Wednesday 30 November 2011

Quietly assertive or just plain bossy?

Do your humans ever make the mistake of assuming that just because they are friends with someone, then you will automatically be best pals with that person's dog...

It doesn't always work like that does it?

It might look from the photos above that, when Gail went for a walk in Glen Tanar with her friend Yvonne on Sunday, Yvonne's flat-coated retriever Jake and I were getting along just fine. I think that's the impression Gail sought to create with her highly selective camera work.

Let me list for you some of the pictures that could have been taken but weren't.

In my house before we left:

  • Jake eating my food
  • Jake drinking my water
  • Jake laying on my bed
  • Jake monopolising my spot by the radiator
  • Jake tearing the nose off my favourite stuffed Newfie dog
En route to Glen Tanar:
  • Jake peering over from the boot of the car in an irritating manner
  • Me on Gail's lap in the front seat, barking loudly in response
  • Yvonne driving, gloating "isn't my Jakey a good, quiet dog?"
Out walking in the forest:
  • Jake unfairly taking advantage of his longer legs to beat me in a race through the undergrowth
  • Jake after a swim, shaking himself dry all over me (and Gail, and Yvonne)
  • Jake stealing the stick I was chewing from OUT OF MY VERY MOUTH!!
But you know what irritated me more than anything? Overhearing Gail say to Yvonne; "Isn't it fascinating the way Jake is so calmly and quietly assertive".

FASCINATING!?  Grrrrrhhh

Here are some Jake-free better photos from the walk. (We stayed in the glen 'cos it was too windy to go climbing any hills).


PS from Gail: should any readers ever visit Royal Deeside, I thoroughly recommend the 'Sign of the Black-Faced Sheep' cafĂ© in Aboyne for the most delicious post-walk cakes! 

Sunday 27 November 2011

Dogs and bankers

We venture even further into dangerous territory today....

You might remember that a couple of months ago I was most upset about a Royal Bank of Scotland advert which implied that us terriers did bad things like chewing up cards...

Well I am pleased to report that someone has take note of my objections and there is a new and much more satisfactory RBS advert out now.

Golly gosh Gail isn't that a nice poster! Why don't you put some of our savings in that bank, after all they seem such a caring institution?

Oh dear, my innocent comment has elicited a stream of very rude words from Gail. How uncharacteristic.


Now that she's calmed down a bit I think I can decipher some of what she's trying to say.

She's spluttering on about the fact that she, the taxpayer, gave £37 billion to RBS a couple of years ago, so that they could keep on paying their senior staff huge boneses (?) and she doesn't feel like putting any more of her hard earned pennies their way just yet....

Well now let me see. There are about 10 million dogs in the UK. So if the government had given the £37 billion to dogs instead of bankers, that would be £3,700 per dog, which could be soundly invested in treats, days out and vet bills. Yes I am beginning to see Gail's point. It is a lot of money.

Oh, Gail has started spluttering again.

Apparently I'm taking a selfish view of matters and it is not the government's role to buy treats for pets, rather they could have used the money to pay more to humans who actually do useful jobs, like teachers and nurses and care workers.

But we dogs do valuable work too don't we, by providing entertainment, keeping our humans fit and spreading love?

This is all so complicated.

All things considered, perhaps I'll go back to card chewing after all.

Oh, I forgot. I never ever did chew a bank card. Honest!
Bertie: the picture of innocence
PS Gail is saying we're going to go for a lovely walk in the hills today, never mind the gale force winds, she thinks it will do both of us good.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

An unexpected encounter by the Trent

I don't know if any of my friends suffer from the same problem, but Gail is totally hopeless when it comes to photographing people and dogs that we spot when out on our daily walks.

It's not like she's shy in general. Well perhaps a bit, with humans she doesn't know.

Anyway, it sometimes happens that I want her to take a photo and she says, "no Bertie, I'd feel awkward", and I have to illustrate my posts with the help of images from the internet instead.

