Sunday 30 June 2013

Where were all you Lhasa Apsos?

Well I'm pleased to report that my eye is fine, and Gail has advised me not to dwell on the week's other medical 'issue'. Let's just say that the washing machine has been working overtime, in line with my bowel movements....

Instead I'm going to tell you all about today's walk, our annual outing with the Grampian Tibet Support Group
This is the fourth year running I have participated in this sponsored walk, and you know what struck me today? 

Yes that's right. Where are all the Tibetan pups? Do they not support their country's fight for independence? I mean, any park in Aberdeen is awash with Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus. We see the occasional Tibetan Terrier, and I feel sure that there must be a few Tibetan Spaniels and Mastiffs in NE Scotland too. Yet over the years the only dogs I've seen join this special walk have been collies, Labradors and retrievers. Oh and maybe there was a border terrier one time. 

Well today I was the only dog of any breed taking part, which of course guaranteed plenty of welcome attention. 

Earlier Gail had suggested that, as I hadn't been well, I might not be up to the planned nine miles and we would have to turn back if  I showed signs of flagging. 

Me. Flag? 

I don't think so Gail. 

The only flag involved today was the Tibetan flag which members of the group draped from the top of the tower on  Scolty Hill. 

For some, this was the day's highlight, but oh my gosh, from my perspective, something far more exciting happened as we were about to have our picnic lunch.

Do any of my readers recognise this incredibly gorgeous Sheltie?

Yes of course, it's Pippa, my only Aberdonian dog blogging friend, out with her assistant Eve and the rest of the family, who just happened to have chosen the same spot for their Sunday walk. It's Pippa's 2nd birthday tomorrow. I do hope she's going to get some nice presents and tell us all about it.  

I was so thrilled by this chance encounter that I bounced all the way back to the car park. 

What a great day! 

Thursday 27 June 2013

My eye. Boo hoo.

"So Bertie, what's all this about then?" asked Gail, waving her mobile phone in my face in a slightly confrontational manner when she arrived home from work at the usual time last night.

Apparently she had received a text message from my dog walkers earlier in the day.

Hi Gail. I tried calling you but as there was no answer I am texting to say that Bertie got a small scratch today when George had him out. As they turned a corner a cat darted out and before George could do anything the two made contact. The result was a small scratch above the eye. George used an antiseptic wipe to clean it. When George took Bertie back to the house the bleeding had stopped but you might want to check it out yourself. I thought it best to explain this on the phone rather than a note. If you want to phone me you can get me on this number. Regards, Elizabeth.

You would think, wouldn't you, that someone who loved and cared for their pet, on hearing this news would have immediately rushed back to check up on his wellbeing, if necessary abandoning important business, and spending the rest of the day administering comforting cuddles and plentiful treats.

Not so Gail.

No, with her it's all a brusque and unsympathetic "let's have a look at the eye, there now it seems fine to me, really Bertie I hope this will teach you a lesson not to get into scraps with cats, you should know by now that they always win in the end, you simply must be more sensible in future."

I am still sulking.

PS from Gail - I did in fact take Bertie to be examined by the vet this morning and he confirmed that no serious damage had been done. Except possibly to Bertie's self esteem. 

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Waggly Wednesday

Here's one especially for esteemed Mayoress Madi (and her Mom).
And all other fans of super-waggly tails of course.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival

So when Gail bounced out of bed on Saturday morning and said "look sharp Bertie, we're off to the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy" I was deeply suspicious.

I mean I thought all the WATER MANIA business was supposed to be confined to Sarge's blog...

Well it came as some relief to learn that the trip wasn't going to involve any actual immersion in the sea. Then when a quick glance at the festival programme told me that the streets of this quaint little former fishing village on the Moray Firth would be lined with stalls selling local produce, I began to think there might be some point in the exercise after all.

And yes, in the end, I admit, it was quite fun wandering round the harbour looking at all the old boats.

 I even made friends with one of the crew.

To be sure, some of the craft looked more seaworthy than others...

