Tuesday 30 April 2013

Bertie shows the way

So we have been down in Nottingham staying with HGD and HGY for a few days.

Really, I have no idea why Gail finds these visits to her parents so stressful....

Friday 26 April 2013

Park Day: a poem celebrating Duthie Park

I couldn't quite decide what to do to for Finn and Gizmo's Blogville 'Park Day'

You see, for me, every day is Park Day! So to celebrate my daily walk round the local park, Gail suggested that I compose a poem. 

Here goes (with some help from Gail):

Snapshots of Duthie Park

Winter mornings. Dark, sharp, cold,
Dogs are sporting flashy disco lights,
Their ghostly owners wrapped in Marks and Spencers' shrouds,
The wind that's crossed the river gathers bite.

A weekend afternoon in Spring,
Much optimistic pallid flesh exposed,
Goose pimples notwithstanding, those from Aberdeen
Think, if the sun is out, they need few clothes.

Light evenings, masochists enrolled 
In British Military Fitness race
Around in circles, yelled at by
Instructors thick of neck and red of face.

Summer Sundays: barbecues, picnics,
Ice-cream cones lightly held by dog-height hands,
Those kids with flappy arms and high pitched shrieks,
Will tempt a chap to disobey commands.

And by the pond exquisite model boats,
Are all controlled by older men, sad,
One suspects, because their sons 
Prefer to lurk indoors, tending their (i)Pads.

A coach from Elgin parked beside the gate.
A line of grey-topped green enthusiasts
Make for the Winter Gardens' warmth, 
But pause en route to give cute pups a pat.

The cricket pitch brings out a different crowd.
Brown skins exotic still, in Scotland's chilly north.
When game's in progress I am not allowed
To dash across the grass and chase the ball.

But mostly we are lucky in our Park
Few rules constrain us pups, we're free to run
No lead required, we socialise,
Explore and play, and have enormous fun.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

All Stripped, Spruced and Spiffy for Spring

Pups! Ever wanted to see your human emitting quantities of slobber worthy of our late and much missed friend Mango?

Just ask them to read out loud the title to this post, several times over, as fast as possible.

You might want to wear a raincoat.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Ideal conditions for agility...

.....are not always encountered on an April evening in Aberdeen.

Things might look promising on arrival...

...but then the sun retreats behind a cloud...

... and before you can say "Bertie, GO!" rainwear is required...

... and the strengthening wind blows over the hurdles which have then to be realigned end on to the direction of the gale...

... and one's ears are also realigned...

...and the night draws in...

...but only when it is no longer possible to see the obstacles do the Deeside Dog Agility Club members finally give up and go home.

Note from Gail: apologies for the poor quality of some of the later pictures. I fear I failed to keep the camera lens dry! 

Thursday 18 April 2013

If not wolves...a thought experiment

I think I mentioned that I chased some red deer up a Torridon hillside last Saturday.

My version of events (and I am sticking to it) is that, after a few minutes' excitement, I heroically overcame my lupine genetic inheritance and, obedient chappie that I am, rejoined Gail on the footpath and allowed the deer to escape my clutches. I am confident you will recognise any alternative version, for example to the effect that I got tired and panicked 'cos I thought I'd lost Gail, as a ridiculous fabrication.

Now let us consider for a moment the broader issues here.

Point number one: it is almost universally agreed that Scotland's red deer population is out of control, resulting in over-grazing of both crops and trees, to the detriment of the country's economy and ecology.

Point number two: one reason for the explosion in numbers is that wolves have been extinct in Scotland for around two hundred years, thus deer have no natural predators.

Point number three: schemes to reintroduce wolves to Scotland have been shelved, due to concerns from farmers and lack of space.

So I have been conducting a wee thought experiment.

What if us dogs were allowed to run free in the hills and take on the wolves' historic role?

Surely this would work just brilliantly.

After all, there are a lot of us pups in Scotland, so we could take turns in order that we also could fulfil our domestic pet duties. With regular exercise chasing longer limbed prey, the current canine obesity crisis would be solved at a stroke, and problems caused by dogs suffering from boredom and under-stimulation would likewise be a thing of the past. With a regular supply of free venison, plus antlers to chew of course, our owners would have to stop whinging about the cost of kibble and treats.

Yes I really am convinced that I am onto something here. I would be more than happy to organise a pilot project in the Torridon area. How about I invite Fenton up to Scotland to inaugurate the scheme? A little ceremony involving the cutting of a lead might serve as useful PR. Perhaps a prize could be arranged  for the first chihuahua to bring down a Monarch of the Glen?

The more I think about the idea, the more I like it.

What could possibly go wrong?

PS from Gail: A big thank you to all those who suggested remedies for Bertie's sore paw. I am pleased to say that time and rest worked their healing magic and forty-eight hours after the epic hike he was back to his customary bouncing self. But I have ordered a tub of 'Bag Balm' to keep in reserve for the next time I under-estimate the distance and roughness of a walk in the hills! 

Sunday 14 April 2013

Maol Chean-dearg - an epic mountain adventure

Frankly, if I had known it was going to be such a long and arduous hike, I would not have wasted energy tearing up the hill after those red deer near the start of the expedition. 

At least we were not in Richmond Park and there was no-one else around to witness Gail's "FENTON!!!" moment. And Gail did not film herself stumbling across the heather yelling "Bertie! BERTIE!!!!"

In fact, on the eight hour walk, I didn't encounter a single human other than my own.

It was bright and sunny when we set off from the car. It's rare that you see Loch Torridon looking so blue. 

Luckily there was a sign telling us which way to go.

I'd already ran quite a distance (including side trips....) when Gail pointed to the south, to a snow capped peak and said, "see there Bertie, that's Maol Chean-dearg, our target for today."

It looked a long way off and awfully steep.

And it was...

En route, we passed by such a lot of rubble and scratch marks left by glaciers. 

Really, you would think that after a few thousand years, someone might have cleared the place up a bit!

Further on, the path was made from shards of white rock and Gail told me how she'd once before tried to climb this hill with Hamish, but his sensitive paws could never cope with these sharp quartzite pebbles so they'd had to turn back.

At this point I was still going strong.

But gosh it was hard work as we finally approached the summit. Lots of scree, HUGE boulders and snow. As Gail was quite scared I allowed her to hold my lead so she would feel more secure on the steeper bits.

Though I say so myself, I do think the fine panoramic views from the top were enhanced by the presence of yours truly.

On the long walk back to the car, I stuck close to Gail's heels, putting a brave face on my increasingly aching legs. 

Although I caught the scent of stag several times, I decided not to give chase. In fact, between you and me, I was very weary, and even sat down once or twice, in the hope that Gail might pick me up and carry me for a while, but she didn't oblige, not even when we came to a difficult and dangerous stream crossing.

After, like forever (almost sixteen miles, I believe) we returned to the car. By this time, the sun had gone in and the tide had gone out. 

It was time for a visit to the Torridon Inn. Gail enjoyed a pint of shandy and a fish supper, but, do you know, I was so exhausted I didn't even rouse myself to beg for a wee morsel of haddock.

Oh, and did I mention my sore paws?

Perhaps my friends could suggest a soothing remedy?