So it was last weekend. When walking along the river Trent we met an elderly gentleman in what I thought was a funny hat, out for a morning leg stretch with his enormous and exceptionally handsome Rhodesian ridgeback.

They stopped to say hello. We found out that the dog's name was Raja. I bounced around him for a few moments, but then left off as he didn't seem to want to play (see I am learning). Raja's owner smiled politely at me and, in a gentle and well-spoken voice, said that he was so sorry but now that Raja was ten he wasn't very sociable any more.

Gail later explained that the gentleman was a 'Sikh' and that he was wearing a turban, not a funny hat. He looked strange to me 'cos we don't tend to see Sikhs in the north of Scotland, but apparently there are a lots in Nottingham. When Gail was a child many of the city bus conductors were Sikhs, then quite newly arrived from India, and they were allowed to wear the city council badge on their turbans, rather than the standard uniform cap.

I rather liked the look of the turban. What fun it would be to unravel! I bet Raja had a blast when he was a puppy.

Oh, I am being told to stop rambling on. Gail fears I am veering into dangerous territory.

But I was only trying to tell you about an encounter that I thought you might find interesting.

Monday 21 November 2011

Happy memories

Gosh Gail took about a squillion photos of our big trip down south to celebrate Human Grandad's 90th birthday.  But she says I have to select only a dozen, maximum, and that I do not have much time on the computer to tell you all about the trip 'cos she is super busy this week. 

Well here goes. Rush rush rush. 

Of course we travelled to Nottingham by railway. As you know I am by now a seasoned train traveller. 

But I bet you didn't know that the train company supplies me with my own personalised crisps. 

A shame that they can't spell, but what's a dog to do?

Oh, Gail is saying to remember it's "not all about me" and that people will want to see some pictures of the Birthday Boy.

Well here he is, together with Human Granny of course (they have been together for fifty five years).

Do you like his birthday cake?

I did sample a wee morsel myself and am pleased to report that it was just delicious.

Oh and here we all are, out for the promised birthday walk by the River Trent
I expect you will have noticed that HGD is not wearing a hat. I am mortified to admit I totally forgot that I was not supposed to let him out of the house unless he was well wrapped up. In mitigation, I plead that the weather was unusually mild for November. And that HGD still has a covering of distinguished white hair, anyway. And that you will see I am keeping a careful eye on him.

The next day I went for a longer walk by the river with Gail, and contemplated swimming out to greet a swan.

But then I dipped my paw in the muddy water and thought the better of it, remembered that I am not a water dog, and retreated back to terra firma and the nice broad grassy path.

The perfect place for a terrier to tear around.

In the grandparents' house,  I of course made myself thoroughly at home. So many comfy spots to chose from.
But oh too soon it was time to come home.

I was able to read a few blogs on the journey back.

We changed trains at Edinburgh again.

I think Edinburgh might just be the dog-friendliest city in the world. We had a hour to walk around the city centre and if Gail's camera battery had not run out, I would have been able to show you pictures of all the many kind folk who stopped to admire me and give me a friendly pat as I performed an early evening promenade up and down the Royal Mile and Princes Street (still no trams). 

So many happy memories. Can we go back to Nottingham soon Gail?

PS I would like to assure my marvellous Aunties Martha and Bailey Basset that I also gave ninety barks for Human Grandad. Unfortunately, Gail seems to think that on the train between Doncaster and Durham was not the right place to do it, and that the rude gentleman who we overheard saying, as the train pulled out of Newcastle station, "oh I hoped the dog would be getting off there" might have had some justification for his comments....

Friday 18 November 2011

Human Grandad's 90th birthday

So, Gail and I are off to Nottingham for a few days to celebrate Human Grandad's 90th birthday.

I wanted to buy Human Grandad (HGD) a present but Gail said that he doesn't really need more 'stuff' and that what he would like most is for us to spend time with him, and take him out for short walks in the Nottinghamshire countryside.

Well that sounds fine by me.

Gail has been briefing me on how best I can help make sure that HGD enjoys our walks. She says now that I'm one and three quarters it's time to take on some responsibilities.