My patience was wearing a bit thin when Gail tried to get me to pose in front of this stall, just so she could make some feeble 'joke' about rare breeds supporting each other...

But then we came to more promising territory...

In the end, I felt quite at home 'cos in truth we saw more pups than boats. 

And the streets were filled with music. Here is a wee compilation. I wonder if you can tell which of these bands I really didn't like?

Thursday 20 June 2013

I want to join Stella's Thunder Support Group

Did you know that my dear friend Stella in Minnie-snowda has convened a 'Thunder Support Group'? It's specially for pups who are frightened of storms. It sounds such fun too! The members all meet in a cosy cupboard under the stairs and have treats together when a big storm threatens.

But when I asked if I could join, Stella, who can be condescending towards bouncy young chaps, was lukewarm in her response, and asked me to justify my inclusion in her apparently rather exclusive group.

It is, I concede, true that I have never to date exhibited even a quiver of fear in the face of thunder and lightening. But that is only because we only rarely have thunderstorms in Scotland, and when we do they are quite feeble ones compared to those experienced in many parts of the USA.

I know that Stella will not be impressed if I go on and on, so I have, as succinctly as possible, set out the two main reasons why I should be admitted to membership of the Thunder Support Group:

1. Due to increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, it is forecast that extreme weather events will in future become more common in Scotland, and this includes thunderstorms. Responsible dogs will want to learn how to deal with the situation. 

2. Even supposing the scientists are wrong, another point I have to consider is the high chance of me ending up in Oklahoma. Tornado Alley, no less. No don't scoff Stella, this is not so very improbable. Consider the family pattern. In 1942 Human Granddad was sent by the RAF to Ponca City, Oklahoma for five months to train to be a pilot. In 1988, Gail was posted to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the headquarters of her then employer, for two years. Surely it is only a matter of time before history repeats itself for a third generation?

So you see Stella, it is absolutely nothing to do with the rumours of treats and other fun stuff going on. Absolutely not.

Please let me join.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Letter to Robert Macfarlane, from Bertie in Torridon.

To: Dr Robert Macfarlane, Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge.

16th June, 2013.

Dear Robert,


I hope you don't mind me contacting you out of the blue like this. I may call you Robert, mayn't I, even though you have never met me, and I only know you through your books, more of which later.

First some background. I am a three year old wire-haired fox terrier, bouncy in demeanour and blessed with an enquiring mind and an adventurous spirit. My owner Gail and I divide our time between our main home in Aberdeen and our West Coast retreat on the shores of Loch Torridon. My life in Scotland, and much else, is chronicled in 'Bouncing Bertie's Blog'.

You and I clearly  have in common that we love to explore wild places, to know them well  and to contemplate, in our different species ways, their impact on us. 

Well I am sorry to say that this weekend you have, indirectly, been the cause of a very frustrating  time here in Torridon. 

The weather has been glorious, the midge clouds not too dense, the air as clear as the June light is long. The mountains beckon.

And what has Gail been doing most of the weekend? Yes that's right, she's been sitting indoors, nose inside a book. Not just any book sir, YOUR book, 'The Old Ways', your latest and, unfortunately - from my perspective -  your longest one. Every now and then my owner has been emitting funny little noises which I believe to be human expressions of intense pleasure and delight.

A neighbour called round and I overheard Gail enthusing about your transcendent prose, your thoughtful mediations on the relationship between people and place and your consistently fascinating description of walks along ancient pathways in Britain and beyond. 

Hang on a minute. WALKS! She's spent all weekend, bum on sofa, reading about walks? Ok, plus the odd sea voyage or two.

It gets worse. I gather that at no point in this supposedly magnificent book, are you accompanied by that essential component of a satisfactory outing on foot, namely a canine companion....

Well Dr Macfarlane what can I say?

I'll take Gail's word for it that this 'The Old Ways' volume approaches perfection as reading material. At least for a certain kind of human. But as a writer you will surely now be looking for a topic for your next book. Perhaps, like me, you are brimming with ideas for things you want to write about. Perhaps not.

