from it:

'Beginners, not unnaturally...want the startling view, the horrid pinnacle - sips of beer and tea instead of milk. Yet often the mountain gives itself most completely when I have no destination, when I reach nowhere in particular, but have gone out merely to be with the mountain as one visits a friend with no intention but to be with him.'


*'The Living Mountain' by Nan Shepherd.