So let me stop bouncing around for a moment and see if I can remember all the instructions.

  1.  I have to go quite slowly, or at least if I rush ahead I have to keep looking round to check that HGD is still in sight.
  2. I have to remember where we have been and how to get back, in case HGD forgets the way.
  3. HGD is very thin these days and feels the cold, so Gail and I need to check that he has a good thick coat, plus hat, scarf and gloves with him. If he wears his hat with the funny flaps, I am not to laugh or feel embarrassed.
  4. There is a danger that HGD might take a tumble, as he is rather wobbly. But I needn't be too alarmed if he does. He will most likely get up again, apparently unharmed, and say to Gail, rather proudly, "I used to play rugby, so I know how to fall". But best not to lick his face when he's down anyway.
  5. I am not allowed to bark in the car, as sudden loud noises make HGD very anxious and jumpy. Human Granny says it's something to do with his time as an RAF pilot in 'The War'.
  6. Sometimes HGD tells the same story over and over again. I don't know why Gail thinks that this is exceptional. After all, she's always repeating things too. Like "NO Bertie, NO, NO, NO, NO!
  7. I am to observe how HGD will always touch his cap, if we meet a lady when we are out walking. This is apparently a polite old-fashioned human gesture and sets a good example of civilised behaviour.

Well none of that sounds too impossible does it?

I am so looking forward to my visit.

Monday 14 November 2011

Greatest living Englishman?

On a dreich November Sunday, what better way to spend the morning than snuggled up on the bed with Gail, watching 'Frozen Planet' again on BBC iPlayer, and channelling one's inner wolf.

I don't know if my friends outside the UK will have had the privilege of seeing this latest series of wildlife programmes from our incomparable David Attenborough.

If not, perhaps you would like to watch a clip (click here).

Gail wants to know if any readers can think of a more admirable citizen of this country than the eighty five year old Sir David Frederick Attenborough, OM, CH, CVO, CBE, FRS, FZS,FSA?

She says, forget about all the no-talent celebrities, the bankers, the politicians, the tabloid reporters, the prima donna footballers, and think for a moment about a man who has truly enriched lives of TV viewers in the UK and beyond for nearly sixty years with his gentle and intelligent enthusiasm, making programmes about the natural world that never fail to enthrall us whilst we also learn much of enduring value.

Now we are not at all sure if Sir David is a 'dog person'. We googled 'David Attenborough dogs' and the best we found was a video of him talking about dissecting a spaniel. What we do know is that anyone whose love of his subject is so great that he will, in his ninth decade, go traipsing around the Polar regions with a camera crew, still full of vigour and sparkle, creating television of matchless quality, should be celebrated and treasured.

I am just a young pup and Gail insists that she is relatively young too(!) We look at Mr Attenborough and feel inspired but also humbled.

Friday 11 November 2011

Hand-me-downs and duck tape

Maybe some of you out there in the wider world are not aware of Aberdeen's reputation in Scotland.

Whereas in England they make jokes about all Scots being too careful with the pennies, north of the border, stinginess is a trait attributed in particular to the Aberdonians.

No dog would want a tight-fisted owner would they? I remember being a bit nervous when I was a tiny wee pup and was told I'd be going to live in the 'Granite City'. Would I ever be bought treats, I wondered? My mind was set at rest when I learned that my owner Gail was a migrant from England, presumably free from any genetic tendency to excessive frugality.

Events this week have forced me to conclude that environment trumps DNA.

Do you remember I mentioned in my last post that I was thinking of requesting a raincoat for Christmas?

No soon as I'd pressed the 'publish post' button, than Gail came bounding downstairs brandishing this...

...and saying "Bertie there's no need at all to go writing letters to Lapland. I have just the thing for you. Look, I bought this lovely red jacket for your predecessor Hamish two Christmases ago, but he only lived a few weeks after that so it's as good as new!"

Leaving aside the questionable taste issue of wearing a dead dog's clothes, I expect you, like me, have spotted another big flaw in Gail's proposal.