In any case, may I respectfully suggest that you could expand your horizons (and your readership) by moving beyond the theme of 'how the places we inhabit shape the people that we are', and towards 'how being accompanied by a fine dog can alter and enrich our relationship with the landscape'. 

I recognise you might be concerned that the 'dog book' market is an overcrowded one characterised by sentimentality and inferior prose, and thus beneath the consideration of a distinguished Cambridge don such as yourself.

So, in case you need further persuading, Gail has suggested that I invite you up to Torridon to stay with us for a week, or longer, at our beautiful, secluded cottage. I will happily show you all my favourite routes and together we can explore the deeper meaning of how landscape affects the nature and quality of canine-human bond. 

(Gail says that she would write such a book herself, if only she could compete with you for erudition, originality of thought and poetic turn of phrase. But, frankly, she can't).

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Toodle pip! With greatest respect,

Granddach Beinn Alligin (commonly known as 'Bertie').

Thursday 13 June 2013

No such thing as a gloomy day...

Gail looked out of the window last Sunday morning and sighed. "Oh what a shame it's such a grey, gloomy day Bertie".

Silly, silly Gail. She was forgetting that there is no such thing as a gloomy day on Planet Bertie.

Not when it's only a short walk to the River Dee,

Where you can meet and greet new friends,

Go for a paddle,

Meet more pals,

Explore the lush green river banks,

Maybe pause a while to enjoy the moment,

Then off again for romp through the woods.

It doesn't have to be sunny to enjoy a walk by the North Sea either. 

Oh yes, my friends, there is no such thing as a grey day with Bouncing Bertie.

When I'm around you will always feel in the pink!  

Tuesday 11 June 2013

A flurry of emails (you couldn't make it up)

First a confession. I was so anxious about this Skye geology field course* business (see 4 June post) that I hacked into Gail's work emails. I found this exchange between Gail, her boss Alison and course leader Jim. 

What a relief to find out that someone has been taking my needs seriously...

 We will be staying in a bunkhouse with 4 rooms so everyone will be sharing.
I'm wondering how this affects Bertie's sleeping arrangements

Hi Jim

Thanks for thinking of Bertie!
Tricky on many levels. Alison has already volunteered to share with me and Bertie, but presumably there would be others in the room too. And for this reason many bunkhouses won’t take dogs. If I had my car Bertie could perhaps sleep in there – a familiar environment, although I have never tried him overnight in it.
Cheers, Gail.

 I suggest that you take your car. We have hired 2 MPVs so I don't think it would be a good idea to have Bertie in these.


Do you have a list of attendees? Depending on number of females you, Gail and Bertie could have one of the rooms. Alternatively the adjacent hotel may have a room we could hire for Gail.
 Mhairi - Please check if bunkhouse in the  hotel takes dogs

Sent from my Blackberry

Bunkhouse are ok with it and once we get the final list we can canvas the girls and see what they think. 
Hopefully no one will mind. 

Sounding promising...

 Fri 6/7/2013 1:28 PM

Bertie a definite go go - 5 ladies do not mind sharing with him.

This e-mail is to confirm your attendance on the Skye fieldtrip 1st-3rd September.......................
.........................We are also to be joined by a very special guest – geology hound Bertie who is a seasoned field tripper (no hard hat requirement).
Any further questions etc. just yell.

Ali, Jim,
That's great.
Bertie has promised to show his gratitude at being included in the field trip by providing a report on the proceedings in his own inimitable style...

* I am under firm instruction always to refer to this excursion to Skye as a field 'course' in order to emphasise that it is a serious training exercise and in absolutely no way whatsoever to be considered a company 'jolly'...

Saturday 8 June 2013

Interview with Madi - the initial draft ...

Gail, come and look at this, I have prepared my answers to Mayoress Madi's interview questions. Oh don't you just love this interview business, being asked to talk about oneself, to give one's opinions and generally to be taken seriously. It's such good fun isn't it?

Well Bertie that is certainly an interesting and positive approach to a process many humans find stressful. Can I please see what you have pawed? So, er, how many pages is that? Crikey! You most surely have a lot to say. Now let me read....

