Saturday 31 March 2012

Muddy paws etiquette

If you should happen to step in a Scottish bog:

Then the correct procedure is to find a wee lochan* with clear water and a stony base, and wash your paws off before jumping all over your favourite human.
Believe me, they prefer 'wet and clean' to 'wet and muddy'!

*A small loch.

Thursday 29 March 2012

Monday 26 March 2012

The Twa Dogs* (Torridon version)

An edgy encounter in Wester Alligin.

Woof woof! Good afternoon. Do you have time for a chin wag?

It had better be quick. Can't you see, I'm busy. I'm a working dog.

A working dog? What's that? I'm not sure I'm familiar with the concept. Can you please explain?

Have you got wool for brains, pal? It means I work for a living. Herding sheep is my profession. I can run all day over the mountainsides if required, gathering in my flock.

Gosh that sounds fun. Do you work all on your own?

No, I am part of a team. Much more efficient that way. We even have a little trainee, she's just seven weeks old.

Isn't wee Gail cute?

Er, first time I've heard my Gail described as cute! Oh you mean the puppy. How funny that she's called Gail too. And by way, I am not dumb. Pal.

All right then, keep your wiry hair on! So tell me Mister Smarty Pants, how do you earn your keep?

Um. Um. Um.

Oh come on, you must do something. Or are you one of those spoilt city types that sits around all day eating fancy food and having your nails painted? 

Most certainly not. How dare you suggest such a thing. Why just this weekend, I have been in action as an explorer, a geologist, a gardening supervisor and a forestry expert....

What's more, I'm quite sure I could do your job perfectly well too, given half the chance. I've not noticed that the collies at Deeside Dog Agility Club are in any way smarter than me. I'd pick up all that "come bye" business in two shakes of a lamb's tail, no question.

If only a certain person didn't make me stay on this d****d lead whenever sheep are roaming nearby...

*Thanks to the great Rabbie Burns for inspiring this post.

Friday 23 March 2012

£5.4 million? Because I'm worth it!

It's so exciting.

You all know about 'My Park' don't you? Well OK the official name is Duthie Park, but since I go there every morning to run around and meet all my friends, and over the past two years have sniffed every blade of grass and lifted my leg against every tree, it's as good as mine is it not?

Now I know that in the past I have dwelt on some bad things happening in my locality. The Union Terrace Gardens vote went the wrong way and don't even get me started on Donald Trump...

So I am thrilled finally to be able to report good news from Aberdeen.

At first I was a bit miffed, a month ago, to find My Park suddenly filled with fences which I am slightly too big to crawl under, and the early morning birdsong drowned out by a busy fleet of mechanical diggers. I was worried they were going to concrete over My Park and maybe put houses or an industrial estate in its place. But then Gail explained that a nice organisation called 'The National Lottery', together with Aberdeen City Council, have decided to spend lots and lots of money making My Park even better, or at least to restore its former Victorian glories.

Isn't it a wonderful plan? I just can't wait to go exploring the new rockeries and romp over the 'historic mound'. Maybe I can help 'decorate' the renovated monuments. On a warm day (we usually do get at least one each summer) I shall sip water from the reinstated 'Linked Lakes', or even risk a paddle, and if the rumour of an extra café is true, perhaps Gail can be persuaded to linger longer while I play with my pals.

Some people might say that £5.4 million is a lot of money to spend on My Park in a time of 'austerity'.

But I say I AM WORTH IT!

Monday 19 March 2012

My super weekend at the Hilton

Humans can be quite a puzzle can't they?

I've just been away for the weekend with Gail and some of her friends. We all stayed at the Hilton Hotel in Coylumbridge, near Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands, for reasons far too boring to explain here.

Gail kept saying "you know Bertie this hotel isn't at all my sort of a place really, too big and busy, and lacking in character."


I thought it was simply fabulous.

The staff on the reception desk were so friendly.

They even gave me special 'doggy welcome pack' containing treats, poo bags and other good stuff.

There was a nice big TV in my bedroom so I could watch the rugby in comfort.

I can't think why Gail groaned when she heard that a 'hen party' from Glasgow were also staying at the hotel that weekend. Well I will admit to some disappointment on learning that a hen party does not involve real live chickens, but when I met chief hen/bride-to-be Kelly (from Dunbeath, not Glasgow, as it happens) I thought she was just lovely and couldn't at all understand Gail's concerns.

Plus there were loads and loads of little humans charging around the hotel, screaming and waving their arms in a most stimulating fashion. Sadly, Gail didn't share in my excitement. In fact, to be frank, she looked a little tense, and kept rushing me outside, exhorting me to enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the surrounding forests.

Which is where we went for a walk and Gail took this 'team photo' (age range two to very nearly ninety).
In ascending height: Bertie, Gisèle, Françoise, Hilary, John

And of course, as is only right, she took lots more photos featuring just me.

So, yes, I'll concede the walks were fun too, and to be honest I'm glad I did not stop indoors to watch the Scotland rugby team lose to Italy, but oh I do so hope I can persuade Gail to take me for another stay at this wonderful hotel.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Words fail us Wednesday

And this is a UTILITY dog.......?

Monday 12 March 2012

Best Not In Show

When I was a tiny wee pup, it was determined that I would not be a show dog. Something to do with the set of my tail or the shape of my head being wrong, I believe.