She can't possibly imagine that I'm going to parade around Aberdeen with 'Hamish' embroidered across my back, can she? (Fine old chap though I'm sure he was.)

My friends would be most confused, and might accuse me of disrespect.

"Oh but I've thought of that Bertie," said Gail, always the clever clogs. "I've been reading all about different uses of duck tape on Frankie Furter's blog this week and it gave me an idea".

Frankie, you might be Mayor of Blogville but you have much to answer for.

Can you believe anyone could be so cheap?

I am pleased to report that the story has a happy ending. I am at the skinnier end of the WFT spectrum, whereas those of you who knew Hamish will remember him as a solid, sturdy Westie.

So it turns out that the jacket is totally the wrong shape for me, especially around the neck area. And I know full well that Gail is useless at needlework so I think I'm safe after all.

Can anyone recommend a WFT shaped coat? Stylish, hardwearing and waterproof, please.

PS. For the post in which Hamish proudly modelled his new red jacket click here.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

It's nae affa bonnie the day *...

The true picture of a typical walk in the Highlands of Scotland. At any time of the year (in Summer add midges). As seldom seen in the holiday brochures.
You know what? I might be prepared to relax the clothing ban and ask Santa for a raincoat this Christmas!

PS Thanks to Margaret for risking a waterlogged camera to take a photo of this soggy scene. There is a good reason why she only took the one ...

*Translation of title from NE Scots to English: It's not very nice weather today.

Monday 7 November 2011

Well? What then?

I can't for the life of me see what's so funny.

Surely anyone can see that legs straight in the air is a good way to sleep?

And that it is important to ensure a good air flow to one's (now nicely developed) male parts.

Thursday 3 November 2011

A dog's guide to Europe's financial crisis

I guess I'm not the only dog that has no choice but to listen to the news every morning while their human is eating breakfast. For example, Gail, being a stereotypical Guardian-reader type, munches away at her muesli to the soundtrack of the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4.

I expect too that you, like me, have been struggling to understand the baffling jargon you hear whenever someone (especially that Peston chappie*) comes on to 'explain' the latest financial crisis.

Help is at hand! I have been hard at work reinterpreting the terminology from a canine perspective. I can even offer some creative dog-centric solutions to Europe's woes:

First, let us deal with those much talked of 'haircuts'. Apparently banks object to having 'haircuts' every bit as much as certain dogs I could mention. I asked Gail why the banks were not then hand-stripped like me? Of course, if we consider one's coat as a major asset, then I think it becomes clear too what these finance bods mean when they talk about asset stripping....

So, moving on to the 'credit crunch'. Surely some sort of rather splendid kibble, or indeed a particularly healthy type of human breakfast cereal? Apparently not. A 'credit crunch' means that you can't borrow money to buy any kind of food or anything else, so is in fact a BAD THING.

The other day they were saying that 'China' might help solve the debt crisis in 'Greece'. Let me tell you in this kitchen it's considered a crisis when the China is all covered in Greece. Of course if dogs were allowed to lick the best dinner plates clean the problem would be solved in an instant, but strangely, Frau Merkel and Monsieur Sarkozy haven't yet thought of this blindingly obvious solution.

As for 'interest rates' and 'bonds'. Well us dogs are experts on this topic, as it is strongly in our interest to achieve a close bond with our humans. But I must say, for what it's worth, I can't help but think that Italy's problems might stem from Signor Berlusconi's high interest levels in a non-financial gender specific type of bond...

Finally, any dog could tell you that a system which allows 'bears' and 'bulls' to rampage around the market is bound to end up in trouble. The notion that things are going well when a bull is in the vicinity is clear evidence of the sort of warped mentality that triggered all the problems in the first place. May I respectfully suggest that, if we started referring to 'wire-haired fox terrier markets', the whole financial system would bounce back into the best of shape in no time at all!

All clear now?

*Robert Peston - BBC News Business Editor, famed for both his regular news scoops and his strangulated diction.