(Half an hour later, and Gail is still reading)

Gail, you are looking a wee bit worried? Frowning is not good for those wrinkles, you know. Is there something I need to explain?

Dearest Bertie, where to begin? I should I suppose congratulate you on the fullness of your answers. Both to the questions that were asked and those that weren't. If you were being paid by the word, then this effort would for sure earn you a lot of treats. However I think you should bear in mind that the attention span of the average blog reader, yes, even your readers, who are naturally of the highest intellectual calibre, does not normally extend to a post long enough to submit as a PhD thesis.

Gosh but Gail, what can I cut out? I mean it's all so very important...

Well now let me see (Gail flicks through the pile of papers). Your answer to the question 'who would you most like to meet?'  Perhaps the five page rant about wanting to be introduced to Donald Trump, simply so you could let him know what you feel about him ruining your favourite bit of coastline with his hideous golf resort is a bit OTT. The details about how you would bite his ankles and then work upwards are gruesome, overly graphic and almost as tasteless as his hotels and his hairdo. What else? Oh yes the lengthy section about your interest in the notion of gene therapy and whether there are genes that can be inserted into humans to make them better at buying dog treats and toys is not strictly speaking relevant to any of the questions posed by Madi, is it now Bertie?

Well Gail, if you say so...

I do say so. Oh Bertie, there's no need to look so disappointed. I'm sure you can deploy some of this material in future posts. But for this particular task, I'll tell you what, let's settle down in front of the laptop and together we'll try to write some responses that are true, entertaining, somewhat relevant and, well, a wee bit briefer...

For the final version of Bertie's interview see Madi and Mom's blog on Monday 10th June.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

A career development opportunity...?

Oh this is so exciting. I simply can't wait for September. Is it really still three months away?

Friends, do you remember that last year I went on a geological field trip with Gail and her colleagues?

Unbelievably good fun  educational.

Well it seems there could be another field excursion opportunity coming up.

At first I thought I would not be allowed to attend this year, as the human participants will be sharing bedrooms in the hotel on Skye.

But guess what? Gail's splendid boss Alison has volunteered to share with the both of us!

Isn't this just the best news ever?

So I couldn't believe my flappy little ears when I overheard Gail saying to a friend that she feared it - the rooming together business that is - might be a "career limiting move"....

Now. Regular readers of this blog might have the impression that, because I occasionally criticise my owner, I am not grateful for all that she does for me.

But of course I am grateful, deeply so, and I am thrilled that now I may have the chance to do something positive for Gail, and give her prospects at work a boost by making sure her manager has a truly 'special' time when we are all sharing a bedroom.

Do you think Alison would appreciate me woofing a lullaby? I am sure she would love to have her ears licked in lieu of an early morning call. Perhaps she will bring along some favourite clothing that could do with a few extra ventilation holes? At the very least I shall help her unpack her suitcase and endeavour to reduce any papers she has brought along to a more manageable size.

Fellow pups, I am confident you can help me with some further ideas for making a lasting impression on this very important lady, in such a way that will reflect well on my beloved human of course...

Stop press from Gail: due to difficulties in finding a suitable hotel on the Isle of Skye, the accommodation has been further downgraded to bunkhouse dormitories and Bertie's participation in the field trip is hanging in the balance. Watch this space.. .

Sunday 2 June 2013

Home Sweet Home

Oh it is nice to be back in the familiar routine after a week of travel and disruption.

Of course I wouldn't for the world have missed meeting up with my dog blogging friends.

 And I did get to go out and spend time with HGD, even if there are no pictures of us together this time.

I was rather upset when, no soon as we'd returned to Aberdeen, Gail immediately went gallivanting off to a wedding.

I don't understand it. Why would anyone want to get married in a romantic Scottish castle in a beautiful secluded glen if NO DOGS were allowed to attend?

Or at least that's what Gail told me and I believed her (about the NO DOGS thing) until I saw this photo.

And I'm not sure it helped when Gail said that I would probably (only probably!) have been quieter during the church service that a certain cute little two year old 'flower girl'...