Friday 28 March 2014

Instinct versus rational thought

"What kind of a fox terrier are you anyway?"

Fellow pups, does this ever happen to you?

There you are, out on a walk near the river, happily bouncing around enjoying the freedom of being off the lead, when a fox crosses your path in broad daylight, right to left, and heads off into a thicket.

Obedience training forgotten, the prey instinct kicks in and before Gail can shout "come Bertie, COME, BERTIE NO NO NO!" you have disappeared into the bushes in hot pursuit.

And then caught up in the excitement of the moment, you race around in random directions, barking joyfully, and ....  you lose the scent.

For half a tail wag, you feel frustrated that Mister Fox has evaded your clutches. (Later Gail tells you he ran back across the track, left to right, slap bang in front of her, how could you have missed him?)

But soon you relax and return to Gail, thankful that you have a superior evolutionary strategy. You are a pet, not a working dog, and most definitely not wild creature dependent on your hunting skill to survive, and back home awaits a fire, a cosy cushion, and a full bowl of tasty kibble.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Donkeys on a diet

In recent times, one of our favourite local walks with Human Grandad  had a starting point he always referred to as "at the donkeys".

Gail and I went along there yesterday to see how the donkeys were faring in HGD's absence.

There they are in the field, but what is that notice on the tree?

Oh deary me, it seems the donkeys are on a diet. I hope they like carrots better than Gail and I do!

PS I so wanted to title this post 'Big Asses' but Gail feared it would attract the wrong sort of internet readership.

Friday 21 March 2014

Paragon, model lad or prig?

A couple of weeks ago, we had Gail's friends, German teacher Margaret and her husband Jeffrey, round for dinner. Home made steak and kidney pie! You can imagine what super-canine restraint was involved in my sitting quietly beside the dinner table and not begging for a morsel.

Well a few days later, we received a nice 'thank you' note from Margaret in which I was described as a 'Musterknabe'.

Readers who knew my predecessor Hamish the Westie may even remember that he used to go with Gail to those German lessons round at Margaret's house. 

Well since I have never  been allowed to study German, I did not immediately know whether being called a 'Musterknabe' was praise or an insult. 

Google Translate, and Gail's big fat German dictionary, came to the rescue!

So apparently I am either a 'paragon', and 'model lad' or a 'prig'.

I think we can confidently discount the latter.

I am trying my very best to be good, as Gail and her family deal with the sad loss of HGD. As far as I can tell, they are doing OK, and I am enjoying all the extra cuddles.
Der Musterknabe

PS from Gail: Thank you so much to all those who left such kind comments about my father on my previous post. 

Tuesday 18 March 2014


Oh dear, I am so sad to have to tell you that my beloved Human Grandad passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of Sunday morning (16 March).

Gail and her mother and brother had all spent time with him in his last few days, although I, Bertie, was not allowed.

My very important role just now is to be available for cuddles and to ensure Gail is regularly walked.

I am sure my blog friends will understand if I'm not visiting too often over the next couple of weeks.
with Human Grandad last November on his 92 birthday 

Sunday 16 March 2014

Top Ten Tips for Train Travel with a Terrier

A list compiled by Gail, based on hard won experience...

1. Develop a thick skin.  Such that when your dog barks intermittently but piercingly over a period of several hours, you are able to ignore comments from fellow passengers such as “I was hoping that dog would get off at Newcastle”.

2. It is not worth paying the extra for a first class ticket. The advantages of extra space do not make up for the disruption to the dog’s equanimity caused by the constant to-ing and fro-ing of an accessible food filled trolley.

3. Carry a book. It is unlikely that you will get enough peace and quiet actually to read the thing, but the appearance of being absorbed in the text will act to discourage bored fellow passengers from using your dog as an excuse to tell you the life history of every single pet they have owned since the goldfish won at a fair when they were six.

4. Rescue Remedy does not have a calming effect on trains, either for dog or human.  Do not waste your hard earned cash. A bottle of Highland Park single malt whisky for the human is a better bet.

5. It is OK to take your dog with you to the train toilet. Should any fellow passenger object, you have two options, either (1) hand him/her the lead and say OK , you take care of him for a minute, then disappear into the WC for as long as it amuses you to hear your vociferous dog wreaking havoc in your absence or (2) point out that the average human user of toilets on trains is considerably less well house trained than your darling pup (this has the advantage of being true).

6. In the matter of treats, it is important to strike the correct balance and consider the longer term consequences. For example, it may seem a good idea to keep the precious one quiet by feeding him a constant stream of yummy snacks en route, but if the likely outcome is a Human Granny upset at the sight of copious barf on her best living room carpet, then you may want to rethink your strategy.

7. Ensure your dog cannot slip out of his collar. If you’re not sure why this is important, click here to read about the day when Bertie did get off at Newcastle...