Now we are not in this household virulently anti-dog show or anything.  I can promise you, Gail spent many hours in front of the telly this weekend transfixed by Crufts, trying to figure out what on earth the judges are looking for, and muttering things like "but surely that labrador that came
second was a bit fat", and "I just can't imagine why the gorgeous Samoyed didn't get placed....."

But I do know I am more than happy to be able to spend my sunny spring Sunday afternoons gallivanting by the River Dee with sound of salmon plopping away in the background, and not a care in the world.

PS Gail is ridiculously pleased that she 'caught' a salmon leaping in the final photo (top left). You're right, it is not very impressive but, to keep the peace, I decided to humour her and show you anyway.

Toodle pip!
Bertie the Diplomat.

Friday 9 March 2012

Poop-gate update

King of Edinburgh Castles?

Signs of spring in the road where the human grandparents live

You know I put a lot of effort into this blog, I really do. I show you photos of all the beautiful places I visit, I pose nicely and always try to look my most endearing. I think deeply about a wide range of topics and, with Gail's help, aim to write about them in well-formed, literate prose, working hard to make my posts both educational and entertaining.

I have to tell you, this week I am wondering if it is all worthwhile.

What prompts this disillusionment? I hear you ask.

The answer is simple.

Your reaction to Monday's post.

You see, it appears that my readers are not actually that interested in pictures of me and in what I have to say. No indeed, what it takes to attract a near record number of comments, I learn, is a couple of photos of dog poop decorated with an American flag.

Surely you can see how disheartening this is? What should I show you next? Sheep droppings? A 'country pancake'? Maybe the dog waste bins in the park?

Oh. Gail (not always the world's most sympathetic person) is saying, "Bertie, just pull yourself together. When faced with life's vicissitudes, the one thing you can choose is your attitude. Don't go round being all negative. It doesn't suit you one bit. You're sounding like Mango, for heavens sake. Let's see you bounce back."

So. Gather.

I want to thank my wonderful friends for all their brilliant comments on my blog. I love each and every one of them. And let's look on the bright side. How fun that you were so interested in our little local problem! Although the dog poop is still there is the alley, and the flags are looking bedraggled after heavy rain, there has at least been no escalation of the 'conflict', so it seems that an international incident has been averted. We suspect the fact that Stars and Stripes flags were used as poop markers is not an indicator of anti-American feeling, rather a random choice. We in this household would have been far more concerned had the poop been adorned with the St George's Cross.

I hope you like the two poo-free photos at the top of this post.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Educating Horatio

Oh I am so proud of myself.  It’s a wonderful feeling, to teach a young pup a valuable new skill. To play a part in educating him on how to be a ‘real dog’.

OK, let me backtrack.

A few of my blog friends will already have come across Horatio, a wiry pup in Edinburgh who belongs to Climbing Mandy and is just over one year my junior.

Well I am thrilled to report that yesterday I had the very great pleasure of meeting Horatio (and Mandy) in the flesh, when Gail and I stopped off in Edinburgh to change trains on our way back from a long weekend in Nottingham.

They came to meet us at the station. Horatio was looking most dapper, I must say, in his best blue bandana.

But you know what struck me right away about Horatio? That he is a feisty wee fellow. Yes really. Who’d have thought it? A wire-haired fox terrier?

So there was quite a bit of growling and snarling going on as we were led through the station concourse to Horatio’s car. A few tourists stared at us. Admiringly, I’m sure.

Once out of the car, off the lead and racing around the base of Arthur’s Seat, we started to make friends, in a boisterous fox terrier-ish sort of a way.

We put up a united front in the matter of refusing to pose unless treats were offered.

By Salisbury crags, we ganged up on a pair of Scotties.

And overlooking the Scottish parliament building, we discussed important matters and agreed that we both supported the concept of independence….

Now you know how it is when you are busy with your friends, your humans start gossiping about you, thinking you aren't listening, and sometimes they will reveal your quite intimate secrets?

So it was that I overheard Mandy say to Gail that Horatio doesn’t cock his leg yet.

And him nearly one! Well I have to say I was surprised, and so I took it upon myself to provide a demonstration of the appropriate position etc. Though I say so myself, my leg lifting action these days is performed with a balletic grace. Any pup would have been impressed.

And you know what? A few minutes later, tentatively of course, Horatio followed suit.

I can’t tell you how pleased I was. If only we had had more time, we could have covered the finer points of balance and increasing one’s accuracy of aim, and decisions regarding amounts to release or retain for future marking.

But sadly Gail and I had a train north to catch.
I keep asking Gail if I can email Horatio via Mandy to check that he still remembers what to do, and that he hasn’t fallen over yet, but I am told not to be ridiculous, they’ll think we both are barking…..

PS Just want to point out that I didn't neglect my duties in Nottingham either. Here I am making sure HGD sits down for a rest when we go out walking by the river Trent. 
PS for Mandy and Horatio's account of the meeting, click here.

Monday 5 March 2012

A most peculiar sight ...

NB Warning: best not read over breakfast.

We were taking a shortcut through a back alley in our neighbourhood.

First we saw this sign.

And then we saw several of these.

Weird, huh?