8. It may occasionally be useful to pretend no knowledge of the local language.

9. It is a well known fact that the staff on Scottish trains are more dog tolerant than their English counterparts. Sometimes they even carry a dog biscuits in the pockets of their uniforms. What this portends for the Independence debate, we can only speculate.

10. Oh and finally, if you live in one of those dreadful countries where pups are not allowed on railway journeys…well, you really should be thinking about moving, shouldn't you?


Friday 14 March 2014

In general I do not approve of bicycles...

…but I will admit it is nice that Gail's favourite Spring training route takes her past my favourite shop.

Yes, the concept of the bicycle as carrier of dog treats does make one look more favourably on this otherwise tiresome mode of transport.

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Henry's Dad's Hat

So Gail woke me early on Sunday morning with a cheerful shout. "Rise and shine Bertie! The weather forecast is favourable so we are going to climb Morven and search for Henry's Dad's hat."

By the way, a 'favourable' forecast in these parts in early March means little rain, wind less than 20 mph and temperatures above 5ÂșC.

Now about that hat.

I told you last year  about the special walk up Morven to scatter the ashes of Gail's late friend Kate. What I did not mention before was that, in the process of the scattering, Kate's beloved husband Henry lost his hat in the gale force wind. And this was not just any old hat, rather it was a splendid, characterful Harris tweed affair that used to belong to Henry's father.

Well Henry and friends looked long and hard for the precious headgear on that memorable July day, but time and incipient hypothermia eventually forced abandonment of the search.

I am disappointed to report that, despite roaming far and wide over the rounded summit of Morven, on Sunday I too failed to sniff out Henry's missing hat.

However, the elemental magnificence of the landscape was undiminished.

PS: Sunday in another world entirely, namely Crufts. I can't believe that the wire-haired fox terrier was beaten to Best in Show by a standard poodle. How will I live this down when I next see my poodle cousins Coco and Percy (who is huge)...

Sunday 9 March 2014


In winter it is important to supplement one's formal sessions in the barn with freestyle agility training in a variety of outdoor settings. 

One can practice one's weaves in the local park:

Recent storms have provided plenty of opportunities to refine one's tunnelling technique:

Retaining one's balance while cornering at speed is tricky on snowy hill tracks:

Better not miss my contact on this particular dog walk:

Some descents are steeper than any 'A' frame:

Now why am I being asked to pose just here…?

That is so NOT FUNNY Gail.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Can we move to the quiet coach please? (+HGD report)

It only takes one Glaswegian with a mobile phone...

Special prize to any of my readers who can offer an accurate transcript of this one-sided conversation overheard, at length, on the train back to Scotland.

Oh, and for those of you who care about Human Grandad - I want you to know that he seemed comfortable and no longer so anxious when I visited him on Sunday. He spotted me right away and smiled with his whole face and eyes and tried to lift me onto his lap. But Gail was worried that my 8.5 kgs weight would bruise his paper thin skin, so instead I sat on Gail's lap and let HGD pat my head and scritch my flappy little ears. Soon he drifted off into a world of his own, and then to sleep. Sadly I was removed from the scene before the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinner arrived. Gail tells me that, with her help, HGD ate all the meat and Yorkshire pud, but left the veggies and potatoes. Which would have been my approach too.
Guarding HGD
A quiet corner of the 'Skylarks' nursing home
And finally, I did get to meet with my wiry pal Horatio in Edinburgh on the way home. And I must say he was being quite the bossy boots. I think this wedding business has gone to his head...

Sunday 2 March 2014

Hurry up Train, I want to see HGD!

Oh I am so happy, Gail and I are heading south on the train, destination Human Granny and Grandad!

Making good progress, we are crossing the Forth Bridge already...

Stopping for a pee break in Edinburgh is all very well, but really I want to see HGD and not hang around admiring the view from Calton Hill.

Yes and the crocuses in Princes Street Gardens are a welcome sign of Spring, but let's not miss the next  train...

Ah, Torness nuclear power station. So we are headed in the right direction...

And that looks like Berwick-upon-Tweed. Hooray, we have made it into England! No passports required. Yet. 

Now we are on the outskirts of Newcastle. I wonder why Gail has grabbed my collar so tightly...

So continuing southwards,  Gail is saying "look Bertie, Durham Cathedral. One of our finest"...

Well granted it is a splendid building, but really, can we get this train moving again? I just want to see HGD...

Coming in to York now. Yes, I know Gail, another fine Minster hiding behind the trees. And not much further to go...

Oh yes, a treat is just what I need to make the landscape around Doncaster more palatable...

Woo hoo! We have finally arrived in Nottingham. I am so thrilled to see Human Granny. But where is HGD? Oh I forgot, he is in his special new home. What do you mean we can't visit until tomorrow? I'm going to look for him right now...